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6 Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

Quill pen and inkwell resting on an old book with green background concept for literature, writing, author and history

Self-published authors are an alternative way to publish your book especially if you want total control over the content of your book as well as the revenue generated. While it is a good alternative, you can also go wrong with it if you don’t know the right way to achieve your desired goal of self-publishing your books.

Who is a Self-Published Author?

A self-published author is an individual who completes the entire process of publishing a book on their own or with just their own resources. The publishing process includes but is not limited, to writing, editing and proofreading, formatting, cover design, printing, and also sales and marketing. You will agree with me that’s a whole lot for an individual to take up, especially if book publishing is not the only thing they do with their time, For instance, a Bank Manager who wants to write and publish a book.

We can not completely dismiss the possibility of things going wrong because you are either clueless on the what and how or you do not have experience or what it tasks to successfully publish a book.  To successfully publish a book, there are mistakes you should look out for.

1. No timeline for book projects

A digital calendar and a mug

It is compulsory and important that your book project has a timeline attached to it, just like a regular project in a corporate environment. This will help you to measure the resources and effort required to get you the results you desire. It also helps you to be strict with your resource allocation to avoid wastage and zero results.

If you don’t have a timeline for your book project, what should ordinarily take you 2 months will span into two years, and at the end of the two years, you will realize that you are miles away from achieving your goal.

As a self-published author, you can’t afford to make this mistake.


2. No specific target audience

Another error you should avoid making is writing for everybody. No, you cannot write for everybody. Why? Because everybody is a generic word used to describe many people. Many people are of a different race, gender, nationality, age, background, standard of living, education, exposure, religion, culture, etc.

So why do you want to write to all of them at once?  If you want to write for everybody, you will end up writing for nobody because everybody won’t be able to understand what you wrote as it was not written in a language they understand.

Target audience

For instance, you want to write a book on How To Build A  Sanctuary, and you expect a medical doctor to read or you expect a 10-yar old to read and understand. That’s impossible. This is why it is advisable that before you start writing a book, create a reader persona that describes:

  • Who your audience is
  • What interests them more
  • What problem or challenges do they have; your book should be solving a problem
  • How your book will solve their problem

If you can answer this question, you have your target audience and can commence your book publishing journey as a self-published author.

3. Skipping professional editing and proofreading

I know that you trust yourself so much that you are sure your manuscript does not need to be edited, but there is a need for a second eye to look through, to help you ensure that the grammatical construction properly communicates your intention to your potential readers.

This second eye has to be a professional who has proven experience in this subject. It is not enough that you have written well, but can your audience understand what you have written enough for them to find value in it?

Resist the urge to skip professional editing and proofreading, and hire someone to get the job done for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive for it to be quality, you can always find a professional within your budget. Do not settle for less.

Include this in your publishing plan, remember we spoke about creating a timeline, factor this in as well as you proceed on your journey as a self-published author

4. Every graphic designer is a book designer

Not every graphics designer is a book designer, but can a graphics designer be a book designer, definitely. How would you know? By making inquiries, and in the event that you find someone who claims not to be a book designer, do not force them to take up your book design. If you do, you have a tendency of getting a low-quality design, wastage of resources, and of course, your project timeline is extended because of the back and forth in trying to get what you want.

Image of female creative graphic designer working on color selection and drawing on graphics tablet at workplace.

An author once told me that he doesn’t have an idea of what his book design should look like because he had not previously authored a book, if he had gone to meet a random graphics designer, and not a professional book designer, that would have been a great mistake.

Do you also know that a book is judged by its cover? If the book cover design is poor and of low quality, it won’t captivate the attention of your prospective reader and that’s a loss on your end.

5. Desire for a quick profit

Publishing a book can be compared to a business venture where you devote funds and resources with the aim of making profits. The problem is not the desire to make a profit but the desire to make a quick profit. In every business, your goal should not be quick profit as sales and profit depend on many factors. Your desire to get quick profit from your published book could lead you to desperation which would lead to frustration.

Publishing books can be categorized as a passive income, which means that you may not get your entire expenses spent on the process at once, and at the same time, you can get them all at once. It’s more of a lifetime investment where your profit keeps trickling in when you are sleeping, or even years after you first published it.

If you want to publish a book, keep in mind that there is a possibility that you will not get active income, and make peace with it. It will help to reduce the possibility of getting frustrated when sales are not happening.

6. Zero marketing plans

Your book publishing plan should include a marketing plan to help you get the book you have written to the face of your target audience. This mistake can be avoided if you take time to decide who your target audience is and how you can find them before you start writing the book, this way you know where to allocate resources to.

I’ve read of authors who published their books and just their family members are aware. True, your family members can help you market your books but nobody can do it as much as you would.

Draft out a marketing goal and plan for your book, and work with it, this way you will be sure that the people to whom you are providing solutions can see the solutions where they can be found.


In this article, I have shared mistakes to look out for while you commence your book publishing journey, there are many more underlying ones. To avoid making these mistakes, that is why we are here. ScribeTribe Africa is a hybrid publishing agency, we allow you to have sole authority over the content of your book as well as the profit from the book, all we do is handle all the processes involved to get your book ready as at when you desire. Contact us today.

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