Stop! Don’t Make These Mistakes If You’re Self-Publishing a Book

Stop! Don’t Make These Mistakes If You’re Self-Publishing a Book

I spent 5 years in the digital publishing industry helping authors get their books into ebook formats.

I watched as hundreds of would-be authors failed, often selling only a few books to close friends and family. However, I also saw a small percentage of new authors succeed, and make a significant profit selling ebooks on Amazon.

Most authors spend hundreds of painstaking hours writing, rewriting and editing their books to perfection, before finally pushing “publish.” Yet, even the most insightful and well written copy can’t make a book successful, not by itself. One of the best sci-fi novels I ever read was written by a hopeful author, who to this day, has not sold more than a few dozen ebooks.

Here are the 5 mistakes too many authors make when publishing their first ebook.

1. Your ebook cover sucks

Your cover image is a key aspect a potential customer will see when making their buying decision. Your cover needs to convey the quality of your book and convince interested prospects that your content is worth investing in. When someone decides to buy your book they are investing more than just money. They are also investing their time.

Is your book cover professional and engaging enough to sway potential customers?  

Authors are often the type of people who think they can do everything themselves, but most writers are not designers. If you want readers to invest in your book, invest in your cover! Find a designer, and get a killer ebook cover designed.  

2. You spent how much?  

Don’t spend money converting your book into ebook formats. If you have a budget for your book, spend that money on a great cover image, or on marketing or on a pizza.

Turning your book into ebook formats does not need to cost you hundreds of dollars.

In fact, you can get a professional quality ebook for free. It just takes a little effort, and the right tools. If you are willing to go the DIY book publishing route, there are free tools that make the process easy if you know what you’re doing. Here is a video tutorial that shows you how to use Sigil to write your ebook, or convert your book into ebook formats.

3. I don’t know you. Why should I buy your ebook?

Building some form of credibility is absolutely imperative when it comes to unknown or first time authors.

Your customers have thousands of options, why should they choose to read your book? Are you an authority? Can you prove it?

Think about what makes you uniquely qualified to write your content. Do you own a company in the industry? Have you spent 10 years researching the topic?

Make sure your book cover and description builds your credibility. Recommendations and reviews from authors or industry leaders is another great way to gain credibility.

4. I gave up after three lines of your dismally boring book description

The book description you provide to Amazon is extremely important.

If potential readers are not impressed by the first paragraph of your description, they will almost always leave! Make sure your content is well crafted and effectively communicates the nature of your content. What can readers expect if they read your book? You should also include keywords in your ebook description. Amazon and search engines like Google use the keywords in your book to determine when your book should appear for search results.

Some useful keyword types include:

Character types (single mom, veteran)

Plot themes (coming of age, forgiveness)

Setting (Colonial America)

Story tone (dystopian, feel-good)

5. Why can’t I find your ebook?

Unfortunately, just because you wrote a book and published it online does not mean people are going to see it.

According to Forbes, there are between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year. Thats a lot of content!

By the time you click publish and load your new book page, several new books in your category have probably already been published. So how do you stand out from the crowd and get eyeballs on your book?

When companies launch a new product they spent months identifying their target market, crafting marketing messaging and determining ad placement. Yet, many authors don’t even consider marketing until their book has already been published. Do you have a marketing plan? How do you expect to sell books if you don’t have an audience?

Write a book marketing plan that has specific action items and realistic timelines, then hold yourself accountable. Consider talking with local news outlets or bloggers in your niche. Give away some books. Have a contest. Use social media. Create a profile on Goodreads.com. There are hundreds of options, the key is to choose a few channels where you can focus your efforts.

Writing a great book takes a lot of time and effort. Don’t let your hard work go to waste. There is still plenty of success to be had for the authors who are willing to put in the time. If you don’t make these common mistakes, you will be miles ahead of your competition!

Traveler and blogger Chris Guillebeau

Featured resource

Unconventional Guide to Publishing

Chris Guillebeau introduces the plan you need to finally share your book with the world. Make this your year of becoming an author.

8 comments

  • Colin says:

    Go along with the killer e-book cover design. Print as well. You only have to scroll down a Kindle/e-book advertising site. Covers flash by your eyes. A genre specific cover is needed, although you can wonder if a plain cover might create interest amongst so much colour splash! Promotion from reviews by known experts and critics and yes, celebrities will most likely encourage purchase. The mainstream publishers achieve this for their authors. Literary agents should know the right buttons to push, because they will hopefully know the journals, magazines and outlets that match up with novel. From an author’s perspective positive reader recommendation from replies after they’ve read your novel is very rewarding, but you need a marketing plan that is both innovative and forward looking.

  • Great post and most helpful. The links will be useful too!

  • O says:

    Howdy C.R.L,
    you are quit an altruistic kind!
    During my school years or rather when I first prefaced a text book with no vivid images or graphics; forthwith I boycott text books. I hate reading but I like to draw. Another thing I like to do is to check monthly horoscope of all signs. It might sound an idiosyncratic suggestion but trust me it will take care of two mistakes out of 5 (number 1 & 4 ).
    I’m writing a book about me and I picked my character because I’m connected with characters that are present and passed from this world.
    My best wishes to you all.

  • Dragana says:

    Great advices. I wrote my book and now I am translating it in english slowly. I will use these steps for publishing it on Kindle. Thanks

  • just curious says:

    What was this best sci-fi ever book called? It’s a genre with a lot of room for growth, for engaging authors. As I’m sure you know.

  • talatkhan says:

    Go along with the killer e-book cover design. Print as well. You only have to scroll down a Kindle/e-book advertising site. Covers flash by your eyes. A genre specific cover is needed, although you can wonder if a plain cover might create interest amongst so much colour splash! Promotion from reviews by known experts and critics and yes, celebrities will most likely encourage purchase. The mainstream publishers achieve this for their authors. Literary agents should know the right buttons to push, because they will hopefully know the journals, magazines and outlets that match up with novel. From an author’s perspective positive reader recommendation from replies after they’ve read your novel is very rewarding, but you need a marketing plan that is both innovative and forward looking.

    • Colin says:

      You do need a marketing plan which targets your potential readership. This can be a fluid situation and you need to re-appraise who your reader is? Feedback is crucial where you lack the backing of a multi-media mainstream publisher. Agree with comment that ultimately you need a marketing plan, targeted at key readership potential. This has to be a continuing action plan.

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *