Advice on self-publishing

To those of you who are not writers and received this anyways, my apologies. I’m writing this post to writers that are trying to get their books out there.

I receive a decent amount of emails from writers every week, asking for advice, tips, reviews, etc. I try my best to help them as best I can. They’re hard working, eager and nervous and looking for ways to get into the industry. Unfortunately, some of them get desperate and do things that they shouldn’t. I’m posting a list here of things that you might help you avoid problems later on.

I hope these help. If I missed anything, please let me know :) If you’re a reader and would like to add anything, feel free to add your own advice.

1.) Don’t over embellish the synopsis of your book. Don’t add anything untrue to try and spice it up. Readers will not appreciate this when they find out that you’ve misled them and you will lose a lot more than one reader, you’ll lose your reputation.

2. Don’t post fake reviews. Every author gets nervous when they first start out. A lot of them think that a harmless review or two to help get some attention won’t hurt, but it does. Fake reviews, especially by the author and his/her friends are usually pretty easy to spot. The reviews will be perfect. The reviewers will have only that review in their history and started that day to post the review. The writing style is the same as the authors. The same positive review is posted at multiple sites under different names. At Amazon, the purchase is not authenticated. Of course just because the purchase is authenticated doesn’t mean that the review isn’t fake.

I know it’s frightening to put yourself out there, believe me I know, but don’t set yourself up for failure. If you want real, honest reviews there are ways to get them without destroying your reputation.

3. Don’t buy a review. It’s not worth it and with all the attention that is coming to this unethical practice, you will probably get caught. I would also be hesitant about places that will review your book for a fee. Get an honest review where money doesn’t exchange hands.

4. If you get a bad review, for the love of all that is holy, don’t respond! Don’t have your friends respond or your readers because it will end badly for you and them. People won’t read your book out of fear that you or your readers will trash their review.

5. Stay away from the negativity. Don’t cause any drama for your readers and don’t cause any drama for another author. This can turn on you. Be the bigger person and walk away. You might be in the right, but that won’t matter. Just leave it be. I promise you nothing is worth destroying your online reputation.

6. Don’t delete negative comments from your FB site. Allow readers to share their honest opinion, as long as that’s what it is and not just someone with a chip on their shoulders trying to cause problems. If I get a bad review or a complaint, and I definitely get my fair share of those, I take their criticism to heart and use it to improve the next book.

7. Don’t constantly shove your books down people’s throats. If you’re too busy trying to make a sale, you’re going to miss out on something very important, your readers. I count my blessings every day that  the people that read my books feel comfortable enough to approach me and discuss their opinions. I’ve gained a lot insight into my books through their eyes and because of that, I’ve actually been able to enjoy my characters a lot more.

8. Be careful of publishing contracts that are too good to be true.

9. Have a few people read your book before you publish to get some feedback.

10. Get help editing. I made the mistake of not getting help when I first started out and it was not a pretty sight.

11. Don’t use covers that cause confusion or turn people away because they’re weird, inappropriate, etc. I had really horrible covers for a few years there and I’m still embarrassed about them.

12. Don’t limit your books to one site. Try to publish your books at as many sites as possible so that more readers can have the chance to enjoy your books.

13. If you get a negative review, or several negative reviews, don’t quit! It hurts, I know and it can make you rethink writing, but if writing is something that you truly enjoy, take their criticism and try again! Keep trying until you get it right. It will happen, just stick with it.

14. Don’t let any success you experience go to your head. It’s not a pretty sight and can be a huge turn off to readers. Enjoy your success, just don’t let it cause problems for you.

15. Get to know your readers. I touched on this earlier, but it’s really something that every writer should do. They’re a great asset to have. They’re wonderful people who want to share their thoughts with you and that’s a great gift for a writer to have. Appreciate them.

16. Almost forgot this one. This one is kind of important. Don’t trade favors with other authors. When I first started out there was a forum for authors that I joined. They did a lot of things that I wanted no part of, but one thing that I did stupidly do was helping other authors out by tagging their books for them and in return they did the same for me. After a week I realized that it was a really stupid idea and made no difference whatsoever.

A lot of authors desperate to get attention on their books will do things like tagging, doing a positive review for another author in return for one. There are plenty of authors out there that will trade reviews and post an honest review, but if caught it can be questioned. If you’re going to review a book, do it because you actually read the book because you wanted to read it. Trading reviews can be seen as selling reviews.

Don’t endorse another author unless you truly enjoy their work. I saw this happen when I first started out. An children’s author who had a great following traded endorsements with another writer. Unfortunately, she didn’t do her research and the author that she endorsed wrote about MMF romance, nothing wrong if that’s what you enjoy, but not good to be endorsed on a site for children’s books. It was like watching a train wreck when that all went down. Thankfully most of her readers realized the mistake, but it could have been bad.

That’s all I can think of right now. If anyone has some advice that they’d like to share, please do :)

3 Responses to “Advice on self-publishing”

  1. Ian Seta says:

    #10 & #11…
    I know some people get a bit narky, but I will forgive a lot from an independent author. A few spelling errors and a misplaced comma aren’t really all that big a deal IMO.

    I actually have a paper and ink copy of “Playing for Keeps” with the awful cover. It’s one of my most prized possessions…ain’t nobody getting that off me.

  2. Sarah says:

    First off I would like to tell you that I am a huge fan of yours and that I own all your books. However I am writing you bc I would like to know some more information about how to go about publishing a book. I currently have two stories I am working on and I dont know if they would ever be good enough but I wont know unless I try. So I noticed you post some tips for people but I am unsure of how to go about it. I know that you are very busy but if you could take a few minutes to answer this that would be awesome. Again I love your books especially the Bradfords. Jason made me laugh out loud so many times. Thats what I think makes a grreat writer when you can envoke emotion from someone through something you have connected with. Anyways I look forward to hearing from you. Thank You for your time and for your books

    • R.L. Mathewson says:

      Sarah,

      It can be a very involved process, so let’s start off slowly. First, finish your stories. When they’re done, read and edit them a few times. Then, find a trustworthy person who will be honest with you to give you an opinion. If you can, find several people to do this for you. I would not recommend sites where aspiring authors swap work for reviews and opinions. A lot of people do that, I don’t and wouldn’t. It’s a risk not worth taking. After you get this process completed, i.e. finishing the book, editing it, having a few people read it, write back to me and I’ll help guide you to the next step :)

      -R.L.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe

Back to Top