5 Self-Publishing Mistakes I Made Last Year

Welcome my guest, indie author Tammy Salyer!

FIVEThe term “indie author” is a misnomer. Why? Because, as we all know, once you cover your keyboard for the day, your work is only 1/10 finished. Making the conscious effort to become a self-published indie author also means taking on the challenge of becoming your own marketer, publisher, art director, editor, and numerous other variations on these.

Along with learning the ins-and-outs of, well, EVERYTHING, we inevitably make mistakes. Today, I’ll share a few that I made or almost made last year that I have all good intentions of avoiding this year. My greatest hope, dear readers, is that my experiences can be chalked up to taking one (or five) for the team.

1. Failing to do due diligence.
Prior to the release of my second Spectras Arise novel last month, I decided to hire a new artist to revamp my first book’s cover and create the second’s. Failing to take my own advice when I last guest posted for Molly and ask around for recommendations from friends and colleagues, I found another author’s post that linked to a number of artists (though didn’t specifically endorse any). Long story short, I picked an artist whose work matched my own creative vision and hired them.

After they failed to meet the terms of our agreement, I started poking around the web and discovered that several others had experienced what I was going through. The good news is, Paypal, which I had used to pay the artist, has very clear grievance and claims processes. Upon calling on these, I was able to resolve the issue without any loss of money, and only minimal loss of time. The big takeaways from this experience are: Don’t pick a name of out of a hat; rely on word of mouth and seek out experts to engage and learn from. Paypal is your friend. And use Kindle Boards to assist your research.

2. Going it alone.
Some of us are stubborn and controlling (like our mothers). Let’s face it, if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be so adamant about embracing all the work of being an indie author. The thing is, the indie community is AMAZING! Just by reaching out to a few friends when we’re stumped, lonely, confused, or simply at wit’s end, we can find the answers and support we need to pass the current hurdle and resolve whatever is holding us back. Trust me on this. Don’t feel weird about asking for what you need.

3. Thinking, “I’m done! Now I can sit back and wait for sales.”
There is no such thing as being done. Once the book is written and unleashed unto the universe, your job is to do three things: Write your next book; spend every spare minute of the day promoting the one(s) you have written; and keep learning and innovating on new ways to get the word out and become a better writer.

4. Not planning ahead.
I found that after I’d put out my first novel and a short story collection, I had no idea what my next steps were. I fumbled around for months with a giant question mark hanging over my head about what I needed to do to make number three above happen. Sure, I kept writing, but it seemed as if I were only doing it because I didn’t know what else to do (which is not a bad thing). This year, I’m trying something new. I made a plan. And I put it on a calendar. Incredible! Just by identifying next steps and putting them in black and white, we can shed that confused and wandering feeling and have the sense that, yes, this is a career, and it has a very tangible trajectory for success.

5. Not maintaining balance.
What’s the most important thing a writer can do every day? Easy. Write. But it actually isn’t that easy, is it? Sometimes we become overwhelmed with our “real lives,” discouraged by a sense of not being creative enough or certain enough about our prospects, and easily distracted. As a full-time editor, I find it’s sometimes just plain simpler to stay head down in a client’s project than it is to jump into my own. When you find yourself doing something like this, remind yourself how important writing is to you and let yourself do it instead. Balancing everything in your life takes practice, but if writing is in your blood, you must always remember to include it as one of the elements you’re balancing. And always, always, always: Believe in yourself.

Contract of Betrayal_FinalTammy is a professional writer and editor. Contract of Defiance is the first book in her military science fiction Spectras Arise trilogy and was released to acclaim in Spring 2012. The followup, Contract of Betrayal, came out in February. Stop by Inspired Ink Editing, her blog, or follow her on Twitter and say hi. And if you follow procycling, one word: Wiggo.

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32 Responses to 5 Self-Publishing Mistakes I Made Last Year

  1. Tammy Salyer March 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Thanks again for having me, Molly 🙂

  2. Lee-Anne March 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Really insightful comments, thank you!

    • Tammy Salyer March 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Thank you, Lee-Anne. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  3. Molly Greene March 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Tammy, thank you so much for sharing this post!

  4. Sue Basko March 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I have this bookmarked to read a few more times. Thanks!

