Self-Publishing Tricks & Traps
At last count, there's 1.7 million little details, (give or take a few either way), that you have to consider when self-publishing. What any one person pereceives as a trick or a trap may be just as likely to be an item another self-publisher had no problem with. But if you've managed to get here, some keyword or another has snagged this page. So here's the little spots I've found problematic and worthy of some extra attention.
Choosing a Book Size...
You're likely choosing your book size based on its clearest pupose. Coffee table size? Paperback for beach reading? Be careful to also consider what printer and printing press you intend to use. There are likely different sizes for offset vs. Print-On-Demand (POD). If you need to do both, you may need to make sure that your provider, (or you), maintain separate files and make sure the right one is used for each print method. Any changes need to flow through to both systems and you would be wise to get a proof print copy for each as well as order a book through normal customer channels to be completely positive all is well.
From Word Processor to Professional Layout
Find out what your selected provider uses for layout. While the final output may be .pdf for a printing press in any case, there are things that happen along the way that can cost you time and effort best spent doing other things. For example, use of style sheets in MS Word makes sense as this markup is most often understood on import to a page layout system, (Quark for example.) However, other items, such as markup for footnotes, endnotes, "jump" pages, (i.e. See page X), may not be importable. OR they may only be imported if your providers owns particular filters for their layout program. It pays to ask first. Otherwise, you'll end up spending a lot of time pre-production on the manuscript in the word processor doing markup that will have to be re-done BY HAND later.
Clean Change Transmittal Sheet
It's important to be specific with your provider regarding changes. Even though it takes time to produce, a well formatted change sheet can provide both overall time savings as well as a checklist for quality control. The time savings may be on the part of your provider alone, but that still decreases your turn around time. (Though should also save you money if you are paying hourly rates for work.) There's a particular format that may be useful to you. Here's what it looks like in HTML, however, here's an MS Word document formatted that you can use and modify as well. This way you have a good change transmittal sheet. This should be done even if you're sending back hardcopy mark up of a proof. Why? Lets say your hardcopy gets lost in the mail? Now you'll have a copy of the changes. Also, unless your going to keep a copy of the hardcopy changes your sending back, that hardcopy needs to be sent back to you for you to check the changes. And this maybe can't be done if it's a proof your sending back with an approval signature. In other words, you would have to either pay and take time to have a photocopy made anyway.
You need software to modify the .pdf or whatever to add navigation structures. That is, you'll have to pay for whatever the current professional version is of Adobe Acrobat.