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What Are Some Common Mistakes New Writers Make Self-Publishing

Updated on December 5, 2016
You can WRITE a tower of books, but the mistakes in them can cost you what you want most of all publishing that tower of books.
You can WRITE a tower of books, but the mistakes in them can cost you what you want most of all publishing that tower of books.

So You Want To Self-Publish a Book?

Publishing a book is a very popular subject, and there are hundreds of types of ways to publish a book now-- although the two general categories are the same: traditional and self-publishing. It is the means in which you can self-publish that has changed: e-books, short stories and self-publishing articles on hubpages, e-articles, and many other online writing sites, writing blogs and using CreateSpace or Lulu to publish paperbacks. There really isn't this all out war between them, but more along the lines of how well you as a write are in promotion and knowledge and willingness to learn.

What do you mean by self-publishing a book?

Self-publishing a book is a complex business since many people do not think that they have to do much after they have written and hit the "publish" button on the computer screen, if they blog or not. However, if you are writing online then you are a self-publisher, or an internet marketer- there is little difference when it come to writing. Or, they do not know that they will make profits only after spending money on the marketing aspect of their work. This is a hard business, and it takes time. Especially if you make some common mistakes that many writers new to self-publishing make.

The key to having success in this demanding industry is that you need to think of a professional looking book design, and how the layout of your book is produced and also what you say in terms of the back of the book is as important as finding the right editor.

Knowledge is Power, and without it you'll lose money

"You Know, I've always wanted to be a writer, so that's what I'll do... I don't need to know anything else." Sorry but, no, you do need to know more than just writing, in the publishing industry you need to know a bit of everything, because, when it comes down to money, a small name won't earn as much income as a big name, and until you're proven you aren't a big name. It's not a bad thing to think your a big name, but that takes time and energy to become on. Maybe some money, but if that sort of success is what you are after in this business means promotion and editing, you'll be working harder and not smarter.

I mentioned you'll need to drop the ego, now by this I mean the ego of "I know it better" you might and then again you might not. It is always good to have a second pair of eyes in how you write and how you market and publicize your book- an editor or someone who is familiar with marketing. This is why we call it the publishing industry. In my mind I think of the publishing industry as a lot of people doing a lot to publish books.

If your publishing house doesn't have the money for your then it is out of your pocket, and out of your experiences from books with online promotion. If you self-publish you need to market and promote and inventory your books. Either way congratulate yourself you are a published author.

You need to know contracts, the basics and how to get what you can, but you also need to know what is not negotiable. You need to understand copyrights, and what that can do for your profits. If your work is Copied money is a huge thing that is lost.

It's not just writing that is important, it is everything else in this publishing business. Publishing is tough, but don't make it harder on yourself.

Fence Sitter... Or not Willing To See The Other Side?

Self Publishing is Better than Traditional Publishing and Vice Versa Because I can Have...: Do you want the best market do you want the best audience for your book? Do you want to shout about it on your blog? Do you want decent reviews of your book on amazon?

You Do???

Great to hear it, because this is a hard one, I have success in self-publishing and as a published author (of several small short stories... which by the way didn't sell all that well, and i believe the magazine is out of business.) If you want control then you'd better be able to face some reviews of the variety of " I didn't like the editing..." or the design wasn't good" or many things which you can take personally.

On the other hand yes it is your book, and you wrote it and that is an accomplishment, but sometimes you gotta give a little. Don't accept everything but don't be hard on your design team or designer or anyone else. They have a job, same as you and that is to sell your book.

It is a bit of give and take to produce the best manuscript possible. Publishing a book is hard, but it can also be rewarding and fun. This is team work at its finest. Produce the best blogs you can produce the best hubs and other articles you can and you'll find success.

The most common mistake most new self-publisher will make is going to a vanity press-- of which AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and IUniverse are a part of. They are by far the three big sub-companies of the parent company Author Solutions that receive the most complaints about either book quality or service for money.

