Indie Author Common Mistakes

Written by Amanda (editor)—June 10, 2022

(1) Not getting a professional edit. When you go to print without having a professional edit you are flying blind. Everyone makes mistakes and even the most talented writer needs someone to proofread their work. Spelling errors, typos and grammatical problems make your writing look sloppy and unprofessional, throwing the reader out of the story or causing them to have less respect for what you're trying to get across. They can reduce the number of pages read in an ebook, actually cutting into your income if you use Amazon Kindle Select.

(2) Designing your own cover. Unless you are a talented artist, photographer and/or graphic designer it might be best to leave this one to a trained professional too. If you want a good cultural fit with your target market choose a graphic designer who speaks the same language as you, understands the genre and knows how books are printed, sold and marketed. People DO judge a book by its cover, so this is your most important visual aide in making sales.

(3) Not writing enough (or writing too much). Some writers think they have a book on their hands when actually it's more of a short story or booklet. Pay attention to how many words other books of the same type are, and what they seem to be selling for, in bookstores and online. If your book is only 20,000 words but a competitor's book is 40,000 and the price is half yours, you might have trouble with sales. With children's books you will need to pay attention to exactly how many words and pages the type of book you're writing should be. The type of language you use is also dictated by the readership.

Another aspect of not writing enough (or writing too much) is failing to follow up with a sequel or series when readers are expecting it. Depending on the type of book, you may also be expected to produce a blog where your readers or would-be readers can find some of your content for free.

(4) Publishing without promoting. This one is a no-brainer. With thousands of books being launched every day it is hard to stand out from the crowd just by relying on a distribution platform. You will need to advertise into your target market, engage in social media PR and put explicit effort into obtaining reviews. The exact strategy for you and your book will differ from others so it is a good idea to get a book marketing action plan like the ones we offer at Marketing Stage 1.

(5) Comparing your indie book with traditionally published books is likely to lead you down a path of negative thinking. What you can achieve on a shoestring budget, and with no connections in the traditional publishing space, may be quite different from what publishers can achieve. High quality paper, full colour printing, big print runs, department store distribution, bookstore shelf space and window displays might not be in reach for the indie author. This doesn't mean you cannot succeed, but you need to understand the business aspects of selling YOUR book, not how traditional publishers do it.

(6) Giving up too easily after publication results in lacklustre sales results. Your job is just getting started upon the launch of a new book. Be prepared for at least one year of contacting media and reviewers, posting on social media, creating videos, getting yourself interviewed by any means necessary, budgeting thousands of dollars for your ads and analysing the results. If you publish without promoting you will more than likely be unimpressed by the response. Like any business, if customers don't know about you they can't decide whether or not to buy from you.

I hope this has helped someone out there with what not to do in the #indieauthor, #selfpublishing space.


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