25+ Common Self-Publishing Mistakes To Avoid On Amazon

Making money as an Amazon Kindle publisher can be one of the most lucrative and profitable side hustles.

But, like any other venture, there are self-publishing mistakes that you need to avoid if you want to succeed.

From selecting the wrong category for your book to not using keywords properly, these kinds of missteps can cause your books to go unnoticed, get negative reviews, or worse yet, get your amazon account banned.

I mean, you don’t want to suddenly log in to your account to find this:

Or…to get an email message like this:

It’s a heartache, trust me!

And these are very common to see when publishing on Amazon.

I bet you really don’t want to see any of those – because it’s heartbreaking and there are no second chances!

But it’s easy to make mistakes, especially when you’re new to the game.

In order to make sure that you don’t become a victim of these errors, here are the most common mistakes that you should avoid making as an Amazon Kindle publisher:

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1. Don’t write a crappy book.

An indie author writing a good book for amazon and avoiding Self-Publishing Mistakes

Okay, let’s face it – it’s going to be crap, and no one will want to read it.

Trust me, I know from experience.

You don’t want to get caught on this common self-publishing mistake.

Spend some time writing and editing until you have something worth publishing. It’s better to put out a great book than a terrible one.

Even if it takes longer to get done, your readers will thank you.

I have written a simple guide on how to publish a book on Amazon so you might want to check it out.

For instance, you should be aware of Amazon’s content guidelines which will help you to create better quality content.

2. Don’t forget to check Amazon’s terms of service.

New Authors Checking the Amazon’s Terms Of Service

Before you start publishing, make sure you read and understand Amazon’s terms of service.

They have certain rules and regulations that you need to follow in order to remain on the platform.

One example is that they don’t allow book covers with nudity, violence, or other offensive images.

So, make sure you understand all the rules before you start publishing.

3. Don’t set unrealistic expectations.

setting unrealistic expectations

When I first published my book, I expected to make thousands of dollars right away.

But that didn’t happen for me or for anyone else I know.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see instant success; it takes time to build up a following. Sometimes, you have to pay your dues and be patient.

4. Don’t forget the basics.

an author thinking about the basics of self publishing

Before you start publishing, make sure you have all the information you need about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

You should know how much royalties you’ll receive, when payments will be sent out, and other details that come with Amazon self-publishing.

Knowing these things ahead of time can save you a lot of headaches and avoid many other self-publishing mistakes down the line.

I see many publishers who panic when they think they’ve been short-paid by Amazon (they know nothing about Amazon’s 30% withholding tax so they think they are being cheated).

I highly recommend reading through the Amazon KDP terms of service and rules before you start publishing.

This will help to avoid any surprises down the line.

5. Don’t use poorly Designed covers and formatting.

closed poor-quality covers and formatting book

Your cover is your first impression, so make sure it looks professional and attractive.

The same goes for the rest of your book: make sure everything looks polished and finished before you publish it.

You don’t want your readers to be put off by terrible formatting or a bad cover.

One bad cover like this can really hurt your sales.

Do yourself a favor and hire a professional designer to create your book cover and prepare the interior of your book so that it looks good on all devices.

6. Don’t be cheap when it comes to marketing.

marketing tools for self publishing business

Amazon offers some great tools for marketing but do not rely on them too much.

In addition to Amazon, you can use other platforms like Goodreads, Reddit, and even social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to spread the word about your work.

It’s also important to remember that marketing isn’t free.

You’ll have to invest some money in order to get your book noticed.

Don’t be afraid of spending a bit of money on marketing; it can help you build readership and increase sales.

7. Don’t add too many bells and whistles to the design of your book.

book design

Sure, you want it to look nice, but keep it simple.

Adding lots of graphics or extra formatting can lead to formatting issues with Kindle readers. Stick with basic fonts, margins, and page sizes for a better experience.

Also, try to avoid complicated formatting like columns and tables.

