Common Mistakes to Avoid on the Road to Book Publication

When you’re a new writer on the road to being a published author, it’s easy to make publishing mistakes. As in any endeavor, there is always a learning curve in the publication process. What’s important is that you recognize and rectify these missteps early on so that you will have a successful and fulfilling book publication.

To avoid falling into author pitfalls and committing book publication errors, it is essential that you understand the publishing process thoroughly. And who better to learn from than authors who have gone through what you are experiencing right now? These authors have navigated the book publication process and weathered numerous storms. But in the end, they have emerged successful in making their publication dreams come true.

Their secret? Making sure to avoid the following common mistakes committed by authors on the road to book publication:

Mistake #1: Failing to conduct research on the genre and market

Understanding the market and where your book fits within it is a crucial part of the book publication process. Some writers make the mistake of disregarding genre conventions or failing to research the current trends in the publishing industry. They publish without understanding the demand, competition, and target audience for their book. This approach usually results in poor book sales.

If you’re going the traditional publishing route, you have to take note that agents and publishers are looking for books that fit into established categories and have the potential to meet the demands of the market. If you’re going the self-publishing route, this awareness is equally vital. Knowing your target audience and positioning your book within the relevant market niche is key to effective self-promotion and discoverability. In either case, a thorough understanding of the publishing landscape enhances your ability to tailor your work to the preferences and expectations of your target audience.

Mistake #2: Cutting corners on cover design

Although it has been said that you cannot judge a book by its cover, the reality is that readers often do. Your book’s cover is the first thing they see. Of course they will judge your book through it. With this situation, investing in a professional design cannot be overstated. A well-crafted cover is one that captures the attention of readers and communicates the essence of your story. It is one way of conveying a sense of professionalism.

Cutting corners on this aspect may undermine the potential of your book, as readers may pass it by without discovering its interesting and thought-provoking content. This could result in missed opportunities for attracting your target audience and impacting the overall success of your book.

Mistake #3: Neglecting the editing process

One of the most common mistakes aspiring authors make is underestimating the importance of editing. A polished manuscript is essential for capturing the attention of publishers and readers. Typos, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies can distract readers and undermine your credibility as a writer. An error-filled book isn’t worth reading, is it? You should invest time and, if possible, money in professional editing services to ensure your manuscript is in its best possible shape before submission.

Remember, editing is not just about fixing technical errors; it’s also about refining the narrative flow, strengthening character development, and ensuring the overall coherence of your story. The writer Emma Hill has an appropriate description of editing: “The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.”

Viewing the editing process as an investment in the quality and marketability of your work can significantly enhance your chances of standing out in a competitive publishing landscape.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the importance of an author platform

Building an author platform is crucial if you aim to attract the attention of publishers and readers. In today’s digital age, your online presence is a valuable asset. There are many ways you can establish an online presence—you can create a professional website; social media profiles on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook; and a mailing list for your avid supporters. Creating consistent and engaging content across these platforms is also a way to showcase your writing skills and allows you to connect with your audience directly.

It’s not just about being present; it’s about actively engaging with your audience and building a community around your work.

Mistake #5: Submitting to disreputable publishers

Before submitting a manuscript to a publisher, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and ensure the publisher is reputable and a good fit for your book. You should read reviews, check publisher websites, and ask questions to gauge the publisher’s reputation and quality.

Many fly-by-night publishers exist nowadays, and you must protect yourself from these people. Protecting your intellectual property and ensuring a mutually beneficial publishing relationship should be part of your priorities.

Mistake #6: Disregarding networking

Networking within the publishing industry can be invaluable for you. Attending book fairs, conferences, and workshops can provide you with opportunities to connect with industry professionals, agents, and other authors. Networking can also provide valuable insights into the publishing process and help you navigate the industry more effectively.

Building a network provides you with the opportunity to stay informed about industry trends and gain support from like-minded individuals. You should view networking as a collaborative exchange where shared knowledge and support can propel your publishing journey to new heights.

Mistake #7: Not seeking professional assistance

If you’re a first-time author, the process of book publication can be complex and overwhelming. Seeking professional help, whether in the form of literary agents, editors, or writing coaches, can greatly increase the likelihood of success. These professionals can provide guidance, feedback, and industry knowledge that can streamline the book publication process.

Collaborating with experts not only enhances the quality of your work but also increases your chances of securing a publishing deal. When you recognize the value of professional assistance early in your writing journey, the path to publication can be more manageable.

