10 Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

I shared this list with my self-publishing workshop attendees in November, and thought I would re-post here for anyone interested. If you’re in Atlanta and would like to attend my next self-pub workshop, you can find the information here: https://2-in-1-writers.eventbrite.com

The Top 10 Reasons Newbie Self-Publishers Stumble

  1. Rushing to Publish. The ease of publishing on digital platforms and the prospect of making money (or even just finding out how a book will be received) often lures authors to click “publish” before they are ready. Good writing takes time, including time away from your work to look at it with fresh eyes; several rounds of editing; and professional polish. Don’t skip steps!
  2. Skimping on Editing and Proofing. The bad reputation sometimes attributed to self-published authors is often related to work that is sloppy, poorly edited and unprofessional.
  3. Missing the Hook. Authors who do not understand clearly what will hook their readers can fail to incorporate that hook into cover design, book jacket, marketing pieces and the book itself.
  4. Failing to Listen to Feedback. First-time authors are too often in a stance of defending their work, rather than soaking up every bit of feedback that could make it better. Early readers, critique partners, etc. are a good measure of how your book will be received by your target audience. Listen closely and set aside your ego during edits.
  5. Missing Genre. We’d all like to think that our books transcend genre, or blend many genres; but readers use genre as a decision-making tool when choosing a book. Being unclear about your book’s genre or misunderstanding what readers in a particular genre expect will result in lost sales and bad reviews. (It’s okay to bend the rules of the genre you’re in, but you have to earn it!)
  6. Skipping the Author Platform. Reclusive authors are an endangered species. Readers and potential readers expect SOME ability to interact with you or learn more about you. The time to establish a platform is right now, not when your book is published!
  7. Bad Covers. Your book cover is the first (and sometimes only) impression readers will have. It must look professional, be consistent with the genre, and convey instantly something about the book’s tone, content and hook.
  8. Overselling and Under-marketing. You don’t have to tweet about your book 20 times a day or mention it every time you comment on a blog! Marketing means being present in the places you choose to connect, making it easy for readers to find your books, and demonstrating why they should choose to read something you’ve written. Let your platform speak for you and your books, and use advertising as needed. Don’t confuse social media interactions with advertising. You wouldn’t go up to everyone you meet at a party and try to sell them your book – don’t do it online, either.
  9. Confusing Identities. Many new authors create too many cutesy pen names, Twitter handles, and other identities online. This put obstacles between your platform and your books. Pick one name (preferably your own name or some form of it) and use it everywhere. Use the same or similar pictures of yourself as your profile/avatar on all websites. Pick a clear close-up shot of your face that matches the tone of your writing. Snowmen, coffee cups, wine glasses, books, dogs, etc., do not make good profile pictures.
  10. Undervaluing Your Work. This relates to pricing (e.g. 99 cents vs. $3.99), as well as the amount of time and energy you are willing to invest in making your book successful. Make your book the best it can be, then treat it as such. Let your passion shine through!

If you are in the Atlanta area and want to learn more about self-publishing and/or establishing an author platform for ANY type of publishing, join me on January 24th: https://2-in-1-writers.eventbrite.com or sign up for my writing and publishing email list here: http://eepurl.com/LCyOn.


I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I blog about writing, publishing, motherhood, health, psychology and whatever else strikes me in the moment.

My books include The Marriage Pact series, a trilogy of funny, semi-realistic Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction novels coming Fall 2015 from Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press in association with Macmillan Entertainment. If you enjoyed this entry, please follow along or join my email list.  Thanks for reading!


MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *