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  • Writer's pictureAmy Quick Parrish

The 7 Biggest Self Publishing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

A typewriter typing "Ready to get published."

  1. Unprofessional cover. There's literally no reason to have a bad cover these days. There are numerous high-quality highly skilled professional cover designers out there. While you definitely get what you pay for, there are cover designers who create a quality cover for as low as $35 and, of course, for as high as $800 or $1000 or more. Do your research, but definitely put your trust in a professional cover designer. Even those of us who are "good at art" might not have the understand of what sorts of fonts for titles are popular, or placement of author's name. Hire a professional.

  2. A poorly formatted book. Although Amazon KDP will allow you to upload a MS Word file that doesn't mean you should do it. Again, in this day and age there are numerous options. There are professionals who will format your book complete with title designs, chapter numbers in a font that matches your genre, and there are software programs that will do the same while allowing you to make little tweaks if you find a typo or something that you want to change. And speaking of typos...

  3. A poorly edited book. I have always hired a professional editor for my book, however it's really hard to vet an editor. There are lots of types of editors. Developmental, line editors, proofreaders... do your research. Ask for a sample. Get recommendations. After some trial and error with my first few novels, I got a recommendation from a fellow writer who had published over fifteen books. This editor was prompt, lovely to work with, knew her stuff and did a fantastic job.

  4. No reviews. It's like the whole chicken-egg thing. You need reviews to sell a book but you can't sell a book unless you have reviews. So what do you do? My best source has been NetGalley. It's expensive, but it's a site designated to people who love to read, love to write reviews and will post and share on social media when your book comes out. The allure to writers is that many of these are professionals who work for major publications, others are book professionals who may be buyers for bookshops, etc. The truth is that most of the readers willing to read an unknown indie writer are regular readers who happened to want to read your book. It's okay to let them. You're starting out, they're starting out. Any publicity is good publicity. There are other places to find reviewers -- it's important to get real, organic reviews and not pay for them. With organizations like NetGalley you're paying to use the site, they are reading a free book and writing a review for free... if they choose to. They may not want to write a review, which is okay (because maybe they didn't like it!). Once you have about twenty reviews, you can consider spending some money on advertising.

  5. Not advertising. They say you have to spend money to make money, and I know a lot of indie authors can't fathom spending years on a novel, then paying for cover design and editing and then spending even more on advertising. But it's important. There are Amazon ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, BookBub ads, Goodreads ads, Goodreads Giveaways, sites designed for indie authors such as Written Word Media or AuthorsXP. But you have to advertise. Canva and BookBrush are two great resources for creating ads. BookBub has templates right on their site. Advertising is worth the money and makes a difference!

  6. Advertising only to friends and family. Your friends and family love you but they don't want to see endless ads for your new book. They already bought it. Advertising to strangers will get you some real fans who will share your book via word of mouth - not because the played in the sandbox with you as a kid but because they genuinely love the writing.

  7. Writing only one book. The most successful indie authors publish three to four books a year. That's a lot. But if you don't shoot for the bull's eye, you'll never even reach the target. Think of the books and authors you've loved over the years. Wasn't it wonderful when you discovered your favorite author had ten books you could read? I bet you read them all. What a great marketing trick! Consider creating a series of at least four books. Then either continue or start a new series. You can put the first book in the series on perma-free or on KDP. Add info about your sequels in the back matter of the book so that once the reader finishes they know exactly how to get the next book in the series. With four books in a series, you're earning four times the royalties and you can advertise at a fraction of the cost when advertising the first book in the series is secretly advertising all four.

All of these require time, hard work and investment. However, they all make a huge difference in your success as an indie author. Wishing you the best of luck!

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