7 Common Self-Publishing Mistakes to Look Out For

Self-publishing your book is a powerful way to get your story out into the world as an aspiring author.

Sp 001 mistakes to avoid when self publishing

But after you've written the most important novel or non-fiction book of the generation, you've got to pivot into a marketing expert to get that book into the hands of adoring fans.

Although the road to publication (not to mention wild fame and success) is rarely an easy one, there are common self-publishing mistakes that you can plan for to make that road a little less treacherous.

Here are 7 common self-publishing mistakes you should side-step to save yourself time, money, and major headaches.

Mistake #1: Not Enough Editing

  • Don't be tempted to publish your book until it's had many rounds of effective editing.
  • Your credibility as a writer can boil down to missed periods or the wrong "your."
  • You don't have to pay hundreds of dollars on a professional editor - learn how self-edit like a pro and spot typos and other grammatical errors on your way to a polished manuscript.

Mistake #2: Private Social Platforms

  • You can keep your personal social media accounts private, but make sure you keep your author accounts public.
  • Make finding your book and related author information as easy as possible for your readers
  • Give everyone the opportunity to discover why your book rocks - go public! 

Mistake #3: Bad Book Cover Design

  • Books really are judged by their covers, so don't let a poor book cover design keep your book from jumping off the shelf and into new readers' hands.
  • Professional book cover design services are worth your money — they catch your readers' eye and encourage them to buy. 
  • Even if your book could be the next Nobel Prize winner, if the cover is a stock photo nightmare, it'll never receive the attention it deserves.

Mistake #4: Meager Marketing Plan

  • No matter how fantastic your story may be, your marketing plan will make or break your book's ability to reach its readers.
  • From your social media presence to paid Facebook ads to a great author website, a strategic marketing plan is everything to sell more copies of your book.
  • Start your marketing plan before your book is finished so you'll have an eager audience ready to devour your book once it's finally published.

Discover how to find new fans and sell more books on Facebook >

Mistake #5: No Clear Brand Message

Mistake #6: Not Creating a Budget

Mistake #7: No Distribution Deal

  • You don't want to be a self-published author with 1,000 copies of a poorly-designed book wasting away in your attic or garage.
  • A distribution deal will help you get copies of your book to retail outlets so you can make some fans and money.
  • You can choose from print on demand, expanded distribution, or wholesale distribution:
    • Print on demand means you don't have to invest up-front to publish (leading to stockpiles of your book). 
    • Expanded distribution means for an upfront fee, the book is printed and sent out to retailers in bulk (additional fees may also apply).
    • Wholesale distribution is when the distributor sells your book to a wholesaler, enabling easy access to your book (particularly for smaller retailers).

There's nothing like tripping over a newbie mistake that could be avoided with a little research and planning. Self-publishing your book takes enough time and hard work — you don't need to add on costly and time-consuming mistakes to the process, too.

But don't just take it from us — hear from successful self-published authors about the blunders they made early in their career, and how you can gracefully sidestep these publishing gaffes > 

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Divine ordinariness frntcover

I worked with Jamie Howell at Steuben, editing, formatting, and printing my first book, Divine Ordinariness. She did a superb job offering ideas that truly enhanced the final product. Sharp, responsive, creative, and quick processionals, a pleasure to work with. Jamie even stopped the press to make a major revision when I got midstream deal-breaker feedback and had to rework the project. Steuben is the way to go for fine quality service. Thanks a lot, Steuben.

– Catherine Scott, Evergreen, CO