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Going indie? Two expensive design mistakes to avoid

Posted by Maria Murnane | March 26, 2013

I began my career as an indie author, which meant I had to pay for the design of my book. Today, I’d like to share two mistakes I made when working with a professional designer that cost me a LOT of money. If you pursue the self-publishing route, I hope you can learn from my experiences and avoid making the same errors with your book.

Learn from my costly mistakes!

1. Proofread your manuscript while you can still make changes.

I wanted my novel to look as professional as possible, so I paid a graphic designer to lay it out using the same design software that traditional publishing houses use. He did a fantastic job, and I was extremely pleased. When he was done, I printed out five copies of the manuscript on loose paper and asked friends to catch any small typos I’d overlooked in the countless times I’d read it myself.

They found more than 100 errors. Yes, more than 100!

I don’t own design software, much less know how to use it, so to correct all those typos, I had to call up the designer and go over them on the phone one by one. This was a process that took several hours. Hours! I was paying the guy $75 an hour, so that quickly added up.

2. Confirm the trim size you want.

Trim size is the length and width of your book. I chose one and relayed that choice to my designer (same guy as above), and then requested a sample in that size. When the book arrived, I decided it was too large to hold in one hand comfortably. I asked the designer to shrink it just a bit, but he told me that wasn’t possible with the design software he was using. In other words, if I wanted to change the trim size, he was going to have to start from scratch – and charge me again.

In the end I had him change it, but it cost me a pretty penny.

The lesson learned? Use professionals to lay out your book, but before it’s converted into a format you can’t change yourself or for free, be sure it’s exactly the way you want it.


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.



4 Responses to “Going indie? Two expensive design mistakes to avoid”

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  • I just self-published a month ago and could not afford to hire a graphic designer so I read all I could read at createspace forum about formatting and my husband and I proofread and proofread until we were both satisfied that we caught every errors. We could not hurry up the process. To me writing is rewriting and rewriting unless you feel you have a perfect product. I don’t like to have my signature on a manuscript full of typos.

  • unikorna says:

    I plan on self publishing one of my novellas and I was wondering what the costs would be. I hear that Amazon is taking a very generous slice of the sales :( .



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