The 25 Most Common Mistakes when Publishing Your Own Book

The 25 Most Common Mistakes when Publishing Your Own Book

The top 25 mistakes indie authors make when printing and publishing their own books.

mistakes when publishing your own book

1, No ISBN or Placing the ISBN in the Incorrect Position on the Book Cover.

An ISBN identifies a particular title or edition of a title. This unique number allows for accurate tracking and marketing for that particular book. Each format of a book requires its own ISBN. An ISBN is internationally recognized but allocated locally by an official agency. Before you publish and print a book, you need to apply for an ISBN. Each ISBN can be generated and checked by online software.

Generally, the ISBN is on the back cover of a book. This makes it easy to scan in bookstores. Ensure guidelines are followed regarding positioning and cropping of the ISBN graphic. The minimum space between the barcode and the trimmed edge is 10mm.

2, No, or Insufficient, Market Research before Producing Your Book.

One of the hardest challenges when producing and publishing your book is deciding how many to print initially. If you print too many you will have unsold copies that have cost you money. If you print too few copies your unit costs will be higher and therefore profits lower per book.

Once you have worked out the optimum number of copies you can decide which print method to use. For example, with a  B/W book, if the quantity printed is smaller than 500pcs, digital printing is better. If the B/W book quantity printed is greater than 500pcs, offset printing is better. For full color books, if the quantity printed is smaller than 100pcs, digital printing is more economical. If the quantity is greater than 100pcs, offset printing is more economical. Generally, offset printing produces higher quality reproduction with color images.

Market research is also vital when deciding upon a launch date, format and how best to advertise and promote your book. Identifying your target market, and how to reach it, is as important as the contents of the book itself.

3, No or Poor Design.

Just uploading the file in word format gives you little control of how the book will appear. Design is crucial in attracting readers and potential customers. If you are doing the design and artwork yourself use professional software. Printing companies may offer design facilities as part of the print package. Ensure you see and check a proof before committing to print.

4, Downloading the Images From the Internet.

All printing images should be a high-resolution of at least 300dpi. Most images downloaded from the internet are low-resolution and not normally suitable for print reproduction. Use images from a source that is appropriate for print reproduction such as photo library or from a professional supplier.

5, Poor Cover Design.

If the cover of your book isn’t appealing, many potential readers won’t even look beyond this. Put plenty of time and budget into producing an eye catching cover that gives some idea of the theme of the book. If you are not a graphic designer, use a professional one, even if it’s just for the cover.

6, The Book Margin Is Too Small.

Generally, the book margin is from 8mm-20mm. It depends on the book size. The book margin is important both visually and to ensure none of the print appears too close to the trim area.

7, Incorrect or No Page Numbering.

Page numbering is important to keep track of where a reader is in the book and also to separate chapters etc. It means you can provide an index for readers if required. The style, positioning and size of the numbering need to be consistent.

8, The Page Numbers Are on Different Positions on Each Page.

This is not visually appealing and looks unprofessional. If you use a professional page make up software, such as Adobe InDesign, page numbering can be automated.

9, The Chapter Font Type, Style, and Size Are Not Consistent.

Make sure the design and layout of the chapter headings use the same font type, style and size.

10, The Text Font Size Is Too Small or Too Large.

The text needs to be large enough to be legible. It also needs to be an appropriate size for the audience. For example, a book for young children will need a larger font.

11, The Start of the Content Is on Left Side When You Open the Book.

Chapters look much better when they start on the right hand page. It is natural to start reading from the right hand page of a book.

12, The Book Cover Design Size and the Book Interior Design Size Are Not Matched.

Plan your design so that the book works as a complete package. Hardback covers are generally larger than the text, whereas paperbacks have a cover the same size as the text. Bear in mind you need to allow for the spine.

13, Starting an Article on the Last Line of a Page.

Page layout is very important for the book to be read easily. Breaks and titles in the book need to be positioned correctly.

14, The Article Title Font Type and Font Size Are the Same as the Interior Font Type and Font Size.

To differentiate headings from the main body of text use alternative font types and sizes. The style of the headings and text needs to be consistent throughout the book. This not only helps the reader but makes it look more professional.

15, The Book Spine Is Blank.

If the book is thin, for example, the spine is 3mm or less, the book spine can be blank. When the book spine is thicker than 3mm, however, make sure the design incorporates the title and author. Where there is room, include the book title and author’s name together with the publisher’s name or logo on the book spine. This will make the book a lot easier to find when stacked with other titles, in a book store for example.

mistakes when publishing your own book

16, The Book Title on the Cover Is Too Close to the Cutting Edge.

Ensure the titles, author’s name and any other details are not too close to the trim area.

17, The Book Title Is Not Large Enough.

The title of your book is the most important aspect of a book’s cover design. Unless you are a very famous author! The title should be the first thing a potential reader should see.

18, Not Choosing the Correct Paper for Your Book.

Coated paper is better for printing photos. Uncoated paper is better for writing. If images and graphics are important parts of your book, choosing coated paper is better. If the reader or user needs to write in the book, uncoated paper is better. Generally, for children’s books, coated paper is better. For educational books or coloring books, uncoated paper is better. Novels, with no images or graphics, tend to use uncoated paper. Print on uncoated paper can be easier to read as there is no light reflection. If the text of a book is printed on uncoated paper it is possible to print any photos and images on a separate coated paper insert.

19, Choosing a Book Cover Paper that Is Too Thin or Lightweight.

To make the book sturdy and professional, thicker paper is better for a book cover. Don’t be tempted to cut costs by producing a sub-standard cover. It is one of the most important parts of your book and a big selling point.

20, Choosing the Incorrect Paper for the Signature Page.

Using uncoated paper for the signature page is generally advisable because the uncoated paper is better for writing on.

21, The Interior Page Count Can’t Be Divided by 4.

Make sure the interior page count can be divided by 4. This is because with common binding methods the printed sheets are folded into sections before they are trimmed.

22, Texts and Background Are Too Close in Color.

If you design the background color and text color to be very similar, the book will be harder to read. It is important that any text in a book is clear and legible.

23, Text and Graphic Files Are Not Vector Files in the Artwork.

We suggest you use Adobe InDesign software for the design and artwork of your book. Using vector files for text and graphics will ensure sharp and legible printing for your book.

24, Images’ Important Parts and Text Running Across a Two Page Spread.

When designing your book, plan carefully when using text, images or graphics that run across two pages. This may not work well, depending on the binding method.

25, There Is No 0.125″(3mm) Bleed in the Artwork.

0.125″ bleed is the minimum tolerance to allow for any machine deviation when the book is being trimmed.


For more information on how to avoid these common errors and how to set up your book project perfectly for print, consult us here at QINPrinting.

Our experience and professional production facilities will ensure your book is produced to the high standards you require.