I have a confession to make.
I’m a perfectionist.
I struggle with having mistakes, but I’m going, to be honest with you.
I made mistakes while publishing my debut poetry book, seven years.
But this is a learning process, and I will use these mistakes to know what to not do in the future. And I want to help other poets avoid these mistakes as well.
Keep reading, and I’ll fill you in on the mistakes I made and how you can avoid them in your self-publishing journey.
Not Investing More in a Graphic Designer
If you’ve wanted to be a published author, you’ve probably dreamed about what your book cover would look like. I had dreamed about having the perfect cover, but as a self-published author, I had to bear the burden of all of the book publishing costs.
That’s why I decided to go with a cheaper design artist on Fiverr, but looking back, I wish I had spent the extra $80 on a better designer. The designer didn’t really know how to bring my vision to life, and the whole process was very frustrating. I ended up having my brother fix the cover and turn it into what it is today.
If I had gone with the original cover, my book would’ve screamed, “I’m a self-published poetry book!”
I was also on a tight deadline because I had set a date that was sooner than it maybe should’ve been. I needed the cover in order to upload it on BookSirens and Voracious Readers Only so that I could start sending it out to advanced readers. So there was a lot riding on the cover, especially since I wanted to start marketing it. However, the designer did not meet the deadline, and then I had to wait a few more days as my brother spent time updating and fixing it.
It was one of the most stressful parts of the publishing process because it was all out of my control. I hired a graphic designer because I don’t have the experience, and I wanted someone to handle it all for me, but I paid for it and still had to handle most of the cover design myself anyway. So next time, I will spend more time vetting my designer or just paying more for quality covers and work.
Spending Time Emailing Book Bloggers for Reviews
I mentioned earlier that I was working on getting advanced reader copies out so that I could generate early reviews for my book. When I uploaded it to BookSirens, they gave me a list of book bloggers and reviewers that I could reach out to for free.
However, I spent way too much time going through all of their websites trying to find contact information, more info on what types of books they read, how much they charge or don’t charge, what the requirements were, and even more. This took up a lot of time to go through each one and send personalized messages to each.
However, I only received emails or responses back from three or four of them. I don’t know how many readers their website gets, so I don’t know if it was successful or not. In the future, I will contact the ones who replied to me, but in the end, it felt like a waste of my time.
I had more luck paying for the Voracious Readers Only service and reaching out to bookstagrammers. I also created an Excel sheet of all the readers who read for me so that I can reach out to them in the future and streamline this process a little bit more.
I still recommend getting advanced readers, but make sure that you spend your time sourcing them from the right place.
Choosing the Wrong Date for the E-book Preorder
If you were paying attention, you probably noticed the eBook version of seven years went live on September 25th. That is because I didn’t fully understand the calendar date when I was setting up the book.
When I tried to set up the eBook for preorder, the option said, “Enter the date you would like your book to be available to readers. Amazon will allow customers to pre-order your book before it is available.” For some reason, I didn’t register in my head that this is the date that it would go live. I thought it was the date I wanted it to be on Amazon for people to preorder.
Either way, I selected August 25th, as I wanted it on the site so I could get a link for people to post reviews. Well, I soon found out that August 25th was going to be the date when it was live and post-preorder.
I went back into the KDP dashboard to try and move the date to my original date of October 11th. However, Amazon will only let you move the date once, and you could only move it out one month in advance, hence where September 25th came from.
I had the option to move my preorder date to October 11th. However, Amazon will penalize you for moving it a second time. If I had done that, then I wouldn’t have been able to set up any more preorders on my account for a year.
So be careful when you’re setting up your poetry eBook preorders, and choose the date that you actually want the preorders to go out.
Not Understanding Ingram Spark Ordering
I wish I could tell you that this was the only time I had misread something. But I did it again on Ingram Sparks as well. I uploaded my book on Ingram Sparks so that I could order author copies without having to publish my book early on Amazon.
Spoiler alert: I had to publish it early anyway.
But when you order your books on Ingram Spark before your publication date, you’ll have two options: hold until the on-sale date or override the on-sale date.
If you hold the book until the sale date, that means your book won’t even start printing until that time. So I had my publishing date as October 11th. When I checked that option, my book wasn’t going to start printing until October 11th, but I needed copies for a poetry book signing on October 8th. To solve that problem, I updated the publishing date in Ingram Sparks to trigger it to print right away.
I still wasn’t sure if they would come on time, so I had to make my book live on Amazon and order copies through my Prime account. I had considered ordering author copies from the KDP portal, but their shipping was too late as well.
The Ingram Sparks books did end up coming on time, but it was very stressful, and a little detail that I just missed. So when ordering author copies before your print date, choose the overriding sale date.
Not Hiring a Copy Editor
When I did get the final copies after all of the ordering issues, I did notice just a few typos. I had caught quite a few when ordering the proofs, but I only caught a few small ones here and there. They weren’t too obvious, but in hindsight, I wish I would’ve hired a poetry copy editor.
Most of the poems were workshopped, so I wasn’t worried about the structure of the book and the content. However, catching typos here and there can be challenging when you’re so familiar with the poems and have been staring at them for too long.
If you want to avoid this mistake, I’m offering poetry editing services that can help your final manuscript error-free!
Waiting too Long to Publish
This wasn’t detrimental to the success of my book, and it wasn’t necessarily a mistake. However, I will file it under my regrets. These poems have been written for a few years now, and I just didn’t know what avenue to take to get my poems published.
I was scared of putting them out there and having all of this work rejected. I didn’t know what I was going to do if a traditional publisher turned me down. I was scared to self-publish because I saw it as cheating. I didn’t know if people were going to like my poems, and I was worried about criticism.
However, all of the support and love that I’ve received on this journey has made me wish that I had started this journey earlier. However, I’m glad that I’m starting it now. This honestly feels like the beginning of something new and exciting. I feel like I’ve finally found my purpose. And if you want to do the same, I’m here to help you on that journey.
Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, and some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.