Ten tips for a successful self-published book

Ten Biggest Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

Mistake #9: I’m a Star! My Fans will Come to Me!

Now that you’ve finished writing your book, now that it’s published, your job as an author is over, right? Now it’s time for you to sit back and enjoy the success your book will have among the masses and the celebrity of being an author. Now that your book is available to the world, readers will line up to buy it.

…Sorry. That’s not how it goes. Your book may be very good. Its message may inspire, comfort, help, motive or otherwise improve the lives of whoever reads it. But they’ve got to read it, and to read it they’ve got to know about it, and to know about it someone needs to get their attention long enough to tell them about it. That someone is you.

Remember earlier I mentioned that Amazon currently has 14 million different books for sale? Out of that 14 million, how and why is any reader going to choose yours? They won’t. They won’t know or care about your book unless someone they know, like and trust shares it with them. That someone starts with you.


The days of mass advertising actually working are over. Today the market (what and why people buy) is driven by word of mouth, not flood of noise (my apologies to early morning TV car dealers). To be fair, according to recent surveys, mass advertising does still work … sort of. Radio, TV, and Print (magazines and newspapers), according to Nielsen’s April 2012 “Trust in Advertising Global Report”, are about 42% to 47% effective. Other than the fact that this kind of advertising works less than half the time, it presents a few other problems as an option for self-published authors:

  • It’s expensive! (magazine and newspaper print ads run in the thousands of dollars – per ad)
  • It’s impossible to measure results (how do you really know who saw your ad and if it caused them to buy your book)
  • It’s a shotgun approach (those who might be the most interested in your book might only be a minority of those the print ad actually reaches)

What about advertising on the Internet? It’s cheap compared to other kinds of traditional advertising, I can measure results and I can target my audience better. So Internet advertising is the way to go, right? Not so fast. Mass advertising is still mass advertising, whether you’re doing it on radio, TV, print, or the Internet. As a matter of fact, the most popular Internet mass advertising schemes are the least trusted by consumers!


My bottom line on advertising your book: save your money, or rather, invest your money and time more wisely. Why doesn’t advertising work anymore? Because technology has allowed the consumer an almost infinite amount of choices. Twenty years ago, ‘Mega-Bookstore’ would proudly brag about their potential inventory of 100,000 titles (the mom & pop stores, carrying only around 10,000 titles were being put out of business by these bookstore behemoths). Today, as we’ve mentioned, Amazon carries 14 million titles. By the end of 2012, more than 634 million websites found their homes on the Internet. Consumers (readers) really do have a nearly infinite amount of choices.

Add to this the fact that we’re bombarded every waking minute from every possible angle via every imaginable device with advertising – someone trying to get our attention, to convince us, to sell us every moment. Last year, Consumer Reports let us know that the average American is exposed to 247 advertisements per day. I think the number, including web-based input, is much higher. The fact is, we’re numb to advertising being pushed at us.  We tend to know what we want and how to search it out on the Internet. And, as far as those things we don’t know we want yet, we tend to filter out input from everyone except those we know, like and trust – our friends, friends of friends and ‘experts’ we consider knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Which bring up another amazing product to emerge from our online technology explosion: a relationship between consumers (buyers) and providers (sellers); it’s called engagement. Even though technology has opened up the world of engagement a million times greater than ever before, it’s actually a very old practice.

So how do you engage your potential audience? You talk to them; you engage them in conversation. This is the oldest, most successful commerce strategy in man’s history; he’s been doing this in every marketplace in every town and village, on every continent for thousands of years. It may have been a pound of butter or a bolt of wool or a slab of bacon back then; today, for the sake of our conversation, it’s your book. You tell someone about your book, you share a sample, you answer their questions, you share your heart and your reasons for writing the book – you engage your potential reader. Do you know what this process does for potential readers? It allows them to know, like and trust you. And then they want to buy and read your book.

After you’ve won a reader (and a fan), do you know what that reader is most likely to do? Share your book (really her reading experience) with her friends. Of course her friends already know like and trust her, so they’re likely to take her advice and got one of your books for themselves. When they have that same positive reading experience with your book, they’ll share it with their friends. And so on.

You’ve just engaged and won your reading audience! But it would have never happened, would have never built the momentum necessary to propel your book into the marketplace if you hadn’t engage those first core readers.

Writing and publishing your book was a lot of work, but the work (and sales) doesn’t really begin until you begin engaging readers and helping them engage others.

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 ninth 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.