Before getting into the biggest mistakes people make authoring a book, let me share some of the reasons why you should author a book:

  • When you are a published author, people perceive you as an expert.  Your credibility is greatly enhanced.  That also makes you feel more confident, which attracts others to you and further enhances your credibility.
  • When your book is on Amazon, people searching for books on your topic will find you, who you would never know were looking for your expertise.  People searching on Amazon are looking to buy, to solve a problem they have; if your book attracts them, you’ll not only get people to know about you, you’ll get royalties from the sales of your book.
  • There are many ways you can use your book to generate more leads and sales, such as by sending it to your prospects, customers, former customers, colleagues, etc.
  • You can use your book to get speaking engagements and media interviews, getting your message out more broadly.  Event planners and program directors seeking speakers look for those who have published a book.  You’ll be in the stack of applications to be considered first for speaking when you have published a book.
  • You can use content from your book in social media, on your blog, and in videos, and drive more traffic to your website.
  • You can use the content from your book to develop higher ticket programs like group coaching or an online course.

Here are 5 of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen authors make:

  • Thinking you’re going to get rich from selling copies of your book.  Your book is not likely to sell enough copies to make you rich.  You might make a couple thousand dollars from book sales, although most people don’t even clear $1000 in royalties.  For business owners writing a business book, your return on investment will come from the new customers and other products you create from your book that your readers will want to purchase.  My colleague Jay Fiset, for example, made over $4 million from his book, the bulk of which came from the high ticket programs he sold to the readers.  He gave away a ticket to a low cost program in his book, and then sold a high ticket program at that low cost program.  If you want to learn more ways to leverage a book, I have an eBook called Book Magic:  14 Ways to Monetize and Leverage Your Book to Grow Your Business.  Reach out to me at and I’ll send it to you.
  • Failing to think about the results you want to achieve from your book.  I have talked to so many people who, when asked why they want to write their book, respond that they just want to help people, or that others told them they have to write a book.  Writing and publishing a book is time consuming, difficult, exasperating and frustrating at times, and, if done right, costs money.  If the book isn’t really going to help you, then perhaps it’s not a good use of your time to write it.  I remember one person I spoke to who was told by several people, including her husband and some of her close friends, that she had a powerful story to tell and should write a book.  When I asked her how the book would help her, she said it wouldn’t.  Then I asked her if she had a lot of free time to write the book, even though she was running a business.  She replied that she was very busy, and did not have much free time at all.  I then suggested that while she might have a powerful story to share with others, perhaps she would be better off simply creating some notes about the story now, and write the book later when she had the time and could make it a priority.  When you don’t have a strong enough reason for writing your book, chances are you will find yourself putting it off, and not getting it done, so the time you spend thinking about it is wasted.
  • Thinking your book is for everyone.  You may have heard the phrase “the riches are in the niches”.  That is true of books.  You need to determine who your target market is so you can write a book that will resonate with that audience.  A business book that is generally for everyone, or a large subset of everyone, is unlikely to appeal to anyone.  You may have multiple audiences that you want to read your book.  In that case, you are better off writing multiple books, with the title or subtitle of each one specifying the audience the book is written for.
  • Failing to think about marketing.  It’s not enough to identify the objectives you want to achieve from your book.  Just writing and publishing a book will not be enough to reach those objectives.  You have to think about how you will get the word out about your book, and how you will use your book to attain your goals.  For instance, if you want to generate more leads, how will you do that?  Maybe you’ll send a copy of your book to all your prospects and customers.  Create a plan for how and when you’ll do that.  Here is one possible plan: 
  • draft a cover letter by X date,
  • make a list of the people you’ll send the book to by Y date,
  • buy copies of your book as soon as it’s available,
  • send it out within 1 week of publication,
  • follow up with them within 2 weeks of sending the book.

Without a plan, you are much less likely to achieve the results you seek, and it would be a shame for all the effort and money you put into writing and publishing your book to be a waste.

  • Failing to appreciate what is needed beyond getting the book written.  Writing a book is comparable to being pregnant.  Once the manuscript is done, the real work begins, just as when a baby is born.  There are several steps needed to get a book published, and if you aren’t prepared for these, you may not get the quality book you want, or may even give up on getting your book out there.  Here is a brief overview of the key steps:
  • Editing – if your book is going to reflect well on you, it needs to be professionally edited.  One of my clients used her secretary to edit her book.  I had my editor do a sample edit of 5 pages of her book, and he found 8 errors in those 5 pages.  She then agreed that she needed a professional editor to review her book.
  • Layout design – again, if you don’t have a professional layout design, your book probably won’t look good, which will detract from your credibility.  You don’t want your book looking like a Word document between the front and back cover.
  • Cover design – you want a professionally designed cover that will attract people to buy the book.  I’ve worked with several authors who have used relatives or graphic artists to design their cover.  They came to me because their covers were being rejected by Amazon.  If the cover doesn’t meet the publisher’s cover specs, it won’t be accepted, which will cause extra work and delay.
  • Book description – you need an enticing book description to motivate people to buy your book, and you need to include key words or phrases that your target audience is using to search for answers to their challenges.  You also want to use HTML code to make your book description appealing
  • Testimonials – ideally, you should try to get at least 10 testimonials, which means reaching out to at least 50 people.  You can include these in the book, on the back cover, on your website and in marketing material
  • Book marketing – how will you get the word out about your book?  Will you do this yourself, or hire someone to promote your book?  What can you afford to spend?
  • Publication – notice this comes after book marketing, as marketing should start long before your book is published.  What platforms do you want your book published on?  Do you have the time and ability to figure out how to get your book on those platforms?  Amazon, for instance, is free to get your book on, but there are many ways to do it wrong, and either Amazon won’t accept your book files or they’ll be there but no one can find your book.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, SkillBites can help.  There’s some good resources on the SkillBites website, and you can sign up on the Get Me Started page for a complimentary consultation, and I’ll help you figure out what you need to do.