Ten tips for a successful self-published book

Ten Biggest Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

Mistake #5: Don’t Worry About How People will Actually Read Your Book!

It doesn’t really matter what format your book comes in, does it? I mean, as long as people can get the information, that’s all that’s important, right? Wrong! How people read your book will determine how well it sells.

Think it’s cheaper and easier to just publish your book on Kindle Direct as an e-book? Well … you’re right; it is pretty easy. But what is your goal? Is your goal to find the fastest, easiest way to make your written work available to a limited amount of your potential audience in a limited format? Or is it your goal to make your written work available to your widest possible audience in a wide range of formats? Think about in what format your audience wants to read your book, not about the easiest, cheapest single format in which you can get by.

Printed book vs. e-book

Don’t believe every publishing prophet that claims printed books are going the way of the horse and buggy. Printed books are not obsolete, and probably won’t be for a long time. Printed books still outsell e-books. That may not be true forever, but it’s true now.

Printed books still have a sense of seriousness (for lack of a better term) that e-books don’t enjoy. The fact that your work is considered (at least by someone) worthwhile enough to put into a printed format still says something to the world. Public speakers will often publish a printed book just to establish themselves as an expert on a given subject and increase their demand on the speaking circuit. I’ve never once seen a speaker’s book table at a public event selling e-books.

About one-quarter of the reading population in America now owns a computer tablet; about 19% own an e-reader device. I own both. I buy e-books for both – probably more than you do. I buy more printed books than e-books. Depending on where I am or the mood I’m in, I read on all formats – printed books, e-books via my iPad, e-books via my Kindle reader, even on my iPhone. Many readers probably do the same. Most readers, at this point in time, read printed books. Most e-book readers are using an Amazon Kindle device or an iPad; some use one of the other many brands of tablet or e-reader devices on the market.

My point is: Print isn’t dead or even sick – if you’re serious, your book should be in print. The answer to the Print vs. E-book question isn’t either/or; it’s and. If you’re serious, your book should be available to your potential audience in the formats in which they read books – printed and e-book.

Epub vs. Mobi

Depending on the reading device, e-book files must be published in specific software formats. Amazon (Kindle) and Apple (iTunes) the two giants of the e-book distribution world each have proprietary formats, and they update or come up with new proprietary formats on occasion. You can keep up with the proprietary formats if you’ve got the time and inclination and publish to each platform in their own proprietary software formats, or you can use the two universally accepted (currently) formats – e-pub and mobi. E-pub is a standardized format that works on iPads, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader and a plethora of other e-readers. Mobi is a standardized format that translates (since Amazon bought the software’s creator) to Amazon Kindle products. In our company, we develop the e-pub file first and then use software to export the e-pub to mobi.

Bottom line– If you want to make your e-book available to the widest possible audience, you’ll need to distribute it in the formats that work on their readers. If you’re serious about your book, make it available to your readers in the way they want to read it.

One last thing … PDF’s

Opinions vary about calling a PDF (Adobe’s ‘Portable Document Format’) an e-book. In my opinion (which may not be totally fair), a PDF is more like a digital ‘photocopy’. It is possible to read a PDF on most tablets or e-readers … but it doesn’t contain the same ‘born-in’ indexing/location features as an e-book in e-pub and mobi formats. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your ideas in a PDF and calling it an e-book (the e-book you’re reading is PDF format because I’m giving it away and it’s easier than explaining how to manually download and install and e-pub or mobi version on your reading device), just let readers know ahead of time what format they’re getting.

What do you think about this self-publishing mistake? Any ideas? We’d love to hear from you, please comment.

About me:

I’m a self-published author. My first self-published book, Breaking the Treasure Code: The Hunt for Israel’s Oil sold about 20,000 copies … okay, I guess. Since then, between the self-publishing companies I started and bought, we’ve sold close to one million books.

Let me tell you, in the beginning, I didn’t know much about writing a book, and knew nothing about publishing, printing, marketing and selling books! If I had known anything, I might have walked away, overwhelmed with the whole process. Successfully self-publishing can, at times, seem hopeless. But I stuck to it, learned a lot about publishing, even more about marketing and selling, and, through lots of practice, sharpened my writing skills.

Even so, there are countless, land mines, booby-traps, dead-ends and just plain mistakes a self-published author can make. This is the fifth of  ten weekly blog posts. They come from my e-book:  The Ten Biggest Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make. This little book captures ten of the most common, most detrimental mistakes you can make as a self-published author and, hopefully, how to avoid them. I wanted to put these mistakes out on a blog format so you can comment, ask questions and we can discuss ways to make your book as successful as it can possibly be. Please, feel free to comment and ask questions.