Are you thinking of self-publishing? I'd like you to succeed! Here's a quick rundown of the 5 most common and costly mistakes I've seen independently published authors make time and time again. But I won't leave you there, I'll tell you how to avoid them if you're willing to do what it takes. Here's a hint: start working with these BEFORE you publish! These ideas are for both fiction and nonfiction projects.
This is to give you a heads up on what you'll need to consider. I'll be going into greater detail and specifics on each of these areas and more in future posts.
Mistake #1: Hey, It Reads Good to Me!
You've spent 6 months or 6 years writing your opus and it's finally done! Woo hoo! Congratulations, buy yourself something nice, eat some chocolate, call all your friends, and then get back to work. Yup, don't stop now! Please, please, please take the time and make the effort to edit your work! Then do it again. Then again.
I'm not kidding. The thing that dooms our self-published books most often is the fact that we've spent so much time and energy in actually writing the thing and we're so thrilled to be finally done, that we think we're DONE. No, we're not.
Writing the book is, honestly, only about half the job. Someone said "writing is rewriting" and I think they're write, or right. Hire a professional editor (you can find one online) or do it yourself, but be ruthless. Get several honest friends who read a lot of books to be readers for you and listen to their comments. Cut, rework, re-arrange, combine, contract, expand - do whatever it takes to polish this baby up to the professional level you want it to be. It's worth it.
Mistake #2: No One Judges A Book By Its Cover
Nope. Wrong. EVERYONE will judge your book by its cover. Especially these days when we do a LOT of shopping online and all we see is the cover!
So don't skimp here. I see too many self-published books with murky, low resolution images, funky fonts, and too many words. Yes, you CAN do it yourself, but you'll need to create about 50 renditions before you get it right. There's an art to book cover design and it's not as easy as it seems.
Again, hire a professional or look into some online book design sites that will help you for free. (Canva, Poster My Wall, and Adobe Spark are a couple to check out. I used Adobe's PhotoShop software for mine.) Send the cover out to friends for feedback. Review a TON of professional book covers in your genre and decide what it is that you like and don't like about them and copy that style. For a small fee, a bunch of people will compare two options you've created and give you feedback at www.pickfu.comPickFu.
Don't consider your cover ready until it can sit next to other books on a store's display shelf and hold its own.
Mistake #3: The Content Will Speak for Itself
Make the inside of your book as interesting and accessible as the outside.
Mistake #4: So, I Just Put It On Amazon, Right?
Yes, Amazon is a huge distributor of books, but it is not the only one and simply putting your book on Amazon alone does very little for your chances of selling it. Spend some time looking into the choices you for distributing and marketing your book long before you publish. This is a large topic which will take a number of posts to cover, but start with these points:
Yes, this means you will want to become active on social media. Choose a couple only to begin with, don't try to be everywhere at once. (Facebook is still the most active, after that you might look at Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.)
Putting your book up on Amazon is like sliding it in at the bottom of a stack of about 6 zillion books. How will anyone know it's there? Whether you like it or not, if you're self publishing, you need to become at least a little bit savvy about marketing. There's loads of information online about how to do that if you look for it, I assure you.
Mistake #5: I Have a Publishing Deadline to Meet!
If you're self-publishing, then the only deadlines you have are self imposed. Yes, I do understand how giving yourself some kind of finish-by date can help with your motivation. We're all afraid we'll never actually complete the project, so we push ourselves. This can work to get your first draft written, but for the rest of what needs to be done, it can be counter productive.
Don't give yourself some arbitrary deadline for publishing. You will be doing yourself and your book a huge disservice. All these things I've been talking about TAKE TIME. A lot of time. Make sure your book is absolutely the best it can be - the most well written, clear, and accessible you can make it for your readers. Your cover conveys the spirit of the book and is clear, attractive, and appropriate for your genre. Your interior design is well thought out and readable. You've got your website up and running and you've started writing about the book and building expectation before you publish.
You've already spent a lot of time and energy in writing the book and it's important to you. Now take the same kind of time and care and energy to put those words into the most attractive, presentable, professional package you can.
You will need to take off your writer's hat and don your business hat. Because if you're self-publishing, you aren't just launching a book, you're launching a profession. Treat it that way. It will take you much farther toward success and will give your book the chance it deserves.