Seven Mistakes Self-Publishers Make and How to Avoid Them


The decision to self-publish a book is very exciting. It causes the creative juices to flow and the eyes to light up. But wait–before you begin the self-publishing process, know about the seven most common mistakes that self-publishers make, avoid them and fast-track yourself to success. Here they are:

  1. Not knowing why you are writing a book. Are you writing your memoirs for the family, are you writing a community cookbook, are you writing a book of regional interest or are you writing a national bestseller? All of these goals are valid, but each goal has different implications for your business plan. Know why you are writing and know that you can create that bestseller if that is your goal.
  2. Not treating self-publishing as a business. You are passing beyond the realm of author into the exciting world of self-publishing. You are not just a writer, you are about to become a publisher who wants to produce a profitable book, and you want to keep the profits for yourself.
  3. Not writing a business plan. Being aware of the business aspect of self-publishing is not an end in itself–you need to formally write your plan. It does not need to be a fifty page document with every accounting possibility recorded, but it should outline all of the costs you will encounter from obtaining the necessary funds to knowing the price of mailing a book. The business plan needs to account for future expenses as well as pre-publication expenses.
  4. Not planning for publicity and marketing. You need to plan for the publicity and marketing of your book and if you don’t you will have made the biggest mistake of all. You don’t want to print books that sit in your garage. You want to print books that will sell, sell, sell!
  5. Not writing about a subject that you know well. Don’t write about something that you can’t talk about without effort. Write about a subject with which you are very familiar and that excites you. Writing the book will establish you as an expert in your field, so choose that topic that causes everyone you know to come to you for advice. The publicity will then be so easy that you will love being the “star”.
  6. Not knowing who will buy your book. So many authors think that “everyone” needs and should buy their books. Not so. Perhaps “everyone” needs their books, but not everyone will want to buy. Research and know who will actually want your book and market, market to them. They will buy!
  7. Not looking for non-bookstore markets because of the fear of large discounts. Bookstores are a hugely important market for most authors, but they are far from being the only place to sell books. There are many non-traditional markets that buy books in large quantities with no returns. This is a great market – sales made are guaranteed sales not consignment sales. Do not be afraid of the larger discounts when you make those large volume sales. The books you sell are actually sold.

Think how much more pleasant a journey is if you know which fork in the road will lead you to smooth driving and which fork in the road will lead you through potholes. Knowing about mistakes before you print will make your publishing career fun and profitable.

—Article used with permission of Joni Hamilton, Vice President, Marketing, Ink Tree Ltd. Ink Tree Ltd. provides authors and publishers with innovative opportunities to maximize success. Phone: 1-866-500-8733 or 403-295-3898 Email: Web: or


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