Issues of Life

Five Common Mistakes New Authors Make


Publishing a book for the first time can be a daunting experience!  Many people who want to publish books still believe they need to go through Traditional Publishers to get published, and are not aware of the fact that Independent (Indie) Publishing is now the modus operandi.  There used to be some stigma tied to self-publishing, because it was assumed that it was a last resort for those who failed to be published traditionally.  But now, self-publishing has earned its place and many self-published authors are competing well and even earning more than traditionally published authors.

Whether they decide to go with self-publishing or traditional publishing, here are five common mistakes new authors make:

1. Thinking it’s too hard to publish a book. So, seeking out publishing companies or ‘experts’ and falling for tricksters like ‘Author Solutions’.

Remember that name and ‘Partridge Africa’.  They are one and the same, and go by several names actually, as they have many affiliates.  They are not who they say they are and are not really out to help you.  I speak from experience.  I was taken in by their wonderful website and what seemed like great customer service, which was just a very effective marketing strategy to get me to sign a contract to publish my book with them.

What did I know about publishing a book?  How was I going to reach an international audience without their professional support?  But I found out too late that they had no intention of publishing my book and lost almost $600 in the process!  Thank God I hadn’t gone too far in the publishing process with them before I realised my mistake.

Please do your research before you agree to publish with anyone…if you really think you need that sort of help in this day and age of Self Publishing.  If you want to self-publish, I’d suggest you go to Smashwords.  They have great guides to help you with editing, formatting, publishing and marketing your book, and they also assist with circulation, so that your book gets into as many only stores as possible.  And they don’t ask you to pay first!

2. Thinking that your work ends with writing!  So, being lazy about the publishing and promotional process.

These don’t pay attention to details like editing, formatting, the book title and other meta data like the book price, book cover design and more.  What you have might be a great story or content, which may be poorly written, not proofread nor properly edited nor formatted.  The title and book cover design need to be well thought out to attract readers, and the price needs to be set according to your target market and their buying power and habits.

Many authors don’t want to be bothered about all of this.  This wasn’t what they had in mind when they thought of publishing.  They’ve done the hard work of thinking of and writing their great story and content, and they believe that if it is any good, it will sell itself.  They get depressed with thinking about this aspect and putting in the right work to ensure that their books not only sell, but get read!

You need to resist the temptation to laziness in this regard and take responsibility and pride in your business.

3. Thinking too small.  So, not building a reader/fan base before publishing.

These people rely heavily on their family and friends to help buy and promote their book by word of mouth.  Their niche of readers is so small, maybe limited to their church, community, state or country.  They are not thinking globally.  They are not business minded.

They may not have a website or blog or even a Facebook page set up.  They may not even be active on social media.  They may have decided to go with Traditional Publishing, and rely on these experts to get their book to the world.

But your book really has a short life-span to impress Traditional Publishers and Bookstores.  If it’s not selling well, it gets shoved to the back or removed from the shelf, and they will give their space and invest their time and resources on more competitive books.  You have to position your book to sell, by also positioning yourself in the public domain and being front and centre in your marketing strategy.

4. Thinking it’s easy to sell a book.  So, not having a proper marketing strategy in place before going ahead to publish.

I faced this problem as well.  I didn’t realise that this was indeed a business venture and, as such, needs proper planning, preparation, execution and strategies for marketing and sustenance.  I had no idea who I was selling to.  My book was for everyone, I thought.

Be that as it may, you’ve got to attract a certain group of people primarily.  They won’t all flock to you because one marketing strategy won’t work for all.  For example, toothpaste is for everyone, but marketers know that it’s Mom who usually does the home shopping, and so Moms become the target audience, and not Dads nor single men and women nor children.

Should you print only or publish as an ebook only, or do both?  Again, it depends on who you are targeting to buy your book.  Do they read ebooks or printed books?  You need to identify your main audience and plan for them to know about and get your book.  From there, you have a chance of reaching more people that don’t fall within this primary group.

5. Thinking more spending equals more sales.  So, spending too much money on publishing, promotions and marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, you need to be prepared to spend some money…but on the right things and at the right times.  This is why having a proper business plan, budget and marketing strategy is essential.  Otherwise, you will end up throwing your money around to as many people that say they want to help you publish and promote, without getting the results you seek.

Do not be quick to spend money because book publishing is not lucrative (at least not until you become a well known bestseller and develop a dedicated readership).  A lot of the things you need to do to promote your book requires time and not money.  Like running a blog, growing a reader base and developing trust with your readers.  Like developing and maintaining a relationship with people in your community and/or Church, so that you can ask for favours to talk about your book at events relating to issues your book addresses.  Like taking the time to write to or call each of your friends to let them know about your book and seek their patronage or participation in promotion.

There are many things you can do yourself if you take the time to learn, but otherwise, invest in a good Editor, Cover Designer and Publisher (if you want to print), who can help with formatting, printing and marketing of your paperback book.  At some stage in your strategy, you should spend money to have and maintain a good website (different from blog), which is professionally built.  You may also decide to pay money for some promotion on specific blogs, newspapers, radio or tv and other platforms to reach a wider audience.

I hope these five points have been helpful to you, so that you won’t make costly mistakes and be discouraged in your Author journey.  You need to remember that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.  Don’t be in such a hurry that you don’t slow down to think and plan and follow through on a strategy.

So many people publish books every day, and they are not all useless.  Many of them are just as or even more awesome than your book.  But what will make them sell is the effort and skill they put into every part of the process of writing, editing, design, publishing and marketing.

If you need a website or other business solutions to help you on your Author journey, check out Ufuomaee Business Solutions.  Aside that, I can offer my support with editing and properly formatting your eBook for acceptance and publication in the Smashwords Premium Catalogue.  I can also help with eBook cover design and book reviews (when you are ready to promote).  Contact me@ufuomaee.com.

Photo credit: http://www.writersedit.com

If you liked this post, you might like FIVE THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN A BLOGGER BECOMES AN AUTHOR

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4 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing this information with us, Ufuoma! I’ll be working on my first book this fall and I will probably refer back to this post a few times before I venture into publishing. 🙂

    Another thing I think is important—particularly in the Christian publishing world—is an author needs to know how to present themselves as someone worth listening to. While the writing should speak for itself, it’s helpful for publishers and readers when considering whether to publish or purchase the book respectively. I talked to a publisher awhile ago when I was dipping my toe into publishing research and he wanted to know who I was—someone in ministry? someone with a PhD? In other words, was I someone “important.” I tried not to let out a sigh, but I had to remind myself that these folks do have a bottom line!

    Liked by 1 person

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