Updated: Jan 27
There is always so much advice out there about what you need to do when you want to become an author, but very rarely do people give advice on what you shouldn’t do. In this blog post we are going to focus on some of the fundamental things you should not do as an author. The indie author world can be hard enough to begin with so I’ve asked the authors in The Creative Writing Corner to give me some of their best tips when it comes to things to avoid doing.
1. Never Self Edit.
This advice came from multiple authors, and no matter how judgemental you think you may be when it comes to your own writing, there are always going to be things you miss because your mind already knows where the story is going to go so you may miss major plot holes that you think you have already included. It is always wise to do a pre-edit of your manuscript before sending it off to an editor but never rely on software or yourself to complete major edits of your work.
Check out our guest blog post here, from an editor about the different styles and types of edits available to authors.
2. Don’t Just Treat It As A Hobby
You need to treat your author career as a business from the very beginning. It isn't just a hobby, you need to view it as self employment from the get go. By changing the way you view your author career you will also create the correct mindset about publishing, ensuring you are considering all elements in your author career. You will begin to see it as a brand and not just creating characters.
Remember that you will need to complete tax returns for any earnings from this as it will be deemed as self employment.
3. Don’t Read Negative Reviews
All reviews are great don’t get me wrong, but spending time reading negative reviews will only knock your self confidence and have you doubting every decision you have ever made. You have to remember that not everyone will love your story, we all have different tastes and different expectations from the stories we read so it's wrong to think that everyone will think that our writing is the best read of all time. If you do read the negative reviews it is an absolute MUST that you do not respond even if you believe them to be wrong you could get yourself into hot waters and create a bad name for yourself.
4. Don’t Create Your Own Covers.
Covers sell, as much as we repeatedly say to our children “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” we always do! When you are competing with the huge number of books being released daily you need to stand out from the crowd, so unless you are a graphic designer and know what you are doing when it comes to cover design, don’t! Use a reliable designer within your budget, you don’t have to break the bank with your cover design as there are a number of designers out there that are affordable but your cover is the first thing readers look at when they contemplate reading your book so it needs to stand out.
Check out our blog post “Top Tips For Book Cover Design” to learn more about how you can ensure your book cover attracts the right attention.
5. Don’t Just Post About Your Books
I can already hear you all screaming at your screens "but that's what we are trying to sell” Honestly, nobody will thank you for posting sales post , after sales post, after sales post on your social media channels. People will get sick of this approach and quickly unfollow you or unsubscribe.
I have had this debate with not only the authors in my groups but also with business owners in a business group I am part of. Your customers don’t just want to read about your books they want to learn about the writer behind the books, where does there motivation come from, what is there life like outside of writing, were characters inspired from real life situations, when your customer relates to you on a personal level they are much more likely to convert in to sales. They are more likely to invest in you and want to support your venture. I’m not encouraging you to share your deepest darkest secrets but just share little snippets of information that people can connect with.
Create content that your readers want to connect with and will encourage them to interact with you, memes, questions, national days, games, and so on. You want them to interact with you so that they get to see more of your posts. You will find that by posting consistently with engaging posts you will get a lot more interaction. Humans want a connection, we want to feel part of something bigger.
You can find more information about “Blogging Strategies for authors” which will give you ideas of other ways to engage with your readers.
6. Leave Your Political Views Off Social Media
Growing up, my grandad offered me one piece of advice which has stuck with me throughout my life and that was to never get into a debate about politics or religion because you can never win. Obviously, we all have our own beliefs, political views, and opinions, because let's face it if we didn't the world would be a very boring place.
However, by sharing your own personal views with your followers you could inadvertently offend someone or they may choose not to read your material because of the way you have displayed yourself. I know personally, I can be highly emotive when it comes to political topics and that I can come across very strongly and this can easily come across as arrogant or offensive. It's best to avoid all these debates and leave them for your personal social media channels, save your voice being heard for those incredible stories that you write.
This leads us on nicely to avoiding author drama, and yes there can be a lot of it, getting mixed up in drama can create problems for yourself or can portray you in a very negative light, it's not to say that you aren’t offended by something but just don’t air your views publicly for the world to see. Personally, I avoid any drama as I like to focus on positive energy, getting incorporated into the negative sides of the author's world can create me to focus on the negatives rather than all the amazing good that is out there in the indie community.
7. Don’t Hand Out To Many Free Copies
Yes, by all means, share ARC’s for reviews but consider how many you are willing to give out and select the bloggers you want to share with wisely. If a blogger has signed up to review before but failed to provide one don’t give them one in the future. Once you're an author you will get a number of requests from random people on social media asking to review your book and even requesting payment or a paperback copy. You should never need to supply a paperback copy in exchange for a review, sending it directly to their kindle is more than sufficient enough.
Need more help with reviews? Take a look at our blog post “Top Tips For Gaining Book Reviews”
8. Build your newsletter, ARC, and Beta teams from the beginning
Many authors neglect this when they start out, write a novel and get it uploaded to amazon, and fail to consider the process as a whole. The authors in my group highly recommend setting these all up before you even release your first novel.
Your newsletter will become your main avenue for marketing so getting this set up from the get go is a surefire way to get you on the right path. The build up to the release of your book is just as important as the actual release, you can start building your newsletter before you have even released. That way they will be the first to hear about your very first novel!
Need more help with setting up your newsletter? Check out our blog post “Top Tips For Building An Author Mailing List”.
ARC teams and Beta teams will help you work out any kinks with your novels, and any loopholes, offering advice and feedback on your characters or writing style.
9. Don’t Ignore Readers' Comments or Messages
As your author profile, you’re posting daily on all your social media channels, and staying on top of that is a job on its own, but it's essential that you acknowledge any readers that have taken the time to comment, post, or message you. Replying to their comment will go a long way to building loyal readers that will continue to return for each release. They have taken the time to acknowledge your post so do the same for them, it's all about building connections.
10. Don’t PAY a Publisher To Publish YOUR book.
A respectable publishing company will pay you not the other way round. There are a number of scammers out there that charge the earth, they aren’t invested in you or your book, just the money that they're making. Some of my authors have been burned by some of these companies holding on to the rights of the book long after even the author has walked away from the deal, giving you no rights to any of your work.
So if you are signing with a Publishing House, do your due diligence, check their reviews, and most importantly check your contract line by line.
So now we have taken a look at what not to do, why don’t you give our blog post “Top Tips For Self Published Authors” a read and see what you need to be doing to make sure you're giving your book the best possible chance to succeed? I would like to take a moment to thank the ladies in my membership for all their incredible tips and advice!
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