A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein
Top 10 Indie Author Mistakes
Have you ever made a mistake that really cost you a lot of money and emotional distress? I did in 2015 when I was first introduced to the book publishing industry, and these are 10 of them and the lessons learned.
- Ignorance of the Publishing Process: I did not understand the publishing process despite initial research. I did not clearly distinguish between traditional publishing and non-traditional publishing. I mistakenly assumed that once I got a publisher, the project would have been funded. I was behaving like an Indie publisher and did not know it. I gathered a team to help in the publishing process, outsourced the parts of the process including editing and cover design, sourced my own printery and arranged my own launch. I should have allowed the publishing house to do its job.
- Expensive Outsourcing: When I published my first book, I got a top of the line graphic artist, one of the best on the island to do the book cover and the illustrations. I ended up paying almost US$1000 for those services, and I really had no money for same. I was thinking big and believed I could raise the funds to cover it all, but I did not. I had to pay overtime, and she also subsided part of the cost for which I was extremely grateful. I learned later you can get quality work more affordably. This led me to Fiverr and finding Jamaican artists who would work with my budget.
- Underpricing: I initially priced by book too low. I was afraid people would not buy it. This means I suffered a loss in the process. I was still operating with a non-profit mindset and not a business mindset. When I increased the price, people still bought the book. I learned we must value our work as creatives and give people the choice to pay us our worth.
- Poor Printing Choice: I did not know much then about printing via Amazon or digital printing. The printing option I chose landed me into a financial quagmire which took years to get out of. This was the most painful part of the process. As previously stated, I did not even see a proof of the book before launch, and the printed copy had several errors. Had I made wiser decisions, my publisher could have proofread the book and corrected many of the errors beforehand. I learned in the process to make wiser choices and to always get a printed proof before releasing the book officially. The next time around, I found a better printing package through Phoenix Printery, and today they remain my preferred printing partner locally in Jamaica.
- Incurring Excessive Debt: In both the first and second experiences, I landed myself in excessive debt. I still have credit card debt as a result. The volume of printing is really the culprit here. I could have printed a smaller number of books a little at a time via Amazon CreateSpace at the time. Today, there is Kindle Direct Publishing where you can print author copies at a subsidized rate on a reasonable budget.
- Expensive Launches: The first time I published, I had a two-day launch with paid guest performers and a whole host of other paid services. The events were grand and glorious but unnecessary. The book sales were not significantly greater than when I had less expensive launches. I could have combined the launch with another event or found other inexpensive ways of launching. Having a grand launch is fine if you have the money, but I did not.
- Poor Selection of Freelancers: At times I choose persons who were not efficient. They did not deliver work on time, and this caused me a great deal of stress. When I found N.D. Author Services (NDAS), it was a dream come true! For example, a layout job that had been taking one of my freelancers months to do was done in 48 hours by NDAS. I learned the necessity of working with persons who honoured timelines and were reliable.
- No Reader Response Game Plan: I had no clue how to help readers when they started reaching out to me for help. I was unprepared. This eventually led me to develop frameworks for coaching and decoding my own healing journey to be able to help others.
- Unrealistic Publishing Timelines: I set a launch date too early, which is part of the reason why I did not see the book until the day of the launch. I did not factor in eventualities. I expected everything to work on schedule. I should not have set a fixed date until at least the editing was completed. In fact, we had to reschedule the launch, and it was still not enough time. Always give more time than you think. Prepare for worst-case scenarios and add 50% extra time than originally calculated to make up for eventualities.
- Giving Away Too Many Books: I did not factor in capital recovery costs and gave away too many books. This further contributed to the loss of profit. I learned to set a limit to the number of copies to give away. It’s better to give away an electronic version rather than the print because printing is expensive. A good rule of thumb: do an estimate on sales of previous books sold in 90 days. 10% of this is the maximum in giveaways. Each time a new book is released, re-calculate the total sales of all books currently selling. The more books still selling across all publications, the bigger the safety net for calculating those giveaway volumes.
After all this wisdom gained from painful experience, I eventually created an Indie Author MAP that I have used to help other Indie Authors publish with fewer nightmares and more affordably. This Author MAP will frame my upcoming book, Becoming An Authopreneur which will be the training manual for the 2019 Authorpreneur Bootcamps and course.
Register now for the upcoming Authorpreneur writing and publishing Bootcamp for Indie authors in Jamaica on February 23, 2019. Early bird registration discount ends January 31st, 2019. Space is limited to 12 persons. This Bootcamp will teach aspiring or established authors to write fast, publish on a budget and quickly build a platform for impact and income.
Join our private Facebook group Indie Authorpreneurs for the support, education and accountability you need to publish your book in 2019.