The Top 3 Self-Publishing Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

The Top 3 Self-Publishing Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them, guest post by Jeannette DiLouie

I’m a self-published author and quite happy about that state of being overall. Too much of a free spirit for my own good, I can’t stand the thought of my novels being owned by anyone but me.

However, as a professional book-writing coach and editor, I can present just as strong a case for being self-published as being traditionally published. Honestly, I think it comes down to personality and goals here.

The Top 3 Self-Publishing Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them, guest post by Jeannette DiLouie
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Each writer is different, and so each writer is allowed to have a different answer. In other words, the point of this blog isn’t to discourage writers from self-publishing if that’s what they think is best for them.

It’s only to encourage them to do it right. With that goal in mind, let’s address the top 3 self-publishing mistakes – and how to avoid them.

Myth #1: You’ll automatically be able to sell a ton of books to friends, family and followers through your social media platforms alone.

Fact #1: If you have a couple thousand actively engaged Twitter followers, maybe that’s true. Otherwise, you’re rather out of luck.

No matter which social media platform you’re using, not every single connection you have is going to see your post. And of those who do see your post, not every single connection is going to react to it.

And out of those who do react to it, not every single connection is going to purchase it.

All added up, it can amount to a really low number of books sold.

Solution #1: Determine what your book’s particular niche is and run with it. Promote social media ads targeting those kinds of people. Participate in events, conferences and organizations where they go.

There are ways to sell your self-published books. It just takes a bit more effort than merely posting a catchy link.

Myth #2: You don’t need professional input on your front cover.

Fact #2: We all judge books by their covers. It’s just a fact of life.

Well-established authors with ginormous followings can get away with publishing boring front covers. For my part, I’d buy anything Kate Quinn put out without even looking at the binding. People like that? Their names alone sell their works, hence the reason why their names often take up a full third of the front jacket.

But that’s them. It’s probably not you. Therefore, you need to put some serious thought and skill into your presentation. 

Solution #2: If you’re good with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and other creative programs, feel free to skip the expense and do it yourself. Utilizing a friend or family member with the right skillset is perfectly acceptable as well.

Just make sure to get as many people weighing in on the final cover as possible.

If those resources aren’t available, sites like Fiverr can be a great, relatively cheap choice compared to spending $600 or more on a top-notch graphic designer.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a graphic designer in the end. But you do have to spend some significant effort.

Myth #3: You can edit your own book.

Fact #3: You can’t edit your own book, or at least not very well. It’s not humanly possible.

Take it from someone who’s written 15 novel-length manuscripts, published 10 of them and runs her own editorial business. After a certain point, self-editing is pointless.

Writers most definitely should work at revising their own first drafts, second drafts and third drafts – maybe even fourth – before asking someone else to read the story over.

But there’s just a certain point where the writer and even beta readers are going to fail miserably in helping you present a polished final draft.

Solution #3: Get an editor who’s willing to put in the time and effort necessary to smooth out your story. This means addressing where sentences seem inappropriately choppy, where plot points contradict, where setting details drone on and where characters come across as unrealistic.

We writers are too far inside our own heads to see all those nitty-gritty details. And beta-readers, while wonderful, are more interested in reading a good story than giving such down-to-the-last detail notes.

So again, get an editor – someone who is going to be honest with you in offering constructive criticism but one who also respects your ultimate authority over your own manuscript and genuinely wants you to succeed.

This can be a professional editor, or it can be someone you know. For my part, I utilize my older sister. She can be downright brutal to my manuscripts at times, and I don’t always like her for it. But at the end of the day, I know she has my back in pointing out what she does.

Besides, her input takes my stories from “good” to “downright awesome.” And what writer wants anything less than that?

The Top 3 Self-Publishing Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them, guest post by Jeannette DiLouie
Jeannette DiLouie was born a New Jersey girl and will die the same even if she grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in Maryland and is now back in PA. She’s also a cookie dough-eating, travel-obsessed bookworm and editor who loves helping others reach their own writing goals and dreams. Ethnically half-Italian, Jeannette is tragically addicted to carbohydrates. Ethnically half-Scottish, she’s counting down the days when she can go visit again. And being just under five-foot three, she happily claims her short-girl rights to climb on any shelf or counter she needs to.

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