The road to becoming a published author is winding and long and emotional. We get it. It’s easy to stumble and lose your way. And if you’ve made a few mistakes along the way, hey, don’t worry about it. You’re in good company. The best thing you can do is learn from those mistakes, and share what you’ve learned so others can take heed. Here are a few of the top mistakes our authors discovered on their road to publication:
Failure to trust yourself
No one knows your project better than you do. So why automatically listen to an agent or editor or other so-called expert who suggests changes to your project—or scraping your project altogether? Go with your gut and trust your own instincts. How do we know for sure? Simple, it's right there in our post Top 10 traits all indie authors have in common. Go ahead and check it out. We'll wait here.
Having too much trust in yourself
While it is true that no one knows your project better than you do, completely ignoring the advice of others would also be a mistake. Don’t be too emotional about your book. Listen to criticism with an open mind. Make the changes that make sense to you. Ignore the changes you don’t agree with. Your book will be all the better for it. Check out our post Handling negative reviews: Don't become a cyberstalker for more good advice.
Failure to develop a marketing campaign, or starting one too late
Marketing should start way before your book is published. If you wait until it’s out and not selling to start marketing, it may be too late. Your book will only have one release. Make it a big one. You might want to look at Top 10 tools to promote and market your book and Infographic: The Ten Commandments of book marketing.
Going “Wild Wild West”
Deciding to figure things out as you go and wing it (otherwise known as going “Wild Wild West”) is a sure-fire way to stunt your book sales. Do your homework and study everything from the publishing process to author branding to social media strategies before you publish. Your study time will pay off in the form of book sales (and fans). There's lots of good info in So you've written a book...now what? (Part 4).
Believing that traditional is the only way to go
Authors can languish for years trying to find an agent and publisher in the hopes of securing a big publishing deal. Choosing to traditionally publish is a noble goal, but if you’re not getting any interest from agents and editors, don’t let your book become a doorstop. Don’t limit your publishing opportunities by ignoring self-publishing. There's more in Don't judge a book by its publisher.
Not hiring professionals
We get it. If you decide to self-publish, it’s hard to think about spending money on your book before it’s even published, when you have no idea how many copies (if any) you’ll actually sell. But failure to hire professional designers, formatters and copyeditors is probably the biggest and most damaging mistake an author can make. Cheap-looking covers, glaring grammar and punctuation errors and formatting oddities are sure to cripple your sales (and your reputation as an author). Get all the details in Who says you can't proofread your own work? and Top 5 questions to ask when designing your book cover. (Not to be too smarmy but we know a few proofreaders and book cover designers who can help. Just sayin'.)
Celebrate your finished book. It’s an accomplishment few people will ever achieve. But never forget that the long-haul career of a successful author involves always working on the next book. Get inspired with The second most important thing you'll ever do as an author.
What about all you authors out there? What's the worst mistake you've ever made? What do you wish you could do over? What did you nail perfectly? Have any advice you’d like to share with the class? Leave a comment below or drop us a line. We’d love to hear about your experiences.