This week I decided to write an article highlighting the Top 10 most common mistakes authors make when self-publishing their book. I have published books both traditionally and on my own and I can honestly say, I have learned a ton along the way! First, let me start off my saying Succeeding at self-publishing is not easy. However, some of the mistakes that new authors often make, can make success even more difficult. Avoiding the following mistakes will give you a far better chance of success. The most important point that many new authors fail to understand, is that once you are self-published, you are an author. With that comes being open to criticism, and there is no way to hide and avoid it. You will get good and bad reviews, and your book may succeed, but will more than likely fail to sell in any great numbers. That’s publishing. It’s a gamble, and the truth is that publishing, especially fiction, has always been a gamble. So, how can you put your best foot forward and avoid looking like a new author who has no idea what they are doing? Let’s take a look…
You didn’t proofread your bio.
Many new authors are so excited about getting published for the first time, and in their rush to tell the world, they quickly write a bio for social media but forget to do a spellcheck and proofread. Spelling and grammar errors in an author’s bio are an absolute kiss of death. If your bio has errors, what is your book going to be like? An author checks every single word they write, no matter how few, or where they write them.
You extend the truth.
Well, let’s be frank here. If you tell the world that you are an award-winning and NYT bestselling author, perhaps you should have a high book sales rank, lots of reviews, more than 100 followers on Twitter and a few more than 50 Likes on your Facebook Page. People are not dumb, and they can spot exaggeration, if not outright lying very easily. Not a great start in gaining book buyers. Honesty works just as well, and it’s easier.
You made your own book cover.
It shows, and it stands out like a sore thumb as an amateur book cover. Get a professional on the job and give your book a decent chance of success. It doesn’t cost a lot to buy pre-made ebook covers, and even a bespoke designed cover won’t break the bank. But a terrible homemade cover will break your book sales potential.
Adult coloring books, erotica fiction, and no-content paperback books have been the all the rage lately. Naturally, some self-publishers see the market trends shift, so they adjust their course. This flawed method is an uphill battle to stay current with the ever-changing trends. Self-publishers who chase trends are merely spinning their wheels. Sure, they’ll get instant gratification, but never establish a brand by keeping up with the revolving market interest. Instead, they should stick to what they know and love. Then, build a brand around that passion. By building a brand and growing an audience, you have a greater chance of survival and long-term sustainability.
Not optimizing your book description
Every retailer gives you a page describing your book to potential readers. It’s another case of “make your first impressions count,” because nothing will send your readers running faster than a description that is boring, rambling, or full of self-congratulation. The best way to train yourself to write a good book description is to read as many of them in your book’s genre as you can; you’ll soon notice a common structure to the writing and what kind of plot points are highlighted. Plan to spend some time reading book jackets at your local library or bookstore or cozy up to your computer and cruise your favorite online book retailer.
Selling through only one distributor
It may require some extra time on your part, but don’t restrict yourself to selling your book through one channel. It’s important to get your book out there to as many people as possible. Explore options IngramSpark and Amazon, which give you access to different types of retail outlets. And don’t forget the library market, which you can reach through ebook distributors like Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
Not targeting your audience appropriately
In addition to ensuring that the content within your book is appropriate for your intended readers, craft the language and vocabulary to appeal to your readers and to be easily understandable. A fun, upbeat book about how to create a scrapbook or plan a family vacation shouldn’t read like a history textbook or scientific research paper. Know your audience and write specifically for those people.
Inaccurate information, a lack of organization, and poor writing
Providing inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, or misleading information to your reader damages your credibility and takes away value from your book. Avoid this mistake by doing proper research. Even if you’re writing fiction, you want your plots and characters to be realistic or believable.
Proper organization makes your book easier to read. The content flows in a more logical order and it’s easier to understand by the reader. The trick to developing a well-organized book is to begin by developing an extremely detailed outline before you start writing.
Improperly planning the publicity and marketing campaign
Writing what can potentially be a bestseller and publishing it is certainly important, but making sure that potential readers know about your book’s existence is equally important when it comes to generating sales. Many self-published authors do an excellent job creating and publishing their book, but inadvertently they forget about marketing and advertising, or they don’t realize the importance of these efforts.
Bad timing throughout the self-publishing process
As you complete the various steps in the publishing process, pay careful attention to scheduling, lead times, and deadlines. Rushing steps, cutting corners, or taking shortcuts is a surefire way to failure and making costly mistakes.
Bonus: You protected your social media accounts.
If you think protecting your Twitter account will allow you to control the world, you are dead wrong. Not only that, you are telling potential followers (readers) to go away. If you are an author, you cannot close off a single avenue for readers to find you and your book. Blocking users and protecting your Twitter account is silly. Followers cannot do anything to you. Well, except that they can all buy books.
Self-publishing isn’t an easy business; otherwise, everyone would become dirty, stinking rich doing it. You certainly increase the likelihood of success in this business if you minimize the number of mistakes. Inevitably, you will make mistakes. However, if you heed my advice, then you may have an advantage over most other self-publishers. If you like what you’re reading be sure to subscribe to my blog and check out my Amazon Author Page where you can browse a list of all my available titles. Until next time, happy writing all!