Dear Self-Publisher, How Your Book Looks Inside Matters Too: Don’t Forget Typesetting

By now, we know how important it is to have a dope book cover for our Self-Published book.

But it’s not always the book cover that gives a book away that it’s Self-Published. Sometimes, how the book looks inside makes it look homemade.

Typesetting: the spacing between words and letters, the font type & size, the page’s trim size, margin, and overall layout.

Grab a book that has been traditionally published (or professionally Self-Published!) and look over the pages. Take note of how it appears on the inside. Look at how tidy the words are! How are the left and right edges aligned, the typefaces are the same, and the paragraph spacing is perfect? This is the result of expert typesetting.

Many Self-Publishers skip this stage. We don’t realize it because we submit the Word or PDF file we used to compose the book to our preferred print-on-demand.

But what’s wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with that, except our manuscripts do not print exactly as we type them in Word, Google Docs, or Scrivener. The document requires proper typesetting and formatting for print and digital devices like Kindles and Tablets.

The cover of your book may suffer from a poorly formatted book. Take a look at book two in The Stella Trilogy, first edition.

I actually like the initial cover image. The problem is with the rest of the book.

Do you notice how the spine is twisted? Because the book was too short to have a spine, this occurred. Giving it one, nonetheless caused it to wrap around and face the front.

I didn’t realize the book needed more pages for a full spine because I’m not a graphic artist or skilled book cover designer.

While this cover image doesn’t pop as well as the first (IMO), the book is professionally bound. The alternate ending made the book long enough for a spine in the revised edition. The book features a more professional cover, professional formatting, and professional editing.

Recommendation. Before having your entire cover designed, wait until your book has been edited and properly typeset. Your graphic artist will require the precise number of pages and trim size to create a cover, back, and spine that perfectly matches the book.

Moral. Before hitting publish, make sure to hire a skilled typesetter to correct the placement of your text on the page.

If you want to try it yourself, here are some sources:

  • Reedsy Book Editor
  • Adobe In-Design
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Vellum
    *Fiverr. Note: Professional typesetters can be found on websites like Fiverr. Make sure they are typesetting rather than just typography, though. Typefaces and other decorative elements make up typography. That’s not typesetting. Additionally, if they are only using Vellum, you can do it on your own by simply purchasing it.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here

How to Eat an Elephant: Breaking My Writing Goals into Small Parts

Photo by RF._.studi

There is only one way to eat an elephant, according to Desmond Tutu, and that is one mouthful at a time. He meant that everything in life that appears difficult, overpowering, or even impossible may be completed gradually by taking on just a little at a time.

I was stressed when I first got the edits for my black history book back. “This is going to take forever,” I thought.

But that’s because I was looking at the entire book with no system or organization to get it done. It was just one big pile of words that needed to be sorted out. So, what did I do?

I left it alone a couple days.

The time helped me to see how I would attack it. I decided to work on two chapters at a time. And by work on, I mean do everything that needed to be done: revise, add citations, summarize. Using a dope Black history planner I ordered from Black Prints on Instagram, I blocked off the entire month of January and February with the chapters I would do for each day, leaving one day (every Sat) as a rest day where I would not work on the book at all.

It’s so cute!

This changed my outlook immensely!

I find myself looking forward to work instead of dreading it (even the boring stuff like formatting citations). If a chapter is short enough, I could do three in one day. With this system, I am already on chapters six and seven.

Doing less feels like I am getting more done!

Moral: Few people who want to write a book get around to doing it because they are thinking about writing a whole book. But how about just writing a chapter? And if that’s too much, a paragraph?

If you can commit to writing a certain amount a day instead of all at once, you will look up to a finished book in no time.

However, it’s equally important to honor your commitments, or this strategy does not work. That’s the thing about writing, no one can do it for you. If you say you will write a chapter a day, try really hard to write a chapter a day.

I am really not all that organized. I just honor the commitments I make to myself.

I would also recommend staying within schedule. While I do three chapters if the two I have for the day are short, I never go on to four.

Which means I have time to draft this blog post!

I hope this helps someone.

Have a great week!

Genuine Connections Will Take You Places Money Won’t

Since we live in a capitalist society, money is the first thing we think about when wanting to go places or do something, and if we don’t have the money, we become hopeless.

And I get it. You need money for everything. Not even a charity can run without funding. What kind of society makes it so you can’t even help people without money?

However, there are two other things we have that can make things easier:

  • Our mind
  • Our connections

Many people ask me about my self-publishing journey, and I can tell you it has been challenging. Nothing about self-publishing is easy, even now. However, what has made it easier is my connections with other people.

December, 30, 2017

When we first moved to Georgia, my husband and I visited the Nubian bookstore in Morrow. Every two weeks or so, we would buy books until we developed a relationship with the owner Marcus. As two nerds, we had no other agenda but to buy as many books as our wallets could afford and our arms could carry.

Two months later, I asked Marcus how I could get my own books into his store. (It had not occurred to me before then.)

To my surprise, we worked out a consignment deal on the spot and put my books on the shelf.

Then, he told me about the Medu Bookstore in Atlanta and referred me to Nia. I submitted I am Soul, which had to go through a review process. 

This is why…editing.

June 13, 2018

A couple weeks later, I got the call that I had passed the review board, and just like that, I was in two bookstores.

While hosting a book signing, I met a guy who told me there was a Barnes and Noble that accepts self-published books. He said I should check it out. I did, and a few moves later, I was in B&N.

Of all the advice I’ve ever given, this is probably the most important:

Building genuine connections and relationships with people can take you places money won’t.

It will allow you to skip steps you would otherwise have taken.

June 16, 2021

Once I am Soul passed the review board, The Women with Blue Eyes didn’t have to go through them to get on the shelves because they trusted me to deliver high-quality work.

