The Top 10 Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make When Publishing Your First Novel

Next week I’m giving a Marketing Talk at Romance GenreCon in Kansas City and I couldn’t be more excited! But one of the things that I noticed is that there are going to be a handful of debut authors in the audience. So to help put me in the right mindset, I’ve created this list of the Top 10 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make When Publishing Your First Novel.

10. Cutting corners on editing. Seriously. Don’t do it. You only get one shot at a debut novel, don’t screw it up with something as banal as skimming on a solid editor. You get what you pay for. ingredients.png

9. Not having trustworthy beta readers. Or worse … having them, but not taking any of their feedback. Trust me … you would MUCH rather have someone annihilate your manuscript in private and work with you to make it better, than have a public execution by strangers.

8. Not studying the industry. You can’t just throw a book into the wild and cross your fingers that it does well. Success requires a strategy. Plan that shit. And plan it well. How do you plan it well? You look to those kicking ass and taking names. So find those authors you admire who are killing it in the marketplace. Watch them closely. Put them under a microscope, and if you’ve got the relationship established … pick their brain. Talk about what works, what doesn’t, how challenges have been overcome. You’ll be amazed at how thoughtful and helpful they can be in giving advice.

7. Rushing to push publish. Indie authors have deadlines, but sometimes if the story isn’t right or hasn’t had final proofreading, you’re much better off pushing back your release date to do things correctly. Otherwise, you risk being known for sloppy work. Don’t be the author who gets dinged for having typos and easily avoidable errors. Breathe. Take your time. And do it right.

6. Not making connections. Sure, we’re indies. We’re all our own one-man operation where we serve as Chief Executive Everything. But to survive (or at the very least to stay sane) you need to make author friends to help you along the way. Your tribe is your lifeblood in this industry. They’re the first to support you and pick you up when you’re down. Without your tribe, you’re gonna get lonely real quick. And I get it … making friends can be hard. So join some author groups on Facebook, find a local RWA chapter and build up your support network.

5. Not having a mailing list. Can we all stop acting like the phrase “email list” is a bad word? Email lists, when used correctly, can be one of your greatest assets. In a world where algorithms are an everyday challenge and we’re being forced to pay to play, your email list is a tool that guarantees you to be put in someone’s inbox … someone who has actively raised their hand and proclaimed “YES! I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!” No other platform does that. Unsure of where to start with building an email list? Check out these list-building strategies to get you started.

4. Undervaluing your own work. DUDE. YOU WROTE A BOOK. SCREAM THAT SHIT FROM THE ROOFTOPS. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE MODEST. Don’t downplay it like “I wrote a thing … it’s silly …” and brush it under the rug. Be proud of your work and tell everyone who listens. One of Rachel Hollis’ recent podcasts I listened to recently said “Creativity Takes Courage” and this couldn’t be truer. If you were brave enough to sit down and write the story, be brave enough to take all the credit for your work. It’s scary, but worth it.

3. Pricing your book out of the marketplace. Take a good, hard look at how debut books in your genre are being priced and evaluate which is more important to you: downloads or money. You need to consider both options and plan your pricing strategy accordingly. Unsure how to calculate volume and revenue for Amazon? Don’t miss this helpful info on how to hone in on your book pricing strategy.

2. Not fostering relationships with bloggers. As an author, our book is solely our focus when we go to write and market. Bloggers receive dozens of requests from authors each and every week. Want to know how you can ensure your book makes it to the top of their pile? You leverage the relationship you have with them. Bloggers that I’m good friends with naturally gravitate toward my releases. But you can’t think exclusively about what they’ll do for you. Reshape your mindset to be how YOU can support THEM. Maybe you’re offering them paperbacks or ARCs to giveaway to their readers? Or consider giving them an exclusive look for their readers with a never before seen script.  Book blogging is a thankless job in which they invest so much of their time and personal money, so you’ll be amazed at how far kindness and thoughtfulness can carry you.

1. Not having perspective. As much as it may be difficult to hear and take in … readers owe you nothing. Bloggers owe you nothing. So don’t make excuses because your success is entirely up to one person … YOU.


Have any helpful tips to add? Leave them in the comments section below! And never miss an update from yours truly. You can sign up to have my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox using the box in the footer, or follow me directly on WordPress! Don’t miss all of the Authors Helping Authors content out there on the blog! 

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