hardback-booksHere we go. In no particular order, here are the 37 most common mistakes I see in self-publishing for small business (not from our self-publishers, of course):

  1. Using service providers who don’t have experience with books.
  2. Not having text appropriately formatted and ‘styled’ by the editor, so that it’s ready for layout.
  3. Not thinking about how the book will be printed when deciding on the book size, so that reformatting is required later (because, for example, Amazon uses only a limited range of sizes).
  4. Printing too many books just to get a lower unit cost.
  5. Not allowing a bit of extra time in the publishing schedule for any problems that may arise.
  6. Using cheap service providers who end up costing more in the long run because they don’t do the job properly.
  7. Not understanding the level of attention to detail required to produce a high-quality book.
  8. Spending too much time worrying about Amazon and other outlets, when this is not where most business self-publishers find success.
  9. Not having a plan for what to do after the book is published.
  10. Sending the book out to too many people for review and ending up with 13 different opinions on what changes should be made.
  11. Sending the book out for review to people not in the target readership.
  12. Thinking that a next-door neighbour who ‘reads a lot’ is a substitute for an editor or proofreader.
  13. Thinking that Microsoft Word is a page layout program.
  14. Focusing on book sales or profit margins rather than simply getting the book into as many people’s hands as possible.
  15. Uploading to Amazon and other sites without fully understanding the many options available, and then finding the set-up isn’t suitable for your needs.
  16. Not checking that the ISBN is correct at every single stage of the process.
  17. Having a book launch without a plan. If it’s just a party – great, have fun! But if it’s an event for your business, how will it provide a return on investment?
  18. Launching at the wrong time of year, so that the media overlooks the book (for example, just before Christmas).
  19. Not doing a number of drafts before submitting the book to an editor, so that the editor has to spend time simply making the book manageable before starting the edit.
  20. Having a great cover design but a poor author photo.
  21. Not managing the schedule properly and having to rush at the end of the process.
  22. Not providing opportunities for service providers to talk to each other, such as the editor talking to the designer or the designer talking to the printer.
  23. Not realising that all third-party material needs to be assessed as to whether permission is required to use it.
  24. Leaving permission applications too late in the process. (They can take weeks – and sometimes months – to sort out.)
  25. Not understanding that an acknowledgement is no substitute for permission to reproduce material.
  26. Not confirming schedules in writing with all service providers before getting underway.
  27. Thinking that proofreading isn’t necessary.
  28. Thinking that an editor will fact-check the book. (That’s not their job.)
  29. Not alerting all of your service providers as soon as there are any problems, so that everybody is up to date with what’s going on.
  30. Thinking that the publishing schedule can be infinitely compressed. If your designer has said it will take 10 business days to lay out your book, they can probably do it in 8 but they can’t do it in 4.
  31. Not understanding the level of involvement required from the author throughout the process. This often results in delays.
  32. Not understanding media lead times when planning publicity.
  33. Worrying too much about postage costs. (If I’m sending out lots of copies of my book, I’m happy.)
  34. Being reluctant to give the book away. Your aim should be to get the book in as many hands as possible, not profit from sales.
  35. Not appreciating how difficult it is to sell books.
  36. Being disappointed with sales figures – you might sell only the occasional copy on Amazon.
  37. Thinking the book will be in the new release section of the bookshops. (As a self-publisher, it’s almost impossible to get this shelf space.)