Five Common Self-Publishing Mistakes

Have you joined the ranks of aspiring authors ready to take the next step to self-publishing in the digital age of publishing? If so, congratulations! But wait, before you rush off to press, there are some things you should do to prepare your book for successful self-publishing. The preparation step of the self-publishing process includes everything you need to do to your book manuscript before you deliver it to the book printer. This includes deciding your publishing goals.

For example, is your book a personal family history book that you plan to sell to a few friends and family? Or do you plan to mass-market your book to the world? After deciding your market then you should avoid the following common mistakes:

1. Failure to write a business plan

This is where your book publishing journey should begin. You don’t have to start with a 15-page document. But do create an outline of all the costs that you will encounter in the self-publishing process.

Outline your costs before publication, after publication and everything from the beginning costs to the shipping price of mailing a book. This is the time you decide whether you should print a small amount of books for family or set up a small publishing company by buying a block of ISBNs.

2. Failure to get ISBN Numbers.

An ISBN number is what identifies you as a book publisher. Currently, it is the only way you can be considered a self-publisher in the publishing industry. At the time of this writing, no one can give, assign, or sell you ISBNs except RR Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency.

3. Failure to invest in book editing.

Don’t cut corners here. Invest in your book; get it professionally edited. Copy or line editing will bring your manuscript up to professional standard. Don’t settle for just having your family member take a look at your manuscript.

4. Failure to hire a book designer for book layout.

The book layout is what structures the content of your book and makes it look like a book. Again invest in your book project; this is not the time to settle for anything less than a professional look. If your book looks sloppy, it will limit its success in the market.

5. Failure to invest in cover design.

75% of 300 booksellers reviewed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) recognized the look and design of the book cover as the most important part. They agreed the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book. On that note, your book cover design has great importance. It can cause your book marketing campaign to fail or succeed. So, I encourage you to get your book cover professionally designed.

Are you ready to publish your book successfully? Did you consider all your options including a business plan and book cover design? Great! Now that you know how to set up your book for full speed ahead self-publishing, go ahead take the plunge. Don’t wait any longer. Start today. Your audience is waiting for YOUR unique message and viewpoint. Make it different. Make it count. Make it yours.

About the Author
Earma Brown, 14 yr author, book writing and publishing coach. Are you ready to publish your book successfully? Get FREE instant access to her Self Publisher’s eKit at

Is Self-Publishing For You?

Have you ever wanted to write a book? The challenge of getting a publisher deters many would-be authors. But now your manuscript doesn’t have to be a dusty dream.

Once scoffed, self-publishing companies are now producing books that are indistinguishable from traditionally published books. They’re sold through all the major outlets, from Ingram (the major distributor to bookstores) to online retailers like Barnes and Noble and

Some of these books have sold so well their authors have been offered contracts by traditional publishers (ever heard of Rich Dad, Poor Dad?). Yet — get this — some authors are turning down contracts for the perks of self-publishing. These include higher royalties, faster production and greater control of production — since authors retain the rights to their books. Plus, self-publishing has become affordable, thanks to print-on-demand technology, which allows books to be printed a few at a time.

Tips for Successful Self-Publishing

Avoid self-publishing pitfalls with these tips from the pros.

  1. Make sure you have credibility on your book’s subject.
  2. Don’t rely on yourself for either cover design or editing and proofreading.
  3. Have a clearly identified target market that is both easy and economical to reach.
  4. Choose a reputable company.

Excerpt from article published in Biola University Magazine, Winter 2008.

Self-Publishing Your Book Is Easy

Here’s how it works. You choose a size for your book, format your Word manuscript to fit that size, turn your Word doc into a PDF, create some cover art in Photoshop, turn that into a PDF, and upload it all to the self-publisher of your choice.

If you succeeded in formatting everything correctly, you will get a book proof back within a couple of weeks (or sooner).

After you officially publish your book, you can make changes to your cover and interior text by submitting new PDFs, though your book will go offline (“out of stock”) for a week or two.

Caveat: Creating a book that looks professional and is indistinguishable from a book published by a “real” publishing house is very difficult and requires a minimum investment of a few thousand dollars (when all was said and done, usually around $7500, which includes about $2,500 in marketing costs).

Print on Demand Pros and Cons

For writers who don’t want to go through the submission process required by commercial publishers, or who aren’t concerned about sales volume, or who want to produce a family memoir or genealogy or recipe book for private distribution, a POD service can be an excellent option.

The best of them provide attractively-designed books at a far lower cost than traditional self- or vanity publishing (although costs are steadily rising, and some of the fancier POD packages are eye-poppingly expensive), and offer many of the same benefits, including guaranteed publication and the absence of editorial interference. Also, since the book is produced only when ordered, you don’t risk winding up with a garage full of unsold volumes.

A POD service can also be a good option for niche nonfiction projects. These can be a tough sell for commercial or academic publishers, but they can do well for the motivated self-publisher who has a way of reaching his or her audience, and is able to devote time and money to marketing and promotion. Writers who can exploit “back of the room” situations may also do well with a POD service–someone who lectures or conducts workshops, for instance, and can sell books at these occasions, or a restauranteur who wants to make a cookbook available to his or her customers.

There’s another, relatively new self-publishing phenomenon: established writers who are abandoning their commercial print publishers and going it alone. The most talked-about recent example is probably Seth Godin, author of 12 traditionally published best sellers, who is now running his own publishing company in association with

For successful writers with major platforms, who are actively followed by their fans and readers and can market directly to their target audience, self-publishing can be powerfully attractive, since it allows authors to keep a much larger share of profits. Not many writers have this kind of clout, however–or financial resources. DIY does not mean cheap. Professionally publishing and marketing a book is an expensive proposition.

So there are a number of situations in which POD self-publishing can work as well, or better, than traditional publishing. If you’re a new writer looking to establish a career, however, it is probably not a good choice, except possibly as a fallback option for a manuscript that has failed to find a home.

POD services’ policies on pricing, marketing, and distribution severely limit their books’ availability  and are likely to result in tiny sales and readership, even for authors who diligently self-promote. It’s unlikely that a book published by a POD service will be considered a professional publishing credit, or that, as many authors hope, it will provide a springboard to commercial publication.

If you spend time on the Internet, you will probably encounter people who are eager to dispute this. They’ll tell you that self-publishing is the way of the future. They’ll claim that the stigma traditionally associated with paying to publish has all but disappeared, and that it’s becoming ever more common for self-published books to be acquired by bigger publishing houses. They’ll often be able to point you to a news story about a self-published writer who transitioned  into a lucrative commercial contract, or who sold so many books he or she didn’t want one.

But like the hype from so many self-publishing evangelists, articles about self-publishing success are often biased, inaccurate, or overstated. And there’s nothing new about big publishers picking up self-published books that sell robustly (just Google What Color Is Your Parachute? or The Christmas Box). As for the pay-to-publish stigma–unfair though it may be in many cases, it is not yet gone.

As noted above, a POD service can be an excellent option for some writers and some projects. For others, however, it’s not the right choice. What’s important is to know the facts, assess your goals, and make an informed decision.

Source: Writer Beware: Print on Demand and Electronic Self-Publishing

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