Publishers Weekly recently gave LeeAnn Brook’s debut art book, Points of Inspiration: An Artist’s Journey with Painting and Photography, a starred review, calling it “magnificent.” The author, who has been a graphic designer for more than 40 years, admits the self-publishing process is not without its challenges, noting the difficulties she had finding a self-publishing guidebook with start-to-finish, step-by-step instructions. “Many [books] say that they do’” she says, “but I found gaps in most all of them, and wound up combining information that I gleaned from about three.”

Brook considers herself fortunate not to have encountered any major problems during process, and credits her experience in book design and production for her success. And even though the costs of self-publishing Points of Inspiration were high, she says that “in the end, it was worth it.”

We asked Brook to give us some self-publishing tips for aspiring indie authors.

Hire an Experienced Designer

“They say ‘You can't judge a book by its cover’ but when it comes to making a choice in purchasing a book, the cover greatly influences the buying decision. Graphic designers who are well-versed in book design can help make your book stand out from the crowd. An experienced designer is well-versed in preparing photos and pages properly for a printer, and if done correctly, can save you money in revisions at the printer. Check references and see samples of published work."

Hire an Experienced Editor and Proofreader

“Experienced doesn't mean your aunt who’s an excellent English teacher, but rather someone who edits and proofreads copy for a living. Again, make sure to check references and see examples of their published work. I found that in writing my book, I was often too close to the subject and needed an outside perspective from a professional who had a command of the language. My editor helped my writing flow and also caught some critical typos in the proofing stage.”

Take Emotion out of the Equation

“It's easy to get blinded when you are in love with your product. Rather, be impartial and honestly measure the financial feasibility of your book before you start down the road of wanting to self-publish. Look at the costs first and make sure that you can make a profit after selling it to bookstores. Ideally you should be able to set your retail price at a minimum of four times the cost, allowing for the wholesale/retail markup. And don't forget about marketing costs, fulfillment and storage fees, shipping, travel, etc.“