Why I won’t buy your self-published book

I noticed recently that an author I’ve purchased from before has just self-published another book. Although the book is on a topic I’d like to know more about, I didn’t click through to read the Amazon description or to check the price.


Because the first book of this author’s that I read was profoundly disappointing. It was the length of a long magazine article and lacked depth, detail, and specifics.


I should have known better. There were several warning signs, including a do-it-yourself cover. The “product details” noted the (short) length. But the book’s excellent description hit all the right buttons — it promised the specifics I needed — so I took a chance.

Deliver what you promise

I would have overlooked many flaws if the book’s content had matched its description. All I asked of this book was to teach me something new.

But it didn’t.

Instead, the book was a shallow overview that left me feeling foolish for buying it.

Is this the reaction you want from your readers?

Do you want to give them the impression that you don’t really care about delivering on your book’s promises?

Probably not. I think you want to write a great book that readers will recommend to their friends.

To help make that happen, here’s a short list of what I see on Amazon that sends me back to the search bar for another option.

1. The book’s title is a mess.

Punctuation or spacing is missing. Words run together. A cover blurb is included in the title, even though it’s an endorsement, not part of the title.

For nonfiction, there’s no separation between the title and the subtitle. Almost as bad? There’s no subtitle.

2. It’s obvious you designed your own cover. (And that you’re not a designer.)

Nothing shouts “I don’t really care about my book” more than an obviously do-it-yourself cover.

If you don’t care enough about your book to make sure that the cover is appropriate for the category, why would I care enough to read it? You’re telling me that what’s between the covers will be amateurish, too.

(For tips on how to select the best cover, read “7 tried and true ways to make a book cover decision.”)

3. You aren’t letting me “look inside” the book on Amazon.

The “look inside” feature is the online equivalent of flipping through a book in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. It gives the reader a preview of content and writing quality.

When you haven’t made it possible for me to peek inside the book, I start to wonder if there’s a reason why. That could mean that a preview might discourage people from buying.

That’s probably not the message you want to send.

4. Your book description is written and formatted like an advertisement.

Nothing shouts, “I’m an internet marketer trying to grab your dollars!” like a book description that looks and reads like a website sales page.

Hype might fool others, but it doesn’t fool me. I want thoughtful text that helps me see what I’ll learn from the book, not a huge, boldfaced font shouting at me.

Major publishers don’t use this approach. Minor publishers shouldn’t either. It’s insulting to the reader.

5. The book description is one long block of text with no paragraph returns.

This is a problem for two reasons. First, I can’t read text with no white space. My brain craves paragraph breaks!

Second, it tells me that you care so little about your book that you didn’t even review your sales page before it went live.

If you don’t care, why would I?

On the other hand … authors have been complaining that the system has messed with their descriptions. To be safe, go to your book’s page and make sure it looks the way you want it to.

6. You don’t have an author bio or the one you’re using isn’t relevant to the book.

Until recently, I was guilty of this. My bio just disappeared — poof! — from my Author Central account. One day it was there, the next, it wasn’t.

So, even if you’ve added your bio to your Author Central Author Page, check your book’s sales page to make sure it’s still there.

You’ll find a lot of helpful information online about how to write your author bio (including on this site), but the one thing that most self-published authors overlook is relevance. Novelists write that they’ve fulfilled a life’s dream by writing a book — not relevant — and nonfiction authors use a generic bio that doesn’t shine a spotlight on their best credentials for the topic.

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, I need you to connect your life (and personality) to this book so I understand why you’re the right author for it.

Help me love your self-published book

I want to read more self-published books. I really do. I loved Karen Inglis’s and Kim Norman’s. I’d love to discover fiction that’s as good as their nonfiction.

But what I’m seeing tells me that many authors don’t care much about quality.

Here’s what Apple founder Steve Jobs says about that.

your self-published book 2

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” ~ Steve Jobs

When someone tells you that what counts is quantity — when they tell you that you need a lot of books in the pipeline to be successful — look at the quality of what you’ve already written first. If it’s not as good as you can make it, don’t move on until it is.

Quality still matters.

Convince me to read your self-published book. What’s the best thing about it? 

