11 Debut Author Publishing Mistakes To Avoid Making

Avoiding The Debut Author Mistakes

Debut author? Your first book is finished and published! Now What?

It does not matter if you have self-published, or have been published by a small press; you are very excited, motivated and very keen to start seeing your book sales roll in.

Unfortunately, though, in their eagerness and excitement, many new authors make silly mistakes that can have exactly the opposite effect.

Most of these mistakes can be labelled as instant ‘sales killers’, and although the intention may be positive, the real results can be very negative.

Avoiding the normal debut author mistakes will save you a lot of time, and embarrassment.

Here is a list of eleven do’s and don’t’s for debut authors.

Don’t Bomb Social Media

Social media can be useful in getting your book out to readers, but if you have only a very small following, it is almost pointless, as bombarding your one hundred or so contacts will drive them away in quick time.

Social media is only useful if you have a large and growing following, and even then, book promotion should only represent about 5% of what you post.

Social media is about informing, entertaining and communicating.

It is not about selling books. This is the most classic of all debut author mistakes.

Don’t Write Your Book Description As An Afterthought.

Your book description is the ‘hook’ to get readers interested in your book, so it is vitally important that it does its job well. A short fifty-word outline is not a book description and gives potential readers a very bad impression.

It takes time to write a good book description, so take the time to do some research.

Look at popular books in your genre and study their descriptions, or even go a step further and pay a good copywriter to do it for you.

Don’t Make Your Own Book Cover.

Bad book covers are an instant sales killer. An amateur looking cover is recognisable in an instant and will turn off book buyers as quickly. Always get a professionally designed cover.

Pre-made covers cost around $40.00, so even if you on a budget, it is money well spent. If you can spend a little more, a custom designed cover is, of course, much better.

Do Use Amazon’s Book Promotion Tools.

Most book sales on Amazon, and indeed all other online book retailers, are generated by readers scanning, searching and stumbling across books that take their interest.

Learning to use and write your book metadata to attract book buyers is by far the most powerful means of gaining book sales.

Well-written metadata is more important than any other form of book promotion, so spending the time to learn how to improve a book’s metadata is absolutely critical in gaining book sales.

Do Use Author Central.

If your book is listed on Amazon, using its Author Central Author Page is an absolute imperative.

It is from here that an author can add even more metadata, modify book descriptions, add editorial reviews, as well as back and front flap text.

All of these tools make a book far more discoverable.

Don’t Add Lists of Book Buy Links.

Sure, you have to let people know that you have a book to sell, but adding a long list of book buy links to Amazon, Apple, B&N, Smashwords, your publisher, and any retailer that has your book is a huge turn-off and makes it look like you are desperate.

Debut author mistakes like this can really make you look like an amateur.

One buy link is always more than enough, and even then, if someone is genuinely interested in your book, they will find it by using Google Search, or retailer search. Use a universal book buy link rather than making a long list of retailer links.

Do Blog!

This is the very best way to show off your writing talents, engage with people, exchange comments and build a true author following, as well as increase your social media following.

Two intelligent blog posts per week can do more for your book sales than spending money on paid Facebook advertising.

Don’t Ever Write ‘Buy My Book‘.

Desperate calls to ‘check out my book‘, buy my book‘, ‘follow me on Facebook‘ and ‘here’s a free ebook for you‘, all have a negative effect.

How do you react to imperative phrases like these?

No one buys a book because they are given an order to do so.

Do Be Patient.

Ok, you want to be a bestselling author, but believe me, it won’t happen overnight.

Writing and selling books and ebooks is a long-term occupation, and success, even modest success, usually starts to happen only once you have a few books in your backlist.

So calm down, stop checking your book sales five times a day, and instead, write your next book.

Do Learn To Learn.

Like any other occupation, the more you learn, the better you become.

Find experienced authors and follow their blogs and subscribe to sites offering writing or book marketing advice. Self-publishing especially involves a long and steep learning curve, so never stop learning.

One of the most important lessons to learn is that not everyone will like your book.

In fact, very few people will be at all interested. Your book will have niche appeal, so learn to connect with people who share an interest in the genre or topic of your book.

You will never sell a book on ‘How to Cook The Best Steaks‘ to a vegetarian, nor a cosy romance to a reader of war novels.

Get to know your market.

Don’t Give Up!

With self-publishing, a book never goes out of print now, so never give up on it, or yourself.

You can always improve it, modify it, change the cover, write a new book description or un-publish, do a complete edit, add a new title, and re-publish.

Also, the more you write, the better you get, so keep trying, keep working, keep learning and over time, you may find that success comes your way.

Always remember that the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

9 thoughts on “11 Debut Author Publishing Mistakes To Avoid Making

  • Brilliant! These are wonderful tips. So often, authors forget it’s a long term plan. Nothing happens overnight. I remember when I published my first book it took a long time to get decent sales. It all boils down how hard we’re willing to work, who our audience is, and if we’re crafting content that’s designed for the audience in mind. You talked about having a blog, and I couldn’t agree more. People are attracted to people. Blogs provide a great place for you to develop a community!

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  • I’ve been in print publishing for a coon’s age, and I’ve never seen a truly professional designer who would do a cover for forty bucks. Maybe someone who’s still in school?

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    • Agree 100%. But even a $40 pre-made is better than a tacky home made cover. Luckily though. I am seeing a lot less of these now, so I think new authors are learning. But not all.

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  • This is an excellent list! Indeed, many of these amateur mistakes drive away potential sales. I would add one: if you are self-publishing – and even if you aren’t – do invest in an editor. Nothing annoys readers more and brings more bad reviews than a badly-written book full of spelling and grammatical errors.

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  • Thank you for this. Really insightful and by someone who has been there which makes it even more worth listening to. I shall try and be patient and get back to my netbook so to do more writing

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  • Very interesting and quite important an Article/Blog-post this is! And it is also written truly “brilliantly” as one commentator ‘Andrew Purdum’ said here. A salient point I always appreciate about your pointing to here, is that there is an implicit message going to the Reader’s mind, out of each behaviour and text by the Author, in this phase of the latter’s business. The Author can’t order; they can just encourage. So the approach should be gentle, indirect, rather quite informal. And to do so, PATIENCE is truly a virtue here. The reader can very subtly detect if the Author is desperate or not! Any little fluctuation in the Social media or elsewhere online behaviour/speech is enough to reveal this state of the Author’s mind. So the best approach is to be patient enough first! Thus altering the very mental state beforehand! And then practising all the necessary techniques to communicate with the Buyers. Like giving at least ONE link and attracting them through OTHER writings/posts/etc and reminding them about the Book somewhat OCCASIONALLY.

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  • Outstanding article. Thank you.

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  • Great advice, thank you! I’ll confess to making some of these mistakes already…

    Reply

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