Jenny Knipfer–Author

Historical fiction author, Jenny Knipfer, shares her books, inspiration, thoughts on life and writing, and book reviews. Purchase Jenny's books, read her blog, or listen to encouraging podcasts, highlighting the life of a writer.

If you’re an indie author or thinking about venturing out on your own, this post is for you!

Desiree from Reedsy recently connected with me and asked to be hosted as a guest blogger. I had not heard of the company before, but after looking through what they have to offer, I agreed. Since, I have signed up and have experienced some helpful training and gleaned some great tips, all of which were free.

Reedsy also has a bevy of already scouted professionals to draw from, if need be, in every area from editing to marketing, which are paid services. I would have been glad to know about this early in my indie writing career. I spent many hours searching for various professionals to assist me but not knowing if they indeed were reliable. Below is Desiree’s guest post. Enjoy!

The 5 Most Common Publishing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Getting a book published is no easy journey, especially for new authors. Some might feel immobilized and sink into the quicksand of indecision, while others might charge straight into uncharted territory without planning where they’re going. No matter what route you take, there are plenty of potholes that can hold authors back from successfully reaching their intended destination.

But if you’re aspiring to publish a book, you’ll be glad to know that the path ahead is not unwalked, and you can learn from many who have been there before! Even veteran authors might want some insight on how to make everything smoother. Below, we map out some of the most common publishing mistakes and how you can evade them on your path to authorhood.

1. Going it alone

Publishing a book can feel overwhelming, especially for first-time authors and/or those who self-publish. The temptation is often to take on every part of the process yourself, from editing to your cover design. Perhaps you enjoy doing things on your own: taking a retreat to a cabin in the woods or a brooding walk on the moors while you’re writing. But whether or not you buy into the idea of the solitary writer, no author can brave the publishing journey alone.

If you’re opting to go the traditional publishing route, a literary agent can help you get your foot in the door and be an ally to you throughout the complex publishing process. But if you decide to self-publish, you don’t have to do it all yourself — you can (and should) ask for help when you need it! Typesetting, cover design, and marketing are all arts just like writing, but they require very different creative muscles. Fortunately, publishing is not a marathon that you have to embark on all alone; it’s a relay race that you and your team will conquer together!

Don’t feel afraid to invest in yourself and get help. Make use of others’ expertise rather than wearing yourself down to make sure that your book is not imperfectly edited or improperly formatted. That’s how your work will reach its full potential!

 2. Not making the right first impression

First impressions matter. And, like it or not, most people decide whether or not to buy your book based on the way it looks. There are so many books out there also vying for attention that you’ll need a visually arresting cover that stops readers in their tracks (or in their scroll). A sloppy or basic book cover gives the reader the impression that the text is also, well, sloppy or basic. If you don’t feel equipped to create a professional-caliber cover yourself, remember tip #1 — find a pro who can help you out!

Another mistake is not thinking carefully about the book description that goes on the product page of your book. It’s the second thing that readers look at, which means this too can make or break you. Give a brief synopsis, not a lengthy plot summary: you want to hook the reader, reel them in with intrigue, and make them curious so they’ll want to dive in and discover more. Keep things short and simple, and top it off with a reason why this book is for them.  

 3. Neglecting the marketing

“If you write it, they will come”: this is a major misconception. Just because you wrote a book doesn’t mean that people are automatically going to read it, and even experienced authors make the mistake of overlooking book marketing. When you’re self-publishing, ensuring that your book reaches the right audience — people who genuinely want to buy it — is crucial.

Every author should create a detailed marketing plan when publishing their book. This includes outlining who the target audience is and what strategies you can use to reach them. Spend some time studying comparable titles on the market to see what works, while also considering what makes your book stand out.

Some marketing strategies you might want to try include email marketing, price promotions, and digital advertisement. The right platforms for you will depend on your book’s genre and target demographic, but the right combo is out there for everyone!

Establishing a strong web presence and author website is also essential so that readers can easily learn more about you and your work. If you hope to have a long and prosperous career as an author, a good online presence is the first step to creating your fanbase who’ll support you throughout your future projects. And that takes us to the next mistake…

4. Not getting the right reviewers

Reviews are an important part of your marketing plan and essential to the long-term success of your book. Positive reviews bring in new readers and reap rewards long after your initial marketing push. But you don’t want just anyone to be reviewing your book — generic stock reviews or reviews that are obviously all from your family and friends might turn potential readers off (not to mention they’re discouraged on Amazon and Goodreads).

The good news is that Reedsy Discovery allows you to submit your book for review and gain exposure to new readers. And getting book reviews from book bloggers, industry professionals, or other authors is a great way to help build your credibility!

In addition to this, look for reviewers who often address your target audience and start crafting pitches to them. Be sure to look beyond traditional press outlets when seeking reviews — the book review landscape is constantly changing with new developments in digital media, and Youtube and Instagram can be as good a springboard for your book as “traditional” platforms.

 5. Rushing the process

It’s understandable to want to get your masterpiece out there as soon as possible, but don’t rush things! Too many authors forget to breathe and end up burning themselves out.

Remember, there are so many elements that go into the process of publishing a book and it simply can’t all happen overnight. Just like producing quality writing takes time, each stage of the publishing process — from editing to book design to promotion — should be given its due diligence to create the perfect product. So take your time; your book, and your sanity, will benefit from going at the right pace. Hopefully this guide to the most common publishing mistakes and ways to avoid them will help you better navigate the treacherous wilds of the publishing world and emerge (mostly) unscathed. Bon voyage, and don’t forget

“Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. She’s very passionate about indie publishing and helping authors reach their dreams! In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.”

Thanks for reading!!

If you have any questions about what I’ve learned along my indie author journey so far, leave a question in the comment section below or use the contact form in site menu. I would be happy to share my experiences with you.

You can also listen to a number of podcasts, in which I address my journey so far as an indie author.

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