"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

8 Regrets to Avoid in Self-publishing Your First Novel...

We all have regrets. They are inevitable in some form throughout life, but the ultimate goal is to restrict regret as much as possible, either through learning from our own mistakes or from the mistakes of others.

Are you with me here?

The process of self-publishing a novel is no exception. This task is a complicated one with a rather high learning curve. Unfortunately many authors become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that goes into the management and promotion that follows the launch of their first self-published book. This can happen to the best of us. The skill set required to sell a lot of copies is different from the skill set needed to write a great novel.

Let’s go over some of the common regrets we in the publishing industry have heard from authors, so  you can circumvent the mistakes and save time, money and stress.

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of a great book cover. Perhaps no aspect of a book screams amateur more than a low quality book cover. Don’t even try to make your own cover. Research the vital components, hire a professional designer and provide your input. A good designer should work with you until you are satisfied with the outcome.

2. Learn the art of writing superb jacket copy. Those two paragraphs are so important to get right and because the jacket copy will also be used as a description in marketplaces, mastering this task can be a driving force to at least decent, if not great sales numbers.

3. Don’t fall for marketing scams. Once your email starts getting spread around amongst the business community you will undoubtedly begin receiving spam from unscrupulous individuals claiming to get your book on some bestseller list for only $3,000. Don’t buy it.

4. Proofread your book with redundant, OCD precision. After you proofread it, give it to someone you know, then an editor, then a professional proofreader, then a beta reader, then you check it two more times, etc. Simple mistakes have more impact on perceived quality than you might think and a couple mediocre reviews from people calling you out on this can certainly be a detriment to sales.

5. Diligently check references for any contractors you hire to work on any aspect of your book. I don’t know if there is an Angie’s List for author services but if not, there should be. Too many authors have been burned by shoddy services rendered.

6. Put a delay on launch advertising. It might be best to wait a few weeks after your book release before you splurge on advertising. This will give advance readers a chance to post their reviews and point out any mistakes your already "manic" proofreading overlooked.

7. Properly formatting an eBook is not as easy as it sounds. Let a pro handle it and be sure to preview the book on a variety of e-readers before posting the book for sale. Another great tip is to include a link at the end of the eBook where a reader can go to leave a review.

8. To print or not to print?  That is the question. Well, the answer is sort of both. Print, but don’t print too much up front. Print 25-100 copies to send out as advance reader copies or promotional giveaways. This is important because some reviewers will only read a print copy and fans will get more excited over receiving a print copy in the mail rather than a free eBook download. It also couldn’t hurt to have some copies to put in a few local bookstores. Just make sure the store has agreed to accept them before you have them printed. On the flip side you don’t want 1,000 copies getting moth eaten in a spare bedroom.

These timely tips are sure to help you avoid some costly setbacks and put your new book on the fast track to success, (if there is such a thing). Marketing a book is a skill that must be mastered just like any other. Don’t obsess too much over it and let it distract you from writing your next masterpiece.
Most authors don’t find REAL success until their second or third book anyway. Be content to let this first book be your crucible.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

James A. Rose is a writer for
InstantPublisher.com, a full-service self-publishing company with 100% of all work performed in-house. We have been helping authors realize their dreams for the past 14 years. Whether you're printing a novel, how-to book, manual, brochure or any type of book you can imagine, our step-by-step instructions make publishing your own book simple and easy.


  1. Great tips, Jen! Self publishing can be a daunting project; these points will greatly help us to put our best foot forward.

  2. Thanks, Karen; they are. I appreciate James for providing them for my readership.

  3. Thanks Karen and Jennifer. These are some of the most common mistakes we see our customers make. We hate seeing good people get burned. Hopefully this article will provide some insight.

  4. Really great help. I will keep this list in mind. Thanks

    1. Hi, S McPherson,

      Thanks for your time and feedback. We appreciate your thoughts here.