Since 2002, Lulu has empowered authors, entrepreneurs, artists and creatives to publish, print and prosper with our free to use platform and the best in on-demand technology. Turn your most popular content into a beautiful book that grows your brand, your audience and your bank account. In this blog post, Lulu’s Brand Engagement Manager – Chelsea Bennett is sharing her tips about self-publishing and Lulu’s community are using Fiverr as well:
5 Essential Elements of Professional Publishing
At Lulu, we’ve seen a lot of things. Good books, bad books, good books with bad covers, bad books with good covers, books where correct grammar and spelling were seemingly non-essential, and books that made us stop, in awe of the perfection and genius. After 19 years of sampling every part of the print book spectrum, we have boiled down the 5 essential elements of a professionally published book. Take these steps to heart, and regardless of how or where you publish, the end result will be amazing.
1. A Good Story
Shocking, I know. And I’m sure we can all come up with a few books that caught national attention and seemed to be lacking this element, but regardless of who may have gotten away with it in the past, if you want to have a book that has any shot at success, then you need to have a good story. Whether you’re talking about interdimensional kingdoms at war or how to get your preschooler to eat their veggies, it has to be compelling and entertaining to your reader. Once you have an idea you think would work, research other books on the topic and see what’s missing. Read reviews from similar books you find and see what readers liked and didn’t like about the project and use that to guide you in the development of your content.
2. A Great Cover
You will get so much mileage out of a well-done book cover, it’s impossible to overstate. I know this one might seem basic too, but you have to get this part right. As much as we love to warn against it, people will judge your book by its cover. This process will be much easier for you if you just accept that right now. People will buy a book just because the cover is compelling, and people will immediately skip over a book just because the cover looks like garbage, no matter how amazing the content is. A good book cover is not only a beautiful veneer for your book. It’s also an incredibly powerful marketing tool and lets your readers know what they’re getting into. This is your opportunity to highlight the themes and ideas you will be representing within the pages, pique a reader’s interest with a well-crafted back cover blurb and even tout the book’s accolades with a well-placed review from a reputable source.
It’s heartbreaking to see how many authors spend months, years, or even decades writing a book and then phone in the cover. Don’t be that person. Using a service like Fiverr can help you avoid the perils of a poor cover by finding the perfect artist or illustrator to make your story come to life. If you don’t have a budget for anything else, make sure you scrape together some money for this. Cover designers on Fiverr start at $5 and go up from there, so there is no excuse for using Microsoft Paint plus a little Comic Sans and calling it a day.
A little pro tip for cover designs – get to know the expectations for your genre and be sure to adhere to them if appropriate. A few good questions to ask a cover designer are:
- Have you worked in my genre before?
- What is your rate?
- What’s the turnaround time for your work?
- How many revisions are included in your price?
While you’re in the process of creating and revising your cover, share the different iterations on social media and ask your followers for feedback. This is a great way to get readers interested and invested in the project. Added bonus – when the book launches, you’ll already have an audience that feels connected to the book and will be more likely to purchase or engage with the book online!
3. Professional editing and formatting
- Another critical piece of the professional publishing puzzle is hiring editors and potentially someone to format your book, if you’re not comfortable or familiar with how to format yourself.
First, we’ll go over editing. In this article we will focus on two of the heavy hitters, though there are several different types of editors you can employ to polish your manuscript. And none of them include your mom or best friend.
Two common types of book editing include:
- Developmental editor
Developmental editors work to improve the structure, content, and focus of your book. Developmental editing is also where problems of inconsistent tone or an unclear audience often surface.
- Copy editor
Copy editing is the process of reviewing a manuscript for spelling, punctuation, grammar, basic fact-checking, usage, and style inconsistencies or errors. However, the copyeditor’s job is not just to check grammar and spelling. They also check to make sure every element of your story is consistent, cohesive, and complete.
- Depending on your budget, you can opt for one, both or more to help get your manuscript to publishing perfection. If you’re in a position where you can only hire one, I would recommend going with a copy editor. On Fiverr, you can find all kinds of editors, and would recommend investing a bit more to ensure your final product looks perfect.
4. An amazing author website
Your author website is the window to your virtual soul. When new readers are lucky enough to hear your name, they will most likely plug it into a search engine to see what comes up. One of the first things they should find is a beautiful, regularly updated website, full of content about you, your books, your blog, and your social media channels. Not only is your author website your homebase, but it can also be your bookstore!
Creating an amazing, functional author website is one of the first steps in building a business, not just a book. When potential readers land on a carefully curated and polished website, it lets them know that you take yourself and your work seriously and you invest in yourself, which in turn encourages them to invest in you. It also gives you an opportunity to collect email addresses from visitors (with permission, of course) via an email capture embedded in your site. This is huge for any author, whether you are just starting out or penning your 5th trilogy. Building an email list not only helps you stay engaged with your audience, but it also gives you a direct connection to their inbox so you can let them know about any new projects, blog posts or promos you have coming up. Once again Fiverr has you covered here with a range of services to help you create, customize and maintain your website.
5. A Phenomenal Final Product
Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and that is absolutely true here. What good is it to go through the process of perfecting every step if you can’t combine them into a beautiful final product in the end? Fiverr has you covered for steps 1-4, but for step five, we’re going to travel across the interwebs to Lulu.com. Lulu is a free to use self-publishing platform that utilizes print-on-demand technology so you can order the books you need, when you need them. At this point you have everything ready to go, you just need to put it all together and publish! Lulu has over 3,000 formats to choose from and the technology to allow you to sell your work through your very own website or social media channels without having to fill your garage or living room with inventory. Simply connect to our global print and fulfillment network via our app for Shopify or API and start selling!
Lulu is a free to use self-publishing platform that utilizes print-on-demand technology so you can order the books you need, when you need them. At this point you have everything ready to go, you just need to put it all together and publish! Lulu has over 3,000 formats to choose from and the technology to allow you to sell your work through your very own website or social media channels without having to fill your garage or living room with inventory. Simply connect to our global print and fulfillment network via our app for Shopify or API and start selling!
If you take these steps to heart, you will soon have a book that would make even the most avid readers swoon. When you’re ready to publish, print and prosper, head over to lulu.com to get started. We’ll see you there!
About the Author
Chelsea Bennett is the Brand Engagement Manager for Lulu.com (the world’s best publishing platform) and is constantly researching and developing new resources for authors and entrepreneurs. Her areas of expertise include self-publishing, Print-on-Demand technology, building an author brand, direct sales and marketing. When not thinking about publishing, Chelsea can be found playing disc golf with her husband or having in-depth conversations about the universe with her cat, Batman.