In other words, if you want to make money with your work, self-publish with places such as: CreateSpace, Lulu or better still, Lightening Source. Do your research and know and understand what works for you.

My Next Focus will Be:

See results

What sort of Marketing are you Doing?: If you don't want to market a book, don't expect too many in the publishing industry to want to help you... except maybe the true vanity presses. I suggest to people who are new in the publishing business to look at how they can promote both themselves and their book.

Look in the writers market, don't have one get one! It is available in most bookstores and in libraries in their writing sections. This will give you an idea of who is who in the industry. It also gives some basics on query letters to marketing to freelance work. Freelance work in vital to any author because you then have a presence in other areas.

Yes, it does make you think about the publishing industry but it is a good way to begin understanding publishing and its workings better.

Use the power of the Internet. Google searches are great. They can give you an idea of who is looking for what and where. Does you book do better in google? Can you find competing websites? Should you get an online presence now? ( the answer is yes you should)

Market yourself to your audience and network. Don't push yourself on people, but do tell them what you are writing about when they ask. it helps a lot in having a book published, you have cultivate both yourself and your book to potential buyers.

Editors and Query Letters and Literary Agents and Publicists: Think you don't need any of them? think again! you do. of all of them before you publish your book, get an editor, a good one, one who will tell you that content isn't working so well, and that this doesn't sound good. The one who will tell you what can be fixed with on each and every sentence.

Editors are the best. Tonymac04 is a great one to contact, he sees all my mistakes on my hubs and I've improved because of him... I hope! I have an editor, and I've also used the online editing places, but have a person who understands your style of writing. It is worth the price.

What about Query Letters? Well you can't get published in the publishing industry without one... unless you self-publish then you don't need one. But make it your best writing of all. Distill who you are and what your are writing about in twenty-five words or less. One page, make it good.

Literary Agents and Publicists are also a real help and you can find them through Writer's Market and online. Do your homework, ask questions, they should at least give to straight forward statement and if you are still worried, a sample contract. Most if not all will. Go to writers beware to make sure these people are legitimate. If they are, they should help you. Read the Contract. Oh and read the contract. Did I mention Read the Contract?

Know Your Audience and Write For them, they will more likely be smarter then you so don't dumb it down!: Write your best. Write for someone in mind, other than yourself. Yes it is your book or poem or whatever, but you aren't going to be the only who will read it?

I go with the idea that the audience is smarter than you the writer is. Sorry, but there will always be someone who will know more than you on a particular subject. They are the ones you need to impress, So know this now. They can also check into fact sin both fiction and non-fiction possibility as easy as you can. hence the name fans.

Write your best and also double check before you publish your book. Triple check if possible before sending it out. Go to google and type in questions that relate to your book. You will be glad you did. Write your book and have fun, but don't just write it for money or for you.

In the end, have fun and enjoy writing your book. Just remember: Presence, market and audience and less ego will help you in the end.  Succes is your in this publishing business.


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    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 4 years ago from Canada

      do it. I think you will do well publishing an e-book

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 4 years ago from Texas

      I've been toying with the idea of writing an e-book lately. Thanks for the great advice - voted up and more!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

      frank-- I do not think that e-books are a mistake, but if you need to focus on one thing or another, I wouldn't suggest having e-books and paperbacks and hardcover, maybe just an ebook

    • profile image

      Frank 5 years ago

      I found this interesting, but what about e-books would you consider them to be a part of mistakes if you use them?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

      James-- glad to see you back-- sometime as soon as edits are done.

    • profile image

      James 6 years ago

      I do hope you are about to publish soon, do you have an ETA on your book yet?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      James-- Iuniverse is considered by Wirters Beware and other sites of that nature-- and by many self-publishers to be a vanity press.

