Self-publishing in 2021 is both easier and harder than ever. Anyone can write a book and launch it on Amazon, but will anyone read it? Writer Twitter is chock full of heart broken self-published authors who are frustrated that no one is reading the book that they’ve poured their heart and soul into.
This blog “Top 5 Publishing Mistakes in 2021” may be a little bit of tough-love advice, but if you are getting ready to publish your first book, these 5 self-publishing mistakes are things you might want to watch out for.
5. Assuming just because your book is on Amazon, people will buy it.
Amazon is currently the biggest marketplace for books, and anyone can self-publish a novel these days. That doesn’t mean readers will be able to easily find your book on the platform. In some cases, searching a book’s exact title won’t even yield that book in Amazon’s search results. The hard truth is that on Amazon your book will be buried under a mountain of other books. Even advertising on Amazon can be costly and difficult, yielding disappointing results. Putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket might mean that literally no one buys your book.
That doesn’t mean I’m saying your book shouldn’t be on Amazon. Of course it should. I’m saying that you need to:
- diversify the places your book is available
- not rely on Amazon to market your book (because they won’t)
4. Publishing your first draft.
If you can hire a professional editor, definitely do that. You can find a whole bunch of editors on Reedsy. Their profiles list their past clients, credentials, and reviews. You can request price quotes from up to five editors at once for a project and you can dial in editors who specialize in your specific genre.
Not everyone can afford a professional editor, but your book still needs to be edited to a professional standard. If you are unable to hire an editor, see if you can find critique partners and beta readers who have got an eagle eye for typos. These people are not an exact replacement for an editor, but I am just recognizing that a lot of writers can’t afford a pro-edit. In the absence of an editor, you are going to have to rely mostly on yourself to make sure your work is up to standard. Utilize free tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to help polish your manuscript. Be meticulous. Go over every single word with a fine-tooth comb. You’ll need to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of making sure that it is publication-ready before you release it to the public.
3. Underestimating the importance of sales copy.
People judge books by their covers, but what is the first thing that people notice after the cover? SALES COPY! This is the description of the book that entices people to buy it. Don’t skimp on editing the sales copy and making sure that it is the absolute best it can possibly be.
I purchased a book called How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen that I found very helpful for writing eye-catching sales copy! Definitely recommend.
2. Choosing an unreadable font on your cover.
Sure that font looks super elegant and pretty… but what does it say? These days, attention spans are shorter than ever. People need to instantly know what your book’s title is sans-guesswork.
Make sure you choose a font that is legible even at thumbnail size. Often times, your book’s thumbnail will be the first time someone sees your book on a website. If a potential reader can’t read your title when it’s a thumbnail, they might not click on it.
And please note: adding a drop-shadow to a font doesn’t make it automatically readable.
1. Releasing Your Book Too Fast
This one is a hot button topic that might make me unpopular with some indie authors.
After you’ve spent months or years writing your book and polishing your manuscript, you might be tempted to just sign up for KDP and send it out into the world. I get it. I really do. But unless you are trying to immediately capitalize on a current, hot, news-worthy trend, you’re doing your book a disservice by rushing to publication without a plan.
Traditional publishers often schedule a book’s release for an entire YEAR after the book is finished. Yes, I realize that’s a crazy long time when in a few clicks of your fingers you could publish it in 10 minutes. But what are traditional publishers doing during that time? Not sitting on their hands. They are busy making sure that the book’s launch is a success by:
- Reaching out to book bloggers for coordinated marketing efforts
- Generating pre-sales
- Sending ARCs through services like NetGalley to generate advance reviews prior to publication
- Having the author create buzz on social media including book giveaways, cover reveal, book swag, countdowns to launch day, etc.
- Making a book trailer
- Organizing a book tour (now a lot of authors are doing them virtually because of COVID.)
These are all things that you can do too, but they take time. Debbie Macomber has a really cool book launch checklist, see how many of these things you could use in your own book marketing plan… and most importantly, give your launch plan the time it needs to be properly executed.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you get ready to launch your very own book! Remember, in the absence of a publisher, you have to wear a lot of hats yourself. But with proper planning and effort, you can make your book’s launch a success!
Good luck on your self-publishing journey and happy writing!