5 Common Mistakes Indie Authors Make and How To Avoid Them

As someone who’s been in the indie publishing game for the last five years, I’ve seen (and made) my fair share of mistakes.

It’s easy for us authors to get wrapped up in the excitement of publishing and overlook flaws that could potentially burn us further down the track.

There are so many stages of publishing to juggle: creation, production, marketing – not to mention the plethora of tasks that fall within each of these stages.

The learning curve is steep.

That’s why I wanted to delve into the top five most common mistakes I see in indie publishing, and how you can avoid them…

Mistake #1: Cutting corners

There’s no denying that indie publishing moves faster than the traditional sphere. This, for the most part, is awesome, thrilling and satisfying.

However, we can often get so focused on that finish line that it’s tempting to cut corners when it comes to the essentials.

I see this all the time.

Image via Pexels

Authors forgoing an additional round of editing. Authors assuming they don’t need a proofreader. Authors not formatting their ebooks properly. Authors being cheap about their cover designs.

Cutting corners like these will only do a disservice to your author brand and your product.

You’re much better off taking the extra time, and/or spending the extra money, so that you can do right by yourself and your book.

Mistake #2: Being too self-promotional

My Twitter feed and inbox seems to be full of people who are constantly posting BUY MY BOOK messages.

You know what I do with those people? I either block them or don’t even register them at all.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with advertising and marketing ploys, we should surely know by now that the best way to market something isn’t to shove it in people’s faces.

In fact, we see so many ads nowadays that sometimes our brains automatically blank out the space we expect to see them.

Image via freestocks.org

Make sure that your book promotion is mixed in with other content. Find subtler ways to bring your book to the forefront of readers’ minds.

You don’t want to become known for spamming people.

Click here for 5 easy ways to market your book.

Mistake #3: Quantity over quality

There’s no denying that there are some prolific writers on the indie scene. There are authors who can churn out a book a month.

But while this might work for some, it’s important to know that this isn’t a blanket rule for all indie authors.

Don’t be tempted to pump out book after book and lose track of the quality. Remember that every book you intend to publish needs to be edited, proofread, formatted and designed.

Image via Pexels

Personally, I currently only publish one book a year. That’s my process, and I know it takes me all 12 months to put together a product I’m proud of.

And that’s just it: you have to be proud of the work. You’re far better off writing one decent book than ten terrible ones.

Remember, the books you put out into the world represent you.

Mistake #4: Not prioritising products with a greater ROI

Another mistake I’ve seen time and time again is people prioritising the products that don’t bring in the most money.

It makes the best sense to always prioritise the product (or edition) that provides the best ROI (Return on Investment).

Authors need to look at their sales data and the breakdown of the royalties they’re earning in order to determine where to focus their energies and marketing budget.

Image via freestocks.org

From experience, I sell way more ebooks than print books, and the royalty rate is far higher. Plus, I don’t have to worry about the shipping logistics and costs.

My ebooks provide a better ROI, therefore that’s the product I promote the most.

Click here for more in-depth advice on pricing your ebook.

Mistake #5: Not knowing what your goals are

If you intend on taking your indie author career seriously, you need an action plan. You need to know what your goals are.

For example:

  • Do you want to earn a liveable income?
  • Do you want to publish three books a year?
  • Do you want to supplement your existing income?
  • Do you want your title to be in bookstores?
  • Do you want to be a bestseller?
Image via Lum3n.com

Of course, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Everyone has different dreams and different goals, but you need to work out what yours are if you wish to succeed.


Fellow indie authors, what are some lessons you’ve learned throughout your publishing journey? Share with us below!

Helen Scheuerer

Helen Scheuerer is a novelist from Sydney, and the Founding Editor of Writer's Edit. She has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from the University of Wollongong and a Masters in Publishing from The University of Sydney. Her #1 bestselling YA fantasy novel, Heart of Mist is available now. You can grab your copy here. She also chronicles her writing process and current work over at www.helenscheuerer.com.

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