These won’t work well on all devices, so it’s best to keep it simple. That way, your readers will have a consistent experience no matter what device they use.

8. Don’t forget to do your research on keywords.

Research on Amazon SEO keywords

It’s important to find the right words and phrases that will help people searching for books like yours find them more easily.

If you don’t know what Amazon SEO keywords are, take some time to learn how they work.

You can use tools like Amazon’s own search engine to find what words people are using when looking for Kindle books.

Edit: I have an upcoming guide on how to really do keyword research that will make you discover hidden gems – unicorns that will give you very fat graphs on your KDP sales report (pun intended). It will help skyrocket your earnings. You don’t want to miss it, so stay tuned.

9. Don’t try to game the system with reviews or rankings.

amazon book reviews and ratings

It’s tempting to ask friends, and family, or even pay people to write glowing reviews for your book.

Don’t do it!

You’ll get caught and Amazon will ban you from the site. Instead, focus on getting honest reviews from real readers.

The same goes for rankings – don’t try to manipulate them in any way.

While some new authors think this is a cool thing to do, it actually backfires.

It can mess up your book’s Amazon machine-learning algorithm (more on this later – it’s a lot deeper than you think).

And then, all your hard work will be in vain.

As a matter of fact, I’ve never had any successful book, where random family and friends had to make up like 80% of the first buyers.

Your book will never truly leverage what I call “Amazon Algo niche learning” and will never take off if you go this route.

So, stick with the honest approach, and let only “niche readers” be your first buyers.

You’ll get better, long-lasting results this way. Niche readers will often be the ones who boost Amazon’s algorithmic learning on your book.

They will also give you the best reviews and offer more meaningful feedback that can help you improve as an author and write better stuff in the future – which is why this takes precedence over short-term gains.

10. Don’t skimp on pricing.

 book price analogy

Your book is worth more than you think. Don’t price it too low, or people will think it’s not worth their time. Try to find the right balance between cost and value that readers appreciate. Again, research is key here – take a look at what other authors are charging for similar books.

Yea, I know, you don’t have to match those prices, but you should make sure you’re not undercutting your competition too much. If anyone is charging a higher price for a similar book, chances are it has something that yours does not – in which case, you’ll need to make sure yours stands out in some way.

11. Don’t forget to market your book.

a cross-section of various books on display in a book fair

When you publish with Kindle, they don’t do any real marketing for you (besides the first 30-day boost). It’s up to you to promote your book and get it out there. Create a website, use social media, or even start blogging to connect with potential readers. Heck, you can even join online communities and forums related to your book’s topic.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end. Not only can marketing make your book much more visible, but it can also help you build relationships with your readers and potential customers. This is key if you want to become successful with Amazon self-publishing.

12. Don’t forget to keep track of sales.

amazon kdp sales tracking

Amazon will give you access to detailed reports about how your books are selling. Take the time to look through these regularly and make adjustments as needed. Knowing how many copies you’ve sold can help you come up with strategies to improve sales.

However, I’ll have to caution: do not dwell too much on your reports. Better to have more time spent on the inputs (writing and publishing) than the outputs (checking reports).

That said, you can also measure other metrics, such as the average page read and the return rate, to gain insight into how readers engage with your books. For more advanced tactics, you can use user testing tools on your author website to get a deeper insight into how readers react to your book’s topics before launch.

This will help you determine which titles are resonating with your readers, so you can focus on writing more books in those genres or topics.

This information can help you identify what’s working and what needs improvement. And it will also give you an indication of where to focus your energy when it comes to marketing and promotion.

13. Don’t forget about copyright laws and other legal issues.

amazon self publishing copyright laws and legal issues

Self-publishing is a great way to get your book out there, but you still need to take the time to make sure you’re following copyright laws. If you use someone else’s words without permission, or if your book contains any kind of plagiarism, you could be in serious trouble.

In fact, Amazon has very strict guidelines about this and can take action if they find out. Do your research beforehand to make sure you are not violating any copyright laws.