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  1. What’s the best part of my newest book, “Trust Your Doctor…but Not That Much – Be Your Own Best Healthcare Advocate,” is how it encourages patients to be active participants in their healthcare. More knowledge about their illness, more participation in patient choices, more confidence in the presence of their healthcare provider yields the most beneficial strategy toward improved health. How do I know this to be true? Because I have been both an oncology healthcare professional and presently, I’m a cancer patient in remission. Nothing trumps real-world experience.

    1. What an important message, Reina! Thanks for sharing that. I hope the book does well. And I’m so glad you’re in remission.


    2. Reina, your book looks very interesting. Just purchased it for Kindle and will begin reading it soon.
      I’m a retired biomedical scientist and have just published a book intended to help patients understand their bodies and interact more effectively with health-care personnel. It seems like information in the two books might dovetail well.
      Here’s the link to my website: http://javsimson.com/
      Best wishes!

  2. Hi Sandra

    I recently coauthored a self published book with Mike Kowis titled Maximize Your Book Sales With Data Analysis: The Cure for Authorship Analysis Paralysis. We were under the impression that a short book was the best thing since sliced bread until we got a negative review about the size of the book. What is your recommendation for a good size for an eBook and a print book (fiction and nonfiction)?

    1. Great question, Sharon. I think it depends on two things — the usefulness of the information, whether the book communicates the material well and clearly, whether that info. is readily available with a Google search (or already known thanks to common sense), and the book’s price. I just looked this up on Amazon. Is it truly free right now, or is that Amazon playing with my digital product credits? Let me know, OK?


  3. Do you read fiction books, Sandra? My self-published book is a novel. If you read fiction, I will send you a copy (no charge) as a thank you for all of the excellent advice you have so freely shared with me.

    1. You’re so sweet, Ginger. I DO read fiction — mostly mysteries and thrillers, but some historical and women’s contemporary fiction. I’d love a copy, but probably won’t get to it soon. Is that OK? If you’ll email me at sb@buildbookbuzz.com, we’ll work out the details.



  4. How about a testimonial from someone who hasn’t read the book but is very close to the subject matter and the protagonist? I’ve written a memoir for a former colleague who isn’t a writer, but it is his story about a historic event in the 1970s. I know someone with some name recognition who has championed my colleague’s work and has given a testimonial about him. (He is quite busy and may not be able to put in the time to read the book before we publish.)

  5. Hi Sandy. Couldn’t agree more.

    Have you got a long plane ride scheduled? I’ve got the perfect book to get you from point A to even the farthest point B without minding the delayed take-off, the shrieking baby across the aisle, the stalled layover, or your rotten seat in the last row. And even if Tierra del Fuego’s your destination, it’s doubtful the book would end before your flight does—it’s 335 pages. But I’ll bet money that your seat mate says, “That must be a good book, you haven’t looked up since my dog ate your Wolfgang Puck pizza.”

    The book might shock you, but it’s a great traveling companion.

    “I Did Inhale—Memoir of a Hippie Chick.” Thanks for asking!

  6. Sandy, you hit hard and fast but you are correct. Details separate the professionals from the wannabes.

    Given that my (late) brother-in-law was CHEF TELL, my qualification for writing his biography was “insider” information. And my other books do not disappoint.

    CHEF TELL ~ The Biography of America’s Pioneer TV Showman Chef, forewords by Regis Philbin and Chef Walter Staib. (Skyhorse Publishing)

    1. Wow…I haven’t heard that name in a while, Ronald! Congratulations on the biography. I’m sure it will do well. Chef Tell paved the way for many.


  7. Two things I look for in the writeup for a nonfiction book that I’m looking at “cold” are an informative table of contents and an index. If the book has neither, then it’s probably not worth my time.

    Other red flags:
    * Misspellings
    * No author bio, or a bio lacking significant qualifications
    * Hypey salesmanship in the book description
    * A flood of five-star reviews and not a single critique or complaint about the book

    1. Your list is similar to mine except for the index. Your comment about reviews validates what I say repeatedly when people are (understandably) upset about a 1-, 2-, or 3-star review: They add validity to your 4- and 5-star reviews. Thanks!


    2. Indexes — I’m debating whether to add them to my WWII books. I have a brief one for the WWII vets included but that’s all. I really hate putting them together b/c if anything gets moved in content it throws off the numbers. But I’ve taken your advice in other things and have followed the other mentions here. Thanks!

