Mistakes I Made As A First Time Author

When I first started out as a first-time author I was overwhelmed about what I should do. There’s so much information out there saying do this, do that and about what you should do in regards to editing, cover design, and marketing. It’s hard for anyone to know what they should do given how many opinions there are on what you should be doing.

This is not a post about what you should or should not do. Just to highlight some of the mistakes I’ve made. Most of these were financial ones.

Here are the five mistakes I made as a first-time author.

1. I paid way too much for editing. That’s a bit of an understatement! I was conned out of a lot of money for editing I didn’t need and the amount I paid. I met my two “editors” in the writing group I used to attend. They appeared professional and had good reviews so I thought I’d give them ago. When I got the quote, I was shocked and wish I’d followed my instincts and gone with someone else. I paid for a copy edit, developmental edit and proofread. This was supposed to take 4 months but eventually turned into an entire year. One single round of editing took 8 months!

Now I’m a professional editor myself now so I can appreciate that editing takes time but I was lucky to get one chapter a month from them without any kind of explanation. I didn’t get a developmental editor – in the end, I got barely more than a proofread. They completely messed up my manuscript and actually created more mistakes than there already was. The worse thing was they were people I trusted, but turned out to only be people out to get my money.

2. I used a paid beta reader. Again this service was through my so-called editors. I didn’t know much about beta readers at the time and thought it would be good to have someone unbiased give me feedback. What I got instead was a joke. The woman told me I should make my novel like another author’s and thought it was about vampires. This was ridiculous as I only had one vampire in it who appeared in only three scenes.

3. I didn’t have any kind of budget. I know that publishing should be treated like a business and business should be budgeted for. I just did whatever and spent money on things I didn’t need.

4. I paid for formatting. I had not one but two formatters. This cost ms a lot of wasted time and money on things I could have done myself. The first formatter was from Fiverr and she corrupted my files. The second one was a company who I hired to fix the problem and didn’t. In the end, I did find a professional formatter who did a good job.

5. I brought and gave away too much stuff. I brought bookmarks, key rings, and notebooks for my first book. I also gave away paperbacks and this all cost me a small fortune in postage. Most people didn’t seem very interested in the bookmarks or keyrings even though I had a lovely person from my writing group design and make them for me. I think it’s best just to get bookmarks and maybe give away a couple of paperbacks. Keep postage to your own country as international postage costs a lot.

I spent too much money on things I didn’t need. I think it’s definitely a good idea to have a budget and have a plan in place whenever you start publishing. Don’t pay for editing you don’t need and don’t go for things you can’t afford.

You may think after all the hassle and problems I had on my way to publishing would actually have put me off. But I learnt some value lessons from that experiences both about business and publishing. Any author is bound to make mistakes when they first start out, but I think it’s how you learn from those mistakes that is important.

Thankfully working on my second book was much easier, I got to work with a proper professional editor and hopefully know more about what I’m doing now.

What mistakes did you make as a first-time author? If any?

Photo by opensourceway

About Tiffany Shand

7 thoughts on “Mistakes I Made As A First Time Author

  • 22/02/2016 at 10:04 pm
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    I am not an author but would like to tell my childhood story some day so At least now I know what to stay away from.

  • 22/02/2016 at 11:41 pm
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    Some great advice. People don’t know what they don’t know.

  • 24/02/2016 at 2:10 am
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    invaluable tips here for the first-time author, which is me. 🙂 I am taking your advice to heart.:)

  • 28/03/2016 at 4:59 pm
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    Only just saw this. I remember hearing that they were editing your novel and roughly how much they charged and being a little sickened by it. I’ve been fortunate in a sense, because I do a lot of fan fiction as practice and that community is full of people willing to beta to help improve their own abilities, so I’ve been edited by some wonderful people. So when it came to our anthology and I got my notes back from their editing round I already knew that they weren’t great. But it was a situation, I’m sure you’ll appreciate, where I didn’t want to talk them down or make out I was better than them when I was new to the group, and didn’t have the experience behind me, and knew that there was a possibility I was the only one feeling that way because of that previous experience. I think I only really accepted some of their comments because I wasn’t invested in the anthology piece.

    I’m so sorry that you had to pay such a high price for this kind of lesson. I would love to believe that the events of the last twelve months would mean that they’ve stopped the things they were doing – you’re not the only one they took for a ride – but it’s likely that they’ve found more people to fool. I guess while self-publishing is so ambiguous and while there’s such a huge market for it, there will always be charlatans around. Definitely go with your gut from now on x

  • 28/03/2016 at 5:26 pm
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    Thanks. I learnt a lot by training to be an editor myself and their techniques are just awful. I’d certainly never treat my clients that way. They even undid some of my basic grammar. Got my book proofread again and it’s in much better condition now. Yes, I definitely go with my gut now. I just hope they don’t take anyone else for a ride. I did learn a lot from the experience though.

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