10 MISTAKES I MADE WHEN PUBLISHING MY FIRST BOOK - #getpublished




Since I just finished a series of posts on the right away to promote your books and get reviews, I thought I’d share the blunders that you can avoid, too. 

I have made my share of mistakes while navigating the choppy seas of self-publishing and trying to make a living as a writer. Some days I feel so discouraged and others I feel lucky to have such an awesome job.

Before I self-published my first book, I did have a plan and a set of goals. I even hired two editors to help me polish up my manuscript, a book cover designer, and I did some online promoting. I co-own a small eBook publishing company, but I did most of the publishing on my own.

Nevertheless, there was still a lot that I didn’t know. And other things I did know (like using keywords), but for whatever reason, I didn’t utilize them. This post is meant to be helpful and advise you not to make the same blunders that I did when I was starting out on my publishing journey.

These mistakes are all taken from my own personal experience and in no particular order…

Mistake 1) Not setting up a mailing list on my website and blog right away. This is so important and the first thing every writer should do. Build an email list of readers who love your writing style and send out an email whenever you publish a new book or have a promo. (Be careful not to spam them too often.)

Mistake 2) Not asking book bloggers and/or reviewers to post a review on Amazon or goodreads. I just assumed that most of them would or that it was rude to ask. Make it easy for them by politely asking and providing links to where you want the reviews posted.

Mistake 3) Not having a link to purchase the other books in my series at the end of each eBook. If you have published more than one book, then make sure at the end of any and all previous published titles that you include a blurb (back jacket copy) and a link to buy your other novels. 
Update every single book you have already published whenever you self-publish a new title. (I know it sounds like a pain in the butt, however, as a self-published author you are also running a business and doing all the marketing. Never miss an opportunity to sell more books.)

Mistake 4) Responding to negative reviews. (Yeah, I’m not proud of this.) I know it’s hard (like a punch to the gut or a stab to the heart) to read anything negative about your work and not feel defensive. It is natural and normal to want to respond—but don’t. Remain professional and just try to STOP reading reviews.

Mistake 5) Being too lazy to update my keywords or use them effectively. I had read about keywords on blogs and forums and in marketing books, but I didn’t think they were all that vital. Boy, was I wrong, wrong, wrong. 

I was lucky enough to have another talented and successful writer explain how they work and why having the right ones would boost sales. Once I revised and entered the new keywords, my books sales tripled within about six weeks. (It does not happen overnight, so be patient.)

Mistake 6) Not “branding” my book series with an original series title. I just picked a random series title without researching it. “Spellbound” is so widely used that something more original would have been better.

Mistake 7) Not “branding” my book covers in my YA series. Each of my covers had a different look, so at a glance readers couldn’t tell what the reading order was. 

Marketing Tip: And book covers in a series with the exact same image used on every cover can be confusing for readers, too. And since only self-published writers seem to do this, it will red flag an author as not traditionally published. If you want to "brand" your series, you can use similar images and the exact same font style on every cover instead, just like designers do on a traditionally published series. In my opinion, the goal is make your book appear as if it has been professionally published by having a quality-looking book cover and amazing product description, among other things that will weed out your competition.

Mistake 8) Wasting money on blog tour companies. (No offense to the ones that are actually helpful.) I had more success and reached more reviewers on my own. Yeah, it is time-consuming, but so worth it. There are many sites that have lists of book bloggers by genre that you can use to contact reviewers on your own. Create your "review request letter" and do your own promotion.

Mistake 9) Not connecting with readers. I should have started a “street team” after the first book was published to help promote my other novels. Interacting with readers is so awesome and fun. Readers and book bloggers are so supportive and amazing that if you are lucky enough to build a fandom, they will become your biggest promoters.

Mistake 10) Sending out ARCs to reviewers, and then two weeks later, sending them a revised version after catching a typo or plot hole, because I was worried about getting negative reviews. This only made bloggers angry and cluttered their inbox. (My advice is that once you send it to a reviewer, do not contact them again. Not even to follow up and ask if they had read the book yet or posted the review. Unless, you are promoting for a pre-order and want to send reviewers a polite reminder the day the book goes live.)

I made a lot of stupid mistakes doing this on my own, and if you can avoid some of mine, you’ll have a much better chance at success with your first published book.

However, I did do a few things right, like having critique partners go over my manuscript, working with freelance editors to polish the storyline, getting a professional book cover design, contacting book bloggers, and studying the craft and marketing techniques.

Wishing every one of you much success on your publishing journey!