Self publishing levels the playing field in many respects. You can get involved in it whether you’re a novice or an expert, but if you haven’t been trained or prepared in any way, you need to make sure that you avoid some of the most common mistakes.
One of the reasons that self published authors have to work past certain stigmas relating to the self publishing industry is because of the poor quality of many self published eBooks. According to “The Pit and the Pendulum of Self Publishing,” many would be authors just publish eBooks without paying attention to the quality. If you hire an editor or even have someone go over your eBook before self publishing online, you’ll be ahead of most. But it will take even more than that for your eBook to be a quality product. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that you can and should avoid.
Typographical and Grammatical Errors
Depending on how you talk to in the self publishing community, typographical and grammatical errors can have varying effects on your success in self publishing online. Some people are of the mindset that if a book is well developed in terms of the plot, the readers can forgive the errors in spelling and grammar. However, the majority of the publishing world, other writers, and writing services use poor grammar and typographical errors as indications of a poorly developed eBook.
Avoid the risk. Make sure that the manuscript has been thoroughly proofed. Make sure that your spellings are consistent. This becomes even more important when you write a book with made up words. Some reviewers will thoroughly pan an otherwise good book because of poor grammar and other errors. Don’t run that risk. You may have an excellent story or a great deal of good information, but you don’t want to risk losing your readers simply because of such errors. It works best to hire a couple editors to help you with this process. It can be rather expensive, but English majors and editors just starting up their freelance practices may be able to offer you a reduced rate. Just make sure to check samples of their work to ensure that they can provide the services they promise.
Once, the editing phase is over and you are planning to get your eBook finally published, you should shift your concern towards directing traffic to your eBook. One good option is to choose trustworthy allies like Amazon and get Amazon traffic to your eBook. Yes, you can get traffic with Amazon and make your online self publishing a huge success.
Too Much Self-Aggrandizing
According to Blue Ink Review, one of the most annoying traits of self published authors is that no one edits their bios. This means that the authors are free to describe themselves in any way they like, including making grandiose statements like “being the greatest wordsmith since William Shakespeare” or “destined to bring literary greatness into the world.”
While you hopefully have enough humility and commonsense to not make this mistake, you need to make sure that you don’t make it accidentally. A number of authors attempt to use humor to lighten the mood. Whether dry or corny, humor does not always translate well. Written humor is one of the harder genres to write, and you shouldn’t attempt to put it into your bio. The bio should be straightforward, brief, and explanatory.
If you truly believe that your writing is the greatest thing since William Shakespeare or J.R.R. Tolkien, then you should refrain from saying it. Let your readers say that about your work. It’s more acceptable to include recommendations, referrals, and reviews on the website or the back cover. Do not put them in the bio.
Poor Cover Art and Illustrations
One of the classic sayings in this culture is that one should never judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately, people do judge books by their covers. If a book has illustrations, they also judge it by those.
The book cover plays an important role even in self publishing online. It creates as much a first impression as the title of the eBook. You need to make sure that it looks professional and that it catches the interest of a reader. When it comes to browsing an online bookstore, readers make their determinations based just as much on the cover of the book as the title and reviews.
Avoid using stock images and overly loud pictures. Unless you have a skill in artistic and graphic design, you should avoid making it yourself. You should also avoid relying on friends or family members unless they have actual skill and training. Otherwise, hire a designer to craft an effective and imaginative cover for your eBook. Make sure that you get it in a high resolution, and avoid anything that does not look good in thumbnail as well as full size versions.
Improper formatting in an eBook extends to more than just making sure that the eBook can be read on an eReader or in a browser. It includes all the mechanics of the eBook including some grammatical and typographical issues that make the eBook easier to read. Self publishing online may seem as easy as copying and pasting your manuscript into an eBook converter. However, it takes more than that. Here are the following things that poorly formatted eBooks forget to take care of:
Indentation at the start of a new paragraph
Consistent italicization, bolding, or other formatting throughout
Only a single space in between sentences rather than two spaces
Use quotation marks to designate speech
Break up paragraphs so that they do not expand beyond 500 words
Automatic screen readjustments
Linked table of contents
Formatted page numbers
Proper image conversion and embedding
These formatting issues are only some of the most common mistakes that self published authors make. To avoid making others, have someone assist you with the formatting and editing. Also avoid formatting for only one eBook format. While you may assume that you want your eBook available on Amazon, make sure that you also make it available on other online bookstores. You never know where you might connect with additional fans, and it does not cost much more to take care of such formatting up front.
Lack of Social Media Presence
Almost all successful authors these days have a platform. The platform is easiest to establish through social media. While some segments of the reading population aren’t plugged into social media, the vast majority are. Many self published writers assume that if they write the book, then people will read it, and their success will be made. That is not the case.
With hundreds of eBooks published each day, writers must develop their target audience and create a following. The best way to accomplish this is through the creation of a platform through various forms of social media and the Internet. Through these resources, you can cultivate a following from around the world and target those individuals who will enjoy the work you have to offer.
To avoid being overwhelmed, don’t choose more than four social media platforms. If you can maintain these and keep them well developed, then you may be able to add others. Good Reads is one of the best ones to add since it is already stocked with avid readers. Facebook and Twitter often make it in the top tier choices for many writers. Research other potential social media platforms and then prioritize based on your target audience.