Self-publishing can be a minefield of misdirection and out-and-out fraud.
Many “publishers” (in the past known as “vanity publishers”) who work with self-published authors claim to take your manuscript and turn it into a finished book. Often, they will take your hard-earned money and publish a mediocre book that’s badly edited or not edited at all. The cover may be from a template and “marketing” consists of featuring the book on their website. The author spends thousands of dollars and ends up with 10 copies of their book and an empty bank account.
The best way for you, the author, to avoid the land mines and schemes is to know what you don’t know. There are some terrific hybrid publishers who turn out great books. Educating yourself about the self-publishing process and seeking out reputable professionals to help you will enable you to make smart publishing decisions.
Here’s a list of 10 things you should never do when you’re writing and self-publishing a book:
- Never sign with a publishing company who wants you to write them a big check and you’re not sure what it is they will do. Read the contract. Better yet, have a lawyer read the contract.
- Read reviews of the company. Google the name of the company + reviews. Contact a few of the authors of the books featured on the publisher’s website. You should be able to find them on social media. Can’t find anybody? That’s a big red flag.
- Does the publishing company offer editing, cover design, interior layout? Are there extra charges you can incur? Do they answer questions promptly? Do you have an account rep who answers your questions?
- Never assume a publisher will also market your book.
- Unless it’s in the contract, a publisher will not market your book. That’s your job.
- Are you publishing your book yourself, hiring professionals to work with you? Never publish without having a professional editor edit your book. This does not mean hiring your friend, your English teacher, or your neighbor who works in PR. Find a professional editor who works in your genre.
- Also never have your kid, your friend or your neighbor design your book cover. Again, hire a professional designer who designs book covers. (And not the guy who runs the print shop down the street. Business cards and book covers are not the same thing.)
- Never let someone design the interior of your book using Microsoft Word. Word is a word processing program. It isn’t a design program. An interior done using Word will look like a term paper. A professional uses a program like Adobe InDesign.
- Don’t think this makes a difference? Try reading a badly designed book. It’s actually uncomfortable for your eyes and brain.
- Never wait to start your marketing plan after the book is published. When you start writing is the ideal time to consider how you’re going to sell it.
- Too overwhelming? Slow down and designate time to work on your marketing plan along with writing. Consider hiring a marketing professional to guide you.
- Not sure how to write a marketing plan? It doesn’t have to be elaborate. There are many free resources online to show you how.
- Never think your book is so good that everyone will just buy it. (It’s human nature to think that.) The reality is there are a million books published in the US every year. Your book will be invisible unless you promote it.
- Never publish your book without first putting up a website. A website is the territory you own. Get it set up at least a few months before your launch date.
- A simple author website consists of your book featured on the home page, an about you page, a contact form and a blog.
- Never think you can sell books without social media or an online platform. You need to find your audience and platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the perfect places to do that. If you’re not convinced, is your favorite author on social media? Why do you think that is?
- Never think you only have to market your book when it’s first launched and then stop. Many authors slow down or stop promoting their book only 90 days after publishing. It takes at least 90 days to get reviews and recognition about your book. This is an ongoing process.
Network with fellow authors for moral support and to share ideas. There are many meetup groups and writers groups – join one!
Want to get started with a marketing plan for your book? I offer a free, 30-minute consultation via zoom or phone. Contact me to set up an appointment.