Miral Sattar is founder and CEO of BiblioCrunch, an award-winning author services marketplace that matches authors with quality, award-winning book publishing professionals. She has worked in the media industry for 11 years (most recently at TIME) and her writing has been featured in PBSMediaShift, TIME, CNN, NY Daily News, among other media publications. Follow her on Twitter @miralsattar.
I get a lot of authors coming to me for self-publishing advice and these are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen.
1) Having Vague Goals
You need to define your goals. Are you looking to get more readers? Or looking to sell books? It’s easy to get more readers if you’re a first-time author, but it’s harder to sell books.
2) Not Getting Your Work Professionally Edited
Once you’ve written your book, an editor is important. If your book needs a lot of work a developmental editor will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. Next you might want to get a copy editor to catch any typos. Not getting your work professionally edited is like not testing a drug before it goes out into market.
3) Not Hiring A Professional Cover Designer
People judge a book by a cover. They will judge how it looks on a black and white Kindle and how it looks on Smartphones. It’s important that your cover design catch the reader at first sight. Before you hire a designer check out the designer’s portfolio to make sure your vision and your designer’s vision are the same.
4) Not Doing Your Research On Vendors Or Vanity Presses
I’ve come across way too many authors who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on vanity presses who prey on authors. A vanity press is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published (Author House, Balboa Press, etc). Before you choose a vendor or press make sure you Google “[Name of Press/Vendor] Reviews.” That will tell you what you need to know about the press or vendor before you sign up.
5) Not Proofreading Your Book
Once you have the final digital or print version of your book, you should give it a thorough read to make sure it’s free of errors. Vendors do make mistakes. At this stage, you won’t catch too many errors, but you do want to catch them pre-publication.
6) Pre-printing Books Without A Distribution Deal
I had an author come to me who spent most of his money on print runs for his poorly designed and poorly edited book. Currently, he has 1000 copies of his book sitting in his garage. Unless you have already found someone to distribute your books for you, you might want to opt for a print-on-demand service like Createspace or Lightning Source where the book is printed and sent to the reader when they buy it.
7) Lack Of A Marketing Plan
It’s essential to having a marketing plan around your book. Books don’t just sell themselves. This is probably where you’ll spend most of your time and a good chunk of your money.
As an indie or self-published author it’s really important to do your research before making any vendor, retail, or editorial services decisions. It’s a lot of work, but thinking through all the pieces will prevent you from wasting money, time and effort.