5 Common Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make and How to Fix Them

I’ve read, critiqued, and edited plenty of books, including self-published and traditionally published works. Although not all books have some of these points I’ll make below, I’ve noticed self-published books often do make these mistakes. The good news is that if you’re aware of them, you can avoid them!

Here are five mistakes self-published authors make and how to fix them.

#1: Unprofessional Cover

This is #1 for a reason. If a cover is unprofessional, and you slap basic words on a basic stock photo, I’m going to assume the rest of the book is unprofessional as well. Not well-written. Poorly edited. Etc. Thankfully, you can avoid this pitfall! If you are a whiz with Photoshop or Gimp (the free version, also very good), then you can make your own cover. Don’t know how to do something you want to do on the cover? You can Google how to do it and a video will often pop up.

Not everyone knows how to work photoshop, and in that case, you can hire someone to make the book cover for you. I’ve heard great things about Fiverr from authors, who have gotten a professional-looking cover for a great price.

#2: Lack of Editing

Editing costs a lot to hire someone! I should know. I once hired an editor for 500$ (that was on the cheaper side), and I only had a horror story to go with it. That’s why many self-published authors edit their own books or (from what I’ve seen), don’t edit much at all. Editing. Is. A. Must! A poorly edited book can lower your rating on sites like Goodreads and Amazon, and lower your credibility as an author.

But what if you can’t afford an editor? Edit the manuscript the best that you can (yes, this means going through it multiple times until you are sick of it ;)). Also have someone else look through it who will offer an unbiased critique/edit. This can include friends, family members, other authors, etc.

Keep following my blog for an upcoming post on great editing tips for authors.

#3: Publishing Without an Extra Set of Eyes

Someone other than the author NEEDS to look at the book before it’s published. Whether that be an alpha/beta reader, an editor, or someone else. This helps catch grammar mistakes, plot holes, inconsistencies, and more.

#4: Publishing Too Soon

I get it! You’re excited. You just created something so wonderful and you want to share it with the world. This excitement gets many self-published authors to jump the gun and publish the book too soon. Why is this bad, you ask?

One word: SALES.

You want to hype up your book before it’s published! Tell the world about it. Put the book on pre-order a few weeks before its release date to help get you more interest in the book. Create a few teasers to get others excited to buy it.

#5: Not Working on Getting Reviews

This might seem like a strange one, but it’s true. When a book only has a few reviews on sites like Goodreads or Amazon, it can scream “self-published”.

ALSO! If your reviews are only five stars, it can be suspicious to readers and discourage them from buying the book! (Wait, what??) Either your book is really, REALLY good to have only five star ratings, or it was only reviewed in a biased light by family and friends. Here are a few review sites you can look into to get reviews even before the book is published.

Booksprout ~ Netgalley ~ Voracious Readers ~ Hidden Gems

If you avoid these five pitfalls, your self-published book will do a lot better than it would otherwise. I hope these tips helped, and good luck with your book!

2 thoughts on “5 Common Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make and How to Fix Them

  1. This is solid advice. The publishing industry is incredibly competitive, and all of the things you’d suggested help an author’s book stand out. The cover and blurb are your best marketing tools, but the number one complaint I see from readers of self-published books is typos. Proofreaders are truly worth every penny they charge–and a solid proofreader isn’t as costly as many would-be authors might expect. (I used to be a copyeditor, but I still have my stuff proofread because it’s so tough to spot your own mistakes.)

    I’d also add that with self-publishing, too many authors give up after one or two books. And while some authors break out that soon, for most others it takes longer. So, my advice would be not to quit too soon or have outrageous expectations early on. Keep writing, keep learning, and keep at it!


  2. Great advice, Denise! I always hear that if you want to sell more books, you have to keep writing more books. The first published book might not do as well as you expected. It’s a marathon in the publishing industry, not a sprint.

    I agree with getting a proofreader. It helps a ton. Even after going through my stuff five times, there are still typos!


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