Books To Believe In presents a free gift to you - the author!
The top 10 mistakes new authors
make and how to avoid them
Books To Believe In has been publishing books for author for nearly fourteen years now. It never ceases to amaze us how similar authors are in their approach to a book project. It also never ceases to amaze us how often authors share the same misconceptions and make the same types of mistakes. We've decided to create a list of our favorite top 10 mistakes, and how you can avoid them. We hope you find it helpful!
1. Your book should never have a "forward"
Our favorite and most easily corrected mistake is the misuse of the word "foreword." In an instant, anyone can tell if your book has been edited professionally or not. If your book has a "forward" in it, it has not been professionally edited. Many times friends or family will do a proof read, but if they are not versed in the book industry, this mistake slips through. The foreword is about writing something before the content of the actual book itself. It stands for "beFORE the WORD." If you can remember this, you'll always get it right.
While we’re on the subject, a second common mistake authors make, and it’s something we see quite often, is that they'll fix the word "foreword" on the chapter head itself, but forget to fix it in the table of contents. Authors don’t mean to, but they tell on themselves with this quite common slip. Be sure to double check this!
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2. Spell check is NO substitute for a professional editor
Several word processing software tools offer up grammar and spell check features. Please do not rely on them or think they are anywhere near good enough to substitute for a professional edit. For example, a typical misuse of the English language involves the words "than" and "then." This is just one of many cases where the words are spelled correctly and the grammar checker doesn’t catch the mistake. There are many other reasonably common spelling and grammar mistakes, and anyone well-versed in the publishing process will catch them right away. Having readers catch these mistakes, instead of a professional editor, can be embarrassing and it can result in a loss of confidence in your product.
We teach that editing comes in three forms - the proof read, the technical edit and the critique. Learn what each of these means and take advantage of all three if you can before you have your book published. When you understand the editing process correctly, you'll end up saving yourself quite a bit of money on your book's edit, and you’ll end up with a higher quality book.
Othniel J. Seiden
"I've written and published dozens of books...and my opinion of the publishing industry has changed over the past 20 years. What Books to Believe In teaches about how to publish a book is up-to-date, addresses selfpublishing and on-demand publishing (not available when I started out) and many more topics that are intended to empower the author to create and publish the books of their dreams! I teach how to write a book: So, You Want To Write A Book - Jumpstart Your Publishing Success, but when my students are ready to publish - I recommend Books to Believe In to them!"
3. Avoid predator editors
We use the word editor in this phrase simply because it rhymes with predator. However, publisher, graphic artist, publicist, web designer or any other paid professional title also works here. The way you recognize a predator editor is that it is someone who seeks you out, notices that you have a problem (real or manufactured for their purpose) and explains that they can fix it for you for a price. You weren't necessarily searching for these services but suddenly they've created the need for their services. These people hang around author groups because it is target-rich territory. So be wary. You can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on these services, and you’ll often not end up with a better book for the effort.
Our advice is that if someone attempts to destroy your confidence in your project by finding a mistake or a problem, do your homework before you decide to hire them. Ask for references, and then ask some of the other authors in the group the predator found you in, if indeed that service is necessary, or if indeed that individual happens to be the best one to perform that service. Most of these predator service providers depend on your insecurity about your product, knowing that you are searching for validation and perfection. Perfection will never be had - but excellence can be.
Benefit of Partner Publishing with Books To Believe In
If we suggest a service, you’ll fully understand why we believe you need it, and we’ll give you a cost-benefit analysis for the service so that you can appreciate the value it will provide to you and your book project. Our objective is your full confidence in your book!
4. Forgetting that your book's title and subtitle are the most important pieces of sales copy your book has!
Don't misname your book. The title of your book is incredibly important as it is the first piece of sales copy any potential customer will see. Likewise, your book’s subtitle is the second most-important piece of sales copy. A good title grabs your reader’s attention, even if it is somewhat obscure. However, the subtitle has to be grounding, and it must act to clarify the title. The title and subtitle should work hand in hand to grab attention fast, and then explain to the reader what’s in the book.
