I’ve read many self-published books and looked at even more. Too many of them scream “Self-published!” This distresses me. I love self-publishing and the many options it offers, but I loathe seeing it done poorly. This begins a series of posts on the Errors of Self-Publishing.
The primary error of self-publishing is poor content
This is the quickest way to doom a book to failure. Doing everything else right cannot overcome inferior material, be it bad writing, a weak concept, or a flawed storyline or structure.
Bad Writing: Everyone can write, but not many can write well, and only a few can write great. And it takes great writing to succeed. Too many (perhaps most) self-published writers publish too soon. They need to hone their craft and polish their work first.
Weak Concept: Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a shoddy premise won’t hold readers’ attention. A memoir detailing everything the author eats for a year won’t fly. A novel about a lazy dog that sleeps too much won’t garner attention. An academic treatise on the 97 reasons why people need to dream won’t gain traction.
Flawed Storyline or Structure: I’ve seen all kinds of errors in books. In novels, storyline flaws include impossible actions, unrealistic plot twists, unexplained character shifts, and conflicts that never existed or resolve themselves. In non-fiction, structure flaws include failing to follow the book’s stated premise, presenting fiction as fact, not fact-checking, logic errors, and inconsistent presentation.
Having great content is the first key to self-publishing success.
I encourage authors to consider self-publishing, while at the same time I beg them to do professionally. This starts with great content.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.