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7 Common Small Business Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

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7 Common Small Business Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

I’ve been working in publishing for business for almost 20 years, and I’ve learnt that there are common mistakes first-time authors and self-publishers make time and time again.

Let’s look at the seven most common of these, so that you can avoid them:

Mistake number 1: Thinking a book is like other marketing material

Small Business authors write their books to build their profile and promote their business, but this doesn’t mean a book should be produced in the same way as other marketing material. In a brochure, on a website, in a television commercial and in any other form of advertising, your potential clients expect you to carry on about how awesome you and your products or services are. That’s not what they expect in a book.

Your book should portray you as an expert in your industry, and provide heaps of valuable information for your readers. That’s what a book is. So, don’t go on about how your business is the best … blah blah blah. It’s not 200 pages of advertising. Provide useful, relevant info for your readers and you will find they will want to come to you with their business.

Mistake number 2: Not knowing who their target readers are

You must clearly define your target readers and why they will read your book before you put a single word on the page, otherwise you’ll end up with a rambling mess that is no good to anybody.

Mistake number 3: Not having their book proofread

Every time I’ve had somebody say they don’t think their book needs proofreading I’ve found at least three mistakes on the first page. Authors sometimes think that their aunty who reads a lot and uses big words will be a great proofreader. She won’t. Professional proofreading is essential for producing a top-quality book.

Mistake number 4: Getting the wrong people to read their manuscript

After completing their manuscript, an author will often ‘send it to a few people to get some feedback’. After a couple of weeks, they give me a call in a panic saying they have to rewrite the book because two of the seven people who read it didn’t like it. Upon further questioning, I can usually conclude that the author showed the book to ‘trusted colleagues’ rather than people in their target readership, so the negative feedback is next to useless.

Considered feedback from two or three carefully selected readers in your target readership is invaluable. Feedback from random colleagues or friends who aren’t in your target readership and don’t know your aims for the book is usually not.

Mistake number 5: Not producing their book professionally

Your book is a reflection of the values and aspirations of your business. I firmly believe you should do it properly. It upsets me greatly when I see authors try to cut costs in the production of their book, only to have a terrible publishing experience and end up with a book they are unhappy with (not the authors I work with, of course). That’s no good to your business at all. If you’re not jumping up and down with excitement about your book, nobody else will either.

Mistake number 6: Being too concerned about sales

Now, don’t get me wrong – of course selling lots of books is great. But the authors I see having the most success with their books are those who concentrate on getting their book into the right hands, rather than as many hands as possible.

Mistake number 7: Having an aimless book launch

A book launch is great fun and can be a big opportunity for your business, but you must plan it like any other event, with a clear goal and a strategy for how that goal is going to be achieved. I too often see authors have a launch just because they think it is expected but without putting too much thought into it. A well-thought-out launch is a fantastic opportunity for publicity; an ill-considered launch is a waste of time and money.

So there you have it – seven common Small Business self-publishing mistakes. Now, go forth and don’t make them.

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