    • profile image

      James 7 years ago

      wow, you're right they are the same, and I had to check on the links, but they lead to the same website, how did you figure out that they were a vanity press?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      To the last two commentors--note that your IP address are the same-- also the publishers you suggest are considered vanity presses, which have negative reputations, Iuniverse is considered a vanity press, and aslo over-charges for services, they are viewed in a negative light by most publishers,and self-publishers who want to publish their work in the future. Also you will ot own yoru ISBn, which means you might not be allowed to republish anywhere afterwards with your book.

      All of the serivces you detailed ( both commentoers) are available to anyone who publsihes on CreateSpace, Lulu or Lightening Source-- Note Lighting Source is the "book maker" for Iuniverse.

    • profile image

      Palibrio 7 years ago

      Although new to the Hispanic market, Palibrio is certainly not new to the book publishing industry. They bring with them a proven track record of more than a decade as the world's leader in print on demand publishing. As a new venture, it is designed to revolutionize book publishing for the Spanish speaking world in the same way that they have already done as the indie book publishing pioneers in the US, UK, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand markets. Palibrio's vision is to stimulate the creative activity of Spanish language writers and allow them to reach readers throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Simply sign up at for your free publishing guide & get published to success!

      Self-publi­shing advantages­:

      1. They can do it in your language thereby understand­ing your publishing needs. For example, www.Palibrio.c­om can publish your literary piece either in English or Spanish.

      2. They will distribute your published hardback or paperback to libraries, events/con­ferences, gift stores, commercial & online bookstores all around the world.

      3. They provide 24/7 full support before, during & after the publishing & marketing of your book designed to ensure that it is kept up-to-date & in the spotlight.

      4. They will keep your book available for printing permanentl­y (Print On Demand) - when & in what quantity they are needed.

    • profile image

      Self Publishing Company 7 years ago

      iUniverse is the leading book publisher, offers the best book publishing services in the self publishing industry. Chosen as the leading print on demand book publisher among self-publishing companies. As a self publishing company, iUniverse makes it possible for writers to achieve the dream of becoming a published author. With leadership that brings expertise in publishing, sales and marketing and technology, offers a unique mix of self-publishing products and services and the skills of a professional team dedicated to enabling authors to see their books in print. By offering a variety of affordable publishing, editorial and marketing services, iUniverse helps authors get their manuscripts off their desks and into the marketplace faster than traditional publishing companies.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      Jo-- happy to be of service around here when it comes to publishing.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 7 years ago

      This is some really good stuff here. I will try to see about some of your ideas. I would like to thank you for a great detailed hub! :-)

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      John-- yes I will, I am gald you enjoyed this.

    • profile image

      John 7 years ago

      I really liked this one, will you be doing more about publishing?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      Micky Dee- I am please dot help out in anyway i can, you are most welcome.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Informative! Thank you Rebecca!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      veejay23-- I think that is awesome, and e-books are a great way to do this. Keep up the great work!

    • veejay23 profile image

      veejay23 7 years ago from South Africa

      I started by writing articles for my website's SEO, than an ebook. My next step will be an A4 manual on "how to make money online and offline. Bought two manuals in the past for myself and want to pass on the business knowledge and get paid for it.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      NNazir-- excellent points but it is harder to self-publish sometimes, not everyone can do it and do it with profits.

      As for online magazines, they come and go, and they are also hard in their own way, not all that easy. in poetry keywords sometimes help a bit, but that is if you want to publish online. I personally love a good book =)

    • NNazir profile image

      Nauman Nazir 8 years ago from Pakistan

      mbwalz: selling poetry books today is similar to selling ice-cream in winter...and companies do advertise ice-creams in winter!!

      Instead of publishing 'traditional peotry books', think of other ways to make people read your stuff. I tell u some keywords: marketing, creativity, 'ice-cream' in winter.

      Y spend so much on a book when u can afford a monthly mag with the same?? You can later re-invest the money on your magazine...

