At Bibliocrunch, I get a lot of authors coming to me for self-publishing advice. Over the last four years we’ve been in business, these are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen.
1) Having Vague Goals
The first thing you need to do as an author is define your goals. Are you looking to get more readers? Or looking to sell books? It’s easy to get more readers if you’re a first-time author, but it’s harder to sell books.
2) Not Getting Your Work Professionally Edited
Once you’ve written your book, an editor is important. If your book needs a lot of work a developmental editor will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. Next you might want to get a copy editor to catch any typos. It’s also helpful to make sure that your editor has edited works in your specific genre. You wouldn’t hire a non-fiction editor to edit your fantasy novel. Not getting your work professionally edited is like not testing a drug before it goes out into market.
3) Not Hiring A Professional Cover Designer
People judge a book by a cover. They will judge how it looks on a black and white Kindle and how it looks on a tiny iPhone screen. It’s important that your cover design catch the reader at first sight. A mistake that a lot of authors make is they design the cover themselves. If you’re not a designer you should hire a designer. Before you hire a designer check out the designer’s portfolio to make sure your vision and your designer’s vision are the same and that they’ve worked on covers that are similar to your genre. Also, make sure that you have rights to use the images in the cover, and whether you own the cover designer or whether the designer does.
4) Not Doing Your Research On Vendors Or Vanity Presses
I’ve come across way too many authors who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on vanity presses who prey on authors. A vanity press is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published (Author House, Balboa Press, etc). Before you choose a vendor or press make sure you Google “[Name of Press/Vendor] Reviews.” That will tell you what you need to know about the press or vendor before you sign up.
5) Not Proofreading Your Book
Once you have the final digital or print version of your book, you should give it a thorough read to make sure it’s free of errors. Vendors do make mistakes. It’s your book, you want to make sure it’s perfect. At this stage, you won’t catch too many errors, but you do want to catch them pre-publication.
6) Not Having Clear Expectations
Always always make sure you set out the terms of the work you are doing within an email or in a contract. You want to make sure that you decide up front rounds of revisions and feedback with your editor or designer. Also, if you’re getting illustrations or a cover designed, you want to make sure you decide how many concepts and revisions are included within your budget.
7) Pre-printing Books Without A Distribution Deal
I had an author come to me who spent most of his money on print runs for his poorly designed and poorly edited book. Currently, he has 1000 copies of his book sitting in his garage. Unless you have already found someone to distribute your books for you, you might want to opt for a print-on-demand service like Createspace or Ingram Spark where the book is printed and sent to the reader when they buy it.
8) Lack Of A Marketing Plan
It’s essential to having a marketing plan around your book. Books don’t just sell themselves. This is probably where you’ll spend most of your time and a good chunk of your money.
As an indie or self-published author it’s really important to do your research before making any vendor, retail, or editorial services decisions. It’s a lot of work, but thinking through all the pieces will prevent you from wasting money, time and effort.
About Miral Sattar:
Miral Sattar is CEO of Bibliocrunch, a platform that matches authors with trusted, prescreened book publishing professionals. Miral loves books and loves helping authors fulfill their publishing dream. Her company Bibliocrunch has helped numerous authors hit the Amazon best-seller list. Miral just published her free ebook, A Self-Publishing Guide for NaNoWriMo Writers. She and her writing have both been featured in numerous media outlets including BusinessWeek, BBC, TIME, Forbes, Money Magazine, Consumer Reports, PBS, and other media publications. She has a MS in Publishing (NYU) and a BS in Computer Engineering (Columbia). Miral describes herself as 1/3 engineer. 1/3 entrepreneur. 1/3 writer.