Publishing has always been a marathon … if fact, a series of them. If you are looking for an overnight sensation, you are doomed to failure. Publishing takes time. No matter if you are on the self-publish, indie publishing, or the traditional publishing track. TIME is what you need … and should plan for.
It’s crucial to remain patient and persistent throughout the process. Building a readership takes time, and success may not come overnight. Keep refining your craft, learning from your experiences, and adapting your marketing strategies. Stay committed to your goals and be prepared for the long-term commitment required to achieve them.
If you avoid the seven key mistakes identified, you will save thousands of dollars and countless hours redoing and sometimes starting over. It’s the difference between author success and author failure. Your choice … you choose.
1. Not Treating Publishing as a Business
Author and Book neglect often starts here. Publishing is a business. You have a product … a book … or many. You may have spin-offs to selling and distribute. Understanding that as an author, you have transitioned from the CWO — Chief Writing Office to the CMO — the Chief Marketing Officer, is crucial to embrace.
If author and book success is a goal, become proactive becomes a must-have. Accepting that you will need to “invest” in you and your book’s future with time, energy, and money. It’s a business — your business. Whether full-time or part-time — plans need to be made to support it and grow it. That includes banking, tax reporting, and acquiring the necessary tools to support it. And marketing.
2. Neglecting Professional Editing
Let’s start here. Yes, you should do the first round, or two, or three. You may have a few trust “beta” readers to look it over. They are not editors. Nor are your family and friends. If you are going to enter any book award contests, crappy editing will get you tossed aside. Book reviews that mention poor editing can freeze book sales.
When you choose to skip working with a professional editor, you’ve just kissed the #1 mistake most newbie authors make.
Don’t be an editing slacker.
3. Poor Cover and Interior Design
Book Cover and Interior Design shouldn’t be a DIY project. Your book, and you, deserve better. Unless you are a professional in graphics and book design, step away pronto.
Your book cover is the first impression a potential buyer and reader has. The cover is the lighthouse, casting its beacon out to buyers. Does your cover shout out Pick me up now? Is it a fit for your genre? A poorly designed cover can easily eliminate your book from the gazillions of books that are available today. The smart author has a skilled cover designer in his or her corner who understands your genre and creates a visually appealing cover that accurately represents your book’s content. Does yours do that?
The interior presentation is important. Is it plain … boring? Line after line of text with no eye-candy or visual breaks within it? Having an interior that is templated like most can easily create a yawn.
Don’t be a cover and interior design slacker.
4. Ignoring Author Branding and Platform Building
Branding … you are thinking. What’s it got to do with author and book success? Lots … from your website … to your social media profile and posts … to your email signature … to your tagline or slogan … to your book covers … to any visual elements you create … all are essentials to your persona.
If you don’t, you show up fragmented. Is that what you want? Creating and using a professional author brand helps create recognition and trust among your followers and readers. Discover tools such as BrandCrowd.com to set the stage.
Part of your branding includes your platform building for both you and your book. Your platform always starts with your vision the passion behind it, and your commitment of time, energy, and money. When all are in play, you open the opportunity of others discovering you.
Don’t be a branding slacker.
5. Embracing Ostrich Marketing and Promotion
Once you have written your book and have it edited, it doesn’t stop there. Next up is book design, including your cover. Your cover has a back cover — a critical component of your marketing. Does it have snap, crackle, and pop to it? Does it pull in the reader? Your back cover copy is often the buy-it-or-not hook for a book buyer.
It’s time to say goodbye to boring book descriptions. Every retailer gives you a page describing your book to potential readers. Nothing will send your readers exiting faster than a description that is dull, rambling, or loaded with kudos for self. The smart author studies “like genres” and reads the back cover copy and descriptions used on the detail/sales page of several others. You can read them on online retailers’ book pages or in a brick-and-mortar store. This is your pre-publishing homework.
Then you can publish.
Publishing a book is only the first step. Marketing becomes the sledgehammer that moves it. The question is: what kind of marketing? What are you planning to do to generate buzz and attract buyers and readers? Create a marketing plan. Use the Ultimate Book Marketing Success Plan that is downloadable on my Home page.
Your comprehensive marketing plan should include strategies such as social media engagement, book signings, blog tours, and collaborations with influencers and book reviewers, and online advertising. Your plan should include CONSISTENCY to it. Without it, especially using social media will end up with a splat, not a swish. What marketing material will you create to support your book? Bookmarks and postcards should be in your mix — and there’s much more.
Selecting the right categories and keywords when publishing your book is crucial for discoverability. By accurately categorizing your book and using relevant keywords, you increase the chances of appearing in search results and reaching your target audience.
Don’t be a marketing and promo slacker.
6. Being Sucked into RTP …
Unless your book topic is so essential to get it out and shout it out … you will be fighting a mountain you aren’t going to climb over. RTP… Rushing to Publish … is the kiss of death for too many authors and their books. The timing is off. The book isn’t ready. It hasn’t been edited. The author is clueless about anything to do with marketing. So much can go wrong so quickly.
I know, I know. You want to get it out there. But is it ready? Are you ready? And is the book buyer for your genre ready? A beach book — a leisurely novel may not be a fit in November. Books that deal with upcoming elections and published in December will flatline. Books on how to plan a wedding in July missed the wedding. Books on how to plan your holiday menu in January missed the big feast.
Bad timing can be avoided by going to a magazine or newspapers site. Look for a tab or link to editorial calendar or media kit or advertise with us. Usually, these links will lead you to an editorial calendar — calendars that show what features are a focus months ahead of time. Knowing what’s coming gives you a heads-up. A good thing.
Don’t become an RTP fatal accident …. Rushing to Publish. Write. Edit. Design, Marketing Plan. Timing. Then Publish.
And, when you select the time for publishing, stick to it. Be realistic, and do pre-marketing to let readers know your book is coming.
Don’t be a timing slacker.
7. Not Knowing Your Competitors, Their Positioning, and Their Pricing
There are millions of books published each year. Of the many thousands of authors I’ve interacted with, few of them really know who their competitors are. Not just the main bestsellers, but the many who have similar titles and themes. You want to know.
How are you going to be the standout? What’s unique? How can you become the whale in the pond versus the sardine in the sea? Read their back covers and descriptions will tell you what’s missing from theirs that you have. Is your book priced correctly for your genre? Don’t underprice. If your genre is averaging $18.95 and you price yours at $12.95, readers may assume your book is not so good.
Don’t sabotage yourself. Don’t be a clueless slacker.
Publishing as a competitive world — a big one. As an author, you have an amazing opportunity to share your stories, experiences, and wisdom. By avoiding the 7 Deadly Sins of Publishing, your author success quotient soars. Invest in yourself, your books, and your brand. Readers will find you.
Dr. Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. Often, she must roll up her writing sleeves and become a Book Doctor, juicing up storylines and author words. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 44 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Success for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a Million Dollar Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon and her historical fiction debut Secret Journey. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences.
Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged in-person and online experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensives limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE.
Follow @AuthorUYOUBooks and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorYOU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her.
©2023 Judith Briles — The Book Shepherd™ All Rights Reserved.