Richard Lane Church, Author

Use Your Writing Talent to Make Money

Copywriting * Content Writing * Fiction

Self-publishing mistakes can cost you book sales. Ensure your best shot at success. Writing a novel is hard and requires a lot of time. Perhaps you write for yourself, but very few writers do not want others to read and fall in love with their work. And while it is free and relatively simple to publish your work on Amazon, some common mistakes will sabotage your sales efforts. Whether you want to share a great story or idea or just want to make money, you need readers to be attracted and buy your work.

My best, basic advice is to write first and edit second. Editing while writing inhibits the creative process. So let’s assume you’ve written your first draft and are ready to prepare for self-publishing.

Page undergoing editing to avoid self publishing mistakes

Self-Publishing Mistakes: #1

Don’t Rush!

Congratulations! Your first draft is complete. But re-writing often demands more time and effort than the first draft. Even if you wrote with Grammarly or another “editor,” I can guarantee there are things you need to correct or rewrite to make it better.

My favorite editing technique is to read every word aloud. Some phrases that your eyes easily skim over will sound awkward when read aloud. Reading aloud also slows you down so mistakes are more obvious (i.e., green eyes in chapter 3 and blue eyes in chapter 27). Also, you get the chance to see if the action is presented in such a way as to make the scene easily play in the mind’s eye of a reader. For example, can laymen understand a complex fighting move or repair technique? Not all of us are black belts or journeymen.

To avoid an editor (possibly your first reader) changing the nuance of a passage or worse, do one or several rewrites before sending it off. Make it the very best you can. Even then, a professional editor will find ways of making your manuscript even better. Be aware of chapter and scene sequencing.

Editor Types

There are four different editing functions.

  • Developmental Editing
  • Line Editing
  • Copy Editing
  • Proof-Reading

While some of this you may want to do yourself, experts will catch things you won’t see. Jessica Brody, author of the highly regarded Save the Cat! Write a Novel. along with several published fiction and books on writing, says that you should not even use the same editor for all four functions.

For my first self-published novel, I worked through developmental editing myself and hired an editor for line editing. (She even gave me a few suggestions that were actually developmental. I also relied on beta readers (one aPh.D in English, another a former hospice nurse, and a high school English with a Master’s. For proofreading, I went through several readings (out loud) and consulted Grammarly, constantly. Even after professional line editing, I found some words or passages that needed extra scrutiny.

I am too much of a control freak to allow an editor carte blanch. She had sent me updates. While many of her suggestions made sense and I adhered to them, sometimes they changed the meaning of the scene. I considered her remarks as red flags and reworked those sentences. Obviously, if she saw a problem, other readers would as well. Other writers feel their job is done and let the editors do their work, accepting the revisions as a whole. It just depends on the writer.

Common Publishing Mistake #2

Although Amazon and other self-publishing platforms may have templates to create your book cover by yourself, unless you are a graphic artist, it is a mistake. Your book cover is your best marketing tool. People do judge the books they buy by their covers. You need not only a talented graphic artist but one who understands book marketing as well.

If you understand graphic design and book marketing, you may choose to use Photoshop or an online graphic app like Canva.

I hired a cover designer from On his second try, he came up with a design that appealed to me but needed tweaking. I am versatile in Photoshop, so it was not that much of a problem, However, I envision getting a completely new cover sometime next year. Anyone you hire should offer a reasonable amount of revisions.

Graphic artists do not have time to read your novel before creating your cover. You need to give them some direction. If you have a good blurb written for your back cover, make sure they get it. Consider your novel’s genre and what others are successfully using for their covers on similar books.

Self-Publishing Mistake: #3

The last of the three self-publishing mistakes I’ll mention is blindly copying another self-publisher’s marketing. I am a big believer in modeling what works for successful marketers. But you need to constantly test what you are doing because while a technique may work for another, it may not work for you. For example, making an audiobook yourself or doing book readings events works best only if you have a good reading voice.

There are many individuals and companies that can help you with marketing your novel. Some do one thing, while others offer complete packages. Investigate them.

Trying something on a small scale before spending a lot of time and money is important. Testing different concepts is the science of scientific marketing.

Some marketing venues that are often successful are:

  • Creating a website for yourself as an author or one to display your book
  • Learn to have your books displayed on sites beyond Amazon
  • Create different versions of your book–Kindle eBook, paperback, and hardcover
  • Utilize your social media accounts to advertise
  • Create a Facebook fan page
  • Solicit email addresses and keep fans informed through a newsletter or email announcements
  • Book signings, readings, etc., at a variety of events and venues. (Reading hour for children…)

Study book marketing if you want to do it yourself. I have recently purchased How to Market a Book
by Ricardo Fayet. I will write a blog post on it when I complete it next month.

I gleaned many good ideas from Jessica Brody’s post on this subject. Read her post here.

Read my related blog on editing.

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