    • Tammy Salyer March 26, 2013 at 8:51 am #

      That’s great, Sue! Thanks 🙂

  5. Allen Watson March 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Thanks so much for your post. I really love finding out what other indie authors have gone through. I really want to follow a successful path with my upcoming work. Right now I’m on the ‘finding a cover’ portion. Luckily, I have some good people I am working with. Thanks again. Take care!

    • Tammy Salyer March 26, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      That’s fantastic news, Allen. Looking forward to seeing your cover when it’s finished.

  6. Patrick Rooney March 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I always appreciate your wisdom Tammy. I hope CA is treating you well!

    • Tammy Salyer March 26, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      Hi Patrick! Thanks so much. I hope Colorado is treating you well. Lots of snow out there lately. I’m basking in my the early-March riding 🙂

  7. M.E. Kinkade March 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Helpful reminders! Thank you for writing this up, so hopefully we can learn from your mistakes! I particularly like the reminder about a plan; having a checkbox list on my fridge has done wonders for my writing motivation.

    • Tammy Salyer March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      Hi M.E. I’m guessing you’re also a compulsive lister, just like I am 🙂 And absolutely! Having something you look at every day works wonders, huh? That’s also been a good strategy for me in regards to training programs.

  8. Dara @Wiseink March 25, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Fantastic post! These mistakes are ones I made. Glad to know I’m not alone.

    • Tammy Salyer March 26, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      Hi Dara. Likewise! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one 🙂

  9. Ann March 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Definitely needed to see this post. Now I don’t feel like the world’s biggest goon. Mistake number three is my greatest! But I’m learning to plan ahead now.

    • Tammy Salyer March 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      I so totally know, Ann. I just wish mistake number three was actually the real way things went, know what I mean? 🙂

  10. Jeri March 27, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Hmmm, so much to relate to here. I’m still definitely in the fumbling stage. Finding balance can be so very hard when so many things pull at our attention.

    • Tammy Salyer March 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      Hi Jeri. I guess like writing, finding that balance gets easier with practice, right? Good luck on your writing endeavors!

  11. BILL KELLAR March 28, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    I can relate , I work in the manufacturing industry doing uncle Sam’s work. I am ready to release my first book in late may I already got the second one complete .but, after 3 edits of the first book I will go back and put forth all that I learned, Plus I am retiring in November after 36 years in defense contract work with 4 years of marine corp. Book 1 is Protectors Wanderers Dwellers Book two is Creators Shattered Dreams Book 3 is the Seventh Seal. I may be interested in some editing work. are you self employed or do you work for a company as an editor on call. I write for young adults science fantasy really starting to join society and m looking for good people to help me on my new journey. Regards Bill

  12. Bob Mayer March 30, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    The term self-publishing is almost an oxymoron. You truly can’t do it all yourself. A publishing partnership is a better idea.

    Each person who self-publishes, no matter how much research they do, is starting over on an experience curve others have already gone do.

    • Tammy Salyer March 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Great Advice, Bob. I read your blog and get so much fantastic information from you. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

      • Molly Greene March 31, 2013 at 9:21 am #

        I second Tammy’s comment, Bob; it’s great to see you here. And deep thanks and appreciation to everyone who has commented on Tammy’s wonderful post!

  13. HMC March 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Learning from experience makes us beter writers. Well done for taking these lessons away and sharing them.

    • Tammy Salyer April 1, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      Thank you, HMC! One of the best things about being a writer is being able to share our collective wisdom with each other. Wishing you great success on your upcoming release 🙂

  14. J. Rose Allister April 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Great advice, Tammy. I think just the fact that we are publishing independently means we are independent spirits who take the “do it alone” prospect a little too seriously. Support can be vital!

  15. Geraldine Evans April 16, 2013 at 2:27 am #

    Molly, I love your site. It’s always full of interesting and useful stuff. Nice one, Tammy. Gotta get a plan.

    • Molly Greene April 16, 2013 at 8:56 am #

      Believe me when I say a plan makes ALL the difference!

  16. Luke April 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I love seeing blogs like this. It does make you realize that being an author is much more than writing well and reading a lot.

    • Molly Greene April 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks Luke, so glad you found us!

  17. Steve Douglass September 17, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Great post. It made me think I was reading about myself, lost in a hall of mirrors, desperately trying to find a way out. B.T.W. you can find me in the hall.

  18. Lauren Jensen September 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    So helpful! It helps to consider all this before I tackle the idea of self-publishing! Thank you!

  19. J.R.Barker January 13, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    I think we all make these mistakes in the beginning.