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The rise of digital platforms for self-publishing mean it’s easier than ever for anyone to write a book. Unfortunately, this increased competition means most books will end up being read by no one apart from family, friends, and a few random strangers.
While we cannot guarantee greater success, there are more than a handful of rookie mistakes we can prevent you from making. Avoid the following and you will have put yourself in a better position to sell yourself and your work, and to keep your dream of a literary future alive.
Avoid Copying A Popular Formula
When a book blows up to become extraordinarily popular, it’s tempting to try to latch onto that popularity by writing a book in the same style or genre. We have seen this copycat syndrome play out with The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, Twilight, and many others.
However, if you head down this road you’re exposing yourself as a writer who lacks originality and ideas, and who is somehow trying to cheat the system. You’re also unlikely to be as passionate about the story as you would be about one you create completely from scratch.
Keep Rewriting Until It’s Perfect
The best writers know that the first draft of a story is not the finished product. The plot may contain holes, the pace may be off, the characters may need reworking a little. The only way to produce a novel you’ll be proud of for years to come is to make amendments and adjustments until it all comes together into one glorious whole.
Too many first-time authors put their work out into the wild before it’s ready for public consumption. And anyone who reads a half-finished mess is unlikely to seek out future work by the author who penned it. In fact, they’re more likely to give it a bad review and vow never to go near that author again.
Employ An Editor, Any Editor
Everyone makes typos and the odd grammatical error. It’s not a lack of skill or knowledge that’s to blame, just a tunnel vision that means glaring mistakes slip through the net. Thankfully, this problem is easily fixed with a second pair of eyes.
Every author should employ an editor, even if it’s their mother or significant other. This person can fix typos, and offer feedback as to how the story flows. It’s surely better to have problems spotted by someone you know rather than by a complete stranger reading your opus after publication.
Promote The Hell Out Of It
For new authors, actually writing a book is only half the battle. For those choosing to self-publish on digital platforms, the next task is making people aware that their book exists. There’s only one way to do this: promote the hell out of you and your work.
This can mean offering your book for free for a limited time, building a presence on various social networks, or writing guest posts for websites with a link to your own domain as a reward. Anything you can do to make people aware that you exist is a step in the right direction.
Don’t Cut Corners On The Cover
The reason the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is so famous is because people often do judge a book by its cover. This is why publishers spend time and money on getting a cover design just right. Unfortunately, it’s also an essential job for a new author.
The cover of your book doesn’t have to be a work of art. But it should be authentic, evocative, and representative of the story contained inside. After all, alongside your synopsis, this is the only way you have of selling your book before anyone has even read the first line.
Don’t Limit Yourself To One Platform
Thanks to the rise of eBooks it has never been easier to self-publish your work. Sadly, too many first-time authors make the mistake of limiting themselves to selling their wares through just one platform. There is absolutely nothing to gain from doing so.
At the very least you should look to publish on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, and Nook by Barnes and Noble. You can always start out on one platform, testing cover designs and price points, before expanding onto other platforms as you grow in confidence.
Manage Your Own Expectations
Last, but by no means least, is the need to manage your own expectations. The fact that self-publishing is now so easy to do means you’re not the only person doing it. The amount of competition that exists means it takes a lot of hard work and a healthy dose of luck to stand out from the crowd.
By all means dream of being a huge success. Just be aware that only a handful of people manage to hit the bigtime. Enjoying moderate success is more likely, with some loyal fans and an extra revenue stream coming your way.
Write because you enjoy doing so, and because you’re passionate about the stories swirling around in your head. That way, any fame and fortune that may befall you will be the icing on an already appetising cake.
Share Your Own Tips
This advice is offered from the perspective of an avid reader and budding writer. Since buying a Kindle I have consumed a lot of books by first-time writers who seized the opportunity the digital publishing revolution offered. Unfortunately, many of these otherwise talented writers made poor decisions that will stifle their chances of success.
By all means start here, but don’t finish here. These are, after all, just some essential tips you need to know when launching your writing career. Do acres of research before you ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. It will likely pay off in the longterm. And when it does, come back here and add your own advice to others setting out on their literary journeys.