Self Publishing Tips: 7 Mistakes Stifling Your Book Sales 

JD Caron
August 31, 2023

Avoid costly mistakes by following these self publishing tips…

People reach out to me daily for self publishing tips, and guess what? I see the SAME mistakes time and time again. After diving into thousands of Amazon books, I've pinpointed exactly where many authors stumble.

The good news? Every single mistake can be turned around. But in this article, you'll not only recognize what's holding you back but also grab powerful strategies to skyrocket your book sales. For every challenge, there's a solution.

And sometimes, a simple change can shift everything. So, if your sales aren't as high as you'd like or if you're on the brink of publishing and want a flawless launch, you're in the right place.

Before we jump into our first mistake, it's crucial to understand this: when potential readers land on your Amazon page, they're typically asking themselves two burning questions: 'Will I like this book?' and 'Is this book any good?'. Your job, and the foundation of everything we're discussing today, is to answer both these questions with a resounding 'YES'.

Now let’s dive into our self publishing tips and more importantly, the mistakes you should avoid when it comes to self-publishing your novels.

Self publishing tips : 7 Mistakes to avoid from the start

Mistake #1: A Bad Book Cover

I can't stress this enough: NEVER design your own cover unless you're a seasoned professional. This is the most important self-publishing tip anyone could ever give you!

Your cover is the first thing readers see, and it plays a monumental role in their buying decision. Trying to DIY a cover? That’s like showing up to a black-tie event in your pajamas. Not the impression you want to make.

The cost of book covers can range anywhere from $25 to a staggering $10,000. But guess what? You don't need to break the bank to get a killer cover. Check out our article about the cost of book covers to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

 Remember, your cover isn’t just about looking pretty. It has to fit your genre and scream: 'This is a quality read!'. Don't skimp on this; it's more important than you might think!

self publishing tips: don't design your own cover

Mistake #2: Long Drawn-Out Book Descriptions/ Book Blurbs

Okay, onto another pivotal point. How many of you have drafted those marathon-like book descriptions? Well, let's set things straight. Readers aren't scrolling for a saga in the description.

But here's a self publishing tip you might not know: Multiple studies pinpoint the book description as the most vital factor when readers decide to pick up a book. It's your golden ticket to making an emotional connection with potential readers.

From all the data we've gathered, what's the magic range? Between 150 to 180 words. Precisely that concise. Your objective here is to hook, entice, and leave them yearning for more, all in a tight package. It's like crafting the perfect movie teaser. If those words don't pull them in, chances are, you're losing out on a reader. If the thought of nailing this daunts you, don't sweat it!

If you want to improve your blurb, check out our all-you-need-to-know article about book blurbs and boosting sales with plenty of real life examples to show you step-by-step how to make the most of your book blurb.

Self publishing tips: Great blurbs

Mistake #3: Underestimating the Power of Proper Editing.

Think of the first 10% of your book as the appetizer of a lavish meal. If that starter isn't delightful, do you think diners will stick around for the main course? Amazon lets readers sample this initial portion, and if it's riddled with mistakes or just not compelling, you're losing sales.

Now, let's debunk a common myth: one round of editing is enough. Editing isn't just about grammar or typos. It's about the narrative flow, the pacing, the dialogue. It's ensuring that your story doesn't just 'tell,' but 'engages.'

This is also where beta readers come into play. They're your pre-release audience, the ones who'll tell you if a character's motivation isn't clear or if a subplot is dragging. They help iron out the creases that might have been missed.

And why is this so critical? Because a well-crafted book sparks conversations. It becomes the talk of book clubs, social media groups, and coffee shop chats. This word-of-mouth is gold in marketing. When readers can't stop discussing your book, you're not just gaining sales, you're building a legacy. Get that manuscript in top shape, and set it up for the buzz it deserves.

Mistake #4: Neglecting Credibility Factors

Now, let's address a crucial aspect that can make or break your book's success: credibility. When potential readers browse your book, they’re subconsciously asking, “Is this book any good?” Reader reviews are a good start, but they aren't the only indicators of a book's worth.

Expand your credibility touchpoints. In the realm of self-publishing, awards and editorial reviews are like hidden treasures. The allure of an award emblem or a raving editorial comment can sway a potential reader to make a purchase instead of moving on.

And if you’re thinking, “Where do I even begin to get these?” Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Check out Book Award Pro to jumpstart your journey to credible endorsements.

Remember, the more trusted voices you have singing your book's praises, the higher the likelihood of catching a reader's attention and trust.