A common complaint from commercially published authors is that their book's title was changed by the publisher. Titles are sent to commercial publisher’s marketing departments for a final decision, and rarely is the author's working title chosen as the book's final title. If authors would name their books with the intent to sell them, less of this renaming would occur.
Self-published authors need to test a few titles on their own focus group. One option is to create a set of four titles and then to ask the focus group what they think the book is about and if they would read it. This helps the author figure out which titles have potential and which do not. Titles and subtitles are critically important pieces of sales copy. Remember that when creating them.
Jonathan published his book The Law of Attraction Made Simple through Books to Believe In, and saw a complete return on his investment the 1st day he had books in his hands! Within 4 months he was into his 2nd printing. Now Jonathan is on his 5th printing of this first book, and has since published 3 other books with us.
5. When writing the bio for their book, authors forget to apply the "Who cares?" test to every sentence
Many authors write their bio as a resume or life's story, letting everyone know where they were born, their marital or parental status, where they live, where they went to college, how many pets they have, and so on. When asked how they made the decision on what to put in their bio, many not-so-well-known authors often say they went to a bookstore and emulated some popular author’s bio. Only celebrity authors can get away with this type of bio, and that is only because they've paid their dues, and their lives actually are interesting to most people.
If you're going to say what college you went to, hopefully your book has a geographical pull and that means something significant to your readers. If you're going to say how many pets you have, hopefully you're writing an animal-based book. If you're going to talk about how many kids you have, hopefully your book is about the care and raising of children, because THEN it is relevant. If you are writing a fiction book about the Civil War, whether you grew up north or south of the Mason/Dixon line matters, but where you lived or grew up is usually irrelevant to most books. If it’s not relevant, leave it out of the bio. Less is more when it comes to this. Instead, you want to write specifically about the life experiences that qualify you to write your book, and this also means every book you write can have a different bio.
Our advice is to write your bio, but then read each sentence one by one, and stop to ask, "Who cares?" If the answer is, "Me and my mom," then leave that sentence out of your bio. If the answer is, "My readers should care about this," then leave it in.
Benefit of Partner Publishing with Books To Believe In
We will help you with the Bio writing process. There are actually still about 5 other great tips for writing effective bios!
6. Problems with ambiguity
This is one of the main reasons that authors can not edit their own books. Ambiguity creeps in because they are too close to their own work. Ambiguous words such as he/she/this/that/it/they refer to the last noun that they referenced. However, many times, the last noun isn’t what was meant by that word. For example, consider the sentence, "Tom, Dick and Harry went into the grocery store and he bought a soda." The "he" perhaps refers to Harry, but this is very confusing to the reader, especially if in the next sentence Tom is drinking it. The author can see it very visually, because they are writing down what they see in their imagination, but it just doesn’t always get communicated well in the text. A good book editor will find these ambiguities for you, and as an author you can do well to simply use the referred to noun itself where possible. Avoid the shortcut ambiguous words.
Benefit of Partner Publishing with Books To Believe In
We have an award-winning graphic artist on our team to make your book cover sing and the insides of your book easy on the eyes!
7. Inconsistency and arrogance
If you are writing a technical non-fiction book, please be sure that your terminology and abbreviations are consistent. Be sure that you define your terminology the first time you use each industry-standard phrase.
One of the biggest complaints for non-fiction, technical books is that the author expects a certain level of expertise with the subject matter. If your book is available to the general public, even if will likely only appeal to those well-versed in the subject, defining the terms once - either the first time you use it or in a glossary in the back - will help the reader understand the content.
Define each term only once, however, to avoid taking on a condescending tone. It is good form, in general, to clearly define the terminology once, even if you think your reader should already know it.
"Inexperience and ignorance are the real first-time author's curse. You just don't know what you don't know... Education is the key to success for first-time authors like me. I was so grateful to learn a publisher's perspective. It helped me make much more effective self-publishing decisions. It helped me choose the editor I hired, the graphic artist I used and I have paid back my investment in myself very early in my first print run!"
