Welcome to the first post for 2020.
As some of you know, I had a summer break, but rather than the holiday I expected, I had an anxious time as bushfires sped up the NSW coast towards my rainforest property. We did evacuate, but luckily, the fire didn’t reach us on that hot windy day, so the house was still here when we returned, and the forest is still green. Phew. That fire is still burning, but the Rural Fire Service people have got it contained, so it’s not a threat to us at present.
My life has been ever changed by the weather and the bushfires this summer. We have never been so dry here, or the weather so hot with many days over 40 degrees Celcius when previously that was unheard of here. That and the prospect that we would not have a house to return to when we evacuated, made us realise that climate change is not some future thing. It is here, now and Australia is one of the first countries to feel its effects.
Click here to read what my research into climate change revealed to me, and more on my personal experience here.
But now to the topic of the day. What follows is a guest post from Daniela McVicker on the 4 Crucial Mistakes Authors Make When Launching a Book. Thanks Daniela for your input to this blog.
The decision to self-publish a book implies taking onto yourself a lot of responsibilities – marketing, advertising, developing book cover design, negotiations with bookstores and dealers, not to mention that self-publishing authors have to deal with drawbacks, like:
- no assistance with professional editing, formatting, and quality check
- lower sales
- weak outreach (self-published books comprise only 10% of the current book market)
Nevertheless, the demand for self-published books keeps growing. According to PR Newswire, self-publishing grew at a rate of more than 28% in 2017-2018, compared to only 8% in 2016. The self-publishing industry shows no signs of stopping, and, due to the influence of the Internet and social media, keeps growing at a steady rate.
As a self-publishing author, you take all the responsibility for the launch of your book. Naturally, mistakes are unavoidable, especially if you’re about to self-publish your book for the first time.
So, as a sort of a safety net, here are 4 crucial mistakes authors usually make when launching a book, based on the experience of popular self-published authors and publishing gurus.
1. Skimping on Book Design
We are taught not to judge the book by its cover. “But it’s exactly what we do when we purchase a book, to some extent”, says Nick Thacker, an action-adventure thriller novelist.
In an interview with Book Designer, Nick shares that evaluating a book cover has an important influence on the book purchase decision. He describes three patterns of what customers think when evaluating a bad book design (he calls them buyer dilemmas):
- a customer won’t purchase a book due to a low-budget book cover, which seems to have zero effort put into it
- a customer won’t purchase a book because its design looks unprofessional, while the author claims to be an expert in publishing
- a customer refuses to purchase a book because the cover doesn’t correspond to what the book is supposed to be about
Consequently, the quality of your book design may potentially have a bad influence on sales. Book design isn’t the sole factor that influences purchase decisions, but its role cannot be denied since it forms the very first impression of a book.
2. Dealing with Everything Alone
As we already mentioned, self-publishing implies taking a lot of responsibility. And, if you’re an aspiring writer and lack knowledge in publishing, there’s no shame in asking for help.
Hugh Howey, the author of Half Way Home and Beacon 23, sharing his self-publishing experience in an interview with a British online magazine Writers and Artists, says that it is always a good idea to outsource some tasks. He says that a self-publishing author should always have a budget for outsourcing editing or design-related tasks and concentrate on the quality of the written word.
In his above-mentioned interview, Hugh Howey says that having money set aside for outsourcing is a common practice for self-publishing authors. When he was only starting with his first book, he paid himself $1 for every page, and when he finished his 500-page book, he had a $500 budget to hire a marketer, proofreaders from the best websites, and a graphic designer. He says that doing this helped cut the time to launch his book in half.
Jenna Moreci, a self-published author, and a YouTuber confirms the importance of outsourcing certain tasks to professionals. Jenna shares that the experience in the areas of marketing and finance helped her to self-publish her books, although she admits that she struggled with applying her knowledge to the sphere of publishing.
Hugh Howey mentions that a self-published writer doesn’t have to spend a lot on a good proofreader or a book cover designer. He shares that at one point he managed to pay only $100 for outsourcing all the tasks he couldn’t do.
So, set the budget and worry only about the quality of the book.
3. Falling Down the Social Media Rabbit Hole
You might be surprised at this one. You might think that, in this day and age, social media is the most powerful tool self-published writers can use to market their books.
However, social media marketing isn’t the solution to everything.
Emily James, a self-published author and the creator of the book A Sticky Inheritance, in an interview with Writer’s Digest, shares that not promoting her book via social media was one of the best decisions she could make. She didn’t create multiple accounts across different social media channels, and she didn’t have a separate social media community.
Instead, she invested in Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub ads, and held different meetings with her readers.
The lesson behind her experience, however, is not that you have to ignore social media altogether. You shouldn’t rely solely on social media platforms, but rather have a more versatile marketing strategy that relies on word-of-mouth: ads, meetings, conference participation, interviews, etc. Successful self-publishing, according to Emily James, is about creating a hub of devoted readers, who tell their friends about your book, thus improving the outreach and increasing your readership.
4. Not Collecting Connections
No matter how well your self-publishing strategy is, sometimes it’s all about the connections you have that push your book to become a success.
In his interview, Dwayne Gill, the author of the Written By Blood universe, shared that collecting useful connections throughout his writing experience helped him self-publish his first short story from the Written By Blood series.
Self-publishing authors need to be active in circles involving other writers and publishers. At the events, organized by people from such circles, you can meet your potential publisher. This is what happened to Al Arnold, a self-published author, when, at a local event, he met his future publisher from Inknbeans Press, which would publish his book a year later.
The success of your self-published book not only depends on the size of your readership but also on the number of professionals from this field, who can spread the word about your book. So, to even the biggest introvert writers – be as active as you can, since collecting connections is the key to your success.
Since the popularity of self-publishing keeps growing, so does the competition among self-published authors. With so many online platforms that allow self-published authors to promote their books and grow their readership, everything is in the public eye. Thus, even the smallest mistake can be easily spotted and lead to irreversible consequences.
Be prepared that a picky reader can spot an unprofessional-looking book cover, a not proofread book chapter, poor advertising, and marketing efforts. Prevent these mistakes before you have to deal with their consequences – this is the roadmap to successful self-publishing.
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