Mistake #5: Setting Unrealistic Pricing

One of the biggest missteps I've observed is authors setting their eBook prices way off the mark. Take, for instance, pricing a fiction eBook at $9.99. It's just not competitive, especially for indie authors just starting out. Yes, a high price can indicate quality, but you need to have the credibility factors to back that up.

Understand the balance: if you set the price as low as $0.99, you'll definitely attract more buyers because of the low entry barrier. But here's the catch - those readers are often less committed to actually reading the book. It's like they've grabbed a deal, but might not necessarily dive into it.

On the other hand, pricing your book between $2.99 to $4.99 hits the sweet spot. It strikes a balance, keeping the book affordable while also ensuring that those who buy it are genuinely interested. They've made a reasonable investment and are more likely to engage with your content.

A pro self publishing tip is to check out other books in your genre, especially from self-published authors. You'll get a fair idea about the pricing standards and can position yourself effectively in your genre.

Mistake #6: No Plan for Marketing and Promotion

Launching a book without a marketing and promotion strategy is like setting sail in the vast ocean without a compass—you're bound to get lost amid a sea of countless books vying for reader attention. I've seen many talented authors put their heart and soul into their manuscripts, only to get lost in the crowd because they skipped this crucial step.

Crafting an effective marketing plan isn't as daunting as it seems. This is a topic I could go on for forever as this is what I do every single day but to help get you started, check out our FREE pre-publishing and marketing checklist here.

It's a comprehensive guide that breaks down the essentials, ensuring that your book doesn't just reach the shelves, but also the hands of eager readers. Remember, writing the book is half the battle; getting it noticed is where the real challenge lies.

Be prepared and grab your copy.

Mistake #7: Trying to Do Too Much at Once

There's a saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." In self-publishing, it's easy to become that Jack. From launching your book, setting up a barrage of promotions, and actively engaging with readers on every possible social platform, to organizing virtual events while still focusing on writing your next book — the temptation to multitask is real.

But, here's the catch: while enthusiasm is invaluable, juggling everything can lead to burnout, mistakes, or, both.

Think about it. When you spread yourself too thin, the quality of your work might waver. Every single step in the publishing realm requires a unique brand of focus and dedication.

That's where my coaching program, The Author Success System, comes into play. We help you zero in on what truly matters, guiding you on where to focus your energies and, more importantly, how to excel at it. Instead of flitting from one task to another, we advocate delving deep, ensuring each task is executed properly, before shifting gears.

The goal is quality over quantity. Over time, as you fine-tune your strategies and potentially even assemble a stellar team, managing diverse tasks will seem less daunting. The publishing world isn't about the frenzied rush; it's about pacing yourself, making sure that your book and your author brand shine.

So, don't race against the clock. It's not about how fast you can go, but how far you can reach. And with the right guidance, that horizon is limitless.

Summary: Self Publishing tips and mistakes to avoid



 A Bad Book Cover

  • Avoid designing your own cover unless you're a pro. Your cover is vital for first impressions and must reflect your genre. Get an affordable yet quality cover from recommended resources.

 Long Drawn-Out Book Descriptions

  • Keep book descriptions concise (150-180 words). They're your golden ticket to connect with readers emotionally. Tips and tricks are available for mastering descriptions.

 Underestimating the Power of Editing

  • Edit your book thoroughly; it's more than just grammar. Beta readers help catch missed issues. A well-crafted book generates buzz and word-of-mouth marketing.

 Neglecting Credibility Factors

  • Build credibility with awards and editorial reviews. Trusted endorsements attract readers' attention and trust.

 Setting Unrealistic Pricing

  • Price your eBook reasonably ($2.99 to $4.99) to attract committed readers. Balance affordability with quality and check genre standards.

 No Plan for Marketing and Promotion

  • Craft a marketing plan to avoid getting lost among countless books. Use pre-publishing and marketing checklists to help your book reach eager readers.

 Trying to Do Too Much at Once

  • Focus on quality over quantity. Avoid multitasking to prevent burnout and mistakes. Consider coaching programs for guidance in prioritizing tasks and excelling.

We've covered a lot of ground today, diving deep into common self-publishing pitfalls. I'm curious – which of these mistakes resonates with you the most? Or is there a crucial mistake you've noticed that I haven't touched upon? Or perhaps a self publishing tip you would want to reveal to our readers?

Drop a comment below and let's get the conversation rolling.

About the author 

JD Caron

Denis was a coach long before he ever knew what that was. From his time in the military, to the decade he spent as a 911 ambulance dispatcher, he constantly found himself in leadership and teaching roles (he knows his way around an emergency). And after struggling to self-publish his first book, he knew he could help others do it better.

Currently, Denis is traveling around Europe, exploring WWII sites and sampling all the delightful cuisine the continent has to offer.

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