  8. Very good points. I went running to my dashboard to see if I’d made paragraph breaks. Alas, no. But I fixed it. Otherwise *checks, checks, checks* I think I’m good. I DID do my own cover, but I ran it past umpteen people with design experience before I actually hit publish, and I’ve been told it’s not bad at all.
    As far as the best thing about it? It’s the book. I worked and studied and sweated and cried over it, and my dashboard tells me that when I do manage to catch someone’s eye (I am brand new, traction is hard), they devour the thing in one go. All 500 pages. So yay! Here’s a link, although it is scifi and I see that you mentioned reading mostly thrillers, historical and contemp: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MYP914P

    1. I’m glad you could make that fix, R. I love your enthusiasm for your book! It will help, for sure.


  9. My new book –D-Day: Soldier, Sailors and Airmen Tell about Normandy — is to celebrate the battle’s 75th anniversary in 2019. The unique aspect of my book is the quotes from veterans who were there and their never-before-published photos. I list the vets according to branch and include stories of a pilot shot down and held as a POW, a chaplain who was wounded, and a seaman who volunteered for a special project that made him a ‘sitting duck’ for the Nazi guns on the bluffs.
    I wrote it for a non-military audience and especially for people who knew nothing about D-Day. My interviews with 250 World War II veterans and participating in a tour of Europe that included standing on Omaha Beach on June 6th provided photos of mine. I hired a book cover designer on Fiverr.com. He designed my 3 previous World War II books and people often comment how attractive they are. I’d be happy to send you a copy of any of my books if you’re interested. Thanks for your advice. I tell many people about your services.

  10. But you can’t judge ALL self-published books by just one bad example. I have self-published an number of romantic comedies and spent around $1000 hiring an editor, a cover artist and someone to format my books. Most self-published novelist do the same. I could never publish a book that hadn’t been thoroughly edited and I believe my self-published books are every bit as good as my trad-published ones.

    1. Susanne, I work with hundreds of authors and moderate groups with thousands of author members, so this post isn’t based on one experience. I look at A LOT of books. You might be surprised to know that unlike you, most self-pubbed authors don’t spend on professional services.


  11. My recent book is about the wildflowers in a remote area of Sequoia National Park. For years I’ve hiked the trails, frustrated that it requires a stack of books to find the names of flowers. The books that list the flowers by family name with scientific words make me feel stupid and confused.

    Thus, “Mineral King Wildflowers: Common Names” became an obsession, a joy, a project to fit in and around my art business. The chapters are organized by color, and each chapter shows flowers I was unable to identify at the end.

    Friends have told me it reads just like I talk when we hike together, which is exactly what I was aiming for. I have no delusions of making it big with the book–just filling a local niche with a helpful and non-cringey resource. (The last locally published book on wildflowers spelled it “Wlldflowers” on the title page–yikes.)

  12. I work hard to abide by these six laws but recently failed on one: I forgot to include a bio for “The Eclectic 18: Maniacs on a Mission.” Why did I forget? That’s like asking why it rains when I want to get on the trails. Phillip Gary Smith

  13. I’ve self-published ten books. Your list is good except for the point about the “Look inside” feature. Amazon creates that automatically for indie authors. They don’t create one for our pre-orders. If there is an ebook, it will have a “Look inside” shortly after publication.

    1. Thanks, Shannon. I looked at a self-pubbed book last night that didn’t have the “look inside” option. I wonder why not.


      1. If it’s truly self-published and not through a vanity press, then it should have the Look inside. There does have to be an ebook. If not, the author would have to submit the file to them.

  14. Regarding the “look inside” option. This is an option that some authors do not want, to show. Because sometimes Amazon will show too many pages of your books and you can request them, to stop showing the look inside feature. Just a little note, to tell you how special you’re. Thanks, for your incentives, teaching, and support. I am geared toward building myself. It just takes time like anything else. I am now, writing a movie manuscript.

    1. That’s really helpful to know, Joyce! Thanks! I noticed that Amazon is showing more of my self-published book’s content than I might choose to share, but I also know that it will help readers see the book’s value and relevance, right? (Or not? What do you think?)

