What does it take to compete in the current book market? The first step is to act like a professional publisher. Many self-publishers have received a negative reputation and most of the time, it’s because they don’t follow these best practices.

Here’s how to publish like a pro:

1. Invest in Edits

Why talk editing in a section on marketing? Because if you don’t have a quality book, nothing you do is going to help you market it. You won’t look professional. Reviewers don’t hold back when commenting on a poorly edited book.

Editing matters. It can be a tough and expensive process, but editing is when your book truly comes alive, and all your hard work writing pays off. Yes, editing is more work, but it needs to happen.

And no, the next-door-neighbor kid shouldn’t handle your editing. Neither should family members or people who say they’ll do it for little or no cost. Getting a professional editor will be worth it—trust us.

2. Get a Custom-Designed Book Cover

People judge books by their covers, and your book cover is the first—and possibly only—chance to hook a reader. Don’t waste the chance by doing it yourself or using a template that other people have used.

Hire a cover designer, preferably one who specializes in your book’s genre. Readers of each genre have certain expectations about what a cover should look like, and your cover designer has to know what those are to give you the best cover possible.

Don’t stock photos make everything look the same? A skilled cover designer can take and transform any stock photo into something that’s customized for your book. In the right hands, a stock photo is a starting point, not the end of the design process.

3. Don’t Rush the Publishing Process

Getting your book from idea to self-published book takes time . . . a lot of time. If you want to put out your best book, don’t rush. Take the time to develop your manuscript. Consider the feedback from your editor(s) and implement what will make your book better. Review your formatted book carefully for any lingering mistakes.

Professional publishers put out beautiful, well-edited books. The only way for you to do this is to give the entire publishing process (from idea to published) the time it deserves.

4. Market As Early As Possible

Even if your book isn’t finished yet, you should start marketing yourself. People buy from those they know, like, and trust, so you want to be known before you ever have a book out in the world. It’s never too early to begin building your author platform.

Once your book gets closer to its publication date, you can start releasing snippets and teasers of your book, as well as begin your marketing campaign. For ideas on how to get your marketing campaign going, check out our blog post on tips for marketing your book.

5. Let Readers Be Readers

Once your book is published, it’s important to let your readers be readers. Don’t respond to reviews of your book and don’t rate or review your own book on Amazon, Goodreads, or any website with review options. If readers contact you directly through email or social media, interact with them and thank them for reading, but remember that no one likes a high-pressure sales pitch, so don’t start every conversation by talking about your book.