How to Avoid the Errors First-Time Authors Make

In this post, I’m going to cover common errors first-time authors make. And believe me, I’m not pointing fingers–I’ve made almost all of them myself! I’m sharing so you can benefit from my experience.

Error 1: They don’t publish professionally. The concept of producing an MVP (minimum viable product) can save you time and money, but not when it comes to your book. Your book represents you when you’re not around, and a book with shoddy production is the same as wearing shorts and flip flops to a black-tie wedding. What to do: The 4 Cornerstones of a Professionally Published Book are: (1) professional editing, (2) professional proofreading, (3) graphic design of your book cover and interior design by a professional designer, and (4) sales/back cover copy written by a (you guessed it) a professional copywriter. This will ensure your book is as professional as you are, so it looks, feels, and reads as though it were published by a traditional publisher. I cannot stress enough how important it is to intentionally create a quality product. Even if it takes longer and costs more, the time and additional investment are worth it over the long haul.

Error 2: They don’t treat their book like a business. Your book isn’t your baby. It is supposed to either be a stream of revenue or a way to generate new business. Think of your book just like you would an employee or other collateral material: as a means to connect with others and help them and generate revenue directly or indirectly. In addition, your book business is supposed to be profitable. What to do:  Look at your book like any other product you offer. Create a plan for creation, launch, and marketing. Keep track of your expenses with the goal to be in the black as soon as possible!

Error 3: They get reviews from the wrong readers. Your Aunt Mary can review or endorse your book, but if she doesn’t fit the profile of your avatar, her 5-star review of your book will confuse the algorithms the major platforms use (especially Amazon) to determine to whom they market your book. What to do: Identify your avatar and focus on getting as many reviews as possible from them as close to the launch date as possible. This will help those who discover your book know for sure they need to buy and read it! And, it will help online booksellers to market your books effectively.

Error 4: They take advice from “experts.” Not everyone who has published a book (or 5) is someone who should be giving advice about selling books, and yet anyone can say they are an expert. But if they don’t have a strong Amazon Author Rank, have only published a few books (or less), and their books rank in the hundreds of thousands or millions, they might not be a true expert. What to do: Three quick questions things to ask before taking someone’s advice: 1. How many books have you published? 2. What is your Amazon Author Rank? 3. What is the rank of each of your books? Hint: great answers are: 1. More than a dozen or several dozen. 2. Top 100 in their book’s category. 3. At least one book in the top 10,000, and top 100 in their book’s category.

Ask me anything! What’s the one burning question you have about writing and self-publishing your book? Leave a question in the comments, and I’ll feature your question in an upcoming message!

Happy writing!


~Write faster. The Author Biz Podcast featuring tips for using dictation to write your book. I use Nuance’s Dragon Dictate (with this as my guide) and love it!

~Write even if you’re busy! You can write your book in as little as 15 minutes a day. I wrote a super quick read about it with my fiction author buddy Brian D. Meeks.

~Write with expert guidance. The Publishing Ph.D. LIVE! Course can help you give birth to your book. If you’re interested in learning more, go here. 

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