Writing a book and having a career as an author can be exciting, but being a successful author can be life-changing. You’ll find countless pieces of advice out there about the things you should DO to make it as an author, though not so much about the things you should NOT DO. Today, we’re changing things up a bit, revealing to you the things you should stop doing if you are writing a book and want your upcoming piece to be the next big thing.
Here at Book Launchers, we’ve helped tons of authors to write a compelling book, edit their non-fiction book, publish and promote it successfully. We’ve seen a lot of things, including the things that many authors do that just don’t work. In this post, we’ll share with you a simple “not-to-do” list to ensure that your non-fiction journey ends up in a big win.
Here are nine common mistakes you should avoid when writing a non-fiction book:
1 – Letting Ego Get In The Way
Through the years, I’ve met a lot of incredible authors. One of the things I’ve noticed they have in common is fear – fear of failure, fear of success, imposter syndrome, and fear of judgment (think public speaking). The thing about fear is that if you let it be about you and your success, it’s going to be harder to make the right decisions, especially if they’re tough ones.
Chances are, at least at the onset, you’ll feel like this book should be all about you becoming a bestseller, making tons of money in the process. Don’t fall into this trap.
Stop making this book about you and start making it about your readers. Focus more on how your book can help them achieve a specific outcome in their lives. When you focus on providing value, you’ll be able to push ego aside just enough to get your book into the world and have an impact.
2- Trying to Sound Too Smart
Speaking of writing a book for your dear readers, make sure that your book is written solely for them – not for your colleagues, industry leaders, or anyone else you’d consciously, or unconsciously, like to impress. You’re not trying to impress your peers. This is not a paper you’re submitting to the highest-level journals in your industry.
You’re trying to influence your target audience to take action, move forward, and make lasting changes in their life or business.
What’s that mean? You don’t need to use big words to sound smart. Unless you’re a doctor writing for a doctor or an engineer writing for an engineer, you’ll do better if you keep your choice of words simple and easy to digest. If you feel like straight, simple writing makes you look less intelligent, let me ask you if anyone has ever said to you, “Man, you made that book really complex. You must be smart“? No, I bet not.
Knowing how to explain your concepts in ways that anyone can understand is a good sign that you know what you’re doing when it comes to your subject matter. You’re not trying to impress your professor; you’re trying to impact your reader and sell books. To see the readability of your piece, you can run it on a Flesch-Kincaid test. The sweet spot lies between grade six and grade eight. Anything higher is complex.
3 – Trying to Perfect Your First Draft
Let’s get this out of the way; every first draft is supposed to be bad, and that’s okay. You don’t have to spend countless hours editing and rereading what you’ve written in an attempt to try to make it sound perfect. At this point of the process, all you need to do is get your ideas out of your head and onto each page.
To avoid non-stop editing as you write your draft, you can set up a prompt when you have finished writing for the day. When you sit down to write tomorrow or even a week from now, you don’t have to reread what you wrote; you just write using those prompts.
4 – Asking Friends and Family About Their Opinion
The people close to us are likely our first go-to when getting feedback about our work. But, chances are, your friends and family members may not be your ideal readers who will spend money to pick up your book and take its advice. Stop asking your friends and family their opinion on your cover, your title, or anything else that’s vital to the success of your book, unless your friends or family are your ideal reader or they’re book publishing professionals.
There’s an art and a science to appealing to your audience. You’ll need to tap into your actual reader’s opinion or the advice of experts.
5 – Expecting Quick Wins
Nowadays, everyone is focused on getting quick results and instant gratification. But, when it comes to getting your writing out there, learning to play the long game can be more beneficial. Even if they don’t bring instant results, taking the proper steps can set you up for long-term success. By playing the long game, you’ll find that “slowly but surely” really works, making the journey more successful and rewarding.
Just because you have the money to buy quick wins doesn’t mean you should. Remember, Amazon is an algorithm machine looking for consistent conversions, not quick wins, so you don’t want to play a game to get an Amazon bestseller.
6 – Setting Goals You Can’t Control
There are only so many things we can control when starting out on our publishing journey. Many authors fail to realize that there’s a big difference between realistic goals and unrealistic ones in terms of effort and outcome.
Stop setting goals you can’t control. Instead, shift your focus to the things you can. For example, you can’t control being an instant bestseller, but you can control how many places you pitch yourself for podcasts or speaking. You can control how many people you ask for reviews, and you absolutely can control how many blog posts and live videos you publish to help get the word out.
Make sure to get clear on the things you can control so you can set them up as realistic and attainable goals. That way, you can watch the outcomes pile up, leading all to the way to end result you want.
7 – Waiting For The “Right Time” To Write and Publish
If you’re waiting for the “perfect time” to write and publish your book, you may be waiting forever. You don’t have to keep putting off your book because you feel it isn’t the “right time.” If you’ve learned anything from 2020 and 2021’s volatility, it’s that there are very few certainties out there.
Rarely have I ever met an author that says, “Man, I wished I hadn’t written that book.” What I often do hear is something along the lines of, “I need my book done in three months for this big opportunity.” Books take longer to write, publish, launch than you think, especially if you want them to be exceptional. Start writing your book today before it becomes too urgent. I’ve met too many people who’d put off their projects because they never felt ready, and that’s a shame because their book could have been helping people.
8 – Not Realizing The Value Your Book Could Have
Number eight leads me to a great tip from my YouTube friends at Mindful Eats, who said, “Authors should realize there are people out there who desperately need your book.” This tip complements tip number seven. I’m sure you can think of plenty of reasons to start writing your piece today. Sometimes all you need to do is to look back and get toned on why you’d like to write your book in the first place. Yes, it will take a lot of work, but it’s always going to be worth it. Get to work and get it done!
9 – Worrying Too Much And Failing To Enjoy The Process
This tip comes from Caleb over at BookLaunchers.TV, also known as CTOrtega. “Authors should stop worrying ten steps ahead, enjoy step by step of the process. Fall in love with the process more than the desire for results.” I love this piece of advice. Here’s the truth, you don’t need to know every step of the journey before you start writing a book. What you do need to know is who you’ll be writing for and what your goals are. Setting definite and clear goals provides you with a general path to follow.
Thinking about how you’ll get an ISBN or what an aggregator does really doesn’t matter if you haven’t even started writing a single word. Write your book now and then figure it all out.
Anyone can be a writer. Each person has their own stories to tell or wisdom to share with the world. The only significant difference between you and a successful writer is that they’ve actually started writing. No one’s really stopping you from making an impact with your book other than you.
Still wondering what to do? Well, we have a lot more wonderful things in store for you. If you haven’t already, start writing your #noboringbooks process with our 7-step guide to getting your ideas from your head and onto the pages.
Here at Book Launchers, we help authors every step of the self-publishing journey, from concept to copies in readers’ hands. Schedule a call today and let’s talk about getting your book out there.
You also need to know when to stop editing your book. This video will help with that: