If you have already published one book, chances are you have one of two mindsets… One is, “I never want to do that again! It was way too much work!” The other, “This is such a rush! I can’t wait to start my next book. Feels like this one’s just not complete without another!” Even if you haven’t published your first book yet, some of the mistakes listed below and how to avoid them will apply to your current project.

Mistake #1: Waiting too long

Most readers want to see more information from you within the first year your book comes out. If you have more to say, and especially if you’re getting a lot of questions from your audience that you don’t cover in your current book, you should seriously consider getting your next book released within that first year.

If your first book is out, you probably already experienced an increase in your business, clients and expertise. The credibility the first book brings to you as an expert is elevated with each book you write. For example, in early 2011 I wrote 21 Ways to Write & Publish Your Non-Fiction Book. Later that year I published the next in the series, 21 Ways to Powerfully Network Your Business. While the first book brought credibility to my business in the form of new paying clients, the second book got me noticed as a paid speaker, telesummit expert and a book signing with a captive 300-person audience. The first book was great for credibility in my field. The second took me to a whole new level and got me in front of masses of people rather than small one-on-one meetings.

How to avoid this mistake:

Keep track of what readers and your audience (those you speak with at a book signing who haven’t bought your book yet) are asking you. Write those questions down in a small notebook you carry with you. If the questions aren’t answered in your current book, they are the key to what to write next.

Use those questions to start an outline immediately after your first book is out. If you don’t feel you have enough material to write and publish an entirely new book (and if you think you don’t, I can probably prove you wrong), then consider a companion to the first book such as a workbook or small book of “tips.”

Mistake #2: Choosing a random topic

I have seen an author with broad interests write their first book on a subject like dog sitting, then the next about marketing a business online. Keep in mind everything you do reflects on you as an expert. Do you want to be a pet expert? Or an expert on business marketing? This is why traditional publishers will often discourage authors from breaking across genres unless they’re writing about the same topic. For instance, a fiction writer might also write a non-fiction book about how to write fiction. This is still within the topic area he currently writes, so it reinforces his expertise rather than confuses readers who may question if he knows what he’s talking about.

How to avoid this mistake:

If you have more than one book idea, consider how you can make it flow into a series. A series creates a brand, and a second book in a series can cause the first book to experience viral sales.

If you’ve already written your first book, explore broadening your current topic. Use the questions from others as a launch pad to create another book in a series that fills gaps the first book left open. And believe me, every book has gaps, even those that are 1,000+ pages long! Also consider creating a brand like I did with “21 Ways.”  The “21 Ways” have started creating their own brand and their own loyal following of readers. And the best part is, when we publish a new “21 Ways” book, the rest of the books in the series are made aware to potential buyers!

Mistake #3: Ignoring the marketing

I have seen it time and time again. An author who plans on writing more than one book from the start of their career will forgo marketing until the next book is out. Then they procrastinate as they continue to write the next book. And so on. I blame the traditional publishing industry for this “closet writer” mentality. Yes, old-school publishing taught us that writers should write and publishers should market, but changing technologies and a changed system have changed the rules of marketing.

How to avoid this mistake:

No matter what, continue creating your brand. Market your current book as you write your next one. Your publisher will expect it, and if you self-publish you’ll have to do it anyway. Keep in mind that book sales from your second book will spill over to your first book and vise versa, so start promoting the second book before it is even out! You’ll be surprised who will buy the first book just because you’re pre-marketing the second. The current rule of marketing is always always always market – even before your first book is released!

Some practical ways to market both your first and next books:

  • Offer pre-sales on your second book. If your second book is part of a series, it will drive awareness – and sales – to your first book.
  • Bundle your two books in a package and sell them together (autographed, of course) at a discount. This can be combined with pre-sales.
  • Ask for reviews on your second book after it’s released, and if it is the second of a series you’ll see sales spill over to the first book in the series
  • Outsource your marketing. If you desire to write a series like I have done with the “21 Ways” books, you will find there’s not enough time in the day to market and write. To be truly effective, consider outsourcing some of your marketing, including (but not limited to) blog and newsletter scheduling and posting, social media posting, PR to media outlets, etc.

I hope knowing about these mistakes and what to do to avoid them will help you be the successful author I know you can be! For the ultimate way to avoid serious mistakes in publishing, claim your spot in The Book Ninja Academy. I’ll see you with a successful selling book soon!

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.


  • Faye Levow says:

    Great post, Kristen! I love the idea of always being aware of people’s questions and writing them down to be included in the next book. These questions can also be used as a catalyst for blog posts, articles, teleclasses, and more.

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