publishing mistakes authors make

Writing and self-publishing your own book is an exciting adventure, and it comes with its own set of challenges. I’ve been there, and I’ve seen others trip up along the way. Every author wants a perfect launch, and of course we should put in the effort and do our best… but it’ll come down to the smart (or poorly informed) choices you make along the way. So let’s talk about seven missteps you should avoid when you’re setting out on your self-publishing journey.

Mistake 1 – Neglecting the Importance of a Professional Cover Design

Here’s the thing, people absolutely do judge books by their covers. An amateurish or generic cover can cause your book to blend into the background. Nowadays, with AI tools like Midjourney, we’re seeing more opportunities to create stunning cover art. But remember, these tools still need a skilled hand to guide them. Invest time to learn how to use these tools effectively, or consider hiring a professional designer who can create an eye-catching cover for your book.

Mistake 2 – Skipping Professional Editing

No matter how meticulously you write, it’s challenging to catch every typo or plot inconsistency in your own work. That’s where a professional editor comes in. They bring a fresh set of eyes and can spot and correct errors, inconsistencies, and areas of improvement that you might overlook. This investment can transform your book from good to great, making it a more enjoyable read and helping to enhance your credibility as an author. If you can’t afford editing, you can at least learn to avoid common writing mistakes and use a good grammar checker.

Mistake 3 – Ignoring the Power of a Strong Author Platform

In the age of the internet, your online presence is more important than ever. Websites, blogs, social media platforms — these are your bridge to your audience. Your author platform is where you build relationships with your readers, update them on your latest work, and even gain valuable feedback. Start building your platform early, engage with your audience regularly, and watch how it supports your book’s success. Is it annoying? Sure, and definitely focus on finishing your book and making sure it’s great. But ads cost money, and an author platform is a failsafe method of reaching readers, so you’re always in control.

Mistake 4 – Inadequate Market Research

Understanding your target audience and current market trends is crucial. What are readers in your genre looking for? What price are they willing to pay? Which promotional strategies work best? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you position your book effectively, set a competitive price, and select the most effective channels and strategies for promotion. A huge mistake authors make is thinking, “my book is different!” and it’s just going to somehow magically succeed.

Mistake 5 – Rushing the Publishing Process

The thrill of seeing your book in the market can make you want to rush the publishing process. But it’s important to remember that each step of the process — writing, editing, cover design, and marketing — takes time and needs to be done right. Rushing might get your book out faster, but it could also mean releasing a book that isn’t up to your standards or the market’s expectations. On the other hand, don’t nitpick everything all the time, a lot of the small stuff doesn’t matter. The first book is usually too slow, and too “perfect” (in that you try to meet your own expectations, even if you’re focused on all the wrong things).

Mistake 6 – Overlooking the Importance of a Book Marketing Strategy

Even the best book won’t sell if no one knows about it. That’s where marketing comes in. It would be best to have a well-thought-out marketing strategy to generate buzz around your book, get it in front of the right people, and persuade them to buy. Don’t limit yourself to one channel – explore options like social media marketing, email newsletters, author interviews, blog tours, and reader reviews. Be wary of hiring a publicist or marketer – those rarely work. Almost always, it’s the basic stuff like your cover and blurb that will sink you. The best marketing is an amazing cover.

Mistake 7 – Holding Unrealistic Expectations

Lastly, it’s essential to have realistic expectations. Self-publishing is a process that requires hard work, patience, and time. Don’t expect instant success, but also don’t get disheartened by initial slow sales or setbacks. Keep promoting your book, engaging with your readers, and most importantly, keep writing. Almost without exception, the first book you write, you write for yourself and it has no audience, and you didn’t turn it into a satisfying reading experience for other people, because you didn’t really try to. Those dreams of mega-success will keep you going in the beginning when you’re doing all the hard things at once, but they’ll also hit hard when nobody notices or cares about your book and you start questioning everything.

Self-publishing your book is a journey, and like all journeys, it’s about learning and growing along the way. By avoiding these seven common missteps, you’ll be well on your way to a more successful self-publishing experience. Remember, each challenge is an opportunity to learn, and each win, no matter how small, is a cause for celebration. I’ll be here sharing more tips and advice from my own journey, so stay tuned!

Until next time, keep writing and keep exploring!

Derek Murphy
Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a cover designing indie author enthusiast, finishing a PhD in Literature and shopping for a castle in Europe.