In this season, instead of mindlessly scrolling social media, consider ways of leveraging your connections for more growth.

Something to think about.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here

Doing More with What You Have

Photo by RF._.studio

These days, I am focusing more on shifting my mindset from trying to figure out how to do something new to maximize what I already have. This includes how to best nurture my personal and business relationships.

Gone are the days of randomly following people on social media and only liking their posts. How can we actually work together? I hope to participate in more collaborations.

We spend so much time at the start of the year trying to figure out what new, shiny thing we can go after when we already have shiny things around us and within us. How can we repurpose content we already have into something greater? How can we build on relationships we’ve already fostered into something better?

Instead of “What can I do?” I ask myself, “What can I do with what I have?”

Going forward, I am reminding myself that my gifts have no limits.

And I hope you are too.

From teaching and mentoring to sitting down on panels with the crème de la crème to share your perspective, Self-Publishing a book is about far more than book royalties. It is also the easiest way to become an authority in your field. It puts you in rooms you would otherwise not be qualified to be in.

Malcolm X said his alma mater was books and a good library. He had a book with him every time he was on a plane. “I could spend the rest of my life reading,” he said, “Just satisfying my curiosity.”

And, while Maya Angelou spoke six languages, studied modern dance in San Francisco, and spent a year in New York studying African dance with Pearl Primus, she never went to college.

Malcolm and Maya both lectured at universities, although they never attended one. The people came to them despite them not having the degrees and certifications because they were exceptional at being themselves.

People will pay you to be yourself. To talk your talk. To let your light shine.

While writing books, I remember that I am not limited to only writing books. I can use my gifts to make an even more significant impact.

And so can you.

Creative Ways to Resurrect Your Backlist

Hulu is about to release an exciting new series based on Octavia Butler’s book Kindred. This will open the floodgates to new interest in the book and a host of new readers. 

Kindred was first published in June of 1979, which means there are new generations of readers who have probably never heard of it or read it.

First edition cover of Kindred

This brings me to one of my favorite sayings:

“Your book is always new to the people who have never read it.”

Yecheilyah

But what does this mean?

Books are eternal in that no one has read every book in the world, which is why classics like Kindred are still being discovered.

Your book is not only new when you first publish it. It is always new to fresh eyes. 

Here Are Some Ways of Resurrecting Your Backlist:

Update the Cover

Updating the cover can be an exciting way to reintroduce your older works. Has the market changed? Can your book compete? Take the time to consider what’s selling in your genre.

Because believe it or not, books are judged by their covers!

Repurpose Into Other Formats

Is your book available in every possible format? Paperback? Hardcover? Ebook? Audiobook? Bring your older book back to life by repurposing it into a different format to reach new readers.

Bundle It, Offer Discounts / Freebies

Book bundles are great for a series but can also work as a way of offering several of your books at a discounted price.

You can also offer discounts on your first book in a series or lower the price of an older book when a new book is about to drop.

Buy a New Book, Get an Older One Free!

Another cool idea is to give a book away free in exchange for an email or offer a “buy the new book and get an older one free” deal.

Republish It / New Editions

Whether the first edition is riddled with errors or you want to add an alternate ending, publishing a new edition can bring more attention to a book you thought died on Amazon’s electronic shelf.

I have long wanted to republish my very first novel, a Sci-Fi Thriller. I hope to reintroduce her to the world in the coming future.

The moral of the story is even if you published a while ago, you can still push your backlist to new readers.

Because, and I think it is safe to say, books never die.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here

How Blogging Helps Me Write Books

Photo by Plann

Social media is a powerful vehicle for publishing short-form content that people can digest quickly and easily. We are all lazy to an extent with short attention spans.

Which is why I love blogging as a way of publishing long-form content.

It gives writers a chance to fully express the completeness of their thoughts. And, if you are long-winded like me, I enjoy being able to thoroughly add context to my thoughts with examples to nurture further understanding.

Blogging also helps me to keep writing in those spaces when I am not actively writing a book. (I wrote more about that here) This is important because it means I can continue to sharpen my writing skills (through actually writing) and engage with others even when I haven’t published anything new.

But there’s an exciting twist!

Blogging has, so far, helped me to publish two books, with another on the way. That’s because, unlike static websites, blogs are updated regularly, allowing people to leave immediate feedback and share. Authors can see how their content performs in real-time, producing invaluable information they can apply later.

One of the most powerful ways blogging helps me is my ability to repurpose the content I publish here into larger works. Thus, even when I don’t think I am laying the foundation for new works, I am!

The Women with Blue Eyes, I am Soul, and Black History Facts You Didn’t Learn in School (2023) are all descendants of my posts on this blog over the years. The latter is based on my Black History Fun Fact Friday series and will be the biggest project to come out of The PBS Blog.

I like to say that reading and writing are a partnership, and blogging is the perfect bridge where we get to see how our thoughts have communicated with readers.

What about you? Does blogging help you to write? Do you recognize any instances where you’ve published books from blogging?


Voting for this year’s International Author Boss Awards Are Now Open!

Click Here to Vote me Author Boss of 2022.

In Case No One Told You

Photo by Bia Sousa

They say not even twins have the same fingerprint

which means there is literally no one just like you.

Even the ground is confused in the way that you walk

when you wake, the earth

quakes

and shudders, and the sun smiles.

It peaks from behind the clouds

illuminating heaven-bound highways

it is waiting for you

to let your own light shine.

Just listen to how the wind stutters your name

 You precious one.

 You rarity.

 You delicate rock.

 You towering mountain.

You are not only golden

you are gold.

Hair like wool

skin like silk

You are historic.

Your mother and father’s prophecy in one body

a history unto yourself.


Listen to this poem (and others) on TikTok @yecheilyah.