Once your book is written and you’ve determined that you will be self-publishing, there are a few serious errors you are going to want to steer clear of.


Even the best writer needs a second pair of impartial, well-trained eyes to look over their work before sending it out into the wide, wide world. The reason being that as the author, we are too close to our work to see it objectively. Are there any holes in your points or arguments? Are the introduction and conclusion as strong as they could be?

Editors provide feedback, sharpen the focus, and turn an already strong piece of writing into a stellar piece of writing. While you might have a great story to tell or have incredible information to share with the world, you also might struggle with getting the words out of your head. Or, perhaps you’re talented at outlining your overall concepts, but you need some help fleshing out the ideas, or finessing the language to make it as clear and compelling as possible. These issues are nothing to be ashamed of – but they are signs that you will definitely benefit from working with a qualified editor.

Think about it. Michael Jordan once was asked how he became the best basketball player in the world. Did he chalk it all up to raw talent? His answer might surprise some folks: “I had great coaches.” Likewise, great writers have good editors behind them. A good editor can make all the difference between a book that should be used as fireplace kindling and the next viral marketing success like “Unleashing the Ideavirus.” (No disrespect to Seth Godin – I’m sure he’s a brilliant writer whose work needs very little editing.)


A lot of first-time self-published authors, in an attempt to conserve money, forego the investment in a graphic designer with book cover expertise. This is a HUGE mistake.

According to selfpublishingresources website, three-fourths of 300 booksellers surveyed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component of the entire book. All agreed that the jacket is the prime real estate for promoting a book.

Although not all books are sold in bookstores, at least 50 percent still are. But before your book even makes it onto the bookstore shelf, retailers and reviewers will see it, and make their determinations about your magnum opus based on just a few seconds’ glance at the cover. And in the bookstore, a shopper will spend an average of just 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 14 seconds on the back cover. This is a total of less than a half-minute to decide if your book is even worth flipping through! If you do not have a professional image that is congruent with your contents, you will very often miss the sale.

A professionally designed cover will:

* ENHANCE the salability of your book. Does your cover make a person want to pick up the book and buy it? Will booksellers be proud to display it in their stores?

* INCORPORATE the book’s theme. Does the cover design effectively convey your voice and style? Does it entice and appeal to your target audience?

* EMPLOY creativity and originality. Is the design a unique expression of you, your theme, and your contents? Is it aesthetically pleasing and tasteful?

There are no two ways around it. If you want your book to sell, you must spend the money on a professional designer for the cover and interior layout of your book.


Many writers finish their books. For most, though, that is the end of the line. Few ever actually see their work in print. One of the main reasons for this has to do with marketing. Of all the mistaken beliefs held by new nonfiction authors, the most difficult one for most writers to grasp is an understanding of the time/money/energy commitment involved in marketing, a book.

Many writers envision themselves as creative geniuses who believe they should be left alone to write while someone else handles the marketing and promotion. In the sphere of traditional publishing, some publishers may provide significant marketing support, but that is mostly a thing of yesteryear. Today, most publishers offer very little in the way of marketing assistance; virtually every publishing house – from the smaller, little-known shops to the behemoths of great repute – leaves it to the author to promote his or her own book.

If an author is unable to provide any marketing support and cannot clearly define the market for their book, publishers are unlikely to be interested at all. This should be a red flag to those pursuing the self-publishing option. Know your audience and shatter that ubiquitous box, in terms of your creative marketing concepts. Who will read your book and where can you find them? These are the questions you need to keep at the forefront of your mind, even as you write the book, print it, and design your Web site.

There are hundreds of humor writers, columnists, and experts in myriad fields who could write books. What differentiates them is not their writing talents, as much as their ability – or inability – to sell their books. As we have by now determined, publishing is a business, and publishers will always go with the books they anticipate to be the biggest sellers. You must keep this same attitude and vision, even if you decide to self-publish. If you lose sight of creating a book that will actually sell, you may find yourself in an uphill battle once it’s done. The last thing you want is to take out a business loan to get your books produced, only to have 30 cases of them stacked in your garage for the next 10 years.

Be ready and willing to market yourself and your book. Become a media darling. Look for opportunities to appear on local, regional, and national radio and TV. Yes, this means you, even if you are shy! Take an acting class or join Toastmasters if you have a fear of speaking in public. You are going to sell this book – no one else is. That means you must be as available and open as possible. If someone from the media calls to invite you for an interview, drop everything else and get to that interview. Spread the word about your new title on the Web. Send preview copies to select reviewers and/or celebrities or personalities with long reach. You went through all the other steps to get here. Believe in yourself, your book, and your market – and be fearless in promoting it to the world.