Guest post: The Five Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Self-Publish an E-Book by Tracey Sinclair

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of eBook self-publishing, is brought to you by author, freelance copywriter, editor and web content provider Tracey Sinclair.

The Five Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Self-Publish an E-Book

What are you hoping to achieve? If it’s fame and fortune, you may need a reality check! While there are some great stories of self-published authors making millions, these are the exceptions, and if you want to be the next Lee Child or JK Rowling, then it’s worth at least trying the traditional ‘try to get an agent / publisher’ route first – it’s exceptionally tough, but that’s still where most best-selling writers get their big breaks. Most authors don’t earn enough from their writing to support themselves full-time, andthis is especially true of self-published authors, who lack the marketing support that traditional publishing can offer. If you’re paying to produce hard copies, then your book may even end up costing you money! While it’s great to aim high, you need to be realistic about what you can achieve, especially with a first book: don’t quit the day job just yet!

Is the book ready? I mean, really ready? The immediacy of self-publishing is one of its great benefits, but it can lead to the temptation to ‘bang something out’ without considering whether it is actually ready for public scrutiny. Sometimes it’s worth putting your ‘final’ manuscript aside for a week or two, before going back to it with fresh eyes and seeing if it needs any more work.

How will you promote it? Thanks to advances in technology it’s fantastically easy toself-publish an e-Book. But what happens next? Before you decide this is the route for you, you need a practical strategy to spread the word about your book, or it may not be worth the bother of publishing at all. Do you already have an online presence that you can build on, for instance a blog or Twitter account? Are you part of any online writing or reading communities? If not, start now! Build a profile before you put your book out there, and you’ve already created a market for your work.

Do you need an editor? It can be enormously difficult to edit – or judge the quality – of your own writing, and one of the criticisms often levelled at self-published books is that they are sloppily edited, if at all. There are freelance editors available, but if you can’t afford to pay one, at least get some feedback on your manuscript – perhaps from a writing group, fellow professionals or experts (if a non-fiction book) or even just trusted friends (for the sake of household peace, you may want to avoid asking your partner!).Getting independent views on your work can be daunting – but it’s vital if your book is to be as good as you can make it. And it’s better to get those comments now, when you can fix problems, than when the book is out there and it’s too late.

How’s you’re grammar? You probably spotted that mistake, but even writers with a fantastic grasp of grammar can make slips, and lots of typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can undermine your message and make your book look unprofessional. Once you’ve finished your MS, spellcheck it, and give it a close read that ignores plot/content and focuses on looking for these kind of mistakes. If you have a friend who is good at grammar, you may be able to get them to read through it, or it may even be worth paying a professional to proof read it (see sites like to price these services). The occasional error isn’t going to be catastrophic, but again, it’s all about presenting your book in the best way possible to maximise success.

Too true. Thank you, Tracey.

Tracey Sinclair works as freelance copywriter, editor and web content provider (see

She writes for online sites Exeunt and Unleash the Fanboy and is the author of 3 books, the most recent of which is the urban fantasy e-Book Dark Dates.


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with science-fiction, paranormal, and romance author Sarah Pepper – the four hundred and sixty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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3 thoughts on “Guest post: The Five Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Self-Publish an E-Book by Tracey Sinclair

  1. Ian Miller says:

    One comment and a sixth point! First, one point missed out on the question of promotion is that an ebook is eternal. What that means is, you can afford to make some mistakes regarding promotion, and you will, but it does not matter so much because it you persist, maybe you will get lucky. With dead tree publishing, you virtually have to get it right fairly quickly.

    The sixth point is, think about your title very carefully. My latest big mistake was to self publish an ebook called “Troubles”. I thought that was catchy, it is short so it shows up more easily on Amazon’s postage stamp images, BUT it does not come up easily on Amazon’s search engine. In fact anything with “trouble” in the title, and sometimes a book where the plot has some trouble in it, comes up and these are ranked on sales, etc. With no sales, which is inevitable for a new entry, your work is relegated very deeply into the page list. So even if your promotion gets the word out there, unless you can get links out as well, the effort is wasted. So, think carefully about that title.


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