You’ve pressed ‘Publish’ on your book. (Yesssss!)

Now what?

What if you’ve messed up somewhere?

How will you know?

What if you only sell 2 copies and they are because your mum and aunt bought your book..?

This blog will tell you the common mistakes self-published authors make and why, and of course, how to overcome them.

What we do.

We are Hackney and Jones, writers and publishers.  

We have published fiction, non-fiction and have a massive range of kid’s activity books.

Our range of activity books:

Click on image to view on Amazon.

Our range of fiction books:

Click image to view on amazon

We have made lots of mistakes along the way. Some have cost us with time and others with money.

 Self publishing: is it a bad idea?

You have a choice.

When you write your first draft, you could pitch it to an agent to try and get represented or… you could go over to the ‘dark side’ and choose to self-publish.

I talk about the challenges of Self-publishing in another blog (click here)

But, when you self-publish, you take full credit when things go right and full responsibility for when things go wrong.

But let’s try and limit the things going wrong, shall we?

There are a lot of self-published authors out there. Some sell a few copies a month and others are killing it.

I will guarantee that both types will have messed up at some point.

I will let you in on our mistakes and those authors who from my Twitter following or from the Facebook page SPF (Self Publishing Formula) who were kind enough to share their experience.

Self-Published books you may have heard of:

The Martian

Still Alice

Fifty Shades of Grey.

Self-Published authors who are smashing it.

Mark Dawson

Amanda Hocking

Simon McCleave

Rachel Abbott

Craig Martelle.

Vanity publishing.

What is it?

In a nut shell, it’s you paying for a publishing house to publish your books.

Why do people think it is good?

There’s still (yawn) a stigma surrounding people who self-publish.

(Once people realise the lucrative potential, they won’t have a stigma!)

Some may get confused and think that vanity publishing and self-publishing are the same or that the ONLY reason you self-publish is that your books aren’t good enough to be taken up by a publishing house.

Don’t get me wrong.

There are some shockingly bad books out there (traditionally published and self-published).

We (as in Hackney and Jones) choose to self-publish as we love all aspects of the writing and publishing journey and to create all kinds of books to their very best quality.

Basically. If you just want to concentrate on the writing, then it would be in your best interest to seek a publishing deal. If you, like us, really want to roll up your sleeves to get involved in every aspect, why not try self-publishing?

Vanity Publishing – what you need to watch out for.


Sorry for ‘shouting’ but I’ve been ripped off before (in a few areas of business in the past and can recognise a scam a mile off now) and I genuinely don’t want you to get ripped off and pay out huge sums of money to get your ‘dream’.

What does this look like?

Some vanity publishers may have ‘seen your work’ and contact you – red flag. This is them fishing.

They will promise to publish you- at a cost.

So you will be all excited at the thought of receiving a box of your very first books being published.

That is a beautiful experience.

But that is likely to be it. You will literally have just paid to be published.

You will still have to do all the marketing and have to split any royalties with them.

Back in the day, I received a song writing publishing deal that offered to ‘publish’ my music and keep a lot of the royalities and own the rights. It was only when I did my research that I saw that they never did any promotion. So because I’m such a go-getter, if I did get royalties from radio-play (which I did) and I had have gone with this publishing company, I would have worked my arse off with writing all the letters, emails etc. and a publisher would do nothing, but still make money from my music.

Doesn’t exactly sound fair, right?

Click to listen to my music

Vanity book publishers tend to do the same. I can’t and won’t name them as I don’t want to be sued, but if you get approached by a publisher (that is not one of the big, recognisable publishing houses) I would either do A LOT of research, ask around (including in the Facebook groups) and or… run a mile!

Getting out of contracts is a long and hard journey, avoiding one is much less of a headache! Please, please take my word for this. I’ve been there.

So, I asked twitter and Facebook-

What are some of the common self-publishing mistakes?

Doing the front cover yourself


You got a ‘B’ in art at school, why shouldn’t you do your front cover yourself?

Designing front covers for books is art and business itself. Unless you are doing it over and over again and investing in the latest graphic design software, I wouldn’t bother.

Nowadays, Amazon is swamped with books. It’s easier now than ever to publish which means, your reader has more choice.

Why on earth would somebody gamble on your book if it looks like it was designed in 5 minutes by an amateur.

You wouldn’t invest in a book like this as a reader, right?

Does this look like a professional has done it?

I did another blog on this as to why front covers DO matter.

(Click here to access that)

To be considered up against the best, you have to emulate the best.

Yes, it can be expensive, but if you get an awesome front cover, you get eyeballs on your book, and more eyeballs will lead to more clicks, and more clicks WILL inevitably lead to more sales.

It’s harsh, brutal but the truth.

Our front covers have been done and re-done over time as we learned more.

