As most authors may already be painfully aware, most self-published books aren’t commercially successful. But most self-published books also make a handful of common publishing mistakes. For authors thinking in terms of writing their book, they might assume that bad writing is the main factor to blame. And good writing and a good idea are definitely prerequisites for success. But while business owners may be confident that their content, informed by their experience and expertise, will be enough to make their book a success, it’s really a handful of common publishing mistakes that stop readers from ever getting to appreciate that content. And they have less to do with writing, and more to do with other aspects of the publishing process. Luckily, these common publishing mistakes are fairly simple, if not always easy, to avoid.
Mistake #1: Going SoloThe first thing business owners and other business authors need to realize is that self-publishing doesn’t have to mean publishing by yourself. Going solo is probably the number one mistake made not only by business authors, but by all self-publishing authors. As it’s become increasingly possible to publish without the approval of a major publishing company, authors have tended to take on the entire process by themselves. What they don’t realize is that it takes much more than writing skills to publish a successful book—major publishers have known this for decades. Editing, design, marketing, and distribution are all whole industries unto themselves. People dedicate lifelong careers to becoming experts in each of these areas. And they’re the people major publishers turn to in order to publish bestsellers. When authors go solo, they’re taking on all of these roles, and in the best-case scenario, trying to learn entire industries from the ground up. To earn the kind of success that traditional publishers expect, you need your own team of experienced professionals. This is all the more important for business owners that are aiming to boost their profile with a book. It doesn’t help to say you’ve literally “published the book” on a topic, if that book looks unprofessional and is full of errors. Certain areas deserve special attention from business authors, such as fact-checking. These authors need to work with an expert editor and fact-checker, since a book with these kinds of mistakes won’t just fail to improve your credibility, it will actually hurt it.
Mistake #2: Having No Business PlanAll authors need a business plan for their book, outlining specific goals and a general direction for how to accomplish them. Ideally, it’s great to have this in mind during the writing process itself. Try to envision what kind of readers would be interested in your book, and keep them in mind while you organize your ideas and write your book. Izzard’s 10 Secrets to a Bestseller Workbook is a free tool we provide authors to help clarify their goals, and to get them thinking in terms of a business plan.
Mistake #3: Believing the “Books Are Dead” MythSome aspiring authors may assume that social media and video content have eclipsed books, or are set to do so in the near future. This could not be further from the truth. Penguin Random House alone sold over 800 million books in 2017, which works out to nearly 2.2 million books each day. Success can mean reaching a lot of readers, and can be a game changer for a business or a career.
Mistake #4: Risking a Print RunNot so long ago, if you wanted to sell print books, it meant taking the financial risk of an expensive print run, and the storage costs involved. Many authors that make this mistake wind up with basements full of unsold copies of their book. Instead, print-on-demand services are now available to print a single copy of your book for each online order. Until you really have a proven level of demand, it’s best to avoid a print run and save that money to invest in your book’s production, like design, editing, and marketing.
Mistake #5: If You Publish, They Will ReadAs we mentioned before, for most authors, writing may seem like the key part of the process. And it is crucial. But even the greatest writing won’t go anywhere without the right steps to make sure people read it in the first place, and this is where design, marketing, and distribution come in. Too many authors assume that if their writing is good enough, all they have to do is publish their book and readers will flock to read it. When this doesn’t happen, these authors tend to give up on their book quickly. But major publishers never wound up with bestsellers this way, and you probably won’t either. Don’t neglect the rest of the process.
Mistake #6: Forgetting the Big PictureFor business authors, it’s important to remember the big picture of why you published your book. Fees from speaking engagements can outperform actual sales from a book, but the book is a way to get those speaking engagements. When your book is just one piece of a puzzle, make sure you don’t lose sight of the full picture. If you can avoid these common publishing mistakes, you’ll have just as much of a shot at a bestseller as any traditionally published author.
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