Top 7 Mistakes eBook Authors Make

Young woman laying on bed reading eBook on digital tablet
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Amazon has revolutionized reading and publishing, much in the same way Apple changed how we listen to music. While ebooks and e-readers existed before the Kindle, Amazon took digital reading mainstream. Then it opened up publishing opportunities for independent authors to get their works into the world. 

Today, while the majority of ebooks are sold by Amazon, indie authors have a variety of platforms to publish and distribute their books including Barnes and Noble Nook, iBooks, and more. It's easier, quicker and more affordable than ever to publish an ebook. Entrepreneurial authors are making anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars per month - that's right, per month - by publishing and selling ebooks online.

But like in all entrepreneurial ventures, a few reach huge success, while most barely make pennies. Why do some authors achieve more than others? We've discovered seven key mistakes that most ebook authors make, and in doing so, hold themselves back from major success.

1. They Don't Appeal to a Specific, Target Audience

The idea that your book can be on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes sounds thrilling. These are the biggest ebook distributors in the world. The problem is, your book is competing with millions of other books. Getting your book discovered in all that noise is not easy. The biggest mistake most eBook authors make is they don't clearly define, identify and visualize who they are selling their ebook to. It doesn't matter what you're trying to a sell, a product, service, or a book, to be successful, you must appeal to a target group of people who have that specific interest.

Even in fiction, there are rules authors are expected to adhere to in the various genres. 

While many successful self-publishers venture outside the lines, their success comes from finding the readers that like to read outside the lines. Whatever the topic of your ebook, make sure that you know exactly who is the best buyer for your book, and where you can find them online. 

2. They Don't Automate as Many of Their Business Activities as Possible

While selling ebooks has the potential to be profitable, it's not a business where you make hundreds of dollars per sale. To make money you need to make lots of sales, day after day, month after month. That can take a lot of time unless you use tools to take care of some of the heavy liftings.

Using a site like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes takes care of payment processing and delivery. But if you sell your book directly off your website, you'll want to set up an automated system that takes payment and immediately, automatically, sends the book. 

You can also automate much of your marketing, such as having an email list autoresponder, social media management, and more. 

3. They Don't Have an Interesting Cover and/or Compelling Title for Their eBook

Think about how you choose books. What draws you in to learn more about it. For most readers, the cover and title determine if they ignore the book or take a deeper look. 

A cover should look professional, with the title easily viewable in the tiny thumbnail shown on Internet retail sites. When creating your ebook titles, use words that convey the benefit of what's in the ebook, as well as words your audience is familiar with. This is where understanding copywriting can help.

4. They Try to Cover too Much Ground Without Any Depth

With the ease of ebook publishing, has come a swarm of get-rich-schemers flooding the market with books that lack substance. While readers understand articles will often skim the topic area, when they buy a book, they expect detail and depth. This is particularly true for non-fiction how-to books. 

Don't shortchange your readers. Deliver what your title and description promise. While ebooks can be used as a promotional tool, you don't want it to simply be an overpriced sales brochure. When people buy books, they expect value, not a pitch.

5. They Are Not Proactive in Marketing Their eBooks

Just because it's online or listed on Amazon, doesn't mean people will find it, as many would-be authors have discovered. Like everything else involved in earning a living, you have to market your product. Even traditional publishers expect their authors to promote their books.

There are many ways to market a book, but it all starts with knowing who the most likely reader is (#1), where they can be found, and how you can attract them to your book. After you've published your eBook, work on getting reviews and setting up a website (if you don't already have one) to sell it. Promote your book to the people on your email list (if you have one), social media and other networks.

If you're selling your book on your website (as opposed to through Amazon or other book retailers), consider setting up an affiliate program and get others to help sell your book for you in exchange for referral compensation. If you're serious about being an author, develop your author platform to expand your reputation and reach to your readers.

6. They Don't Differentiate Their eBook From its Competitors

When you choose a topic for your ebook, even if there are a hundred other books out there on the same general subject, choose an angle that will make it easy to distinguish yours from the others. This is where knowing your target market helps. For example, job-hunting ebooks are very popular, but the books that speak to a specific market, such as "Secrets of Breaking Into Pharmaceutical Sales" or "8 Strategies to Help Moms Re-enter the Workforce" have specific titles that set them apart from general how-to-get-a-job titles.

Books that are niched and speak to a specific market or need always sell better than general topic books.

7. They Write and Publish eBooks That Nobody Will Pay For

In the rush to get rich in ebooks, many authors have slapped together with poor quality books, often with information that readers can get for free, or that they're not interested in enough to buy. Before you invest weeks or months into the writing and publishing of your ebook, invest a time investigating the market to see if there are similar books selling on that topic or if there are people who want to buy it. 

So, there you have it - the seven big mistakes to avoid when writing and publishing ebooks. Remember, the opportunities are plentiful right now for anyone who wants to become a best-selling ebook author. Simply use common sense, follow our advice, and let your literary career flourish!