A great website to go on is 99 designs and choose the most expensive (which means the better graphic designer) you can afford.

Also, if you want the best of the best, choose BooksCovered with Stuart Bache who designs for the very best writers out there.

Book covers designed by Books Covered.

He does this day in and day out and knows what works, while you can concentrate on what you do best – writing.

Double/triple your chance of earning money – don’t just release an e-book.


You’re busy and probably so relieved to have finished your book that you just want to get it out there … and then get drunk.

It’s sooo much easier to upload your book as an e-book you don’t have to deal with the added faff of uploading the paperback. (This used to do my head in!)

But if you only upload it as an e-book and that’s it, you will have left money on the table.

 There is still a MASSIVE paperback market out there, not to mention audiobook market.

Click here to access ACX

I put off getting our books made into audiobooks for ages!

I believed that it was ‘just too complicated’ to be dealing with right now.

But we earn well with our audiobooks and since we have branched out into doing activity books and notebooks, most of our monthly earnings are from paperbacks!

Can you imagine if we left those markets alone?

Click here to start your audiobook journey with ACX.

(We choose the royalty share option)

Ask every man and his dog that you know to buy and review your books.

Why?  What’s wrong with this?

A couple of things…

Of course it is lovely for you to be supported by those closest to you. There’s nothing better when you see that somebody has bought your book and sent you a picture of it.


Amazon is clever. Very clever. It knows what you like and what you buy and will recommend you things it knows you are interested in.

For instance, I buy a lot of inspirational books, marketing books and autobiographies. So when I go on amazon, right away, it is recommending these types of products to me as I have bought them before.


If you have relatives or friends who are ‘supporting’ you and buy your book but they never normally buy that type of product/book, it confuses amazon.

They will start recommending things to people who are not really interested and people won’t buy and it’s a waste of everybody’s time.

Amazon will lose out, the customer’s experience won’t be as good as they will think ‘why am I being recommended crime fiction all of sudden?’ (when they normally buy romance fiction.

We made this mistake.

We were asking everybody to buy it. And yes, some did which was nice, but if it wasn’t their usual genre, it would confuse amazon, we would in fact be hurting our chance of success as many people, despite all the will in the world won’t buy EVERY single book you release, especially if you’re prolific and your genre isn’t their cup of tea.

Ok, so what do I do?

Market and sell to the audience who love your genre.

They are easy to find. Join facebook group that include your genre, follow people on twitter who love your genre (they are likely to follow you back) so you end up creating an audience entirely of people who are waiting for books like yours.

Go to facebook, and type in ‘Crime Fiction’ and join the groups. DON’T SPAM though, get a feel for what readers want.

Amazon are then likely to be recommend your book via another author in your genre on amazon and are more likely to buy because it’s ‘their thing’.

If you write crime and sell to a crime fiction market, amazon will recommend your book to crime fiction fans.

It’s a WIN-WIN for everybody.

Not putting enough effort into the process.

This was a popular one.

Many people said (and I appreciate their honestly) that they simply didn’t put as much effort into getting the book properly edited and/or proofread.

In some ways, it’s understandable as it is expensive.


It is a mistake to skimp on quality at this stage especially after you have put in all that effort to get the book complete.

Even to get to this stage is rare.

Around 80% of Americans have said they ‘have a book’ in them, but probably only around 1% or less of those have actually completed a book.

So you’re already in an elite club.

Why skimp now?

If you do and either edit yourself which you shouldn’t as you are ‘too close’ to the book and won’t see the glaring errors, you will pay for it in reviews- trust me!

People have no issue in stating that there were ‘loads of typos’ or ‘things that didn’t make sense’ or ‘too many plotholes’.

Luckily (and through hard work and investment) we have had those reviews, but I’ve seen them and they are harsh! And they will have an effect on sales.

People may overlook somebody’s opinion of a storyline as that is subjective, but if a book is filled with errors, why would a reader then still invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself.

You can avod the 1 star reviews for errors if you simple hold off pressing ‘publish’ until you at least get it professionally edited (at the very least).

We use Gary at BubbleCow (if you go with him, tell him I said hi!) as we found him affordable but an amazing service.

He spots things we didn’t know existed! He has no doubt taken our books to another level.

After that, we run it by people who are in the field (we are working with a former murder detective for our Rachel  Morrison series) to make sure our police procedures are as accurate as can be, and then we send it for beta reading and proofreading.

Are our books perfect?


Nobody’s are. You will always find an error if you go looking. I strive for progress and consistency over perfection.

If you strive for perfection, you will never press publish, but, our books go through a very thorough process to make them the absolutely best they can be.

And only then we press the beautiful ‘Publish’ button…

And then…

We go again.

Good luck on your self-publishing journey!

See you in the next one,

Vicky and Claire x

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