Invest in a decent book cover. I hate book covers with grainy photos and red letters typed over them in bold fonts. I also hate monotone book covers that are all one color with the title at the top and the author’s name at the bottom. These are definite signs of novices! Most POD companies have some sort of automated book cover design program with stock images. Don’t use their stock images! If you do, just know there will be other books out there that have the same cover as yours. I budgeted for and invested in book cover software for my second book and it paid for itself in six months after the book was released. I also used it for my third and fourth books and lent my help to other authors for a small fee. Research your options or hire a graphic designer for assistance.
Edit! Most POD companies offer some sort of editing service, but it can be quite pricey. If you can’t afford to hire an editor, at least have a smart friend or two read over the manuscript and look for mistakes and misspelled words. Don’t think that your own eyes will catch everything, no matter how many times you read your own book. I’m guilty of doing that myself, and readers were quick to point out my mistakes. Sure, traditional books even have mistakes in them and some are always going to slip through, but if your book is full of mistakes and errors it can be a big turn off to the reader, and to reviewers!
Format your book properly and follow the rules! I have never, never, NEVER seen a traditionally published book that lacked right margin justification and I’m tired of self-published authors telling me that they did it that way because it’s easier to read. No, you didn’t follow the rules because you didn’t do your homework, or you don’t know how. I know that’s harsh, but it’s the truth and it’s one reason I will turn down a book for review right away.