5 Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid as an Indie Author! A Guest Post Written by Rose Atkinson-Carter
The popularity of self-publishing is only increasing, owing to the amount of creative control, higher royalty rates, and quick time-frame it entails.
However, tackling the self-publishing world completely unaware can be overwhelming, so if you’ve decided to take matters into your own hands, make sure you’re familiar with its pros and cons, and plan ahead to avoid the common blunders that authors make when it comes to self-publishing.
With that in mind, here are 5 common mistakes people make when self-publishing to help you avoid them.
1. Not doing sufficient research
To paraphrase a friendly neighbourhood superhero, self-publishing gives you great power, but it also comes with great responsibility and important decisions for your book — e.g., from its price to its publishing platform. So, take time to do some research on your market, your readers, your genre, and understand the various publishing platforms available to you.
You can look up the pricing, page counts, etc. of other successful books in your genre, and learn from those who’ve got it right.
You may be tempted to rush the process and publish your book as soon as possible. However, do you want to publish your book in a hurry only to realize that one tiny change could’ve drastically improved the sales? That a more tailored book description could’ve made all the difference on how the book was received?
Only good can come from taking your time and doing things right. You’ve already done the hardest part — writing the book. Now, put yourself in a position to make informed decisions and make the most out of it.
2. Trying to design your own cover
You know how they say don’t book a judge by its cover? Well, when it comes to actual books, a great amount of judging is done by the cover — it’s the very first thing people see! Don’t make the mistake of sleeping on the marketing value of a professional book cover.
In an attempt to save money, authors often try to go down a DIY route with their book covers. However, even if you’ve written the best book in the world, no one will pick it up if the cover looks like it’s been done on MS paint. Unless you have a secret talent or penchant for design, this is the author equivalent of self-sabotage. It’s much better to save your time and invest in a professional book cover design (the returns of which are likely to far exceed the cost).
3. Rushing (or skipping) the edits
After you’re done writing, there’s no doubt that your own second edit will substantially improve your book.
However, as the author, you’re too close to your work to mercilessly give it the scrutinization it needs. That’s where book editors step in. They’re trained to spot spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and fix even deeper intricacies such as plot holes, character inconsistencies and structural issues. This will make the difference between your book being average and spectacular.
So, understand the different types of editing services available — developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, proofreading — and use the right ones to take your book to the next level. For resources on all things editing, check out this page.
4. Not marketing your book
Let go of the romanticized ideal of being ‘stumbled upon’ or ‘discovered’. If no one knows about your book, they simply cannot and will not buy it. It's understandable that most authors are hesitant to promote their own work, but as an indie author, you need to share own your work, tap into your networks, and tell as many people about your book as you can.
Don’t be shy to tell your family and friends to share it within their circles, too. Communicate why people should buy your product and give them an easy way to do so! This could be through having a strong social media profile, building an amazon author page, or securing positive book reviews. Having a concrete marketing strategy for your book is non-negotiable if you’d really like to stand out from the competition.
5. Not taking your book seriously
Just because you’re working on your own timeline does not mean that you can afford to be casual about it. Resist the temptation to slack off and give up just because you’re ‘not feeling it’. Taking your book lightly may translate into several costly errors, such as incorrect formatting, not making the most of your book description, etc.
If you don’t take your work seriously, why would your readers? If you’ve set a certain deadline for the book launch, you need to stay true to your word. This can be done by setting up a regular writing routine and holding yourself accountable to it. Ensure that you set the right expectations, approach your book with an entrepreneurial mindset, and give it the chance it deserves.
Traditional publishing normally means having an entire team dedicated to editing, publishing, distributing, and marketing your book (this comes with its own downside). However, with self-publishing the onus is entirely on you.
Moreover, many authors often get dejected and quit if their first book doesn’t take off, but remember that your next book can only improve thanks to your learnings and experiences from the first time around.
So, if you’re ready to self-publish your book the right way, look no further. Be strategic, smart, beware of the mistakes listed above, and propel your book to success!
About the Guest Blogger
Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, advising authors on all things publishing, from finding a literary agent and crafting a successful query letter to understanding ISBNs and book copyrights. She has previously written for Novel Effect, TierneyCreates, and more. She lives in London.