Common Mistakes to Avoid When Self-Publishing

Mistakes help us learn what not to do the next time we do something and, lucky for you, I've made some mistakes in my self-publishing journey. Thus, I've created a list of mistakes to avoid when self-publishing. These range from not doing the research, to not having a budget, to expecting too much or too little. Keep reading to find out more!

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1. Not doing enough research

In order to self-publish your book, you need to research the best techniques to use, what marketing campaigns to utilise, where to self-publish, how to plan a budget and more in order to self-publish the best way. If you just self-publish and let the book do the work, your title is going to struggle to get in front of new eyes and making any sales at all. Self-publishing, although rewarding, is an incredibly difficult process and without doing the proper research involved you won't know where to start or know how to really publish and sell your book.

You can find an abundance of resources by just googling a question you might have such as 'where should I self-publish my book?'. Joining a writing group, such as my Patreon, and taking a look at all the resources on Resource Hub is the first step in furthering your writing self-publishing career. Click here to view all the resources on Resource Hub about self-publishing.

2. Rushing the editing process

I am guilty of doing this when I first wrote my debut YA Fantasy novel, Cloaked Shadows and so this is a huge one that I don't want you to miss. There is always time. You don't have to rush to publish your novel because it's not going anywhere. This is something that I've slowly tried to learn, in order to allow myself more time to better check and edit my work, but also to reduce the stress and pressure that I put on myself. The beauty with self-publishing is that you choose your own deadlines, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to edit your work, have it seen by an editor, and prepare the other aspects, including design, that goes into self-publishing a novel before your official release date.

It's also worth doing at least two rounds of beta reads for your novel. I'd suggest the first being after you've done the second draft and have edited it as best as you can, with the second being when you think you're completely finished with your novel. You may find that your beta readers can pick up on something that you've missed, or that they might have missed, during the first round of beta reads.

3. Not creating a marketing plan

I work in marketing full-time, so this comes naturally to me, but others might not have even thought about what marketing they're going to do for their book. My advice is, start planning this as early as possible. Ideally, in terms of brand awareness, you need to create your social media accounts as soon as possible, if you haven't already. I'd suggest doing this before you've even begun writing to start building a dedicated base where you can reach a number of people who, by following, have told you that they're interested in seeing your posts and news.

Marketing covers a wide range of aspects, from your book cover design to your blurb, to your campaign strategies such as setting up a gifting preorder campaign, to creating giveaways, competitions and discounts.

Most of your time, and money, should be spent on marketing your book. You could have the most amazing book in the world, but if it's not getting in front of your reader's eyes, they'll never know it! I have tons of marketing resources on resource hub. To view them click here.

4. Not having a budget

Although it is entirely possible to self-publish your book for free, I wouldn't suggest it. That is, not if you're self-publishing to further your marketing career or so that readers you don't know (not friends and family) can read your book. The reality is that in order to self-publish you need to set aside a sum of money to give your book the best possible chance of surviving in the constantly growing self-publishing industry. Your budget will need to cover a number of things such as;

  • An editor

  • A cover designer

  • Pre-order gifting campaign

  • Paid ads

  • Shipping costs for signed copies

  • Your self-publishing platform (if using sites like IngramSpark)

  • Proof copies

  • Author copies for influencers

The list above includes only a few items that come to mind when thinking about spending when self-publishing your book.

5. Expecting the best, or the worst

I'm going to be real with you. Your book isn't going to make a million pounds or dollars in the first month of self-publishing, in fact, it probably won't make a thousand pounds. Not unless you're already a well-known author, and even then the chances are slim. Be realistic with your expectations to avoid disappointment or discouragement from self-publishing again.

At the same time, don't expect the worst either. If you've been using the resources in my resource hub efficiently, then you can definitely earn a nice sum of money. Aim for selling at least 50-100 books within the first week of your book being published. Sound like a lot? It isn't. Not if you utilise key marketing campaigns to spur readers to grab your book, such as growing press around you as an author and your book, and also running a gifting preorder campaign.

6. Not focussing on building your author platform before your book has come out

As I mentioned in one of the points above, you must start building your author platform as early as possible. If you start too late, it's going to be increasingly difficult to sell your book to new readers. The goal here is to have as big a following, and engagement as possible so that, when your book does come out, readers would have been excited to get it. Your author platform includes;

  • Your author website

  • Your social media accounts

  • Your email subscriber list

  • Your blog

  • Your connections

To start, choose social media accounts to create author accounts on and slowly start to grow these by creating a content strategy and making real connections within the writing community. Bookstagram is also a great place to start. Then, focus on building your author website which is a must. This is where you start to build a fan base, which is equally as important as selling your book. Your fans are the readers who are dedicated to you as an author. They're the ones who will likely engage with all your posts, subscribe to your email subscriber list and continue to buy your books in the future. Once you have a website up you can slowly start to build an email subscriber list which allows you to reach a dedicated number of interested people and increase your chances of click-through rates to your book and anywhere else you want readers to go to. Here are some resources you might find helpful...

Author platform category on resource hub

The Complete Guide to Creating an Author Website

How to Grow your Email List as an Unpublished Author

What to Include in your Author Newsletter

Wix Website Tutorial: An Introduction to Wix

What Is an Income Stream?