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The Top Five Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

Updated on July 6, 2016

A self-published author assumes all the responsibilities that have traditionally been reserved for dedicated experts. Obviously, producing a great book is a given, but a self-published author must also assume a variety of roles, and each one is critical to ensure a successful book launch and enduring sales. Emerging authors who are unfamiliar with the process should take note of the top 5 mistakes self published authors often make.

Overlooking the Importance of Editing

Poorly edited books not only negatively impact the individual author, but they affect the efforts of the self-publishing community as a whole. In fiction, when readers stumble over misspellings and awkward grammar, it interrupts the experience and jolts them out of their suspended disbelief. For non-fiction, a poorly edited book with numerous typos can cause the reader to question your credibility. It’s almost impossible to edit your own work because of your familiarity with the subject matter. You need a qualified person who can find issues with storyline, factual discrepancies, typos, grammar problems and other inconsistencies.

Having an Amateurish Book Cover

A book cover provides the sizzle that motivates readers to consider buying your book. While you may find a great image and want to fire up Photoshop, resist the temptation. Professional graphic designers have years of schooling and experience, and they understand how to blend the elements of color, font and image together to create a compelling cover. Authors typically like to have control over every aspect of their book’s development, but this often leads to placing too many distracting objects all over the cover. You may like your work, but your readers may think its crude and cringe worthy. Always budget at least $500 for a professional cover design.

Don’t Oversell or Undersell Your Book

For some reason, self published authors seem to slide to either extreme when it comes to book sales and marketing. Either they have an absolute phobia for promoting their book, or they self-promote to the point of annoyance. Spamming with endless twitter feeds, Facebook Posts, emails and other social media outlets with an endless barrage of “Buy My Book!” messages will not help you develop a loyal fan base. In fact, the exact opposite is most likely to happen. It’s important to always consider how you would feel if you were exposed to your own marketing tactics.

Conversely, publishing your book and then hiding in the den won’t work either. Unfortunately, many authors don’t exhibit confidence in their work and appear to be almost apologetic. Readers want you to believe in yourself. After all, if you don’t think your work is worthy of their time, why should they?

Failing to Develop a Book Marketing Campaign

The success of your book will be directly proportional to the degree it has been appropriately marketed to its target audience. Read the last statement as many times as it takes to settle in. Marketing efforts must be well-planned and proactive. No matter how well written your book may be, it won’t sell if no one is aware of it. The book publishing process is similar to starting a new business. It requires a significant amount of time and effort. In some cases it may require a financial investment. Marketing efforts should be focused on a targeted audience that was established prior to the release of your book.

Failing to Write a Second Book

In a 2012 blog post, author Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote, “[I]ndie writers who promote their book instead of writing the next book are wasting their time. The more books you’ve written, the more books you’ll sell. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s always worked.”

While the tangible benefits of book promotion and marketing can be debated, no one can argue with the fundamental precept that multiple titles will help raise the sales of all your books. In essence, readers who finish a good book almost always look at the author’s page to see what other offerings are available.

The absolute best time to make a new sale is when a reader has just finished one of your books. Authors often spend a great deal of time futilely promoting a single release while neglecting their next book. Your new book should be started as soon as “The End” is written on the last page of your current book. Ultimately, it’s a game of numbers, which is why so many authors focus on writing a series. However, it is important to recognize the viability of your concept within a series. There are countless ideas that worked well in a single edition but failed to capture the same intensity in future releases. In those cases, the strategy backfired, and the audience and sales actually declined.

Maximize Your Time, Money and Effort

Avoiding common self-publishing mistakes can save you time, money and aggravation as you begin to understand the process. Always look for the advice of experts who have already had success in self publishing. Most self-published authors with high best seller page rankings are willing to share their knowledge and will be flattered by your inquiry. The path to success with your book won't be easy, but it's important to remember that most authors give up much too quickly. Use this to your advantage and stay focused and committed. If your book is good enough, you will find an audience.

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