A blog about writing and self publishing

Five Most Common Self-Publishing Mistakes

So you’ve written a book! Now what? Regardless of how long you’ve been writing, there’s a lot to learn about actually publishing your book. We’ve put together some of the most common blunders we see from indie authors. Some of these may seem like no brainers to you, others might spark a light bulb moment.

Lack of professional editing.

Every author, regardless of their experience level, will benefit from a great editor. Virtually every bestselling and award-winning title has undergone months of proof-reading, copy editing, line editing, and developmental editing.

While enlisting the help of an editor can be pricey, it’s an investment worth making. As a publisher, you’re running a business and it’s your goal to sell as many books as possible. The money you spend on editing will benefit you and ensure that you’re offering readers a polished and professional book––resulting in increased sales.

The KWL blog has helpful resources on editing, including how to save money on editing and top self-editing tips from professional editors at Reedsy. Reedsy employs thousands of publishing professionals from editors to cover designers and publicists, and also offers 50 free courses in all areas of the industry. Editing for less = the best.

Inferior cover design.

This follows the same logic as my previous section: invest in a professional cover designer. If you do not have a background in graphic design, illustration, or relevant art expertise, do not design your own cover. The cover is the first factor a potential reader considers when deciding whether to purchase your book. Along with your book’s title, description, and price, it can be the difference between sales or lack thereof.

Having your cover professionally designed does not mean you are giving up rights to the creative process. Creating your cover with an artist can be a collaborative process. You can suggest ideas and choose from potential designs. Here is an idea inspired by bestselling author Meghan March: create a Pinterest board of images that represent the themes, tone, setting, and characters of your novel. Provide an outline of your novel to the cover designer. Make it clear to the artist what you want to convey on the cover.

Kobo Writing Life authors get a special deal with Damonza, an award-winning team of cover designers. Apply the code KWL10 to take advantage of a 10% discount on services. The KWL blog also has helpful resources on cover design, such as design tips from a merchandiser, expert tips on designing a book cover, and how to brief a cover designer.

Fiction cover art by Damonza

A *blah* book description.

Many of us have been in this situation before: a book cover catches your attention, you flip the book around to read the description, then you lose interest. In some cases, this is because the book just isn’t about what you thought it was. In other, more unfortunate cases, the book description is not strong enough to garner further interest. Personally, if a book description does not leave me thinking ‘WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???’ I will likely not buy it. Check out my recent article on how to write a solid book description here.

Your eBook is not priced effectively.

Take a look at the Kobo online store and pay attention to how popular and trending ebooks are priced. Some tips for pricing your ebook:

  • Research pricing for other indie ebooks in your genre that are around the same length. This will give you a better idea of the price range your book falls into.
  • If you are publishing a series, price the first title of the series cheaper. If readers thoroughly enjoy your first book, they’ll be encouraged to purchase the ones that come after, even if they are slightly pricier.
  • Kobo allows you to experiment with pricing. Play around with how you price your ebooks to see how cost affects sales.
  • The .99 rule: ex. if you are thinking of pricing your ebook around $7.00, choose $6.99. Every. Time. The theory behind this is that, since we read from left to right, the first digit of a given price resonates with us most.
  • Optimize your pricing in different geographical areas. When you enter the cost of your ebook in your native currency, it makes automatic conversions for different countries. Sometimes you end up with an awkward figure like 4.33 in a foreign currency. Round up and follow the .99 rule by adjusting that price to 4.99.

No one knows about you, or your book.

Visibility is important for all authors, especially emerging ones who are still developing their reader base. Make sure that your books are available in multiple geographical zones. Readers of books written in English are located in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Even if hiring marketing services is out of your budget, I have two words for you: SOCIAL MEDIA. Start author accounts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—you don’t have to be everywhere at once; focus on the platforms that work best for you. Follow Bookstagrammers, engage with other authors of your genre, and establish an online presence. Make sure that your author accounts are on ‘public’ mode and make sure to use #hashtags. KWL provides a wealth of helpful articles such as 6 social media tips just for authors and making social work for you.

Get your Bookstagram on like @amybouchard__⠀⠀

As a Kobo author, you can apply for exclusive promotional opportunities, like our Daily Deal.  Promoted titles are featured on our homepage and deals page, guaranteeing reader traffic. Your book will be discounted for a set period of time, word will spread, and you’ll garner more reviews. Another excellent way to increase visibility is through NetGalley, a platform that enables readers to access free ebooks for review. To apply for our Kobo/NetGalley co-op promotion, or to have the promotion tab activated, email us at writinglife@kobo.com.

Don’t stop at promoting yourself, and your books, online. Attend writing conferences and workshops, library events, and book launches. Network, network, network!

Did you find these tips helpful? Have something to add? Leave a comment below.


Amy works on Author Engagement for Kobo Writing Life. She helps answer author questions and comes up with creative blog content. Amy studied Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa and Publishing at Ryerson University. She has worked as a content author of literature study guides and as an online literature educator.

5 Responses to “Five Most Common Self-Publishing Mistakes”

  1. Richard Murray

    good points, in the end, book quality between the covers matters most but i do think the online profile is massive for modern authors, if you can get folks communicating with you positively, they will know you and they will give your book a chance

    Reply

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