Welcome British author and blogger Terry Tyler! She’s here to point out self-publishing missteps she’s made. Can you relate?
Firstly I’d like to thank Molly for inviting me to guest on her blog. I’m writing about my self-publishing regrets, as when I first started I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing! I’d like to pinpoint a random selection of mistakes I’ve made along the way, in the hope that readers can avoid them.
1. Research the self-publishing industry before you dive in
I wish I’d thought to research self-publishing before I plunged in! Back in 2010 I’d written this novel (not my first), and my sister showed me an article about John Locke and suggested I try Amazon KDP, too – so I did, without having a clue about how to promote it. (Incidentally, I wonder how many other people have self-published after reading an article about John Locke?!) So, anyway, You Wish got bunged up on Amazon, and I got my friends who’d read and liked it to write me reviews – which takes me to my first mistake…
2. Use restraint with book reviews from friends
… don’t get all your friends to write reviews for your book on the week it comes out, even if they’ve genuinely read and liked it, and especially not if they’ve never reviewed anything else. I can see now how pathetic it looked – they were real reviews from people who’d enjoyed it, but it still looked as though I was just getting anyone who’d got an Amazon account to shove some words on for me! There’s no reason why your friends can’t review your books – but do intersperse them with ones from the reading public and book bloggers!
3. Pay a professional proofreader
I wish I’d understood the importance of proper proofreading. My first three novels did not have this, and, thus, had mistakes in them. I’m not talking anything horrendous, just missed words and typos, but I think now that any more than five mistakes is not acceptable. I think I had some minor grammatical errors in them; not anything that would be picked out by the majority of people, but maybe enough for some of the nine thousand people who downloaded it in my first free promotion to think, hmm, good story, but needs an edit. I won’t buy another by her. Having said that, they’ve all got wonderful reviews (no, not all from my friends!), and one of them won an award, but they could be so much better, and might have secured more success for me with my second three – which are far more professionally finished but have sold less.
4. Don’t rush to publish
I wish I hadn’t been in so much hurry to publish my second book, Nobody’s Fault – for the first five months of its Amazon life it had a really rubbish cover, because I couldn’t wait for it to be done properly! That’s rectified now, and the cover is excellent and in line with my three other contemporary dramas; but I still regret that mistake. With its first free promotion it got to #2 in the UK free chart (my first book, You Wish, was at #1 at the time!) and afterwards it got as high as #96 in the paid chart, but I think it might have done as well as You Wish (which got as high as #24 paid) if I’d waited for the decent cover. It only sold half as many. Whether it means giving your book that final edit to make each sentence as tight as possible, or getting the best cover you can afford, it always pays not to be in a hurry to publish!
5. Build your author’s platform
I wish I’d understood the meaning of ‘building your online presence’; it’s only in the last year that I’ve been doing that, really. It doesn’t just mean signing up for all the social networking sites, making a few fellow writer chums and churning out tweets and Facebook author page posts about your books twice a week; it’s about interaction with all sorts of people, blogging, commenting on other blogs, being interviewed, helping others with their promotion – and writing about things other than self-publishing! Now, I have two blogs; one is on the UK Arts Directory (I was asked to do this after establishing the aforementioned online presence – hurrah, it works!!!), on which I write about the industry and give book recommendations, but my own blog I keep mostly for anything but my books. A blog solely about your ‘self-publishing journey’ is only of interest to your mum and a few other writers – and you want your potential reading public to read your posts as well!
6. Use Twitter wisely
Another regret is that I may have put off some potential readers by using Twitter unwisely – i.e., by doing three hundred retweets per day, and little else! This makes you very popular with your fellow authors, but, alas, you run the risk of getting unfollowed by all those non-writers who only follow about two hundred people and don’t want to see the endless stream of book retweets from writers they haven’t chosen to follow. Yes, we all need retweets, but nothing but book posts puts off the rest of the world – big style. I do about seventy a day now, and try not to do them all at once. I’m sure I used to get unfollowed by lots of people, simply because I was too busy retweeting to look at the news feed and see what other people were talking about. It’s impossible to get the balance exactly right – but I’m trying! Note: Need help? Twitter Tips (not just) For Newbies.
Thanks again to Molly for allowing me into her blogspace, and if I have stopped even one person from making some of the blunders I’ve made, then my work is done – thank you for reading!
Terry Tyler has written six novels in the genre of contemporary fiction/drama/romance, and two lighter rock romances, which can be found by visiting Terry’s Amazon Author page: Amazon UK, Amazon.com. Her short story collection, Nine Lives, is now available.
Readers, can you relate? The self-publishing learning curve can be rough. What have you done that you wish you could do over? What have you learned that you can share with other readers?
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Image by Philippa Willitts