Resources and tips for the self-published author.

Common Mistakes Indie and Selfpub Authors Make

by Miral Sattar •  April 24, 2013  •   Follow miralsattar

Published in Publishing Tips  •  17 comments

I get a lot of authors coming to BiblioCrunch for advice and these are some of the most common mistakes I see. Putting together a quality book involves not just writing it, but also involves having a plan around your book.


1) Not defining your goals
Are you looking to get more readers? Or sell books? It’s easy to get more readers if you’re a first-time author, but it’s harder to sell books. Sites like Wattpad and the Kindle Select program help you get more readers, but might not necessarily sell books.

2) Not getting professional editors
Once you’ve written your book, a developmental editor is important. They will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. Once it’s gone through a developmental editor it’s necessary to get a copy-editor. What’s more annoying than a book that is ridden with typos?

You can also find great editors by posting who you’re looking for on

3) Not hiring a professional cover designer
People do judge a book by a cover. So it’s important that your cover design catch the reader at a first glance. It also needs to be optimized for print, digital, thumbnail sizes and how it looks on an eReader. Before you hire a designer look at covers you like and check out the designers portfolio to make sure your vision and your designers vision are the same.

You can find award-winning cover designers and illustrators on

4) Not doing your research on vendors or vanity presses
I’ve come across way too many authors who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on vanity presses. A vanity press is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published (Author House, Balboa Press, etc). Before you choose a vendor or press make sure you google “[Name of Press/Vendor] Reviews.” That will tell you what you need to know about the press or vendor before you sign up.

5) Pre-printing books lots of books
I had an author come to me who spent most of his money doing print runs for his book. Right now all the print copies of his book are sitting in his garage. All 1000 of them. Unless you have already found someone to distribute your books for you, this is generally a bad idea. I highly recommended that you use a print-on-demand service like Createspace or Lightning Source where the books are printed and send to the purchaser when someone buys your book.

6) Not having a marketing plan
It’s essential to having a marketing plan around your book. Books don’t just sell themselves. This is probably where you’ll spend most of your time and a good chunk of your money (whether you’re indie or traditionally published).

NYTimes reviews don’t sell books the way it used to. At the Future of Publishing conference in Milan, Italy agent-turned-publisher Jason Ashlock spoke about how one of his authors got a great NYTimes review. The review resulted in just selling less than 200 books. What did help was a post on that went viral.

SR Johannes has a great post on how to create a marketing plan. Best-selling author Joanna Penn has a great post on mistakes authors make.

It’s a lot of work, but hopefully thinking about some of these mistakes will prevent you from wasting money, time and effort.

About Miral Sattar

Lover of books. CEO & founder of Bibliocrunch. Love storytelling in all its forms. Formerly TIME. I'm a new media entrepreneur who has worked in the media industry for 11 years. My mission is simple – to innovate the publishing industry with technology. My company has been featured in BBC World News, Money Magazine, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Forbes, WSJ, MediaBistro, PBS, Columbia Journalism Review, The Next Web, Publishers Weekly, and a bunch of other places. Bibliocrunch was also selected as The Next Big Thing in media by the Paley Center. I also used to run a popular South Asian culture blog called Divanee. Before I ran my own company and became a mom, I used to be on the board for several literacy organizations, and wrote a LOT more. Hopefully, when things are calmer I can go back to that! :)