Take the time to also research other legal issues related to self-publishing. Make sure you understand how taxes work, and what you need to do in order to be compliant. Knowing and following the law will help save you a lot of headaches down the road.

14. Don’t forget about formatting for different devices.

readers holding various devices reading kindle book content

When you publish your book, it’s important to make sure it looks good on all different kinds of devices. Check the formatting on the kindle previewer for phones and tablets to make sure there aren’t any issues before you hit publish.

It’s also important to remember that different devices have different screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure you use fonts and images that look good on all types of screens, so your book looks professional no matter what device it’s seen on. This will help create a better experience for your readers, which is always a plus.

15. Don’t forget about editing your book.

an editor editing a book

It’s easy to overlook typos or grammar mistakes when you’re writing, so remember to run your book through an editing program before you publish it. No one wants to read a book full of mistakes! So, take the time to go through and edit your book thoroughly before you publish it. It’s worth the extra effort 🙂

16. Don’t forget to follow industry best practices.

 follow industry best practices

If you want to be seen as a professional author, make sure you’re following the same guidelines and standards of other successful authors in your genre. This includes things like formatting, pricing, editing, and more. Take some time to read up on what’s expected and then follow the hidden rules.

17. Don’t forget about Amazon Categories and Keywords.

an illustration of Amazon Ai content feature

Make sure you choose the right categories for your book and use relevant keywords to help people find it. Failing to do this will limit your audience and impact sales.

Take the time to research and pick the right categories, and make a list of words that accurately describe your book. This will help get your book in front of more people who are looking for it.

18. Don’t forget about Amazon’s A+ Content feature.

a+ content feature of a children's book on amazon

Amazon’s A+ Content section allows you to add additional visuals and text to your product page. Don’t forget to use it to showcase your book in a more detailed and engaging way. This will help you stand out from the competition and draw people in.

Pro tip: If you consider that over 70 to 80% of shoppers on Amazon use their mobile devices, there’s no way they’re going to get a preview of your book content through Amazon’s “look inside feature“. That’s why your A+ content section becomes your most important tool to sell your book on Amazon. Many do not realize this.

Long before Amazon introduced A+ content for kindle publishers, heaven knows I’ve always earnestly prayed for it. And that’s because, I knew how important it was for marketing – unsung marketing actually.

It was always available for Amazon seller central sellers but not for KDP authors. Thankfully, that has changed.

Take full advantage of Amazon’s A+ Content feature and you won’t regret it! It’s a great way to draw in readers, so don’t forget about it when you’re self-publishing your book.

19. Don’t forget to create your author page.

an author building his Amazon author profile page

Creating an author page on Amazon can help people find your book and get more information about you as an author. All authors should have a page, so don’t forget to create one for yourself after you publish your book.

Also make sure to include important information like a bio, editorial reviews, and any other relevant information. You can even add a profile picture and link to the books you’ve written or published or even videos.

You can also set up and link an author website, create a newsletter, and interact with readers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to boost your visibility as an author.

Pro Tip: Create your author profile for every Amazon marketplace, not just the U.S amazon.com alone. That means you should create for the UK, German, and other markets.

20. Don’t forget about DRM protection for your work.

Digital rights management protection

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a way to protect your digital content from piracy and unauthorized sharing. It’s important to use DRM on your books if you want to protect your work and ensure that people are only accessing it legally.

It’s worth the effort to make sure that all of your hard work doesn’t end up being shared without your permission. So, make sure to include it in your publishing process to keep your work safe!

21. Don’t neglect customer reviews.

an array of readers offering book reviews

Customer reviews are a great way to show potential buyers that other people have enjoyed your book.

Make sure to reach out and ask for reviews from anyone who has read your book. This will help boost sales, increase visibility, and build trust with potential readers. You can also provide incentives like discounts or freebies in exchange for honest reviews.

