24 November 2011

Guest Post : Common Mistakes Writers Make With Self-Published Books By Sabine A. Reed, Author of 'The Black Orb'.

Guest Post : Common Mistakes writers make with Self-published Books by Sabine A. Reed, author of 'The Black Orb'.

Are you planning to self-publish your book? Wait! I’ve read a number of self-published books either bought or sent by friends who want me to review their books. Here are a few common mistakes that most self-published books have (and this is especially true for authors who have never had a traditional publishing contract before self-publishing. Authors who are self-publishing their out-of-print books or who have editing experience know enough not to make these mistakes.)


1) Self-publish the first ever manuscript you wrote (unless you don’t want to make writing a career. The first book is NEVER EVER good enough to be published. There are no born writers, but with practice a writer can become adept at the craft of writing. Write enough books and soon you’ll have a gem of a manuscript that’s worthy of being published. If, however, you doing it as an experiment or a hobby, then by all means don’t listen to me.)

2) Write about a coming of age story of a young protagonist who discovers he/she has special powers/position and belongs to a clique/group/kingdom. (This is a typical plot used by many first-time writers, and trust me I know because I WROTE NOT ONE BUT TWO SUCH BOOKS that were meant to be the first in two separate trilogies. The rejection letters hurt, but I learnt a lesson and got that particular plot out of my system for good.)

3) Start the book by showing the protagonist sitting and thinking sad/complicated/angry thoughts. Always start with action/drama.

4) Have a first chapter that contains the protagonist moving from house to college, back to house, to mall, all the while contemplating his life. That’s not action. That’s you trying to establish the character and believe me it’s going to turn your reader off the book faster than any grammar or spelling mistakes. Action implies some life changing event that has far reaching consequences for the main character. Think about Eragon: the prologue contained an elf who was ambushed and captured by a shade but she managed to send a stone to safety. The first official chapter showed Eragon finding the stone. (Something serious was happening and though the reader didn’t know the significance of it, it was interesting and intriguing. What was that stone? Why would an elf risk her life to save it? And what would the boy do with it?) Now, think about Harry Potter; the first chapter of the first book introduced an entire hidden world of witches and wizards. Harry was not even introduced as a character. (What a way to capture the reader. Who would not want to read the book that hinted that there could be a secret world within our own world?)

5) Self-publish without getting the manuscript editing by a reputable editor or a friend who has done such work before. Many self-published books don’t have punctuation and grammatical errors as much as having pacing or plotting issues.

6) Start the story in chapter 3. The drama should begin in chapter 1 or else the reader would not get to chapter 3. For example, don’t show a boy who is being forced to move against his will, by his parents, to an unknown town where he then meets strange people (but don’t know why they are strange) and then discovers his special powers in chapter three or four. If this boy is not interesting in chapter one, why would the reader continue to read till chapter three?

7) Show the protagonist having strange dreams without telling the readers the significance of those dreams. It might be interesting to you because you know already why your main character is having those dreams but really the reader is just going to put the book down.

Self-publishing is a real, solid and profitable option for many who are tired of submitting to agents and publishers or for those who don’t want to wait for six months to years while the publishers and agents read their proposals. But it’s not going to be profitable until authors ensure the quality of their books. Some authors are doing quite well, JA Konrath, Amanda Hocking, etc. Others are doing well, not great but good enough, for example Theresa Ragan sold over 128,000 e-books till Nov 2011. For each of these authors who are making a decent amount of money, there are thousands who are barely selling ten or less books in a month.

They have no one to blame but themselves. Give a reader a well-crafted, action-packed, well-edited self-published book and they will buy your next one. Give them a badly edited, slow paced and boring book and they will not only give you a bad review but also never ever buy another one of your books.

Sabine A. Reed is the author of fantasy e-novella The Black Orb. She has her own Writing and Publishing Blog where she gives tips to new writers. You can find her at twitter and read the First Chapter of her novella for free.

You can buy The Black Orb from Uncial Press here.
Buy it from Amazon Kindle US here.

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