8 Regrets to Avoid When Self-Publishing Your First Novel

Guest post by James A. Rose

We all have regrets. They are inevitable in some form throughout life. The goal though is to restrict regret as much as possible either through learning from our own mistakes or from the mistakes of others. 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 get it right the first time.

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 a 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 marketers claiming to get your book on some bestseller list for only $3,000. Don’t buy it.

4. Proofread your book with a failsafe, compound eye, 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 an 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.

Hopefully, these tips will 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 or let the job distract you from writing your next masterpiece. Most authors don’t find success until their second or third book anyway. Be content to let this first book be your jumping board.

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.
You can also find James at Facebook.com/InstantPublisher



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Shirley Corder said...

Good post. Totally agree with the need for OCD editing. My biggest problem is with the time and cost factors in self-publishing. Anyone else agree?

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Great! The basics! BEFORE--hopefully--a new writer makes mistakes! I often get new clients after they've made big mistakes like these--one of the most serious is spending too much money before they have any idea how many books they'll sell. They don't consider the publishing is fun--but it's also a business.

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirl, I agree with the time and cost factors. If you do it yourself, it super time-consuming (who has that time). The alternative is to hire it out.

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, I see this also. I have a client who just told me this week he was talking with a company that would create a book cover for $500. And, if there were particulars or something it would be more. I told him "WHOA!" Fortunately, I know a great children's illustrator who's very reasonable. I recommend him to my clients.
I have another client who, after I wrote the manuscript, told me she was paying thousands to have it published. It's crazy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley

I definitely agree. I finally realized that the best approach is to take it slow. The great thing about most books is the evergreen factor. IN regards to both time and money, just take it slow and do what you can when you can.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carolyn

You are absolutely right. That is why we recommend starting with an ebook and a very short print run.


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