Pitfalls of Self-Publishing Explained
Pitfalls of Self-Publishing need to be avoided at all costs.If they are not, your readers will avoid your book. It does happen, and most people tend to ignore the obvious ones.
The list is vast, and to save time I’ll just go over the most important ones to help out those who self-publish. But let’s fist take away a misconception. A self-published novel does not mean it is not worth reading. Many self-published authors take pride in their work and do things right. The biggest problem is there are many who are not doing things correctly or take shortcuts to put their work out into the wild with the hopes of a quick buck. They are the ones giving the self-publisher a bad name.
Most self-publishers who avoid the pitfalls of self-publishing could get their work published by a small press or even a large one. The issue is not that they did self-publish, the issue is they wanted to. This is a good thing for them, because if their work is stellar and presented well, they will make a lot of money. If it is not, they will fall flat on their face.
The First Pitfall
Editing is important. You need to have this done properly in order for your book to stand out. If it does not stand out, then it will be lost in the vastness of the internet.
Look at any self-published book and search for information on the editor. Do you see one listed? I always gave credit to my editor when I self-published. This way people knew who should have caught the errors. And even now all the books published through my company show the editors involved in making it perfect. Just look at one of the books published last year called The Clone and notice how one reviewer even mentions the high level of editing to make it perfect for the reader. This is done out of necessity and love of the art.Readers should not have to stumble through a book, they need to be drawn in and led through the writing.
It takes more than one pair of eyes on the editing table, and this is one of the pitfalls many self-publishers fall into, the lack of good editing.
I think back and remember what a mentor of mine, Isabel Warren, said when she published her first, and unfortunately only, novel. When it came time to start editing she gave the manuscript to many of her students who found typos and small errors. She was embarrassed until one of them mentioned she was too close to the work to find them. And that is the truth. After many rewrites she could no longer see the errors and thus they stayed in the work. It was a good catch on the part of her students and a learning point for my mentor. No matter how good you are at spelling and grammar mistakes can elude you, so hire a good editor.
This is one of the biggest pitfalls of self-publishing.
The Second Pitfall
Cover art will make or break your sales. You could say the old cliché is to never judge a book by its cover, but we all do. Using artwork that looks like you gave some crayons to your three-year-old and used it for your cover then expect to be disappointed at the sales. I’m not saying you won’t sell any, but the number you sell will be far less than if you used professional artwork.
I frequent a site called Lousy Book Covers. This site lists out what people, and sometimes publishing companies, do wrong with their covers. The list of errors is vast, and cover from cut and paste to photo-bombing of images. Want to know what not to do when getting a cover created? Visit the site.
Something to also mention. The site also have another edge to it which is Cover Critics. You can submit your cover to them and they will go over it to help you out. There are a number of us who also help by giving directions to the author on what needs to be fixed and what works. It’s not always bad. There is even a Facebook group that I belong to and we all help one another in getting the cover and blurb done right. It’s Indie Cover Project. Go ahead and visit us one day. Maybe you’ll see what we’re talking about.
The Third Pitfall
This is the last one I’m going to mention. Your author platform, or better known as getting out there. The biggest mistake an author can make is just putting out their book and not having a social media platform and website. You need both. Try to get a following. Have people visit your site. Visitors will come back if they like what they see. Make yourself known to those who may buy your book. If you don’t, then who will buy it? Get with the current trends. Post more than a plea to buy your book. Make yourself multi-dimensional. Write at least once a week so people know you are real.
Remember to always separate your personal life with your writing life. If you use Facebook (and you know you better), make sure you use a page as your author profile. Point people to that, not your personal page. A reader or fan is not your friend; keep them separate from your friends in order to be sane at the end.
There are so many other things to remember when publishing. Many of us keep a list and try our best to follow what we know works now and what could work in the future. If your desire is to self-publish, then make sure you use everything at your disposal to make it big. But if you want to try and make it in traditional publishing, which leads to many other avenues, get a thick skin. Publishers are inundated with so many submissions it is unbelievable. You need to stand out, so try the small presses first before going for a big gun.