I’m a big fan of Kimberly Martin’s self-publishing advice and super pumped she agreed to guest post on my blog. Keep reading for her list of 8 self-publishing mistakes made by new authors.
Kimberly Martin in the owner and founder of Jera Publishing, a self-publishing company located in Roswell, GA. When she isn’t collecting antique typewriters, riding her motorcycle, or reading the latest urban fantasy novel, she’s helping indie authors realize their dream of publishing. She lives with her boyfriend and her little buddy, Chase, a rescue cat that she takes way too many photos of with her cell phone. Kimberly grew up in California, outside of San Francisco, and has also lived in Oregon. She started a neighborhood library out of her closet with her brother when she was a kid, so it’s not surprising to see where that love of books has taken her.
Mistake 1: not researching online retailer categories
Choosing the right category for your book is not something you do on the spot during the submission process. Spend time researching the available options, checking out the competition. Choosing the wrong category and sub-categories will affect your book’s visibility and result in missed opportunities for attaining best-seller rankings. I dig into the necessary research steps as well as strategies for alternating categories over time to reach new audiences in my article Use Best Sellers Rank to Select the Best Category for Your Book on Amazon.
Mistake 2: unattractive or illegible cover
Ask yourself these questions: does your cover look good at the size online retailers display them in search results? Can you read the title at that size? Does the cover art stand out and appeal to your target market? In my opinion, the two things you should spend the majority of your budget on when self-publishing are editing and cover design.
Mistake 3: poor book blurb
Is your book blurb enticing? Quick tip 1: if you’re hiring a professional editor, ask them to edit or critique your blurb (the online equivalent of your back-cover copy) as well. I have seen online book blurbs that contain obvious spelling and grammar issues. Yikes! Quick tip 2: write up various blurb versions and send them out to a focus group of your target market for feedback. Quick tip 3: read the blurbs of bestselling books in your genre for ideas.
Mistake 4: not planning an official launch date
I see this happen all the time: as soon as an author’s book is done and ready for submission, the author rushes to hit online retailers’ publish buttons. Hold on a moment! Have you spent time building a buzz about your book release? Do you have a book launch event or blog tour planned? Is there a holiday or book release for a big title in your genre that will overshadow your release? The goal is to sell books immediately after you publish, enough to affect online retailer algorithms, so they’ll boost your listing and make it visible to more potential readers.
Mistake 5: underestimating production time when setting a book release date
Find out the estimated time frame to complete all steps in your book’s production: editing, design, proofing, printing, shipping, etc. Add some extra padding to that as timelines often change. Time your book’s submission so it will be available via online retailers on your official release date.
Mistake 6: no e-book or only an e-book
Even if you prefer printed books as a reader, you have to put out an e-version of your book, or you’ll miss out on sales. On the flip side, you need a print book option as well, or you’ll miss out on the readers who prefer print books like you. Printed books are also a necessity for events like book signings. Also, some journalists and book bloggers only review books made available to them in a printed version. Several print-on-demand options make book printing an affordable prospect for authors.
Mistake 7: no Amazon Author Page
Take the time to create your Amazon Author Page at authorcentral.amazon.com. This will allow you to expand on your book’s listing and have more control over what people on Amazon see when they check out your book’s page. This will also make it easier for fans to find all your books, not just the one they are currently looking at. You can enter editorial reviews, connect your blog, and so much more with your Author Central account.
Mistake 8: responding to reviews
So, you published your book, and your reviews have started coming in. Congrats! But hold back! While it can be tempting to respond to that great review, do not do it. And that negative review that is just so wrong? Don’t reply to those either. Saying thanks to your positive reviews can make you seem needy. And responding to the negative ones draws algorithm attention to the bad review. The more attention a review gets, the higher it will rank on your book’s page, so less attention is better. That does not mean that you can’t mention a great review on social media (Check out this great review I just got on Amazon!), that is fine, but do not reply to it on Amazon. And by the way, you should not be using reviews people posted on Amazon elsewhere to market your book unless the reviewer has given you written permission to do so. It is considered a violation of Amazon’s policies and copyright infringement.
I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)
Have you self-published before, or do you have plans to? Have you taken a self-publishing misstep you’d like other authors to be aware of? Please share in the comments.