Today, self-publishing is quickly becoming one of the most versatile ways to get your book in print. However, there are some common pitfalls that many new authors encounter when using this form of publishing. In order to make sure that your efforts with this fairly new phenomenon isn’t wasted, be on the lookout for these common mistakes and pitfalls.

Mistake # 1: Thinking that Vendors Will Help You Promote Your Book

Previously, once you got your book published, getting your book into bookstores, and setting up something like a book signing was a fairly simple process. All you had to do, really, was ask. It was a simple win-win situation. You, as the author, got exposure for you and your book, the bookstore got warm bodies in their establishment and the increased potential to make more sales. In most cases, book vendors were happy to help promote you, because it meant that their business was promoted as well.

Today however, book vendors have a number of different venues open to them for exposure and are not so dependent on the celebrity author to come in and bring new customers. Many bookstores today have an online presence, or are affiliated with larger online-only vendors such as Amazon or eBay. The bottom line is that today the expense of hosting an author can sometimes outweigh the benefit.

Because of this reality, it is important for self-published authors to realize that they need to be able to sell their book, and the idea of a book signing or lecture to the book vendor successfully. One way to accomplish this goal is through the idea of niche marketing. One example of this is the book Lindy’s Gluten Free Goodies & More by Lindy Stein.

This book falls into the very specialized niche market of gluten-free foods, or ones that are enjoyed by those who must maintain a diet without flour, wheat products or anything containing gluten. As you can imagine, there is a strong following for this necessary diet trend, and Lindy Clark has used that fact to her advantage (her current sales top over 400 copies). By using a website, and scheduling book signings, lectures and interviews to highlight the advantages of her recipe book, she is essentially doing the work of the book vendors for them. By doing a little bit more legwork, she is making the idea of an in-person meeting with an author accessible and profitable again. And because of her legwork, one local bookstore promotes her book on an end cap – for free! (Endcaps typically cost publishers thousands of dollars per month.)

Mistake # 2: Believing that Self-Publishing Houses are Focused on You

Truthfully, a self-publishing house, just like traditional publishing companies, are about making a profit. One of the reasons why so many self-publishing companies exist is because the authors they help publish ensure that their profit margins are high. The fees you pay ensure that they make a profit, whether your book sells or not. It’s a harsh truth that many self-publishing outfits don’t tell you. Bottom line, if you want your book to sell, it is your responsibility to market it to the right audience and do so effectively.

Therefore, it is essential that you know, before you even sign on with a subsidy or vanity publisher (another name for a self-publishing house) what they will, or won’t do to promote your book. Often a self-publishing house will offer to get your book onto Amazon or into the bookshelves at a national chain such as Barnes and Noble, but that is the extent of their activity. Or they try to sell you large “marketing” packages full of one or two useful items and a whole lot of worthless ones. Without your active participation, your masterpiece will likely remain unnoticed among hundreds if not thousands of other books, all vying for the public’s attention.

So what can you do? The simple answer is to get out into the media and do everything you can to promote your book. If your book is non-fiction, volunteer to become an expert that radio stations can interview. If you’re writing a mystery novel, consider contacting your local library or bookstore to offer a reading. Also, blogs and social media sites are a great way to get your book exposure. Consider sending free copies of your book to local newspapers, friends or acquaintances and asking them to review the book. However, be prepared for the possibility of bad reviews. After all, not every book lover likes every book they read.

Mistake # 3: Thinking the Odds are in Your Favor

Publishing a book and selling it successfully is hard to do, no matter which publishing route you take. There is a reason why there are thousands of books on the shelves, but really very few successful, repeat authors. It takes work, dedication, time and not a small amount of timing and luck. For example, the average self-published author will only sell between 100 and 200 copies of their book, compared to thousands of copies sold through a traditional publisher. It is not to say that you can’t be successful as an author using a subsidy publisher, only that a lot more elbow grease and legwork will be involved.

Of course, even with all your hard work, the book itself still may not sell. It could be a subject that isn’t popular at the time, or the writing could be under par. Or it could be that certain marketing blocks exist because of the vanity publisher’s setup process (and even simply the presence of their logo on the book). Or it could be on a subject that everyone seems to be writing about, such as vampires or werewolves, that’s become oversaturated. The bottom line is that having a self-published book doesn’t mean that your day job should be left in the dust. Continue working and writing until you become established as an author. What happens after that is entirely up to you.

While self-publishing can be a hard process, the rewards that you can obtain if done right are well worth the work. Having your words in print, with the potential to be sold to hundreds of people is a great feeling, regardless of your success. And just think—with a little effort on your part, and a few sleepless nights, that success won’t be so hard to obtain!

What are some unique marketing tactics that have been successful for your books? Hint: Get access to an entire library of the best book marketing training and resources inside The Book Ninja Academy.

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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