Every author starts as a newbie, even if they held a job as a writer in some other capacity. The publishing business can be incredibly daunting for a newcomer: many authors work alone without much feedback, so their mistakes, while understandable, are also far too common. Thankfully, most of these mistakes can be easily avoided.

1) Not Paying for Editing

Think you can be your own editor? Think again.

Even the best author needs an editor to help clean up grammar or punctuation errors missed when self-editing. Beyond that, a skilled editor will find holes in the story or even where to break up large paragraphs into smaller, more digestible ones.

Of all the valuable investments an author makes in their business, editing is the most essential.

2) Telling Instead of Showing

The old adage “show, don’t tell” became a cliché for a reason. New authors frequently do it, because it’s in their comfort zone to deliver information that they want readers to know.

There are exceptions to this rule – sometimes we want our reader to know something directly from a character, and it can work. I did this intentionally in the first few chapters of my second novel, Jana, when the main character addresses the reader directly with key back story. But I only did it after opening with action and tension, and soon picked up the narrative again with forward-moving action.

If your story is told in the third person – which is the typical person most authors use – it’s essential to let your characters and their actions do the “telling” rather than actually telling your readers anything. Readers are smart; don’t spell everything out for them.

3) Never Reading Aloud

Want to find out where you’ve made a mistake, or where something doesn’t quite “sound right?” Read your manuscript aloud after you have polished and self-edited. Your errors will leap off the page. You might not know exactly what to call all of them, but you’ll have a much better idea of what to address. Don’t worry: your editor will find more, and that’s as it should be. Remember, you want your book to be as good as it can.

4) Failing to Have a Reader Platform

If you Google the title of this article, “Five Mistakes New Authors Make,” you’ll find plenty of other articles on the subject. But start reading them, and you’ll find that most articles of this type deal entirely with the mechanics of writing…something covered by points one through three here.

However, you won’t always find many practical tips for how to get your voice heard in the din of other new authors, old authors, and everyone else in between. Building a platform for your author business – and it is a business – means doing all the things you need to do to be heard: developing a line of communication with readers and followers by creating an email list, leveraging social media, and so on. You know, all those tacky “marketing” things so many sensitive authors don’t even want to touch, and that even fewer know how to do effectively. Mastering the art of marketing, or having someone to help with it, is essential.

5) Never Planning for the Business of Being a Writer

Want to build a business, not just a book? You should. The business of being an author involves much more than simply having a platform. Self-published authors are frequently overwhelmed, trying to be their own marketing department, public relations firm, and bookkeeper, but that’s just the start. They soon realize it takes a village to build a book, and they need a team.

Fortunately, there are companies out there who can walk authors through the entire publication process while providing world-class marketing and business coaching. Find out more by checking out our services or call (813) 528-2622.

phooey

Hong Kong Phooey and The Casual Racism of the 70s

As kids, my brother and I used to love The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, which ran from the late 50s to the early 70s. The cartoon featured Boris & Natasha, a.k.a., Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, as in “bad enough” and “femme fatale.” The former was a pun on the...
door

The Open Door Of A New Year

Dawn another year, Open it aright; Thou shalt have no fear In its fading light. —Joseph Krauskopf   I read this quote in a meditation book a couple days ago and it kind of stuck with me. Not the exact wording, of course—I mean the overall spirit. After all, the...
weird

And Now, Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Now that I’ve reached the latter half of my sixth decade, I increasingly hear myself begin sentences “Back in the day…” or “I remember when….” It’s weird. In our eternally youth-obsessed culture, growing old itself is just plain weird.  And the current pandemic has...

How Do You Write About Sex—Seriously, Irreverently, or Not At All?

“Writing about sex is like engaging in sex: it’s hard. Or, it should be.” —Sean Murphy   Today I want to talk about fictional scenes where characters either discuss sex or engage in sexual activity. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, because I’m working...

Self-Care for Creatives

Today's post is not about coronavirus, because—let's face it—aren't we all sick of being bombarded with news and info about it all day, every day? The situation is getting worse, and will be for a while before it gets better. Duly noted. However, I do want to give...

Coming Soon: Rides From Strangers

I don't typically recommend blatant self-promotion in blog posts, though I do have a post here somewhere entitled Blatant Self-Promotion...ha! This week, however, I'm getting excited about my upcoming release, and decided it's time to talk about it again. I thought...
music

“Music Hath Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast”

So wrote William Congreve in 1697, and it’s still true today. Of course, not everyone today understands that “hath” meant “has,” or that a “savage breast” was another way of saying “wild heart.” And these days, more music is made to stimulate than to calm.My own...
sanity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #10: Maintaining Some Semblance of Sanity

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. —Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"   Last October, I posted an article on pandemic fatigue, about how 2020 had been exhausting. Ha ha ha! The pandemic was only seven or eight months old by then! Who’da thunk it? I must be some...
family

Forget the Big “Family & Friends” Plan

About three months ago, I wrote a post entitled What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. My idea was to share six lessons from my publishing experience, one for each year in the biz. As time went on, my thinking evolved. I realized these six...
break

You Deserve A Break Today

The last few weeks’ worth of blog posts have been downers, and I appreciate everyone who has read them, sent me messages, and in general been encouraging. This week needs to be lighter. A lot lighter. So I’m going back to one of my favorite topics: writing. I’m on a...