23 Mistakes First Time Authors Make (And How to Avoid Them) By Barbara Joe-Williams

Hi folks,

I’ve copied below an excerpt from a publishing e-mail I receive regularly, hitchnews, this one focused on every writer’s Achilles heel, marketing. Some of the points made here may raise questions; that’s why I’ve included some links to the author of the article. Of course, this blog is an excellent forum for discussing such things, too.
Good writing (and marketing) to all,
Bob Mustin

As a first time self-published author, you want to avoid making as many costly mistakes as possible. Based on research and over two years of publishing experience, I’d like to share some of the mistakes that I’ve made and show you how to avoid making them. Please proceed with caution.

1) Publishing books with unattractive covers and spending too much money on them. Hire someone to design an attractive front book cover. Or you can save money by developing the book cover drafts yourself. Simply download royalty-free pictures and add your own text.

2) They print their book in large quantities because it’s the most economical value. With print-on-demand (POD) printers, you no longer have to print large quantities of books to receive a good return on your investment. You can print as few or as many as you need at one time.

3) They pay large amounts for website development and maintenance. Find a web hosting company, download a template, upload your book information, and maintain the site yourself for a low monthly or yearly fee. Most of these companies provide 24/7 customer support.

4) They work without an action plan or any means of accountability. Writing may be your passion, but publishing is a business. Therefore, you have to develop a business plan to follow and show accountability for your funds.

5) Not testing their cover design or the titles before publishing. The key to avoiding this mistake is developing more than one book cover draft and testing them on potential buyers. You can also develop more than one title and test them too.

6) They wait until the book is published before they start marketing it. Start marketing your book the first day that you start writing it. Tell everyone that you know and/or meet about your new project.

7) Pricing the book too high or too low based on the market. Be sure to research the price of other books on the market that are similar to yours and price your book accordingly.

8) Not identifying their target market for the publication. The first rule of publishing is to know your target market and how to reach them. Where do they live and shop? How will they learn about your book?

9) Not pre-selling copies of their book or taking pre-orders. You can set-up your website to take credit cards and start taking pre-orders months before the book is ever printed.

10) They rely solely on one marketing model to sell their book. Develop several marketing strategies before your book is published. Communicate with other authors to find out what has and hasn’t worked for them.

11) Writing books they think people should read instead of what the market demands. The publishing business is also a matter of supply and demand. You may enjoy writing fiction, but a non-fiction project that serves a desire or need, will be more profitable.

12) Paying for expensive advertising, marketing/promotional ideas. Marketing doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. Look for strategies that will provide you with free publicity such as library workshops and radio interviews.

13) They write the book without developing a timeline for completion. Once you start writing your book, set some realistic goals for completing it and stick to it. Don’t let down your target market after you’ve announced the book to them.

14) Not having a reader’s or audience database. You can start developing a reader’s database as soon as you start working on your book by contacting local book club members and attending library events.

15) Not being open to the editing or revising process. Find an editor that you feel comfortable with and trust. This will make it easier to accept criticism and make recommended revisions.

16) They miss deadlines for writing and publishing. It’s very important to the success of your writing career that you meet the realistic deadlines that you’ve already set. Once you set a book release date, readers will be expecting the book at that time.

17) They don’t read enough from the competition. Make sure you know what the competition has to offer and be able to explain how your book is different. You want your project to stand out from every other book on your chosen subject.

18) They waste time trying to make the copy perfect the first time. Focus on completing the manuscript and getting it to the editor instead of trying to make sure that it’s perfect. You’ll have plenty of time to go back and make revisions later.

19) Not being able to verbalize the content of your book in a concise manner. You should be able to summarize you entire manuscript in a few sentences upon request. Most readers want to know what the heart of the book is about in one-minute or less.

20) They don’t join writer’s group or read writer’s magazines, or attend conferences. Joining a writer’s group is a way to learn from other authors or aspiring authors. Reading Writer’s Digest each month will provide you with valuable information and attending conferences will give you an opportunity to meet major publishers and agents. 21) They rely solely on bookstores to sell their books to make a profit. According to the Publisher’s Marketing Association, approximately 52 percent of published books are not sold in bookstores. This means that you must find more creative ways of selling your product.

22) They concentrate too much on sales and not enough on publicity. Of course, your publishing goal is to make money, but some events should just be about publicity and then the money will follow.

23) They don’t reinvest money back into their book business. This is a valuable lesson to learn. If you spend all your profits on personal expenses, it’s impossible to keep producing books to keep your business growing.

About the Author:

Barbara Joe-Williams is a freelance author and an independent publisher living in Tallahassee, Florida. She has written three romance novels and a non-fiction e-book titled “A Writer’s Guide to Self-Publishing & Marketing.” As the sole owner of Amani Publishing, she has published non-fiction books for other aspiring authors. In addition, she has composed an anthology featuring eighteen multicultural authors to be released in February 2007 titled “How I Met My Sweetheart.” For more information about this author/publisher, please visit her website.

Website: http://www.AmaniPublishing.net or http://www.Barbarajoewilliams.com
E-mail: AmaniPublishing@aol.com
Blog: http://www.Barbarajoe.blogspot.com

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3 Responses to “23 Mistakes First Time Authors Make (And How to Avoid Them) By Barbara Joe-Williams”

  1. Mary Ann Artrip Says:

    Hey, Bob–
    23 Mistakes is great information. Some of it I already knew, but it included a lot of stuff that I’d never given much thought. Thanks for the posting.
    Mary Ann Artrip

  2. Bob Mustin Says:

    You’re welcome. Glad these were helpful.

  3. Jack (J Russell) Rose Says:

    There are some valuable tips in this piece. I think I’ve made at least half of these mistakes – maybe more.

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