Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and when I look back at my time as an author, there are so many things I wish I’d known then that I know now, lessons that I’ve learned the hard way. Here are just 10!

1. Before you become a writer, become a critical reader.

At the moment, I have over a thousand ebooks on the Kindle app. Many of these books I’ve read, enjoyed and left a review. However, there are some books which I couldn’t finish for whatever reason. With fiction books, it could be that the first chapter didn’t grab me, but most of the time, it was because I just didn’t like or care about the characters. With non-fiction books, it’s a little harder. If I had been a little bit more critical in my reading, I might have picked up on what worked with some books and what didn’t for others. So, for example, I loved the whole concept of Storybrand by Donald Miller but struggled to read The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Knowing what makes a reader finish a book is so important because when a reader finishes a book, especially an ebook on Kindle, Amazon automatically asks for a review, and even if they just click on the stars, it counts.

2. Before you become an author, become a writer.

Before I published my first book, I’d been an IT Trainer who used to write dry user guides. I could write, but I wasn’t a writer. It’s taken years of watching what works, posting on social media and blogging to learn how to write better. I’ve still so much to learn, but I’m getting better.

3. Start with a goal in mind.

When I teach others how to publish their own books, the first thing I ask is what their goal is for their book because that goal has a huge impact on the amount of work needed before the book is published, especially when it comes to marketing and launching your book. If your only goal is to have your book in your hand, then that’s a whole different process than wishing your book got into the bestseller lists. When I started out, just getting the book published was the goal, but as I’ve published more books, I wanted more from them,

4. Be clear on what you want to happen next.

This is so important for non-fiction authors. What do you want the person who read your book to do next? Do you want them to sign up to your email list, join a group coaching programme, buy your workbook, leave a review or something else completely? For non-fiction books especially, think of your book as your lowest-priced offer. What is the next thing on your value ladder, and how do you get your readers to take the next step?

5. Low content doesn’t mean low value.

One of the most successful Gratitude Journals on Amazon is one page that has been copied and pasted X number of times. That doesn’t take away from the design of that one page or the impact that book has had on it’s readers. When you create a really useful book, low content does not mean low value.

6. Respect other people’s intellectual property.

I’ve got a couple of books published via BookBoon, and at the time, they were free to download. So, some enterprising sh*t decided to upload that free book, add a book cover (with my name still on it) and upload it to Amazon. I picked up on it quickly and got it taken down, but it was really frustrating. Intellect property comes in different forms, but in relation to books, that’s usually the fonts used, quotes and the images used. If you didn’t create it or say it, then check on the copyright around it. Amazon has, and will continue to do so, asked the authors of books to show that they had permission from the copyright holder to use the image/s in a book’s cover page. If you can’t prove permission, then that book will be taken down, and you risk Amazon closing your whole account.

7. People do judge a book by its cover.

We’re often told not to do this, but the book cover image is the first clue to what it’s about, and it will usually be the reason why someone clicks on a link to find out more about a book before they buy it. In most cases, it can be a false economy to get a cheap book cover or even to try and do it yourself. That being said, Canva has some great templates that provide a starting point for creating a polished book cover and some sellers on places like Fiverr do book covers day in and day out and have become really good at it!

8. Have a marketing strategy in place before you publish your book.

Amazon calculates it’s bestseller lists on an hourly basis, and if you want a bestselling book, then you need to have people queued up to buy it the moment that it goes live. You can only do that if you market your book and have a team of people willing to post about it online to raise its profile.

9. Every author should have their own author page on Amazon.

It always surprises me when I click on an author’s name, and it doesn’t take me to the author’s own page. Amazon gives these away for free, so why wouldn’t you claim it? Add your books to your profile, and if a reader likes one book, then the chances are they’ll look for another one by you. It took me a while before I worked out how to do this, but having someone tick the “Follow” button means that the next time you publish a book, Amazon will notify your followers, and chances are, some will buy your book.

10. Reviews are gold. Ask for them.

Readers are like any other group of people, and when it comes to shopping for a new book by an author they’re unfamiliar with, they check out the reviews first. This will give them clues to the story and whether it is something they’d want to read.

These are just ten things that I wish I had known before I started to publish my own books. What would you include? Post in the comments…