When you are self-publishing a book for the first time you’re bound to make a few mistakes. After all, making mistakes is how we learn and progress. 

That being said, there are a number of self-publishing mistakes that can easily be avoided with enough planning. 

Here are 10 self-publishing mistakes to avoid with your next book: 

1.Skimping on Cover Design

Too often indie authors think they can design a book cover themselves because they already know what they want, or they are aware of free design tools like Canva for Amazon’s cover designer that will do the work for them. 

Typically, these authors tend to think their book cover isn’t that important because what matters is what is on the inside. While that is true for people (and yes, technically books), when it comes to selling books your cover is your most important asset. Your book cover is your only chance to make a first impression with a new reader. 

If your book is already published and isn’t selling you might consider redoing your cover/getting a professional designer to redo your cover. Sometimes that’s all a good book needs to start seeing sales. 

If you’re not sure where to start, Launch my Book can design your cover for you or you can hire your own freelance cover designer using websites like Fiverr or 99Designs to name a few. Find a designer who has experience in book covers and ideally experience in your genre. Covers can range from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $1,000 and are one of the best investments you can make in your book. 

2. Not Writing a Decent Book Description 

Assuming your cover did the job of drawing in a potential reader, your book description is the equivalent of a second date. Here you get to tell more of your story, but you need to do it in a way that is intriguing and leaves the reader wanting to know more. Writing a good book description takes work. You need to speak to your audience and give them just enough of a taste to click “buy now.”

So how do you do it? Start by reading other book descriptions, particularly in your genre, that have a high number of customer reviews and a good sales ranking. Try to pinpoint what tactics they are using to draw in readers and then incorporate some of those writing tactics into your own book description. You won’t get it right the first try so keep practicing. 

3. Skipping the Editing Process

Perhaps the only investment you can make that is on par with a professional book cover is hiring a professional editor. All traditionally published books are copy edited first, and self-published books deserve the same standard. In fact, book stores won’t even consider carrying your book on their shelves if it hasn’t been professionally edited first. Don’t skip this step. 

You may think your manuscript is clean (and you should, because hopefully you’ve been over it with a fine tooth comb) but editors are trained to spot inconsistencies, typos, grammatical errors and even extra spaces. Having their eyes on your work is invaluable. 

Not all editing is the same, and depending on what stage of wiring you are in you may need a developmental editor, copy editors, line editor or even proof reader. Your book also might require more than one kind of editing to get it up to snuff. 

Incase you still aren’t convinced, read this:

4. Rushing Through Amazon Metadata 

Your Amazon metadata is your way of telling the Amazon algorithms about your book. Metadata includes seven keywords, three book categories for each version of your book, Amazon A+ content and even your book description can all be considered part of Amazon metadata and can all influence whether or not your potential readers can easily find your book. 

Instead of just picking “literature” as your book category, take some time investigating different book categories that will help drill down what your book is really about. 

Think about your keywords as potential search terms that people might plug into Amazon when looking for their next read. Amazon gives you seven keywords and while they are optional use all seven. Be strategic about what those keywords and search terms should be. 

Don’t forget to add keywords to your Amazon A+ Content and book description to further help the search engines learn what your book is about. 

5. Limiting Your Distribution

Too many indie authors only publish with Amazon KDP because they know that 80 percent of all book sales happen on Amazon. What’s more, they’ve read that Amazon offers expanded distribution and will list their book on other retail sites making it a perfect one-stop-shop. While that’s true, you can get a better distribution and better royalties if you use both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark to distribute your book.

Not sure how to do that? That’s okay, we can walk you through it: 

6. Not Budgeting for Marketing

While this isn’t technically a self-publishing mistake, we do find that a lot of authors when they are in the midst of self-publishing aren’t thinking about book marketing. By the time they come up for air and realize they will also have to market their book they’ve lost a lot of valuable time – and budget. 

Planning for book marketing should happen while you are publishing, or better yet when you are still writing your book.

7. Forgetting about platform building

Again we want to reiterate that successful self-publishing isn’t all about publishing. A solid marketing plan is just as important as getting your book to market. 

Authors who realize this will often begin platform building while they are still writing their book, or at the very latest when they have entered the publishing realm. This includes things like creating an author website, setting up social media channels, starting a newsletter, and even utilizing their  local communities and networks to start spreading the word. 

All these steps can make or break your self-published book after it launches. Don’t wait until the last minute to start platform building. 

8. Not Incorporating a Soft Launch

All self-published books need a soft launch period. That’s because there are all kinds of glitches and errors that come with print-on-demand technology. If you time your launch on the exact same day you send people to Amazon to purchase your book you might cringe to find out that your book isn’t showing up properly, your Amazon Author Central page isn’t linked, or your cover art has disappeared. We’ve seen all this happen which is why we always give ourselves at least a week after the book goes live to link the Amazon Author Central page, add Amazon A+ content, and make sure everything is displaying properly. 

This is also a good time to add those advanced customer reviews to your page, or editorial reviews through your Amazon Author Central account, so that on your official launch date your page is optimized and looking its best. 

9. Not Being Your Biggest Fan 

Word of mouth marketing is huge especially for indie authors. While it might feel awkward at first, you have to be your book’s biggest fan. After all, if you don’t believe in it, who will? That means engaging your local media; telling your friends and family about your book and asking them to buy a copy and leave a review; asking people to share your book on social media, etc. 

10. Quitting Too Soon 

Many authors get to the finish line and without a plan and budget in place for marketing they feel a wave of underwhelming wash over them. Their book isn’t selling. No one is leaving customer reviews. It wasn’t an overnight success, and podcasts aren’t calling asking for a booking.  It has disappeared into the vast sea of independently published books. 

While some of these mistakes could have been avoided, no one does something perfectly their first time. Everything takes practice, trial and error, and so does self-publishing. 

You may be able to give your book a shot in the arm with some marketing strategies for first-time authors, or you may want to move on to your next book and take the lessons you learned and apply them to your next one. 

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