Writing a book is difficult, especially if you are a first time author. Trying to figure out what to write about, how to develop an intriguing storyline, how to distribute your book and much more can be overwhelming to say the least. In this post we will discuss nine mistakes all authors make. If you are working on a new book, keep these in mind so you can do your best to avoid them.
1. Choosing A Topic You Know Little About
Before you can begin writing your book you must decide what you want to write about. If you think this step is easy, you are kidding yourself. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is choosing a topic that they know little about. The main reasons authors choose topics they don’t know about are:
- The topic is popular
- The topic seems interesting
- The author wants to try something new
As an author you face enough challenges and trying to write about a topic you have no knowledge about multiplies them. This isn’t to say you can’t do research and improve your knowledge, but if you choose to go this route make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prepare before you begin writing.
If you are a new author, stick to topics you are familiar with, this will make it easier for you to build momentum and write a compelling, knowledgeable book.
2. Writing Without Planning
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “if you plan to fail, you plan to fail”. Once you decide you want to write a book, this quote should be something you live by. Don’t only plan what you will write, also plan when you will carve out time to write everyday, where you will go to do this writing, who will you lean on to help with editing/proofreading?
You may be eager to get started and feel that planning is procrastinating. Just keep in mind that writing a book can be a complicated process and taking time to prepare will make the entire process easier and faster.
3. Not Building Momentum
After you decide on the right topic and you make sure that you have planned properly, it is time to start writing and building momentum. Writer’s block is a serious threat to any book, so building momentum is crucial. During your planning phase you should strategize how to ensure you can build the momentum you need.
The mistake many authors make is trying to make everything perfect, which ends up stalling all progress. Your first draft won’t be perfect, heck your 10th draft probably won’t be, and that is ok.
4. Writing and Editing At The Same Time
Want to know the easiest way to kill your momentum and ruin the flow of your storyline? It is pretty simple: editing while you write. When you approach writing a book, it is crucial that you separate the writing and editing process. Most stories change as you continue to write. Don’t waste time editing a part of your book that may end up changing anyways. Progress is better than perfection. You can make it perfect later in the writing process.
5. Not Hiring Professional Help
At EditionGuard we have a lot of customers that are independent authors. Keeping expenses low is a crucial part of their business strategy. Despite this, we always recommend that they get professional help when it comes to editing, cover design and other book writing tasks.
These services do not have to be expensive, but they will make all the difference. You may think that your family and loved ones can help or that you can handle everything on your own, this is rarely the case. Not hiring professional help is a common mistake, especially for first time authors. Make sure you avoid this mistake. Your future self will thank you.
6. Not Focusing Enough Time On The Title
When you go to the bookstore, either physically or online, what generally attracts you to a book? Unless you know the author specifically, it typically comes down to two things:
Your title will be one of the first two things potential readers see. The wrong title won’t communicate what your book is about or peak a reader’s interest. The right title, on the other hand, can lead to interest and hopefully book sales.
With this in mind, a major mistake authors make is not focusing enough time on the title of their book. Think about how much time you spend on the content within your book. Long nights editing. Countless hours of research. Proofreading sessions that seem to never end.
Now think about how much time you spent on your title. If you aren’t taking your title as seriously as you do the rest of your book, you are setting yourself up for failure.
7. Designing Your Own Book Cover
Your book cover is equally as important as your title. Humans are extremely visual and our emotions are tied directly to visual stimulation. That is why we are drawn to certain books on the shelf long before we even know what they are about.
HM Ward, one of today’s most successful indie authors, had this to say about book covers:
If you are planning to design your own book cover to save a little money, don’t. Doing so would be a major mistake. Hiring a professional to create several different cover designs for you can make all the difference when it comes to your overall sales. If your book isn’t selling well you should consider trying a different version of your cover to see if it resonates better with your audience.
“Covers are stop signs. They should quickly reveal as much info about your book to the reader as possible.
As soon as I changed one of my covers, sales shot up.”
8. Not Having A Marketing Plan
Many authors make the mistake of assuming that once their book is complete, the hard work is over. This can be one of the most costly mistakes on this list. Marketing your book is as important as writing it. Without proper marketing no one will know about your book and your hard work may go to waste.
Make sure you start planning your marketing strategy long before your book is complete. Build an audience online, find influencers willing to help you promote your book and figure out what price will yield the most results once you do release your book. As writers we often focus far too much on the writing process and far too little on the business side of being an author.
9. Not Taking Advantage of All Digital Platforms
Authors one hundred years ago would be jealous of how many ways you can now distribute a book. With the rise of eBooks, authors can now sell their work to anyone in the world by making their eBook available online.
If you aren’t taking advantage of the different digital platforms that are now available, you are making a major mistake. You may not want to only sell your book in eBook form, but you should always include it as an option. Doing so will increase your sales and can greatly decrease the cost of selling your next novel.
Whether you are a new author or have been in the business for a long time, we can all fall victim to these mistakes. Avoiding them is imperative if you want to be successful. Now, it is your turn. What other common mistakes do authors make that we left off this list? Let us know in the comment section below!