There are many common errors made by new authors and most of these are a clear sign a book is self-published. Check your own manuscript for these blunders before allowing it to go to print!
1. TITLE INSIDE THE BOOK DOESN’T MATCH THE COVER
When formatting books at BookLocker.com, we see this error ALL the time. At some point along the way, the author changed the title slightly (removed a word, switched a couple of words around, or changed punctuation), but forgot to change it across the board. Have a checklist of items to review before letting your book go into print.
2. EXTRA BLANK SPACES IN ODD PLACES
We see lots of manuscripts with blank spaces in odd places – between the end punctuation and quotation marks, between random words in sentences, etc. Sometimes authors have used the enter key instead of indents to move text, which always creates problems. At BookLocker.com, when we see these types of errors, we fix them as part of our regular formatting process. (Some POD publishers “overlook” these types of errors, knowing the author will assume they’re being fixed. They then blame the author for not noticing the error, and charge them more money to fix the problems later.)
3. DOUBLE BLANK SPACES BETWEEN SENTENCES
This is an old handwriting rule (put two fingers on the page, and skip past them with your pencil before starting your next sentence). Then, it became a typewriter rule. However, with word processing, it is no longer necessary and, in fact, creates unsightly gaps in text when lines are fully justified. Seeing double blank spaces between sentences in a published book is a sure sign it was self-published. At BookLocker.com, one of the first things we do when formatting a manuscript is to remove all the double blank spaces. There are usually hundreds but, on occasion, thousands in a manuscript.
4. NO NEW PARAGRAPHS WHERE DIALOGUE CHANGES
We see this all the time, too. When the speaker in a story changes, a new paragraph is required. That’s English 101. It’s pretty shocking how many people don’t know this.
5. TYPOS GALORE!
How to avoid? Simple. Hire a professional editor. If you can’t afford an editor, read THIS for advice.
6. TYPOS ON THE BACK COVER
The fact is, after you’ve spent months or even years writing and editing thousands of words over and over again, the last thing an author wants to do is edit that short bit of text on the back cover. Read it, re-read it, have a writer friend read it, LISTEN TO IT, and read it again. After your publisher (or designer) creates the cover, check it again to ensure they haven’t inserted any errors (or omitted any words).
7. MISSPELLED WORD OR OTHER OBVIOUS ERRORS IN THE TITLE
This isn’t a terribly common error but we have seen it a few hundred time over the years. This is another reason to hire a professional editor. Also, don’t get “cute” with misspelled words in titles. When you intentionally misspell a word, it can make it difficult for search engines (including Amazon’s!) to find your book. Read more on that topic HERE.
8. INTENTIONAL (BUT NOT “OBVIOUS”) MISSPELLED WORD IN THE TITLE
Unless the “error” is glaringly obvious as being intentional (i.e. Dumb and Dumber Too, Hop Stoopid Ale, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wild), just don’t do it. Period. Readers who hear about your book aren’t likely to know (or remember) intentional errors in the title.
9. MISSPELLED NAMES IN THE DEDICATION
This is also a very common error. While regular readers won’t notice this, the people appearing on your dedication page (and those who know them) definitely will. Then, what is supposed to be an honor turns into an insult. Double check the spelling of all names before going to print.
10. MISSING TEXT THAT IS INCLUDED IN MOST PROFESSIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOKS, AND OTHER CARELESS ERRORS
You’d be surprised how many authors don’t include a copyright page, and not even a small copyright statement, and how many don’t include headers/footers, page numbers, etc. I’ve seen books with no title pages. The “story” starts on the very first page of the book. Some don’t insert a page break to start a new chapter. Some of the author’s chapters have titles while others don’t. Some chapters are misnumbered (i.e. 2 chapter 20’s with no chapter 21, etc.). I could list hundreds of these types of errors here. These authors published their manuscripts as-is (and usually in a hurry), without formatting them in book style. The way to avoid these errors is simple. Mirror the formatting of any professionally published book sitting on your shelves and take time to check everything before putting your book on the market.
It’s hard enough to get respect as a self-published author these days. Readers judge a book by its cover, but also by its interior. If a reader sees an excerpt of your book with odd formatting and errors, they’re not going to buy it. Don’t lose potential readers and sales by inserting errors in your book that are completely avoidable.
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
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