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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Top Ten Mistakes Self-Publishers Make, Part II

This week I continue my discussion of the top ten mistakes publishers make. Here are the top five mistakes.

5.  Including Copyrighted Materials without Permission
This is one of my pet peeves. I’ve seen self-published books that either included artwork taken, I am sure from the Internet, or quotations. These are copyrighted pictures and to use them in your work you need to obtain permission. With quotations, if you quote more than a few sentences, you need to see permission to use. Including these without permission may make you vulnerable to a lawsuit. You wouldn’t want someone using your work without permission would you?

4.  Not Realizing the Importance of Marketing
Many people enter the self-publishing world with the belief “if I publish it, they will come.”  They envision attending book signings where they books will be selling like hot cakes. I had the same skewed idea when I self-pubbed. What I know now is that after the initial sales of a handful of books to friends and acquaintances, and a couple of book signings where I sold a couple of books, that selling books takes determination, great target marketing and hard work. If you aren’t willing to market or put the time into it. Self-publishing probably isn’t a good choice for you. Before your book is released have a great game plan in place for how you will get your books into the hand of the public. Some of the best organizations I know of that concentrate on marketing for Christian writers include the John 3:16 Marketing Network and The Christian Authors

3.  Choosing the Wrong Publisher
There are hundreds of self-publishing companies now and more debuting every day. Don’t think that just because a company is cheaper, that its’ better.  Do your homework.  I choose Wine Press for my self-publishing company for my book, The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love & Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Fatherafter attending several writers’ conferences where they were present. They had a reputation among traditional publishers as a quality self-publishing company.

One thing I know now that I didn’t know then is that there are often hidden fees. Once you reach a certain point with final edits, you will be charged for changed per page. I also now know that WinePress has a yearly imprint fees which ensure my book will remain registered with their printer service.
Often a publishing company won’t really mention this in their quotes. The best way to find out about their reputation, fees, etc. is to find people who have used a particular company. How satisfied are they? What did they like or not like. You can also check out editors and publishing companies on Preditors and Editors which lists complaints against disreputable printers and editors.

2.  Bad Writing
Some writers are not ready for prime time. Some haven’t mastered the art of writing. I’ve seen the following: poorly constructed sentences, poorly organized books, prefaces that basically summarize what I am going to read, devotionals that summarize the scripture that follows with no real takeaway, poor plots…. I could go on.

1.  Bad Editing
This is my number one complaint regarding self-published books. For some reason, many self-published authors seem to think they are excellent editors of their own work which often proves to be wrong. I’ve seen misuse of words (such as flour instead of flower), typos, misplaced commas, misspellings, long paragraphs, run on sentences and much more. In the case of one book I had promised to write a review of, I ended up not writing the review and contracting he writer. I told him that I didn’t want to post a poor review and that I found the story good, but due to the countless errors, I simply in good conscience could not give it a passing grade. He thanked me and asked if he could send me his next book and assured me it would be edited much more thoroughly. It was and I posted a good review.

If you can’t afford editing, you can’t afford to publish. Don’t count on family members to do a good job. Get into a critique group and/or pay for a quality editor. Get referrals. Not everyone who claims to do editing does a good job. 


Teena Stewart is a multi-published author of The Treasure Seeker:Finding Love & Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father and Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship


  1. You've summed it up well in these two posts. While self publishing offers freedom and many other benefits for some, (not to mentions actually being able to get their books in print...) it is unfortunate that so many go into it blindly.

  2. Most of us learn after one self-pubbed book what we should have done before self-publishing. That's not always the case with some.

  3. Wise words, Teena.


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack