By Gerry Aldridge
As a first-time author, The publishing journey has been exhilarating, but also fraught with potholes and potential traps. Although making mistakes is part of the process, you can minimize them by reading about other authors’ experiences, so I thought I’d share part of my own journey with you.
Faux Pas 1- Publishing your book before you have seen a marked difference in the quality of your writing:
All skills need time and practice to perfect. If you care about producing the best work you can, then don´t rush into publishing, or you will regret it down the line. You must be disciplined enough to accept the fact that you need some training before you are able to go public. Very few of us, if any, are born with instant talent.
Faux Pas 2- Using Dear Sir or Madam:
Surprising as it may seem, this generic way of formally addressing bloggers does not go down well; bloggers appreciate your taking the time to look around their blogs, to find out their names (although, some I feel make it particularly challenging).
Faux Pas 3- Sending a proposal to a blog of a different genre:
This is such an easy trap to fall into, especially when you’ve come across a list of fifty bloggers and you feel compelled to contact as many as possible, as quickly as you can. Getting caught up in this particular marketing madness seems to happen to a lot of self-publishing authors.When you begin to form relationships with the real professionals, you learn that less is actually more. Take the time to look at each blog, and only target bloggers who may have a genuine interest in your genre.
Faux Pas 4- Sending generic e-mails:
These are easily spotted and discourteous. Devoting a little extra effort to personalize an e-mail is not a waste of time and is appreciated. You can include phrases like “I notice you mentioned an interest in…….” to show that you have actually read some of the blog and profile page, or “as mentioned on your blog…” You can still keep the bulk of your professionally drafted letter.
Faux Pas 5- Self-promoting in FB groups that don´t allow it:
This happens when you unwittingly fall into the whirlwind of self-promotion practiced by so many, even successful authors, and you become convinced it is the right thing to do. It is not! You may have spent the last few weeks searching for FB groups that could be interested in your book, and you might even have been smart enough to find some that may indirectly be connected with your story. However, having two hundred different groups should not make you too busy to bother reading their policies before you post. You will be forgiven at first, but then you will be blocked and lose friends if members view you only as self-serving.
Faux Pas 6- Responding to negative views:
I actually made the mistake of wanting to explain myself kindly and intelligently to a reader who left a negative review, in the hope of changing his mind. Don’t challenger a reviewer, You risk walking headlong into a minefield, from which you will leave more bruised than you were before. In my case, I just gave a hater more of an opportunity to hate.
And it works both ways. I do not recommend contacting strangers and thanking them for a nice review, either. Uninvited contact with people could only have a negative impact and distance you from a potential fan.
Faux Pas 7- Misusing Google+ (An ongoing conundrum for me):
Google+ communities take their rules and policies a lot more seriously than FB groups, and in my experience they are a lot less tolerant of newbies. The main problem here was leaving links to my blog with what I thought were interesting articles or my own quotes. It seems that some people are averse to anything that could be interpreted as self-promotion, so make sure you read their policies before posting. I still haven’t worked out how to use Google+ correctly– I am still finding my own wall filled with repeat posts, which I have sent to different places, and it looks very spammy. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
Faux Pas 8- Using certain templates to design your book cover:
I actually made a good cover using an old photograph and the CreateSpace cover design tool, which received a lot of positive feedback. However, I came across a site offering fantastic templates to make your cover look professional and stand out from the rest. Big mistake. The first person who used the template probably had great success, but by the time the fiftieth person has used it, the marketing agencies have become bored with it. BookBub was actually very kind and explained that this was the reason they had turned me down – they’d seen the template before somewhere and it didn’t look original enough.
Faux Pas 9- Separating FB accounts:
With the best intentions, and still in newbie status enough not to know about the various privacy settings available, I thought my friends and family were being inundated with my book promos. So, I decided to create two FB accounts and save them the time I imagined they spent, having to delete all the repetitive messages. All I managed to do, was upset the people that cared about me and alienate them from most of my writing life. Luckily, my friends are starting to creep back onto my business account and getting involved again, but it was not a pleasant experience.
Faux Pas 10- Don’t Beat Yourself Up:
Making mistakes is called learning. Reflect on the error and move on to continue your wonderful journey as a writer.