Posted By Sue Collier on November 3, 2011
There is a lot of information available on self-publishing today—there are blogs, books, and groups galore where authors can learn the ropes. Unfortunately, I still run in to authors who have made costly mistakes with their projects—blunders that could have been avoided.
Here are some of the most common:
1. Setting unrealistic goals. In spite of recent success stories in the news, you probably won’t become rich from your publishing venture. And you probably won’t sell a million copies of your book. Keep in mind that a book that sells 10,000 copies—whether self- or traditionally published—is generally considered to be a “success.” Another thing is that too many authors also believe that just putting their work out there is somehow going to result in sales, so they neglect putting together a marketing and promotions plan—which leads to the next item on the list.
2. Failing to think about marketing before the book is published. This is a biggie. I know that writing a book is no easy task, and authors tend to get caught up in the process before thinking of the next step, which is ensuring your book reaches your audience. I frequently speak with authors who have had their books out for months and have generated few sales. When I ask what they’ve been doing in terms of marketing, I often get a vague response. Or I have authors call me in September, asking to help them plan a promotions plan for the upcoming holiday season (which they should have started long before fall). It’s never too early to think about promoting your book and building your author platform. You’ll definitely want to have a plan in place well before the book’s publication date.
3. Not knowing your audience. Perhaps your book does have wide appeal, but not “everyone” is going to read it—even if you think they should. Also, consider your competition: Does your book offer something new and unique to potential readers?
4. Going the vanity press route and thinking you’ve self-published. If you pay a publisher to publish your book, and that publisher uses its own ISBN on your book, you have not self-published. And chances are, if you’ve got a vanity (or subsidy) publisher imprint on your book, reviewers won’t give it the time of day. Although the stigma is diminishing for true self-publishing (you purchase your own ISBN prefix under your own publishing company name and assign a number to your book), it still exists for vanity and subsidy publishing because editing is often nonexistent and interior and exterior designs are usually templates that look substandard. So if you hire a “self-publishing service,” make sure the end result is a well-done book that is truly self-published—by you.
5. Thinking you can do it all yourself. You can—but the end result will likely be an amateurish book that is riddled with errors. Even the best writers need good editors. And unless you are a book design professional, you want a pro to design your interior and exterior so they don’t scream “self-published.” Too many times I see authors in writers groups who post a book cover designed by themselves or a family member—and they almost always look it. Surround yourself with professionals who can help ensure your book reads well and looks good. (Get recommendations for professionals from other self-published authors whose books you like.)
6. Being stingy with review copies. Reviews are an essential part of any book promotions plan, so budget the cost of review copies in your original promo plan. I have worked with authors who were opposed to sending out “free” copies of their book—and the number of reviews they received suffered for it. It’s not unusual to hear some successful authors reveal they sent out a hundred or more review copies.
7. Not looking at self-publishing as a business. Once you’ve decided to self-publish, you are no longer just an author; you are also a business owner. And just as a commercial publisher looks upon any new book as an investment of its resources, so too do you.