Being a writer is not for the faint of heart. There are plenty of opportunities to succeed, but not enough avenues to get to them. Most writers start at the bottom, where they compete for scraps hoping to get to the top.
Typically, these fresh writers write first and hope to attract readers second, which is frankly where most mistakes begin. Not to worry though. For every new book, there is always a learning curve, especially if you are a novice.
So, if you are publishing your first book or are thinking about it, here are some top mistakes that you should avoid making:
Your cover design sucks
When it comes to getting your book seen, first impressions matter more than you think. A lot of authors opt to skimp on their front covers, choosing to go the DIY route even with no design experience. Unfortunately, this often results in poor or no sales at all, which is the last thing any self-published author wants.
If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in the promotion of your book, the next best thing that you can do is ensure that the cover meets design standards. Consider hiring a professional designer with a good rating that can help you create a standout cover. A polished, visually striking book can do wonders for your sales.
Your book description is nothing to write home about
Nothing will cause your sales to plummet faster than a badly written book description. If you have any hopes of making sales, your book description has to be top-notch. Your book description is the first thing that sellers, reviewers, and bloggers share with potential readers. As such, you must take your time when crafting it.
Before you start writing yours, make sure that you read as many book descriptions in your genre that you can get your hands on. After you’ve been at it for a while, you’ll start to point out commonalities in the writing structure that you can then implement in your own writing.
Failure to carry out sufficient market analysis
You may or may not know this, but close to 1,000,000 books are published every year in the US alone. Half of these are self-published; and that’s a lot of authors to compete with. To gain maximum leverage when promoting your book, you’ll want to first find out which books are selling best in your niche and why.
Secondly, you will also need to dig to find out what’s on the reader’s lips, which authors they’re excited about, and which books are being shared. Finding out this information will allow you to figure out who your key demographic and target are so that you can implement strategies that can reach them.
Focusing all your energy on newspaper reviews
If you are a first time author that’s self-publishing or working with a small press, you should expect to handle most, if not all of your publicity and promotion. Understandably, you may only have a few Advance Review Copies (ARCs) to send out for review. However, you would be making a big mistake by focusing all your energy on newspaper reviews.
Sure, being mentioned in the New York Times, is something worth celebrating. However, as great as it is, it may not result in direct sales. Do you know what will? Working with local or regional bloggers and websites such as CoolThingsChicago, which is the ultimate plug for post-apocalyptic books.
Blogs and websites such as CoolThingsChicago are the ones that have a direct connection with readers. Getting reviews from book bloggers will translate to more direct sales as the buy button is literally a click away. Case in point, we know of readers that have submitted their ARCs directly to the editor and their copies made it to the list without paying a dime.
Your promotion efforts are centered on the first few months
Conventional wisdom dictates that you should do everything in your power to promote your novel during the first few months of its release. Conventional wisdom is not incorrect. This is especially true if you are working with a major publisher who will soon have to move its marketing muscle to another author soon.
However, if you are self-publishing or are a small press writer, things will need to be a little different for you as your promotion strategy must involve the future, long after the initial buzz of your book dies down. You must have a strategy in place to keep the momentum going otherwise you are going to have a hard time staying afloat or generating any interest at all.
Formatting your book incorrectly
All publishers and sellers have different technical regulations that need to be observed. Talk to your publisher or seller to find out which format or file type they would like you to upload your work in. If they accept more than one format, then you should pick the one that vest works for your manuscript.
Whether or not your book contains illustrations is also something else you will need to consider when formatting your manuscript. Beyond the format itself, you will also need to ensure that your manuscript is error-free so that your readers can enjoy it and have a seamless reading experience.
When it comes to getting your book published and actually making sales, the road is long and winding. You’ve spent all this time working on your masterpiece, so you want to make sure that you do everything right- or at least to the best of your ability.
The good news is that plenty of others before you have stood exactly where you find yourself now. They too have made mistakes along the way and many have not been shy about sharing both their successes and failures. In other words, you find yourself in a very enviable position because you will be able to learn from other authors’ experiences so that your own can be that much less stressful.