Step #1 To Finding Your Readers: Make The Best Book You Can

make the best book

Before you embark on a book marketing campaign, you need to make the best book you can. Without professional editing and design, your product won’t rise above the other great books in the marketplace.

Author’s note: This is the first in a regular series of blog posts focused on essential book marketing topics for self-published authors in our months-long campaign, 2021: The Year To Find Your Readers. These posts will cover topics in two categories:

  1. 100 days before publish. Tasks to accomplish while your book is still in production.
  2. 100 days after publish. The latest and greatest book marketing tactics for self-published authors.

My last BookBaby Blog post outlined my plan for devoting time and energy to helping self-published authors find readers. For the next few months, I’m going to share the latest, best, and most-effective marketing ideas we’ve discovered by working with thousands of BookBaby authors. So off we go!

Create your best book

I can’t think of better way to start off this hard-core, marketing-focused series than with these well-trodden words of wisdom:

  1. 1. Get your book edited by a professional.
  2. 2. Get a professional book cover design.

I’m sure many of you are saying, “Huh? I thought this was a marketing article.” Trust me, it is. Successful marketing of any item – from books to cat litter – must start with a truly great product. If you haven’t done everything you can to produce a fabulous book, your marketing efforts will suffer.

Let me offer an example of marketing effectiveness from my past business career. Way too many years ago, I was a marketer for both Mattel and Hasbro collectibles. These were both tremendous brands that made outstanding products and featured world-class customer service. Frankly, it was pretty easy to promote their amazing products and we enjoyed great sales success.

A few years later, when I became a marketing consultant, I was hired by another famous name brand collectibles company. When I arrived, I quickly realized they were producing vastly inferior products with poor packaging and customer service that fell short of my previous experience. I resigned from the account immediately because I knew that creating marketing campaigns would be a waste of my time and the company’s money.

It’s the same situation for your own product, i.e., your book. I’ve written over and over about the need for these kinds of important elements for your book. If you’re contemplating spending time, money, and energy on book promotion, the need for professional editing and design is even more critical towards meeting your goals.

The importance of professional book editing

Let’s start with editing. We have a saying around BookBaby that goes something like this: “You’re going to pay for editing, one way or another.” Either you pony up and invest in professional editing as your book is in production, or you risk problems, humiliation, and embarrassment once the books are in print.

Catalog Hana BannerRegular blog readers know that I’ve written on this topic often, but I always point to Reverend Tony Lewis as the best (or worst) example of skipping a professional edit. “If just one author is persuaded to edit his book because of my situation, then I’ll be happy,” said Lewis. “It’s imperative that you have your book edited. I want to save people the headache and expense of what happened to me.”

If you’ve taken Rev. Lewis’ cautionary tale to heart, you’ll need to think about what kind of editing your book requires. Our blog post, “What Type Of Book Editing Do You Need? And When?,” is a great resource to help get you started.

Why a professional book cover design sells

Your next task is to hire a professional to create an eye-catching book cover design, and here’s where I offer information from both sides of the design equation. In “How To Get Stunning Cover Design For Your Book,” BookBaby designer Gina Stewart is featured in an expansive interview that covers how authors can set themselves up for success when it comes to getting a great cover design for their books.

Meanwhile, to get an author’s viewpoint, I spoke with Lauren Lynne about her vision for her Secret Watchers action-adventure book series. “I did my homework,” says the Oregon-based author of five Young Adult books depicting the ordinary-turned-extraordinary life of eighth-grader Owen Ryer. “I spent a huge amount of time looking at other book covers.”

Book formatting — or typesetting as we old publishing heads call it — is hard to call out in a book. And maybe that’s the secret to great design. Experienced designers can choose fonts, line spacing, and other treatments that help readers seamlessly enjoy the story from cover to cover. It’s only when authors skip the formatting step that it calls attention to the problem. From awkward line breaks to poorly chosen fonts, your potential readers will be turned off by the amateur look and feel of the interior. A pro designer is the person who makes a book look like a proper book.

Find your readers by finding professionals to help

By now I hope I’ve convinced you to hire professionals to help you with editing and design. If not, I’m going to be painfully blunt: If you aren’t willing to create the best book you possibly can, you shouldn’t worry about spending your money, time, or energy on marketing.

One of my associates has an even bleaker assessment of books received at BookBaby that haven’t been edited or designed:

Their books are DOA. Dead on arrival.

Don’t let that happen to your precious manuscript. Make the needed investments in your book to give it a fighting chance in the marketplace.

Read the entire series!
Step #1 To Finding Your Readers: Make The Best Book You Can
Start Promoting Your Book Now!
Planning And Capitalizing On Your Book’s Pre-Sale
The Basics Of Print On Demand (and how POD changed publishing)
The “Do’s” Of Planning A Book Launch
10 Book Launch Don’ts
Harness Social Media To Sell Books

How To Publish On Amazon

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and President Emeritus of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service provider. After a successful career with companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Pinnacle Orchards, Steven joined AVL Digital in 2004 as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. The native Oregonian was tapped to lead BookBaby, the company’s new publishing division, in late 2014. BookBaby’s growing book-printing operation is located outside Philadelphia, PA, and employs over 100 book-publishing experts across the United States to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Steven retired as brand President in 2022 and continues to contribute via weekly emails, industry guides, and posts on the BookBaby blog. He’s in the process of relocating full-time to southern France in early 2023. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to


  1. Excellent advice. I have already invested heavily in professional editing and cover designs in creating an all-new, revised Third Edition of my series, The Bluesuit Chronicles. In a couple more weeks, I will be ready for a new web site design. Does BookBaby do web designs?
    John Hansen


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