      And thanks for the kind words about how I support you. I try! You’re kind and thoughtful to mention it!


  15. Ms. Beckwith:

    I was shocked and dismayed to see your blanket condemnation of self-published books and the authors who create them. All you’ve done is make it even more impossible than it already is for self-published authors to get read by mainstream reviewers— even when they DO hire professional editors, cover artists, and indexers, and DO check off all the boxes you recommend. Many self-published authors may still be learning the ropes, but your sweeping condemnation has merely reinforced the self-serving and prevailing fiction in the publishing world that ALL self-published books are done by amateurs, and you have thereby helped to stymie the careers of even those of us who are not. I expected better from someone who claims to be serving authors.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response, V. I understand and appreciate your response. I thought long and hard before writing this post because I didn’t want to offend or alienate, but in the end, I decided I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by pretending there weren’t problems with the self-publishing side of the business. Fact is that while you might have this figured out and your self-published book might look and read like one from a traditional publishing house that’s selective about manuscripts and authors, most self-published authors are reluctant to invest money in their book’s quality — and it shows in the end result.

      We need to elevate the reputation of self-published books, but we can’t do that by pretending that everything is hunky dory because it isn’t. There’s no barrier to entry, so there’s a glut of books. Many are fantastic — and I’ve mentioned two of them specifically in this post. On Facebook I’ve singled out Susan Daffron’s self-pubbed fiction as an example of excellence and author Flora Brown knows that I think her self-published books are exceptional. I LOVE bringing attention to great self-published books. I’ve purchased and enjoyed many of them and will continue to do so. I’m a self-published author, too!

      Regarding your statement: [I expected better from someone who claims to be serving authors. ] — I don’t “claim” to be serving authors. I DO serve authors. Spend a little time on this blog and you’ll see that I provide a ton of free and accurate how-to information that helps all authors do a better job of marketing their books.

      While my post is in no way “sweeping condemnation,” I understand how and why it can strike a nerve. But if it encourages authors to re-think their definition of quality and step up their game, then it’s helped improve the category.

      It won’t surprise me at all if Amazon eventually decides to block books that don’t meet certain quality standards. If it does, it will be because of the problems I’ve addressed in this article.

      Thanks for weighing in. I think we both want to improve the category’s reputation. You’re doing it by producing excellent content that people want to read; I’m doing it by getting people back on the right track.


      1. Your points are well taken, however, the very title of your post reads like click-bait for people who may be either self-aggrandizing or insecure about their efforts to be heard within an elite canon that does little to welcome the diversity of voices. Still, I will keep you advice in mind when my self-published book is returned from the printer, Black Classic Press, for my final review.

  16. To be fair, I’ve experienced the frustration of getting a book description to lay out perfectly on Amazon.com, only to find all the formatting stripped on Amazon.co.uk.

    But yes, care in every aspect of book presentation, relevance, and a Look Inside or Kindle ample are essential. I always sample books, even those written by friends.

    1. Absolutely, Jaq. Unfortunately, it seems like you have to check your sales page on a regular basis to make sure the gremlins haven’t messed with it. As for relevance in bios, I read an author bio yesterday that begins with “I became a writer because I have no skills.” If it’s relevant, it’s not relevant in a good way!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  17. While I can see the relevance of an author biography concerning non-fiction books – why should it matter how the author of a romance lives her/his life? Is someone who is no scientist in your eyes disqualified to write science fiction? (Poor Jules Verne)

    You forgot to tell me why you think it matters for fiction.

    1. Good point, Fran. If you blog, you know it’s impossible to cover everything that’s useful on a topic in a single blog post. It’s a balancing act — how much is too much detail? How much is too little?

      In any case…I’ve got an example of a romance novelist’s bio in this blog post — scroll down to #4: https://buildbookbuzz.com/author-bio-mistakes/.

      Here are a few things that are “relevant” in a novelist’s bio: Writing awards or honors, a sense of the author’s personality, personal details that contributed to the idea for the story or the book itself (for example, if the setting is the town where you grew up), and anything in your profession that contributes to the novel (for example, if the book is a medical mystery, telling readers that you’re a nurse or another type of medical professional is important).

