While self-publishing has opened up brand new opportunities for authors, it has also created new chances for big publishing mistakes. Anyone can self-publish. This is what is so revolutionary about the changes to the publishing industry in recent years. But one thing that is clear, not everyone can self-publish well.
Without either the scrutiny or the support of traditional publishers and their teams of seasoned experts, authors who have chosen self-publishing to retain more control over their work quickly learn that this is a double-edged sword. The same freedom that allows authors to make all the creative decisions also leaves them open to make key publishing mistakes when it comes to areas like editing, proofreading, design, marketing, distribution and more. Few authors are also experts in any of these areas, much less all of them.
The flipside to these pitfalls is that if you manage to avoid them, it will put you head and shoulders above the ever-larger pool of self-publishing authors. If you avoid these publishing mistakes, you can compete on the same level as traditionally published authors, opening up a level of success that many self-publishers are unable to achieve.
If you’re thinking of self-publishing, it’s a good idea to know some of the most common publishing mistakes, so you can take care to avoid them.
5 Publishing Mistakes
1. Don’t hesitate to get help.
Traditional publishers achieve professional results by working with experts. Areas like editing, cover design, marketing, and distribution involve very different skill sets than writing. Even if by some chance you do possess all of these skill sets on an expert level, your judgement will likely still be compromised working with something you are so close to. If you want professional results, you have to be ready to hire professionals. This means being willing to accept outside input, and being willing and able to invest in your own work. Remember, you are still retaining the ultimate decision-making power over your book, and over your royalties. Instead of convincing a big publisher to invest in your book, you are investing in it yourself. This is all the more reason to avoid other common publishing mistakes.
2. Get an idea of what makes your book different from others in its genre, and what kinds of readers will be interested in your book.
This is how traditional publishers decide whether a book is worth the investment, and preferably before you even write your first draft, your idea should face the same scrutiny. Even a solid book, that avoids other publishing mistakes, is not likely to succeed if it is just another offering in a popular and overpopulated genre. This can go beyond the content and genre of your book. Whether it is the inclusion of unique real-life experiences, an engaging and unusual style of writing, or a one-of-a-kind plot or characters for fiction books, there needs to be a reason readers might choose your book over others.
3. Don’t skimp on the cover design.
Perhaps you are planning to invest in your book, but have a limited budget nonetheless. Wherever you ultimately decide to save money, cover design is the wrong place to do it. Try to hire a capable and experienced designe.
Readers will often make quick decisions on whether a book captures their interest, and an engaging cover is the best way to win them over in this brief window. Conversely, a poorly designed cover will often lead readers to dismiss your book immediately and not even bother reading your blurb or book reviews. This is certainly an area where many self-publishers go wrong.
Many authors will feel like they are the most qualified person to design a cover for their own work, but this is rarely if ever the case. It’s been said before, but people often do indeed judge a book by its cover.
4. Get a professional editor, and then take their advice seriously.
Much like book covers, this is another area where self-publishing authors notoriously fall short. A professional, final product hinges on the editing process, perhaps above all else. If you are serious about publishing, do not even consider moving forward without an editor. You may even want several editors, for example, one to help perfect the structure and content of your work, and another for copy-editing and cleanup. In any case, hire at least one editor, and look for a capable one with qualifications and experience. And then do not hesitate to take their advice seriously.
5. Consider skipping a print run unless you have a distribution deal in place.
Unless you have a guaranteed plan to get them into bookstores, or to reliably sell them at speaking engagements, a traditional print run might not be the way to go. Instead of having tons of copies on hand, there are new ways to sell books that might be more appropriate and ultimately more cost effective. Some authors may decide to stick with digital, avoiding print altogether. This can get you pretty far these days.
Some authors may be set on offering print copies, but even then there are other options. Print on demands allows a book to be printed directly for each sale, and delivered directly to customers. While a print run may be cheaper per-book, it is only cost effective if you are sure you will all, or nearly all, of the books. Don’t be another self-publishing author that ends up with thousands of copies of your book lying around, with no way to sell them.
Take Your Book to the Next Level
If you can avoid these common publishing mistakes, you will already be working on a level above many self-publishers. There are also now “hybrid” publishing services that help self-publishers connect with experts and spend less time and effort on these decisions, while allowing them to retain the control that comes with self-publishing. Either way, if you are hoping for real success in the publishing world, take these steps to get your book into the big leagues of publishing.