8. Jacket copy contains the wrong information
The information going on the back of your book is also sales copy, just like the title and subtitle. This information has to be well-thought-out, as it will not only be used on the back of your book, but also on your web pages and on your book sellers’ sales pages. As such, it needs to contain very specific and helpful information. The common mistake most authors make is that they give a short summary of what is inside the book. That is not what you want to do at all.
The point of book jacket copy is to make the reader want to buy the book. So it should contain information directly focused on them. It should be written in the 2nd-person, (focused on YOU - the reader) and it should make a promise to the reader about the gift they will receive from the book, if they do decide to read it. Your gift to them might be adventure, fun, intrigue and suspense if it is fiction. It might be insight, healing or unparallelled knowledge if it is non-fiction. This is not a place to be humble. This is THE place to talk about the benefits of reading your book.
If you tell the potential reader what’s inside your book on its cover, then why would they need to buy it? They wouldn’t. However, if you tell them what benefit they’re going to receive for reading the book, they’ll buy it in a heartbeat - that is if they want to receive that gift.
Author Testimonial Sparkle Phillips
I want to remain anonymous in my book, but I also want to sing the praises of my publisher. Books To Believe In helped me from start to finish with helpful suggestions about what should be in both my books, how the covers should look and how they work together. Then when it came to marketing, their Thousand Tweet campaign was a stroke of genius and incredibly effective! I recommend them highly.
9. Sequencing the Project
There are so many aspects to getting a book published that sometimes authors either forget, or wait until the last minute to try and accomplish all the steps. For example, if you are working to release a book, don’t wait until it is at the printer to get the book’s website up and running. There are good reasons to create a book’s website very early in the process, and hiring the web-designer before the book is finished is actually a pretty smart idea, for reasons that aren’t at all obvious to first-time authors.
We’ve had people send their book to a publisher before they’ve sent it to an editor, and some have even hired a publicist before hiring a publisher. These steps are out of sequence, and the result is often frustration and the wasting of both time and money. There are many ways to skin this publishing cat. Sequencing options can vary somewhat. Following a guide or a mentor through this process isn’t required, but it truly quite helpful. You’ll get more sleep at night - we promise! And, if you do it right the first time, we guarantee that will save you a lot of time, money, and frustrations.
Publishing a book comes with a MASSIVE learning curve. If you don’t want to have to learn it all before you get your book out there, please look to the people who are experts at publishing books, e-books, editing, creating award-winning covers, etc. In the end, you’ll save a ton of money and make more money with your book!
10. They let fear storms destroy their confidence
This will happen to you - just be ready for it. Every author encounters some type of fear storm along their way to publishing. It might the fear of rejection, or the fear of success, or the fear of failure, or the fear of being judged, or the fear of finding a mistake, or any of the many other fears that are out there. A fear storm can also manifest in getting sick and not feeling strong enough to move forward. A fear storm can manifest in starting arguments or blaming people at decision time because you’re insecure about being knowledgeable enough to make the decision. However it manifests, it is ugly and it hurts. If you have taken your fear storm and put it on other people, it can damage professional relationships. If something is bothering you or you’re uneasy or scared, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if there is more to this problem than meets the eye.
A critical first step is to simply acknowledge the reality of your fear storm, to realize it’s just a fear and nothing more. Recognize when these happen to you, talk them through with a friend or fellow published author and get past them. They happen to everyone in one form or another, so don’t feel singled out when it happens to you.
Your dream is bigger than any fear you might have. Your book was worth the time you spent to write it, so let the world experience it. You have something to say and your book is the platform - see this process through all the way to the end. If some fear comes up and tries to block your way, then face it, overcome it, and talk about it someday from a podium in front of hundreds of wannabe authors all wanting to know "How you made it to the top!" You can do this!
NOTE: "Partner publishing" avoids the hidden expenses and uncaring philosophy of Print-On-Demand, while avoiding all those rejection slips and low royalty percentages of commercial publishing.
Go to getting-published.com to read about this new team-effort way of getting your book successfully published, promoted, and marketed. We'll work side-by-side with you, using our unique cooperative marketing, social-media-based, Win-Win-Win approach to getting your book published and into the hands of your readers!
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