Self-Publishing For Dummies
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If you're about to self-publish your first book, you can make a handful of mistakes that can mean the difference between a successful publishing venture and a total bomb. Careful planning and implementing your own common sense are two ingredients that can help guarantee your success.

Not targeting your audience appropriately

In addition to ensuring that the content within your book is appropriate for your intended readers, craft the language and vocabulary to appeal to your readers and to be easily understandable. A fun, upbeat book about how to create a scrapbook or plan a family vacation shouldn't read like a history textbook or scientific research paper. Know your audience and write specifically for those people.

Inaccurate information, a lack of organization, and poor writing

Providing inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, or misleading information to your reader damages your credibility and takes away value from your book. Avoid this mistake by doing proper research. Even if you're writing fiction, you want your plots and characters to be realistic or believable.

Proper organization makes your book easier to read. The content flows in a more logical order and it's easier to understand by the reader. The trick to developing a well-organized book is to begin by developing an extremely detailed outline before you start writing.

Just because you've decided to write a book doesn't automatically mean that you're a talented writer. Many authors spend years fine-tuning their craft. If you feel that you don't have the skills to create a well-written, full-length manuscript, seriously consider hiring a co-author who's a professional writer, a ghostwriter, and/or a really good editor to work with you.

A lack of attention to detail and editing

A well-written book contains absolutely no spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, inaccurate information, misprints, incorrect details (such as incorrect names, phone numbers, Web sites, statistics, chapter references, facts, or figures) or mislabeled figures and captions. In addition to proofreading your own work, hiring a professional editor to review your manuscript before it goes to press is crucial.

Inefficiently using money and resources

As a self-published author, all the expenses related to creating, editing, laying out, printing, distributing, advertising, marketing, and promoting your book come out of your pocket. Careful budgeting and knowing what expenses you may incur during each stage of the self-publishing process helps you best utilize the money that you have available when it comes to publishing your book.

Implementing poor cover design and copy

Having a well-written book with a poorly written and designed cover or a bad title has a negative impact on sales. Conversely, having an amazing cover and catchy title on an otherwise average book may dramatically improve sales. And hiring a professional graphic artist or experienced book cover designer to create your book's cover is an essential piece of your puzzle. Unless you have professional graphic design experience, hire someone who does!

Choosing the wrong printing method

For many self-published authors, Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing offers the perfect solution. It's inexpensive, relatively quick and allows virtually anyone with a good book idea to get published. POD has many benefits, but it's not the ideal publishing solution for everyone. Other traditional printing options, such as offset printing and eBook publishing opportunities, may be more appropriate based on your goals.

A lack of comprehensive distribution

In addition to writing an awesome book and heavily promoting it, the third key ingredient for success is making sure that your target audience can find and buy it. Based on how you're going to publish your book, figure out the best and most achievable distribution methods, and then make full use of them.

Wasting the potential of online distribution

Online sales, whether it's through your own Web site or the well-established online booksellers, such as and Barnes &, are extremely cost effective and powerful distribution channels that can't be ignored by self-publishers. These days, more and more people are Internet savvy and finding ordering books online convenient.

Improperly planning the publicity and marketing campaign

Writing what can potentially be a bestseller and publishing it is certainly important, but making sure that potential readers know about your book's existence is equally important when it comes to generating sales. Many self-published authors do an excellent job creating and publishing their book, but inadvertently they forget about marketing and advertising, or they don't realize the importance of these efforts.

A comprehensive and well-timed advertising, marketing, and public relations campaign is crucial for a book's success. If you don't have the advertising, marketing, and PR savvy to create, launch and manage an effective, well-planned, and comprehensive campaign, hire experienced experts to help.

Bad timing throughout the self-publishing process

As you complete the various steps in the publishing process, pay careful attention to scheduling, lead times, and deadlines. Rushing steps, cutting corners, or taking shortcuts is a surefire way to failure and making costly mistakes.

Timing also refers to when your book actually gets published and becomes available to readers online or at retail. Is there a specific date, season, holiday, or time of year when interest in your book may be stronger? Choosing the most appropriate release date is essential, especially if the book somehow ties into or relates to a specific date, holiday, or season. Most people aren't going to buy a Christmas cookbook in July.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Jason R. Rich is the bestselling author of more than 32 books, including a few self-published titles. He has also ghostwritten several additional books for business leaders and well-known experts in their field. As a journalist, Jason continues to contribute articles to numerous national magazines and major daily newspapers, and he works as a freelance public relations and marketing consultant for companies in a variety of industries.
Some of Jason’s recently published books include The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online, 2nd Edition (Wiley); Pampering Your Pooch: Discover What Your Dog Needs, Wants, and Loves (Howell Book House); The Everything Family Travel Guide to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Greater Orlando, 4th Edition (Adams Media); and American Idol Season 4: Official Behind-the-Scenes Fan Book (Prima/Random House). Jason is also writing a series of personal finance guides for Entrepreneur Press, the publishers of Entrepreneur magazine. His most recent self-published book is The Bachelor’s Guide to Life (iUniverse).

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