Going indie? Don't skimp on quality
Written by
Maria Murnane
August 2013
Written by
Maria Murnane
August 2013

In addition to writing my own novels, I help authors learn how to publish and market books, so I occasionally visit relevant LinkedIn groups to stay current on the industry. One particular group for indie authors was dominated by a self-published author who claimed to be an expert, so all the newbies deferred to him. This man was adamant that writers should not spend a single penny to self-publish. Not a penny.

I couldn't disagree more. After a few weeks of witnessing him dispense bad advice to a willing audience, I had to quit the group. It was just too frustrating to watch.

I looked up this man's books on Amazon, and the covers were unprofessional and amateur. By the covers alone I would never buy them. That may sound harsh, but it is true, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this way. Your potential readers are busy, and there are literally millions of other books competing for their attention. Case in point: I also checked the man's rankings, and they were extremely low, so I assume he's not selling many books.

Make sure your indie book looks professional!

If you're going the indie route, hire professionals to help you. That's what I did with my first novel, and it helped me land a traditional publishing contract. Besides the cover, this goes for interior layout and copyediting. If your book has weird formatting in either the print or electronic version, you're going to turn readers off. And if the copy is riddled with typos and grammatical errors, your readers are going to notice.

Cover design. Interior layout. Copyediting. You get what you pay for with all three. 


Maria Murnane is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.


This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • Rachel Thompson

    Couldn't agree more! I'm not sure why people think they can do it all themselves either!

    I've released 3 books since 2011 -- and I hired an editor, formatter, and graphic designer for all three. I also help authors learn how to use social media without spamming. 

    I didn't come into the industry with a publishing background, but I studied and learned. I know that I'm the writer. My marketing background (15 years in pharma) helps me with marketing and sales. No way would I EVER attempt to edit, format, or design. I've seen way too many (preventable) mistakes. It's painful. 

    I'm researching an article now on beta readers. So many authors don't use them or don't understand the process and for me, it's crucial. Bottom line: people need to learn what they can. Self-publishing is far from easy. 

  • Maria, you are spot on. I've run into some of the same kinds of people on some groups on LinkedIn who appear to be angry that they are not getting the sales and attention they believe they deserve and yet they have not presented themselves in the best professional light. Thanks for stating this.  

  • Carol Hedges

    Agreed! I got a professional designer to dothe cover for my ebook (he's a friend so we bartered tuition for his son). I was prepared to pay for a professional edit and copy edit of my second book...only it got picked up by a small Indie publisher...but I am ''paying'' in that I will not get 100% of the purchase price. But I have an editor....who is worth it!! Yes - pay. The book market is crowded and full of rubbishly produced books that let the side down and reflects badly upon everyone else. Her in the UK 'self-published' is equated with  unprofessionally produced. Unfair to those of us who pay for a well-designed attractive cover and a good proofreader.

  • Stacey Aaronson

    Bless you for writing this, Maria! I'm a professional book doctor (editor, book cover and interior designer, publishing facilitator, handholder), and it pains me every time an author comes to me to "fix" the book they did badly and already put on Amazon. Of course I'm happy to bring their book to a professional level, but had they done it right the first time, they may have escaped the bad reviews and the ding on their writing reputation. :-(

    I'm not sure how the term "self-publishing" has given writers the idea they're supposed to do everything themselves—editing and book design are specialized fields for professionals—but as you've witnessed too, it has. Perhaps it's no coincidence that my latest blog post was just featured right above yours ... maybe together we can at least help the She Writes community make the smartest decisions if they take the self-publishing route ... and save them from making costly mistakes in their reputation as authors. :-)