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How to Avoid the 11 Biggest Mistakes of First Time Authors

Posted on January 12, 2022 by Franklyn Helfinstine

Following are the 11 biggest reasons most first-time writers don't receive the rewards they're due.

1. Unrealistic expectations. Do not expect to get rich off your book, even if it is a success by publishing standards. The huge majority of books don't earn out their advance.

Instead, develop a personal marketing strategy to leverage your career off your publication. Rather than attempting to make money on the publication itself, use your book to open doors, boost your credibility and build relationships with readers.

2. Writing without a contract. Never write a book with no signed contract. Instead, prepare a polished proposal and two sample chapters.

Publishers are increasingly selective about the names they accept. Frequently, less than 1 in 20 titles suggested are published. Writing a book that is not accepted is not a great use of your time.

3. No agent. You should be represented by a literary agent. Publishers rarely accept unsolicited book proposals. Unsolicited proposals are often returned unread or are simply lost.

The perfect agent will know just which publishers might be interested in your book. Agents may also negotiate terms more efficiently than you.

4. Weak titles. Titles sell books. The name of your book is like the headline of an advertisement. The name represents your one and only chance to attract the attention of acquisition editors or bookstore readers.

Successful titles stress the benefits readers will profit from your book. Successful titles arouse curiosity and provide solutions. They frequently include consonants and alliteration (repeated'hard' sounds such as G, K, P or T).

5. Title versus series. Concentrate on a series of novels instead of an individual title. Publishers want concepts which may be expanded into a series instead of individual titles.

6. Going it alone. Successful careers involve a nurturing support group of peers and readers. Your quest should include the help of your friends, other writers, book coaches, readers and others that can help you keep your enthusiasm while providing ideas, assistance and feedback.

7. 'Event' writing. Write a little each day rather than'going away' to write your own book. Stress is a writer's biggest enemy. When you attempt marathon writing, you are placing an unrealistic burden on your own. "What happens if I come back and my book is not written?"

8. Self-editing. Avoid unnecessary self-editing. It's a lot more important to finish the first draft of your book than to agonize over the perfection of each word.

Editors will ensure that grammar is correct and thoughts appear in the right order. But they can not do anything until you submit the final manuscript.

9. Failure to promote. Publishers aren't promoters. Publishers are skilled at editing, manufacturing and distributing books. But they're not set up to give your book the marketing attention it deserves. A single publicist may represent over 100 books!

If you want your book to succeed, you need to market it as well as write it.

10. Failure to back up and save. Save frequently when writing. Always save before printing. Never turn off your computer without making a copy of your documents for off-premises storage. Never end a writing session without printing out a hard copy of the latest edition of the chapter you're writing.

11. Failure to plan future gains. Before writing your book, create a book marketing plan. Book sales should be just the first step in a continuing relationship with your readers. Your plan should identify opportunities from consulting, newsletters, audio/video records, seminars, speeches and annual updates.

A book can, indeed, change your life. However, you have to take control; take a proactive role in promoting and leveraging its success.