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      mbwalz-- actually I do read and buy and review poetry so you have one person here. But you are correct not many people buy poetry but Writers market does have a new section out called Poets Markets which might help you.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      NNazir-- thanks for the comment, but yes design is something that i'm nto good at so I'll let others who are in the know do it for me. sometimes cost play a big role in the design and marketing of books.

    • mbwalz profile image

      MaryBeth Walz 8 years ago from Maine

      I've been thinking about self publishing my poetry - really with the idea that no one actually BUYS poetry books anymore. You have some great food for thought - thanks!

    • NNazir profile image

      Nauman Nazir 8 years ago from Pakistan

      I was on the way to one of the 'pits' you identified, thanks of warning me :)

      As I see, we can control the design of our book if v do 'all the work' ourselves and ask the publisher, nicely off-course, to print and distribute our books (it's more cost efficient, u know).

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      AdamGD-- you are most welcome, no I don't have my short stories up as yet, but I think I will one day. It's a little less "hard' when you know hwo to see it, step by step. If you need anything else, just aks.

    • profile image

      AdamGD 8 years ago

      Thanks for this it has cleared up many of the initial questions I have about publishing and self-publishing. I very much appreciate your pragmatic approach to taking on huge projects like getting published it makes it seems less daunting. Would love to read one of your short stories are they available on Hubpages?

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      hypnodude-- I'd say even if you want to self-publish get an editor beyond the company's editing serives, that makes the book. thanks so much for the comment.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      PegCole17-- yes it was eaiser in a way, but for me at least it is simple to decide on places, but I've been in this game for a while now, so it's easy to give this info, I hope it help you.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      dali48-- I've not had much experience in ebooks4, but I'd take my time ( alot of time-- weeks nto days) looking into the market before making a commitment, I'd also check a good editor before publishing an ebook, anywhere, but it seems like a good idea, but get an editor beofre you do anything and write up a marketing plan for who this is going to be sold to.

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrew 8 years ago from Italy

      I think that hubpages as a website goes that well thanks to authors like you who write such interesting, professional and needed hubs. I think you're pretty right about publishing through an editor, his job is making money selling books and being a professional he will tell if the book is good enough. Better a no than spending money for a bad book self-published.

      Very good hub Rebecca, bookmarked like the previous one. :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Kind of miss the days when it was simpler even if it was harder to publish. There are so many venues and choices now it's hard to decide which way to go. Thanks for the good information here.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      juneaukid-- thanks for stopping by and yes, marketing is vital when you write and when you want to get people to review it. but it must be easy since you write in such a great way!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      Mystique1957-- you are so welcome, and thanks for the comments. yes getting a person to give you the right advice is priceless.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      fishtiger58-- you are wlecome and thanks for coming by and commenting.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      hello hello--- I am glad to see you've stopped by and hope that the insight and ideas will help you publish a book.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      dohn121-- here is to you being published this year. I believe you will be able to do that, your writing hubs are awesome.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 8 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Thanks very much, Rebecca for this hub. Publishing can be fun. I've published mostly with university presses, but true enough, you have to help in the marketing process by suggesting reviewers, giving readings at bookstores across the country or at colleges and institutes.

    • Mystique1957 profile image

      Mystique1957 8 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela


      Thanks again for the info!

      I got ideas a lot clearer now!

      To have someone giving you the

      right advices does help!

      Thanks for being here!

      Warm regards,


    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Thanks for a great read and interesting facts.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      I so enjoyed reading all you good advices and thank you so much. It gave me a lot of inside and ideas.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You give nothing but the best advice as always, Rebecca. I'm still gearing myself up to get signed this year with a publishing house. I'm almost finished editing my first novel...Here's to us getting published!


    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 8 years ago from Canada

      Author LMS-- I wish you the best of luck with that. Hope this hub helps you.

    • profile image

      AuthorLMS 8 years ago

      Thanks for this because I do plan on publishing a book some day and hopefully within the next year or so.


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