      You write romance novels? Jami Albright is a successful self-published romance writer (https://buildbookbuzz.com/indie-author-made-74000-in-16-months/). I know her in person; her Amazon bio matches her warm, fun, and funny personality: [Jami Albright is a born and raised Texas girl and is the multiple award-winning author of The Brides on the Run series–a fun, sexy, snarky, laugh-out-loud good time. If you don’t snort with laughter, then she hasn’t done her job. She is also a wife, mother, and an actress/comedian. She used to think she could sing until someone paid her to stop. She took their money and kept on singing. Jami loves her family, all things Outlander, and puppies make her stupid happy. She can be found on Sundays during football season watching her beloved Houston Texans and trying not to let them break her heart.]

      Thanks for your question. It’s a good one; I hope my answer helps.


        1. You’re a fantastic role model for self-published authors who want to succeed, Jami. You learned as much as you could about the process before jumping in, AND, you’re a great writer (which also didn’t happen by accident). I love, love, love watching you soar!


  18. You deliver some very important messages in this post, but the most important isn’t mentioned: It’s too easy now to self-publish. Some of my favourite authors are self-published. Ali Bacon. Anna Castle. JJ Marsh. David Penny. Jane Davis. I could keep that list going for quite a while. They’re very different from each other, but they have two things in common:
    • They’ve learned how to write; and
    • They pay attention to all the points you make.
    Their books look, feel and read like the very best books from the very best publishers. Their characters are fully rounded and believable. They understand how to build a plot as well as the best snooker players know how to build a break.
    But there are also a huge number of other self-published books in which the standard of writing is poor and the rest – the covers, the layout, the editing, the proof-reading, the blurbs, the marketing – are like broccoli: the work of the devil.
    There’s nothing to be done about it; it’s caveat emptor. And you point to the best way for buyers to beware: read the Look Inside. How many of us buy a book in a bookstore without first reading half a dozen pages to make sure we’re going to be taking home something we’ll want to read all the way through? Not many would be my guess.

    1. Thanks, John. I agree that there’s no barrier to entry for self publishing. While I didn’t include that point in the article because it’s not why I won’t buy “your” self-published book, I did address it in my response to V. MacKensie’s angry comment. You’ll see that I also noted that I won’t be surprised if Amazon decides to deal with this and the glut caused by the fact that anyone can publish by making it harder to use that platform. You and I agree that there are a lot of great self-published books out there, and they’re written by people who know what they’re doing, plain and simple. Those are the books I’ll spend my money and reading time on.

      I disagree with you about broccoli, though. I don’t think it’s the work of the devil! I am certain that angels created it.



  19. I am a self-published author and I have seen what you’re describing in this post. Unfortunately, it takes only a few uncaring individuals to make the rest of us look bad.
    Thanks for sharing 😊

    1. Thanks, Christine. I wish it was just a few authors who don’t care about these things. Too many authors are taking too many shortcuts simply because they can. It makes it harder for the rest of us.


  20. Thank you for your insightful post. I couldn’t agree with it more.

    Being a writer has been my lifetime dream and at long last I made it come true. This couldn’t have happened without the current ease of self-publishing. And for that I am grateful.

    While my college journalism studies gave me the skills to write well and cultivated in me a passion for excellence, it is unfortunate that many indie writers do not share that commitment to quality. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the rest of us to get the respect we deserve.

    There are many indie books and groups that advocate quantity over quality and a DIY culture that encourages novices to do tasks that are best left to the professionals.

    I took great care in writing my first born, “Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist?” This is the book I wish had existed when I was unhappily married to a psychologically abusive man. I would be honored if your read it and would love to send you a copy.

    The book has been praised by women contemplating divorce, therapists and clergy, and has obtained glowing reviews. Sadly, it gets little attention and is rejected by libraries and bookstores because of its “indie illegitimacy.”

    I also believe that higher standards would help keep out the sloppy books that give indie publishing a bad reputation.

    1. You’ve expressed this problem beautifully, Sonia. Thank you.

      I looked up your book on Amazon, and it’s impossible to tell that it’s self-published (congratulations!). You might find your bookstore and library distribution problems fading away if there’s enough demand for your book. One of the best ways to generate demand is to get publicity for the book — then people will start asking for it. This is an evergreen topic, so you should be able to talk about with the press every week of every month. Do you subscribe to HARO? (https://buildbookbuzz.com/get-book-publicity-with-haro/)

      On the other hand…this is the kind of book that women might not want to be seen buying or borrowing, so maybe you shouldn’t even be concerned about store and library distribution. I would think that many women would like to keep this sort of dilemma a secret until they were farther along in the process. Online buying helps keep it on the “down low.”

