Six Mistakes to Avoid When Self-Publishing

When my first novel, The Face Stealer, was ready to publish I did what any struggling young author would do: I sought out the easiest path to publishing and ran with it.

This in turn led to a number of mistakes, which on their own were certainly not disastrous, but together generated a considerable amount of effort later.

Here are my mistakes, try not to make these:

  1. Publish on Kindle and join the KDP programme.
    This 90 day exclusivity period meant I’d get a fraction of the collective pot should anyone borrow my book. But, just think—90 days. Three whole months where you can ONLY sell on Amazon. No Barns and Noble, no Smashwords, no Apple bookstore.

    The situation may well be different for an established author but a new author starting out needs all the publicity and selling channels they can get. Why limit your markets?

  2. Maintain a shoddy looking blog
    We all know how important a good base on the Internet is. For many writers, that shelter from the storm is likely to be a blog. It’s where you’re going to direct much of your audience and potential readers. Why wouldn’t you want it looking awesome before your book goes live?

    And this blog doesn’t have to be Wordpress (despite many vocal authors suggesting it should). The website you’re reading now is all Blogger, with a few simple formatting tweaks (to remove image borders and improve font colours).

  3. Don’t bother getting your own domain
    Because it’s a load of hassle and costs a bomb and anyway what the hell do I know about computers and stuff?

    But really, it doesn’t cost that much at all and although redirecting to your blog isn’t quite as easy as falling off a log, it shouldn’t take you more than a hour or two to get right. And there’s loads of tutorials to help you do this (not the falling of a log part—you’re going to have to manage that part on your own).

    If you don’t do this now, when you get to be at least moderately successful, you’re going to want to direct people to a nice clean sounding website: not one with blogspot or wordpress as part of your URL. Why not do it now so you don’t risk confusing your readers further down the line?

    I bought my domain through 1&1 Internet and apparently this isn’t as easy to get to play nice with Blogger as some other domain providers, but it is doable (and I did it in an hour). I also help look after a family business website and we used GoDaddy for that. My advice would be to decide on your blog platform, check out a couple of internet domain registrars and look for instructions on using your custom domain with the blogging platform you’ve decided.

  4. Don’t worry about Facebook, I’ve already got a Facebook account
    Except your Facebook account is probably your personal account with pictures of cats and ice bucket challenge videos. Why put your readers through that?

    You probably don’t want to use your personal profile page to promote your brand. But luckily, it’s quick and simple to set up a Facebook page and use that instead. That way, you’re always going to have some little safe haven on the Internet where you don’t have to be ‘on brand’ and can just chill out with your family and laugh at cat videos…

  5. Panic about social media
    It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but you really don’t need to be. Social media can help get the word out about your books but it’s also there to support you in writing. I’ve found some great groups on G+ including this one, that offer so much advice it’s embarrassing.

    And if you don’t have time to use social media there are tools to help with that (unfortunately not a time machine, although that would be beyond cool, obviously). I use Buffer to help me schedule my twitter and facebook posts for a few days at a time. Using this tool I’m able to keep an online presence even when I’m preoccupied with other things—like writing that next book.

  6. Knock up your own cover, because you know how to use Photoshop right?
    All the best.

    I spent a total of 2 hours making my first cover for The Face Stealer. I did this because I obviously know how to use Photoshop (I’m not a moron 😉 ) and getting a nice cover costs money that I just wasn’t going to spend. I’m not a designer but I figured I’d get a good cover looking at others for inspiration.

    Here it is. Don’t laugh.

    And here’s my new cover by Nessgraphica.

    A bit of a difference there.

    The feedback on this cover has been phenomenal and always generates positive reactions on social media. I’m gutted I left the cover as an afterthought. If I had this cover in place when I first launched the book, and with those first couple of weeks of heady sales, it might have been enough to get it noticed and start pulling its own weight.

    As it was, the initial cover did nothing but imply that the book’s content was amateur. Now, I’m having to work extra hard in marketing to try and get it noticed again, and this is time I’d rather be spending writing.

What lessons did you learn when you published your first book?

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