The first aspect of self-publishing an author must consider is that they must completely tease out all their ideas. When self-publishing, the author has no professional creative guide. Therefore, the author is challenged to manipulate the story into its best possible form before having the piece copy-edited. Once the creative process of revision is complete, the author must have the piece proof-read and copy-edited by multiple sets of eyes other than the author’s. This is a critical part of the process because a self-published manuscript is particularly vulnerable to damaging losses in credibility if it contains errors, more so than a text that undergoes the traditional publishing process.
Often times, the author hires a copy editor to do the work for them. An experienced editor can efficiently and effectively remove errors, heighten clarity, and add consistency to a text that might otherwise contain damaging lapses in quality that would reduce the impact of the author’s content. While an author could rely on options such as a student internship or friendly help, the best option for producing a high-quality text is usually to seek an unbiased, qualified editorial opinion through a professional copy-editor. Some self-publishing websites offer contact information for freelance copy-editors, and many recommend utilizing professional help before sending a piece out for publication.
Once the author has had the manuscript fully edited, they must then consider the design of the page. Some of the individual elements an author must consider are:
- Photographs: where they occur on a page if they occur in a text
- Tables, charts, and graphs: how they should be presented, if they are relevant or confusing, whether or not a separate appendix should be created, etc.
- Special fonts for special sections of text: where they occur, in what situations they will be used, how often they will be used, etc.
Because the author is not using a traditional editorial process, they must be individually aware of when all these design elements occur in the text, and organize it all by themselves (preferably with the help of a copy-editor). In order to legitimately self-publish, the full manuscript must be in its completed form upon its submission to a printing or online publishing service. It is up to the author to ensure their text is the way they want it to look because no outside source is professionally monitoring the text.
Once the page layout is determined, the author must consider the cover design of the piece. A large portion of texts sell based on the cover design alone, so the author must work to create a vivid, eye-catching design that stands out against the other texts the author will be classified with. A juxtaposition of high-contrast colors tends to catch a viewer’s eye, so the self-publishing author must be aware of and execute strategies of self-promotion if a self-published work is to be successful.
Sending the manuscript to a printer or an online distributor is the final piece of the self-publishing puzzle. Typically, the author must include their name, address, phone number, and email address as part of the manuscript. Nearly all submissions in the current publishing industry are through either email or a USB drive. Once the publishing agency receives the submission, they send proof copies of the manuscript back to the author. The author then proof reads the manuscript one last time, and when the final mistakes are corrected, the author clears the text, and the printing or online publishing service prints copies of the text or posts it to their online selection of texts.
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By Michael Darmitzel, a senior English major with a minor in Economics at Texas Christian University. With his emphasis in creative writing, he hopes to graduate with his B.A. and move on to a top-tier graduate writing workshop, like the University of Oregon, Texas, or Iowa.