      One suggestion: Your bio for this is fairly generic. Can you edit it to tell us why you’re the right person to write this book? I think that would help a bit. The one unanswered question on your Amazon page and website is: How do you know enough about this topic to write a book about it?

      I know you’ve got the answer to that!

      Your book is an excellent example of what an indie book CAN look like and accomplish. For anyone who’s curious, here’s the link to it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Wu39xc

      Thanks again!


  21. Thanks for your excellent comments. My days start with HARO and I have been mentioned in the media several times. But more publicity is in order.

    I spent years on the fence and have the picket marks to prove it, so I am an expert indeed! I will make the changes you suggested and I trust sales will take off in due course.

    Will keep you posted.

  22. Thanks so much, Sandy! I haven’t done a Tip Sheet yet but I will. And will also be sending out press releases announcing my book (hope it’s not too late after an October pub date) and the glowing review I got from the Midwest Book Review.

    I’m on fire!

  23. “Convince me to read your self-published book. What’s the best thing about it?”

    Ah, a challenge! Lovely to find this at the end of a thought-provoking post, especially when you add the comments above and your responses.

    The best thing about Pride’s Children PURGATORY is that, even at 167K words, it is only the beginning of the story.

    My favorite reviewers have said things such as, “I put it off because it didn’t really seem like my kind of story. But I loved it. You did a great job…”

    And, “Pride’s Children has helped me to look inside myself and see many things I need to see and deal with. I have never read a work of fiction that has touched me so powerfully! I love it and will be rereading many times…”

    And, from one of my favorite reviews, “((How highly can I praise this book without looking like a sycophant? And, why are we having to wait for the next part of the story???)) Elegant literary fiction which is also literate, modern, gripping, and extraordinarily entertaining, to label the subject matter a ‘love triangle’ would be like daubing the Taj Mahal with graffiti…”

    The best thing about Pride’s Children PURGATORY is the effect it causes in the readers it was written for: people who, from a lifetime of reading, have developed the love of the deep complex novel with a plot designed to make them think, and characters who will challenge so many of their expectations.

    (All quotes are taken from Amazon reviews, and used with permission. And were from men I didn’t know before I asked them to read.)

      1. Thanks! And that is a wonderful title for a blog post.

        I didn’t quote standards, or putting in the hours, or learning the craft, or feedback – or anything in the category of the physical production of a book – because those SHOULD be a given.

        Unfortunately, they are not.

        The hardest part of getting readers for one’s own self-published fiction that takes great care with the obvious is the great number of other self-published books that do not.

        I love the Look Inside feature on Amazon – the material available has always been enough to make a decision whether or not to read.

        1. I so agree with you on the “look inside,” feature, Alicia. It makes it much easier to find the gems.


  24. Dear Sandra,
    What a useful post! I’m sad to see there have been no recent responses.
    I recently self-published a novel called “A Walk by the Sea” on Amazon. The text has been edited and re-edited, curated, checked and re-checked, also carefully formatted for Kindle and paperback. We checked how the print looks (ordered a copy) before we put it online. I’ve been focusing on promotion since, but I think many people are automatically wary of self-published authors, thinking, “he or she is probably not good enough because no traditional publisher wanted him or her”. I can totally understand that, however, there are a lot more stories to be told than publishing capacity worldwide!
    In response to your question, the best thing about my book is a slow burning romance of an unconventional kind, which ends up being something else completely. I write about relationships, a mother and her son, an artist and her muse, and it’s all set by the seaside. I believe you can look into the first pages on Amazon but if not, you can check http://www.awalkbythesea.com for the first three chapters, free.
    PS: I changed the formatting of the blurb on Amazon so many times that it’s depressing, and it keeps jumping back into one ugly paragraph. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Krisztina, now you’ve got to market your high-quality book so that people know about it. It’s a constant, almost never-ending process, but it can make a difference. The first step is getting clear on who will love your book.