Mistake #8: Allowing ego to take precedence

Yes, you will become a published author soon. Yes, your book will hit the bookshelves of libraries and bookstores. Yes, it might become a bestseller. These thoughts and more can fuel a sense of accomplishment, but it’s essential to tread carefully. Allowing an inflated ego to overshadow the realities of the writing and publishing process can lead to complacency and a resistance to constructive feedback. If you let ego to take precedence, your personal and professional growth will be hindered.

There is always room for growth and improvement, whether you are a first-time or seasoned author, and you should acknowledge that. The journey to becoming a successful author should be a humbling and enriching experience.

Mistake #9: Rushing the publication process

It’s important to take the time to do things right and avoid rushing through the publishing process. While the excitement of completing a manuscript may fuel the desire to see it in print quickly, hastily navigating the publishing stages can lead to oversights and missed opportunities. Thorough editing, careful consideration of publishing options, and strategic planning for promotion are vital steps that require time and attention.

Charles Finch, the best-selling author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, makes a valid point:

To me, the single biggest mark of the amateur writer is a sense of hurry.

Hurry to finish a manuscript, hurry to edit it, hurry to publish it. It’s definitely possible to write a book in a month, leave it unedited, and watch it go off into the world and be declared a masterpiece. It happens every fifty years or so.

For the rest of us, the single greatest ally we have is time. There’s no page of prose in existence that its author can’t improve after it’s been in a drawer for a week. The same is true on the macro level—every time I finish a story or a book, I try to put it away and forget it for as long as I can. When I return, its problems are often so obvious and easy to fix that I’m amazed I ever struggled with them.

Amateur writers are usually desperate to be published, as soon as possible. And I understand that feeling—you just want it to start, your career, your next book, whatever. But I wonder how many self-published novels might have had a chance at getting bought, and finding more readers, if their authors had a bit more patience with them?

When you resist the urge to rush, you can ensure that your work is polished and well-prepared for the discerning eyes of readers.

Mistake #10: Excessively worrying about the process instead of enjoying it

The process of publishing a book is supposed to be an exciting and gratifying experience, but what usually happens is that it becomes a source of excessive worry and anxiety for authors. Some of the reasons why authors feel this way are as follows:

  • Perfectionism. As an aspiring author, you are understandably passionate about your work and want it to be flawless. However, this drive for perfection can lead to endless revisions, second-guessing decisions, and a constant fear of making mistakes. While it is important to strive for excellence, it is crucial to remember that perfection is unattainable. Learning to embrace imperfections and let go of the need for absolute perfection can help reduce anxiety and promote a more positive and enjoyable book publication experience.
  • Fear of rejection. Publishing a book involves sharing it with the world, which, understandably, can be intimidating. The fear of rejection can take over, causing you to question your abilities, doubt your writing, and worry about whether your work will be well-received. It is important to remember that publishing a book is a subjective process, and not everyone will resonate with it. Instead of dwelling on potential rejections, you should focus on honing your craft, connecting with readers, and building a strong author platform.
  • Comparison and self-doubt. The publishing world is filled with talented and successful authors. This constant exposure to accomplished peers can ignite feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. You may compare yourself to others and wonder if your work measures up. Instead of comparing yourself to others, be inspired by them. Remember that you also have a unique voice and perspective to offer.
  • Lack of support and guidance. Many authors embark on the book publication process on their own, without any formal guidance or support. This can make them feel isolated and overwhelmed, leading to excessive worry and anxiety. Seeking support from writing groups, attending workshops, or seeking guidance from publishing professionals can provide you with the necessary tools, knowledge, and support to navigate the publication process more effectively. By connecting with others who understand the challenges involved, you can alleviate some of the worry and enjoy the journey more.

In the road to book publication, self-care should be prioritized. Be open to asking others for support, and embrace the uniqueness of your own writing.


The road to book publication is rife with challenges. As an aspiring author, you should be quick to avoid committing the abovementioned mistakes or be prepared to face these challenges head-on. In doing so, you ensure that your publication journey is marked by growth and resilience. It would be a much more meaningful experience, one that not only culminates in the realization of your publishing goals but also shapes you into a more adept and seasoned writer who is ready to navigate the complexities of the literary world with confidence and grace.

As Ernest Hemingway wisely noted, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Embrace the learning process, stay dedicated to honing your craft, and remember that every step—even the challenges—contributes to the artistry of your journey toward becoming a published author.

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