Doing this will help you build a strong reader base that is engaged with your work and more likely to leave reviews and recommend your book to others.

22. Don’t forget about other formats.

amazon kindle book format

Amazon offers Kindle versions of books, but don’t forget that there are also paperback and hardcover versions available as well as audiobook formats. Offer different options for readers so they can choose the format that works best for them.

Audiobook format especially provides great ways to reach readers who prefer listening on their phones, tablets, or computers. Take advantage of the different formats available and make sure you give readers options.

23. Don’t forget about marketing after launch

an illustration of social media marketing after book launch

Once your book is published, the work isn’t over. You’ll have to continue marketing and promoting to keep sales coming in. Make sure to create an effective promotional plan that includes things like blog tours, giveaways, and social media campaigns.

You should also consider running targeted ads on platforms like Amazon Ads as well as writing articles and press releases to spread the word about your book. All of these tactics can help you reach a wider audience and boost sales even after launch.

So, don’t forget to continue marketing even after your book is published! It’s essential for long-term success.

24. Don’t be afraid to experiment with promotional tactics.

a writer scared to experiment with book promotional tactics

Try different things to get your book noticed and increase sales. These could include promotions, giveaways, contests, or any other creative idea you can think of. Experimenting with different tactics can help you find what works best and build an effective promotional strategy.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something new, even if it feels risky. You never know what might work until you try it!

25. Don’t forget to track your progress.

progress and sales tracking with kdp reports and other analytic tools

Last but not least, tracking your progress is an essential part of being a successful author. Use KDP analytic tools to measure the success of each promotional tactic and experiment with different approaches to see what works best.

By keeping track of your successes, you can refine your strategies and focus on the tactics that are most effective for boosting sales. This will help you become more successful in the long term.

26. Don’t forget about the importance of an email list.

an author writing out newsletters for email list

Building an email list is a great way to keep in contact with your readers and let them know when you have new books or promotions.

Even if you don’t have a freebie or tripwire yet, it’s never too early to start building your list. You can use it to promote your book, let readers know about special offers, and announce upcoming releases.

27. Don’t forget about Amazon’s KDP Select program.

amazon kindle select program for ebooks on kindle device

KDP Select lets you offer free promotions, Kindle Countdown Deals, and other benefits that can help boost sales of your book on Amazon. Consider joining the program if you think it could help you.

Sometimes, an occasional boost of sales from these promotional programs can help you get more visibility and lead to higher long-term sales. In fact, I often recommend this if you have a book that is practically dead in the water.

Just keep in mind that you will have to commit to having your book exclusive to Amazon for at least 90 days if you join KDP Select. So, make sure it’s the right decision for your book before signing up.

28. Don’t forget about the importance of networking.

Connecting with other authors and readers is a great way to get advice and build an audience for your books. Join discussion forums, join mastermind groups, and participate in events related to your genre to meet new people and build relationships.

Networking also helps you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry and can help you find opportunities for promotion, such as book tours.

29. Don’t give up on yourself.

Self-publishing can be difficult, and it’s easy to get discouraged if things don’t go as planned. Don’t give up on yourself or your writing. Keep going, and eventually, things will come together.

As long as you keep learning and improving, you’ll eventually start seeing results. So keep hustling, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and keep trying new things. Also, don’t forget to take breaks when you need them.

Wrapping up

Self-publishing can be difficult, but with the right information, you can make it a success. In this article, we outlined 25+ mistakes to avoid as an Amazon Kindle publisher. By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be able to put your best foot forward and sell more books.

Knowing that being a successful author requires more than just writing a great book, you need to think outside the box with the little nuances nobody talks about – launch strategy, marketing tactics, and networking.

Avoiding all these mistakes will ensure you have a successful publishing career – and keep those fat graphs on your KDP report coming! So don’t be afraid to put in the work – it all pays off in the end.

Good luck on your Kindle publishing journey! If you have any questions as you move forward, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help!

Happy publishing! 🙂


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