November 21


OOPS: Three Big Mistakes Indie Authors Make When Writing Their First Book

By Boni Wagner-Stafford

November 21, 2017

#authors, #mistakes, #motivation, #strategy, #writers

Do you know what the most common mistakes indie authors make when they set out to write their first book?

Many an indie author has either self-published a book – or published with a small agency – and has the battle scars to show for it. There is so much to learn, and so much to do – it’s helpful for new authors to learn from the experiences of their seasoned peers in the book writing and publishing field. This includes learning from their mistakes as well as their successes.

The Motivation for Writing Your First Book

What’s your motivation for writing your first book? What motivates you? Are you motivated by the art? The craft of creating a body of work? The idea of influencing an audience? Sharing your own inspiration of experience and making a difference with it? Or, are you motivated by the potential to make some money?

There is no right or wrong motivation. Whatever yours is, I’m sure it is just fine. Motivation in and of itself isn’t one of the mistakes indie authors make, but focusing only on that motivation is.

Regardless of the primary motivation for writing your first book as an Indie author, it is almost certain that you want readers, and then more readers. Right? And even if money isn’t your motivation, you likely won’t turn it down if – or when – it starts to roll in.

The 3 Big Mistakes Indie Authors Make

What you want to do is leverage your unique motivation: tap into it, understand what it is, and celebrate your motivation. You are going to need it because writing and publishing your first book means you’re in it for the long haul.

Use your motivation to successfully navigate through the minefield of the big three mistakes indie authors make – so you can avoid stepping on them and getting stuck.

  1. Failing to Consider the Market

Many indie authors simply forge ahead and write the books they want to write without giving proper consideration to what type of content will resonate with their readers. For a burgeoning writer without experience, it’s necessary to first understand the market you are intending to reach. Failing to do so, or thinking it is unnecessary, may leave you producing a product that will not be enjoyed by others. If you intend to influence others and make a living doing so, you must write for more than your own enjoyment. You must write for the satisfaction and needs of others as well.

You must find out what types of writing and stories are currently successful in your genre. Your content must match, or preferably exceed, the quality of those stories. Consider your readership. What do they want? What are their pain points?

If you achieve this mindset, you will have taken a first step to avoid one of the biggest mistakes Indie authors make, and set yourself on the road to crafting a commercially successful masterpiece.

However, if you failed to avoid this mistake, you’re simply taking a chance that you’ll hit that sweet spot of success without any consideration of your market and its desires.

So, as you move forward, seriously take into account the expectations of your readers. Fantastic opportunities are available to get your work before hungry consumers through the vehicle of indie publishing.

  1. Poor Book Cover

There is definitely more to being a successful author than simply writing outstanding content that fills the pages of your book. You must pay attention to your book cover as well! Many indie authors make the mistake of creating one themselves in the hopes they’re saving money.

Book covers may seem like the last thing on your list to spend much time on or invest money in. If your cover fails, your book fails also. The cold, hard truth is that many people won’t read your book’s description if your cover doesn’t capture their eye. And if they don’t read the description, they’re most certainly not going to be enticed to buy, or read.

Your book cover is your primary marketing tool. It is the door that paves the way for your potential readers to take the next step and read your book’s excerpts, customer reviews, the blurbs that describe its contents… and it’s the number one factor in a decision to buy your book.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your cover!

Your book cover must immediately portray your genre and the intended mood you wish to convey to the reader. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be professional and high quality.

You can achieve a professional looking cover without paying professional designer prices. There are numerous inexpensive yet professional options to getting your cover design online, including Canva, Fiverr, and others. I’ve tried my hand with Canva, and I love playing around with it. However, I came to realize that I’m a writer, not a cover designer, and after spending hours and hours and having fun producing dozens of potential book covers, I realized I had to bite the bullet and pay a professional. 🙂

  1. Failure to Create a Publishing Strategy

For many writers, the main rewards are the actual writing process and then seeing your book get published. If you want readers to buy you book, you need to create a publishing strategy.

If you want to implement a publishing strategy that translates into success, you’ll need to put a proven plan in place and execute that plan. This may require some investment and help from those with the right publishing knowledge, resources, and experience. One of the major mistakes indie authors make is failing to put together a plan prior to the printing and publishing of their books.

At Ingenium Books we call this our “book project plan”. When we do this for our clients (and ourselves) it includes high-level audience and competitive analysis, confirmation of objectives for the book, an outline of tasks, timelines and budget (in the event you’re hiring for some outside expertise), and distribution details. Super helpful and keeps you on track.

Avoid Failure and Win

By considering the three factors of your market, your book cover, and your publishing strategy, and by taking the necessary steps to hit these items out of the park, so to speak, you can avoid the most common mistakes made by indie authors and achieve outstanding success with your first book: your definition of success, not someone else’s.

It’s not the end of the world if you do make one of these mistakes. In fact I know from personal experience there is immense value in making mistakes (:-)). It will simply require you to make a course correction in your thinking and your actions. Otherwise, you just need to be willing to start early, invest in some marketing, and follow a concise and effective strategy to achieve real results that are worthy of your writing efforts.

You’ve got this.



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