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10 Common Mistakes Made by Self-Published Authors

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by Katrina Hatchett, Author-Publisher —

Katrina Hatchett

Those who write passionately know that the possibility of creating a piece of work that will be read by millions is an absolute dream. Writing provokes thought and emotion; wordplay is a gift. However, there is more to being an author than writing—there is a degree of business sense, too. This is even more important for self-published authors who do not have agents sorting out the books for them. Here are 10 mistakes you can easily avoid once you’re aware of them.

1. Making your own book cover.

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is spoken by many, but, unfortunately, most people still do it. If the cover you made yourself looks amateur, the chances are people will think the writing within it is, too. There are many easy-to-find, affordable covers on the internet. There are even free images that you can consider.

2. Using too many adjectives about yourself.

The word “debut” implies you’re inexperienced. Describing yourself as “aspiring” suggests you lack confidence. Also, telling your social media platforms about all your other day jobs detracts from the fact that you are an author. Use your platforms to promote yourself as a published author, nothing less.

3. Rushing the publication process.

Good things really do take time, especially when publishing a book. You want your book to be perfect: error and typo free. If you hurry to publish, you will read through it again and be very disappointed at its quality, wishing you waited. Be an author that waits, reads, and edits multiple times over and recruits an editor and beta readers to create a masterpiece.

“Give yourself time to develop the perfect manuscript, an amazing cover, a solid promotion plan … make sure you take baby steps,” says Ann Caldwell, writer at WriteMyx and Next CourseWork.

4. Not using an editor.

You will not find every single mistake in your book. Two pairs of eyes are certainly better than one in this case, which is why the vast majority of bestsellers have been professionally edited and proofread. You may also be a professional editor and/or proofreader, but the risk is probably not worth it.

5. You’re delaying writing your next book.

“After the first book, you will feel great. It’s a major accomplishment, though you need to keep the ball rolling to stay in the game. You are a great author already, so keep writing! “Update your social media that you’re still going,” says Lue Ramsey, lifestyle blogger at Brit Student and Australia 2 Write.

6. Using print run over print on demand.

Print run is when you have a certain (usually large) amount of copies printed in one go. If an author doesn’t manage to sell them all, they don’t make a profit. Printing on demand is a great way to only pay for what you sell while being able to keep promoting yourself.

7. Not asking for a sample product.

When publishing with a new self-publishing company, you are giving a lot of power over to them. Unless you know other authors who have published with them, it is a wise idea to ask for a sample book to see how they look and feel before giving them your permission to print.

8. Failing to market correctly.

You need to understand how to market your book to your target audience in order for them to want to buy it. See self-publishing in the same light as a startup business. Communicate with your audience well before you actually publish, as well as after to receive good engagement.

9. Not paying attention to the publishing contract.

Self-publishing companies can sometimes take advantage of new authors. A good contract will address where you can incur other fees during the publishing process. It should be sensible and coherent. If you have questions, the publishing consultant should answer them.

10. Not practicing your craft enough.

Though you have both experience and a passion for writing, you can still always improve. Attend workshops, talk to other authors, and read books! Anything you can do on a loosely regular basis to invest in your craft will improve the way you write.

Katrina Hatchett writes regular lifestyle blogs at Academic Brits as well as Origin Writings. She takes part in multiple business-related projects, where she takes on a problem-solving role with the goal of improving communication in business. She also blogs for PhD Kingdom.

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