11 Self-Publishing Mistakes New Authors Can Make

11 Mistakes New Self-Published Authors Make

Succeeding at self-publishing, gaining readers, and selling books are not easy tasks.

However, some of the self-publishing mistakes that new authors often make can make success even more difficult.

If you avoid making the following mistakes, you will give your book a far better chance of success.

The most crucial point that many new authors fail to understand is that once you are self-published, you are an author.

With that comes being open to criticism, and there is no way to hide and avoid it.

You will get good and bad reviews on Amazon, and your book may succeed. But it will more than likely fail to sell in any huge numbers outside your friends and family.

That’s publishing. It’s a gamble, and the truth is that publishing, especially fiction, has always been a gamble.

Yes, there are self-publishing success stories, but they are few and far between.

It is the same ratio for traditional publishing and independent publishers. Not every book sells a million copies.

But there are many successfully self-published authors. A small handful makes it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.

So, how can you put your best foot forward and avoid looking like a new author who has no idea what they are doing?

Common mistakes new self-published authors can make

Here are 11 self-publishing tips and mistakes you need to consider before you publish your book.


1. You didn’t proofread your bio.

Many new authors are so excited about getting published for the first time.

But in their rush to tell the world, they quickly write a bio for social media but forget to do a spellcheck and proofread.

Spelling and grammar errors in an author’s bio are an absolute kiss of death for an independent author.

If your bio has errors, what is your book going to be like?

The same goes for a book description. Grammar and spelling mistakes in the blurb for books on Amazon is an immediate sales killer.

An author checks every single word they write, no matter how few, or where they write them.


2. You protected your social media accounts.

If you think protecting your Twitter account will allow you to control the world, you are dead wrong.

Not only that, but you are also telling potential followers (readers) to go away because you have no confidence.

If you are an indie author, you cannot close off a single avenue for readers to find you and your book.

Blocking users and protecting your Twitter account is silly. Followers cannot do anything to you.

Well, except that they can all buy your books.


3. You know everything now.

Sure, you are a new author, so now you don’t need to read, research, learn, and improve.

If you are not learning every day, you are not an author.

There are so many skills a new author needs to master to help their writing and books succeed.


4. You extend the truth.

Well, let’s be frank here.

If you tell the world that you are an award-winning and NYT bestselling author, perhaps you should have a high book sales rank.

You should have lots of reviews and more than 100 followers on Twitter, and a few more than 50 Likes on your Facebook Page.

People are not stupid, and they can spot exaggeration, if not outright lying very quickly.

It’s not a great start in book marketing and gaining book buyers.

Honesty works just as well, and it’s much easier.


5. You can’t be everything.

Okay, you’re an author. So why tell the world that you are also a plumber, a hairstylist, an Avon rep, a car salesman, a SAHM, or a help desk assistant?

You’re an author. Again, build your business model. You’re an author!

Be one, and forget the boring real-life daily details.


6. You are a debut author.

Debut is a great word if you want to warn off readers.

It says that you are new, and probably a terribly inexperienced author.

Just be an author, and forget the clichéd adjectives.


7. You keep saying that you are aspiring.

If you have self-published and have a book available on Amazon, you are no longer aspiring.

Perspiring, perhaps, but aspiring is an adjective that says that you have no confidence whatsoever.

Drop this adjective at all costs.

In fact, drop all the boring clichéd adjectives that 1,000’s of other inexperienced authors use.

Be an author and be original.


8. You are not writing your second or third book.

Okay, you have self-published your book. Now what?

Flogging one title can become extremely tiresome, for you, and all your contacts that you are belting around the head every day with your one book.

You’re an author. Write more books!


9. You made your own book cover.

It shows, and it stands out like a sore thumb as an amateur book cover.

Get a professional designer on the job and give your book a decent chance of success.

It doesn’t cost a lot to buy pre-made ebook covers. Even a bespoke cover designed by a graphic designer won’t break the bank.

But if you want to use a free ebook cover, you can try Canva to help you. With a free account, you can design acceptable ebook covers. But for print books, you might need to upgrade to the premium version.

But a terrible homemade cover will break your book sales potential, especially for a printed book.


10. You didn’t use an editor.

It’s only self-publishing, so why bother with an editor?

Well, it’s up to you, but almost all books that sell well have been expertly edited and proofread.

It’s your choice.


11. You rushed into publishing.

This is the single biggest reason why so many self-published books fail to sell.

Rushing into hitting the publish button after finishing the first draft of a manuscript is a surefire way to invite total disaster.

A first draft manuscript will undoubtedly contain a lot of errors and typos.

Wait, edit, get beta readers, get an editor. Wait again. Edit, read, edit, improve, and get more beta readers. It is the publishing process.

Wait until you have a killer book cover that will help you sell ebooks and print on demand paperbacks.

Wait until you have built a solid social media base and have a great blog working for you to promote your forthcoming book. Do you have a book promotion plan?

Wait until you have everything right. Did you give enough thought to the color and fonts for your book cover?

Publishing is not a race. Remember that most publishers take a year or more to prepare a book for publishing.

Granted, you’re self-publishing, so you have an advantage. You can probably do it in nine, six, or even three months.

But make sure everything is absolutely perfect before you even think about publishing your book and have realistic expectations.

This list could, of course, be much longer, but these eleven traps are a good start.

Be an author.

Be patient.

Be prepared.

Be original.

But most of all, be meticulous.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

13 thoughts on “11 Self-Publishing Mistakes New Authors Can Make

  • August 22, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    I just found you and love your information! I a published author but still very green in marketing. Thank you for your insights! P.S.

  • February 11, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    This is the same regurgitated advice found within every so-called article on newbie self-publishing mistakes, and completely pointless advice to be tossing around after-the-fact. It would be a more productive use of your time and website if you advised people what mistakes to avoid ahead of time whilst on their journey to publication.

    But then again, that would be nothing new either, since there’s thousands of articles already on the subject on the thousands of blogs that all offer the same few tips.

    There’s no such thing as “new” writing and publishing advice, just the same-old same-old regurgitated nonesense on all blogs these days. Where have the informative and interesting websites gone? Too many blogs and too much repetition on the same topics makes for a redundant and boring read.

    • October 19, 2019 at 3:24 am

      Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

      Kindly go write yours and share the new stuff. Do you listen to just how rude and ungrateful you sound?

  • December 16, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Wonderful tips. Thank you. I love your site

  • February 20, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Agree with all you say here.

    *there’s a typo on point 8 title.

  • October 31, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    6 and 7 are the two big mistakes I’ve made. I should not have said ‘I am a new author’ or ‘this is my first ever novel.’ I am an author and I write books. Thanks for ypur brilliant advice.

  • April 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    “You’re an author! Be one, and forget the boring real life daily details.”

    Yes – unless your day-to-day job is relevant to the book. If your book is called ‘How to Be The World’s Worst Car Salesman’, mentioning your job as a car salesman establishes your authority on the topic.

  • April 18, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Would you call this a fairly complete list of the things one will spend six months working on after “finishing” a novel?

  • January 29, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Number 10 should be right up there at the top. You absolutely need an editor. Not a “second set of eyes” to proof your work. It’s worth the investment to hire a professional editor.


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