      Your book description isn’t one big paragraph, but I did notice a couple of words that are bumped together w/out a space. Sometimes these systems seem to work against us!


  25. I noticed you like mystery novels. I just self-published the first two in a series titled, ‘Origin of Evil: The Artifact’ and ‘Origin of Evil: The Secret of the Artifact’. They’re doing well considering I’m pretty unknown, but they may interest you. I’m working on the third and final novel at the moment.

  26. Good day Sandra,
    I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well.

    I just found your article, and LOVE it. I, probaly obviously, am a self-published author as well, and find your insights and suggestions very helpful.

    I published the eBook version of my novel ‘Full Circle Sin’ on Amazon this year (I published it in paperback in 2011. You mentioned that you enjoy reading thrillers, I would love for you, should you have some time, to read mine. I’m offering it free to Kindle readers, and have priced it low for buyers (as a way to, hopefully, attract readers (BTW: What do you think of this approach)? …I know I got long-winded; hope you don’t mind.🙃

    1. How are you promoting your book, Priscilla? I noticed that the Kindle version isn’t free, it’s $2.99, but that’s still attractive pricing for emerging authors.


  27. Hi Sanda,

    This is the first time that I have come across your site and I will be scouring it. Valuable insights and a balanced view. I wrote a book in 2003 which was well received, but I did not market it at all. The world is different now, and I am re-entering the market, with a revised edition of the book and a digital marketing push, in preparation for the second and more serious novel.

    I wrote “A Man Called Stan” when I was 23, in a style which would be engaging for young men who often do not read much. It is rude and fun, but still has an underlying depth.

    It hit its target of being easy for young men to relate to, but what was surprising is how female readers appreciated the insight that it gave them into the men in their lives. This is the reason that you should read it. I would be delighted to send you a paper or electronic copy for your enjoyment.

    Some reviews:

    “The Stan of the opening pages is an admirable picture of unrelieved depravity. Jay shows brilliant invention in this picture of Stan”

    “I loved this book. Told in a very deadpan, third person style, with just a touch of strange, it’s very easy to read, and easy to identify with. The reader will hate to see it end, just as I did “

  28. Hey! I am happy to report I avoided these pitfalls, except my author bio. I’ve been slacking….

    Anyways, I’d love to accept your challenge and send you a copy of my book. It is part 1 of 2, 47,000 words, and its genre is YA Fantasy Action-Adventure. Upheaval: The Liberation of Zubare. I say it’s young adult, but it’s really targeted for ages 16-28. Please let me know how I can send you one!

    Also, does anyone else have formatting issues on Amazon for their descriptions? I have to fix mine almost every day…

  29. ‘You’ll find a lot of helpful information online about to write your author bio’ – you missed the word HOW out. Please update your article. Great read and thanks for the tips 😉🏆👍

  30. Hi Sandra,
    What advice would you give to someone who would like to publish their work one day, but who simply cannot afford to? That’s not to say that I would not be willing to invest money in my writing, it’s that I have none to invest. Editors, cover artists, agents etc are well beyond my scope. (Self doubt and an unwillingness to blow my own trumpet don’t help either, but that’s another conversation.) Should I be content to simply write for myself?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Gemma, do you think you could barter some services? For example, perhaps in exchange for a cover design, you could write some web copy for the designer. And perhaps you could edit one author’s book in exchange for that person editing yours. (Agents don’t cost anything, by the way.) What do you think?


  31. Sandra, thanks for the interesting counsel. I literally had to judge my work to ensure I wasn’t guilty. I’m a first time publisher. I published my first book on Kindle in October, 2020. The title is “A Voucher for Her Heart”. The best part of my book is the connection to each character. My book was inspired by a friend’s true life story; so, when penning down the characters, I literally had a picture in my head. Readers
    can actually feel the life in each character. I think it’s great cos when a story feels relatable, it’s difficult to drop. My book gives hope to teen mums who have to raise their kids alone. It’s a romance novel and I would really love if you could check it out. Thanks

    1. Abigail, it’s hard for us to judge our own work, but I love your confidence and hope your readers agree with you. It’s wonderful that a friend’s experience inspired you.


  32. Love how most of the comments on “why I won’t read your self-published book” are “please read my self-published book”.

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