When I first dipped my toe into the ocean that is self-publishing, I thought to myself, "How hard could this be?"
You write a book, you put it on Amazon, and you become a millionaire overnight.
If only that were true.
Okay, so I wasn't that naive. The truth is, I never planned on self-publishing my first book. I always thought I'd sell it to an agent, who would sell it to one of the top 5 publishing houses, who would then sell a million copies and I would become a millionaire. (I'm sensing a pattern...)
When I realized traditional publishing wasn't the route for me, I faced a choice: let my story disappear, lost to the depths of the internet wasteland... or self-publish.
So I started doing my research.
Even with my preparation, though, I've made MANY mistakes since I started my publishing journey. By writing about them here, I hope it will 1) stop me from ever making the same mistakes again, and 2) prevent someone ELSE from making those same mistakes.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the Top 5 Self-Publishing Mistakes I've Made (So Far).
#1: I didn't research my genre.
I knew what kind of book I had written. It was clean romantic suspense. But before I went through all the trouble of commissioning a cover and spending hours finding the perfect keywords on Amazon, I wish I had researched my genre.
Knowing the genre isn't enough. If you want your book to be seen by as many people as possible, you must have a firm grasp on what the market is doing right now, TODAY, in your book's genre.
I never looked at top-selling book covers in my genre. (That probably would've changed the design I chose for my series.)
I never researched common tropes that are super popular right now. (That might've changed the edits I made in my final drafts.)
If you're considering the self-publishing route, I IMPLORE you. Do your research first. Make sure your book fits into the category you're trying to sell it in. Readers can smell an imposter (AKA me) a mile away!
#2: I didn't focus on growing my social media presence.
When it comes to marketing these days, social media is king. There's no doubt about it.
Even though I understood that and even created my own author Instagram and Facebook pages, I only updated them haphazardly. (In fact, I'm STILL working on this one.)
When I did post, I didn't engage with my audience in the right way. I wasn't authentic with my captions, and there was ZERO cohesion in my content.
Not only that, but I didn't actively engage with my audience and become a member of the community in order to organically grow my follower count.
Whether you're publishing now or two years from now... START YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. It's vital in getting the word out about your book!
#3: I didn't plan a proper book launch.
Don't even get me started on book launch strategies. There are a million theories on the best way to launch a book and boost your sales.
I didn't do any of them.
Okay, I tried, but it wasn't well thought-out or well-executed. It resulted in decent sales (most of them from family friends) that have slowly grown over time, instead of a big boost in sales on release day.
Take the time to research book launch strategies WELL BEFORE you get close to release day. Write down your strategy, start implementing early, and you'll see much more success with your launch!
#4: I skimped on advertising.
I launched Dual Innocence, the first book in my ESI series, and waited for the sales to start rolling in.
Naturally, they didn't.
So I threw up some Facebook and Instagram ads, spending way too much money without thinking about the intent behind them.
Still no result.
Then I decided to try my hand at Amazon ads.
I ended up spending more than double the amount of my return. *face palm*
On top of that, I never even explored other advertising avenues, like local book fairs and events, radio appearances, book signings, etc.
Advertising your release is SO important if you want new people to find you, but it's important to be SMART about the decisions you make. If you go into the process with only a vague strategy and very little research, you'll end up spending more than you make. Nobody wants a negative ROI.
#5: I rushed the process.
Have you read my last post about Legacy Exposed, book 3 in the ESI series? I've been calling it my personal Mt. Everest.
Why, you ask?
Because I rushed the publishing process. I thought I could write, revise, rewrite, and re-revise, and finally publish a book... in 3 months. But I was new to writing professionally and VERY new at self-publishing. The truth is, just because self-publishing allows you to rapid-release your books, it doesn't mean you should.
Some authors can release a new book every other month, but most of them didn’t start that way. It took them years and dozens of books before they reached that point in their careers and creative process.
There you have it! Those are the 5 self-publishing mistakes I've made since releasing my first book. And trust me, they won't be the last. Every day I'm learning and growing, and that's what this journey is all about.
If you're an author, have you made these same mistakes? Or DIFFERENT mistakes? Let me know in the comments below! Let's talk about it.