11 Mistakes New Self-Published Authors Make

11 Mistakes New Self-Published Authors Make

Common mistakes that newly self-published authors can make.

Succeeding at self-publishing and selling books is not easy.

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

Avoiding the following mistakes will give you a far better chance of success.

The most important 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.

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 make 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?


Here are 11 self-publishing mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.


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.

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

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, you are telling potential followers (readers) to go away because you have no confidence.

If you are an 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.


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

People are not dumb, and they can spot exaggeration, if not outright lying very easily.

Not a great start in 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 help desk assistant?

You’re an author! Again. 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 readers to be warned off.

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 really 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 on the job and give your book a decent chance of success.

It doesn’t cost a lot to buy pre-made ebook covers, and even a bespoke designed cover won’t break the bank.

But a terrible homemade cover will break your book sales potential.


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.

Related reading: You Know You Need A Book Editor But You Can’t Afford One


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 certainly 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.

Wait until you have a killer book cover that will help you sell books.

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 colour 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.

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.


Related reading: Self-Publishing: Expectations vs Reality For New Authors


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

12 thoughts on “11 Mistakes New Self-Published Authors 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.

  • 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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