Top 10 Worst Mistakes That Self-Publishers Make and How to Avoid Them

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Top 10 Worst Mistakes That Self-Publishers Make and How to Avoid Them

We ALL make mistakes.

There’s no escaping that one. The school system, however, teaches us from an early age that mistakes are bad and they should be avoided. The person who makes the least of number of mistakes wins. However, I believe that mistakes are a necessary and a very natural part of life and the learning process. They should be embraced. Mistakes can be valuable opportunities for learning. But when learning something new, you don’t always have to start from 0, you don’t have to make e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e mistake yourself. You can take a shortcut whilst climbing the learning curve and learn from the mistakes of others.

Therefore, in hopes of saving you the trouble and giving you a shortcut in your learning curve, I have made a list of the top 10 mistakes that self-publishers usually make. I’ve made quite a few of these mistakes myself and have seen plenty of others do it.

10. Not Keeping a Pulse On Their Audience

You have to know your audience. Not talking about a surface level knowing here but a deeper one. What are the needs and wants of your audience? What do they expect out of your book? Spending a lot of time and energy creating something only to find out that nobody needs it and nobody is interested in it, is not a place you want to find yourself in.

Put in some time reading books in your genre with these questions in mind. Surf around forums, relevant parts of reddit or wherever your audience hangs out online. Get a good feel for what they are like.

Also, it’s a really good idea to read reviews of other books in your niche – both the good but especially the bad. This really helps to understand what readers like, what they dislike and allows you to get a good feel for what is important to them.

9. Not Getting Their Book Proofread, Edited and Properly Formatted

Often times self-publishers skip getting their book proofread and edited because after all – you read it and didn’t see any typos, right?

Wrong. There’s probably quite a few places where your brain didn’t pick-up a misspelled word or a word that’s missed out.

Give your work over to a “fresh set of eyes”. Whether that’s a professional editor or someone with excellent skills in English, this is essential to make your book error-free.

Reader’s threshold for typos is quite low – if they spot more than one or two typos they can get upset.

The same goes for formatting – if it’s not done properly, readers will pick up on that. And they may express their dissatisfaction by leaving one of those sour 2 star reviews. And nobody wants that! 🙂

8. Not Educating Themselves On the Publishing Process and the Publishing Industry

Self-publishing is a very entrepreneurial task, no matter which angle your coming at it. Having a deeper understanding on the publishing process and the industry itself is important for self-publishers.

Invest time into learning the various stages of the process, starting from the currently available platforms all the way to marketing and formatting work etc. This will pay it’s dividends.

Gain an overarching understanding of the industry as a whole and the self-publishing platforms as they are currently.

7. Not Finding a Unique Angle for Their Book and Picking a Really General Genre for Your Book

If your book is not unique or it in some way does not add more value to the market, it will be hard to stand out. So spend some time finding the right angle for your book and do research to determine what could be a good genre or good niche to publish in.

For example, if you choose to go straight for the romance genre, you’re going up against an ocean of other books. Instead, you can make your life a little easier by publishing in a much narrower genre that has more space for new books.

6. Overpaying for Services

Self-publishers often overpay for services that in reality they could do themselves with a little education or find much more affordable alternatives.

More expensive does not always mean better. Nowadays there are several ways to get top-notch work done for you without having to pay an arm and a leg.

Instead of shelling out thousands for design work (or marketing/editing and other services)

5. Not Getting a Professional Cover Created

Your book cover is one of the most important marketing elements of your book. It visually represents the content of your book and if your cover is low quality, that communicates low quality content, even if that is not true at all.

Unless you have some killer design skills and you know your way around photoshop, find a professional to make your cover for you.

Communicate clearly what kind of style, look, feel you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions until the cover is just the way you want it to be.

You can use the sites mentioned above to get this done.

4. Not Doing Any Marketing and Not Having a Marketing Strategy

It’s quite surprising how many self-publishers neglect doing marketing for their books. From choosing the topic and crafting an enticing title for your book, to writing a great description and running promotions, marketing is crucial if you want to get exposure and get sales.

Once you’ve gained an understanding of the publishing process as well as your own audience and your own goals, you will get a clearer understanding of what your marketing strategy has to be.

Once you’ve determined that – execute! Take all the steps you’ve outlined for yourself. If (or perhaps more appropriately – when) something doesn’t go as planned, go back to the drawing board, re-adjust and keep on going.

3. Not Expanding Beyond an eBook

Even though eBooks have been on the rise for the past couple of years and they’re definitely here to stay, there still is significant demand for paperback books. Why not pick the low hanging fruit and give customers more options by offering paperback and audiobook versions of your book alongside the digital version.

You already have the content created, which without any doubt, is the most time consuming and challenging part to get done. It’s only a matter of taking the steps to make the conversions happen.

To self-publish your book in paperback version, you have to:

1) Get it formatted for print publishing. You can either do this yourself in MS Word or find a freelancer to do this for you.

2) Get your cover created in print format.

3) Upload it either via Createspace or some other print-on-demand service.

Publishing your book in audio format

You have a couple main choices here – probably the best ones (depending on your specific situation) are to record the book yourself or to hire a professional to do it for you.

The other 2 options are to do a 50-50 royalty split deal with a professional narrator or get your book narrated with text-to-speech software.

Once you have the file you would then proceed to upload it on ACX – audiobook creation exchange.

2. Not Using Social Media and Not Using It Effectively

Social media is where the people are and that’s why it’s also where you have to be. You don’t need to be everywhere. Be where you have the most impact. 2 channels will usually be the best use of your time.

That’s why it’s important to know where your audience is. Is it Facebook and Twitter? Or perhaps your demographic could be more concentrated and more easily reached on Pinterest or LinkedIn.

Use social media to connect with your audience, engage with them on a personal level. Determine what kind of posts your audience is the most interested in. And then give them what they want.

1. Not Building an Author Platform (If You’re a Writer)

If you’re an author, building an author platform should be on your to-do list way before you are close to finishing your book. Also, your author platform is one of your biggest assets, which will really benefit you in the long term.

You can start with the your personal contacts, see if there are “influencers” within your friends of friends. Reach out and see if you can collaborate with them. Beyond that, use the 2 most effective social media channels to build and connect with your audience.

Next, set up a website (if you haven’t yet) along with an email sign up. Offer some free value like a report or a course, in return for signing up. And then, most importantly – engage with your email list. Give them value and do it in an entertaining way. That’s the path to take.

In Summary:

  • Take the time to educate yourself on the various steps of the publishing process and industry
  • Find the right marketing strategy for you and your book
  • Understand your audience and
  • Find highly skilled professionals for the various parts of your book and remember – you don’t have to overpay! 🙂

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