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Avoid self-publishing’s #1 pitfall: Quality

Quality starts with you the author. How good is your writing and is what you are writing about wanting to be read?

The cornerstone of the traditional publishing industry is good quality content. They take good quality content and wrap that in good design and then place the work within their well developed marketing system.

Let’s first define “traditional publishing”. Traditional publishing is where a publisher pays you for the right to publish your work. The author needs to present their manuscript to a publisher and then negotiate a fee that the publisher will pay for use of that content. If a contract is reached it’s invariably because the publisher has assessed the quality of the manuscript as high.

A high quality manuscript increases the chance that the book will sell and the publisher will make a nice profit (and so will you).

Traditional publishing companies – at least the successful ones – can spot a quality book and pre-empt if it will appeal to readers and if it will sell well.

A literary agent works for you to find a publisher to bring your book to market. Things are so competitive that you first need to convince the literary agent to take you on. Then they need to represent your work to publishers (oft times after editing). This is a lengthy process.

Sometimes authors can go directly to publishers with samples of their writing. This is quicker than going through a literary agent. A key is selecting a publisher where your work and the genre they are most successful in publishing have good fit. But know this – many publishing houses will refuse “unagented” manuscripts. Manuscripts that have already gone through an agent are of a higher quality (if the agent is doing their job well). Often agents will require you have the book edited before they are prepared to present your work to a publisher.

When a manuscript arrives within a traditional publishing house, a process of quality assessment begins. This starts with the decision of the publishing company to read the manuscript. Many manuscripts don’t get read because the genre of the book is not one the publisher is familiar with or has been successful with. Or it can depend on the reputation of the literary agent placing the manuscript.

A senior editor in the publishing company may refer the manuscript to a junior editor or editorial assistant. The assistant will make an early recommendation about how well the book will suit publishing.

The process of using an agent and having a publishing company take you on, brings with it its own process of quality control.

As a self-publisher you can get into print without any quality control whatsoever. And that’s a problem. If you’re  expecting your title to go viral you better have a damn good book!

There are two simple things you can do to improve quality:

  1. Green Hill can refer you to an expert editor to help your work become a better book. Editors can’t work miracles but they are often worth every cent invested.
  2. Green Hill’s standard publishing package comes with high end book cover design. So many self-published authors unnecessarily design their own book cover and many of these designs simply kill any potential the book had of succeeding. You often need to put you cover design ideas to the side and get a skilled graphic designer with fresh eyes to design for you.