Fortunately for me, I have never made a mistake.
(If you believe that one, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that will make your day.)
Very few authors actually go to school to learn how to write. The ones that have still need help when it comes to publishing a book. This is why it is so important to bring professionals in to assist you with your work.
Mistake #1: They Pick the Wrong Publisher
Today, there are millions of books available to the reading public. More than half of the books available have been self-published. If you have a good idea, self-publishing can be the way to go.
The primary reason books do not sell is a poor marketing. The novels that are worthwhile need to be made available to as many potential readers as possible. Unless you are already famous or infamous, you will need a good marketing plan. So, how do you get your book in front of the reading public? You want to ask how the publisher will assist you with the marketing of your book. After all, with the right software and some creative arts and crafts, you could publish your own book.
However, many self-publishing companies are looking to make money off of you, and do not care about your work. They take advantage of your vanity and cater to your ego. A good self-publishing company is in the business to sell books. To sell books, you need good marketing.
Anybody can make your book available to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the other book retailers. Good marketing, however, can drive people to the retailers with dollars in their hand. Do not make the mistake of marketing just your book. You also need to get your name into the public domain. Today, you can market your work by networking through social media. There are websites that cater to the avid reader, like Goodreads.
Always make sure when picking a publisher to ask how they will market both your book and you as the author. The cost of marketing should be your primary concern. Also, always ask what your per-unit cost will be for each book. The better self-publishing companies will publish on-demand. This eliminates the upfront printing costs and the fees for warehousing. It is much better to spend your hard-earned money on letting the public know that your book exists. Never pay for storage.
Mistake #2: They Don’t Talk to Other Authors
There are plenty of networking groups made up of authors, publishers, editors, and the like. Take advantage of these. One of my favorite websites is Nextdoor. This free website allows you to meet others of like-mind, both online and in-person.
Goodreads is another great way to meet authors and discuss concerns. Join the Goodreads community and network within the groups that relate to your work.
But what about your work itself? Most authors hope to write more than one book. So when you do go the trouble to create your work, you want to make a good first impression.
Mistake #3: They Try to Edit Their Own Work
One of the biggest errors is not having your work professionally edited. By far, this is the most expensive part of publishing a novel. Do not fool yourself. It is impossible to edit your own work; you are too close to it. An author is not going to see even some simple mistakes. This is especially important when writing a novel. It can be very hard to see past your own prose. Always make sure that you have a professional look at your grammar and how your content flows.
Mistake #4: They Don’t Consider Short Attention Spans
With this in mind, we must also consider the attention span of our readers, or the lack of it. The first thing my editor looked at was the length of my chapters. When I wrote my first novel, the story had nineteen chapters. By the time I got my book back, it had nineteen “parts” and one hundred sixty-five chapters.
My editor broke the scenes in my original chapters into their own parts. These parts were only a few pages long. This allowed my readers to take little bites of my novel and have lots of break points. Doing this did not change the flow or the substance of my story; in fact, it made it a lot easier to read.
A great trick for authors is to use online tools like Hemingway Editor. You can copy and paste your work right into this app, and it is a great learning tool. Software like this can help to make sure that your grammar does not drive your readers to mayhem.
Mistake #5: They Leave Their Readers Hanging
One of my big turnoffs is to have questions at the end of a novel. Take the time to outline your stories. It is easy for us to overlook what can catch the fancy of our readers. A minor character to us might fascinate a reader. When you get to the end of your novel, try to make sure you tie up the loose ends.
To an author, a completed book is a work of love. Very few books are written on a whim. We put a lot of time and mental labor into what we do. You want your audience to love your work and come back for more. Always have a well thought out marketing plan. Do not be afraid of asking other authors for help.
Welcome criticism—the public will give you plenty of that, anyway. Find a good editor. Then, remember that we live in an instant-gratification society. Cater to short attention spans. And last but not least, never leave your readers hanging. After all, you want them to come back.
Samuel Wardwell is an American author of crime thriller fiction novels. His books include themes of crime, redemption, and corruption within the legal system. His first book, Retribution, was released in 2017.