Question: What are the three most typical mistakes authors make in the publishing process?



Mistake #1: Not understanding your publishing options

There are more choices and opportunities than ever before to get a book into the hands of readers, but along with these choices comes confusion. So much confusion that I often get asked to speak on this topic at conferences. I also wrote a white paper titled “The Four Paths to Publishing”, which breaks the options down as follows:

Do-it-Yourself (DIY) publishing – the author uses a book uploading service to publish online, such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, or Lulu. Typically, no other services are provided.

General contractor publishing – the author hires independent service providers such as an editor, book cover designer, publicist, etc. and coordinates these activities for every aspect of the process.

Supported self-publishing – the author works with a company that offers packages of professional services to choose from including editing, design, and marketing.

Traditional publishing – the author is typically required to find an agent that will represent the book and pitch it to larger publishing houses. There is no guarantee a publisher will pick it up.

Your chosen publishing path will dictate many things including time frame, upfront costs, book format options, available distribution channels, and more. It’s very important to understand your publishing goals before you decide on a path. For example, if your goal is to publish your book quickly and you are able to invest some money up front for quality editing, cover art and marketing, the supported self-publishing or general contractor paths may be right for you. If you have the skills, time, and knowledge to do everything yourself, the DIY path may be best.

It’s important to know your desired level of creative control, your budget, and how much time and effort you can contribute when determining which publishing path is right for you and your book.

Mistake #2: Not having your manuscript professionally edited

No matter your chosen publishing path, it’s important to have your manuscript reviewed by a professional book editor. Many writers believe that self-editing their manuscript or having a friend or family member review it is enough. It’s not. It's easy to become blind to your mistakes and without professional editing, your manuscript will likely contain several grammatical errors and maybe even some major structural or storytelling issues, which will affect your book’s salability.

There are 3 main levels of book editing, so it’s important to determine which levels your manuscript needs:

Copyediting or proofreading  includes fixing errors in grammar, syntax, formatting, and punctuation.

Line editing  examines the manuscript line by line and focuses on writing style, word choice, paragraph structure and flow, redundancies, and areas that need clarification.

Developmental or content editing – ensures the foundation of a book is solid and the story is polished. For fiction, this includes characters, plot, structure, continuities, and pacing. For nonfiction, it includes organization and structure.

Professional book editors understand editing standards, genre expectations, and industry trends, so consulting one prior to publication will greatly increase your chances of producing a polished book that will attract agents, publishers, and readers.

Identifying your target reader and where to find them is critical for authors.Mistake #3: Not knowing who your target reader is

As much as I’d love for it to be, your book is not for everyone. Some books appeal to many types of readers, but most books appeal to a select segment of readers. Understanding your audience segment and how you can find them will shape many decisions you make with your content, publishing path, and marketing efforts. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine your target reader:

 Will my book entertain, inform, inspire, or solve a problem?
 What makes my book different or unique?
– Why will readers care about my book?
– Are there books like mine on the market? Who is reading them?
– What are the demographics (age, gender, race, education, etc.) of my ideal reader?
– How can I connect with this ideal reader online and offline?

The more you understand your target reader and how to reach them, the more you can focus your efforts and increase your chances of success once your book is published.

Publishing a book is an amazing, rewarding journey that requires careful research and consideration. Use the Author Learning Center’s vast library of resources, webinars, and tools to help you reach your goals and give your book the best chance possible!