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Top Three Reasons Why New Authors Fail & Tips To Avoid The Common Pitfalls

Written by: Sierra Melcher, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Sierra Melcher

All entrepreneurs should be authors. Books add to authority, credibility and spread the reach of your message. But so many would-be authors get overwhelmed or those who publish fail to optimize their impact.

Overhead shot of a person sitting on desk surrounded by crumpled paper

If I knew then what I know now, my first book could have come out in 2007 instead of 2020. I have made most of the errors a new author could make in writing, publishing, and marketing. As a result, I have learned the hard way. Now I run an all-female publishing company that strives to teach writers ways to be successful at every stage of the process. Let me share the main pitfalls of authorship and how to avoid them.

If I could boil the learning down it would be this:

Creating a successful book requires a three-part effort, invest in each phase and pace yourself.

  • Writing is only 1/3 of the task, reserve energy for the other parts

  • Publishing is a full and complex process, know your options

  • a solid Marketing plan is essential to any book, don’t wing it

Writing Pitfall: One

The fundamental pitfall in writing is believing that writing is the primary phase in authorship. Authors put all of their energy into writing and don't have enough energy left to navigate the publishing process or the essential book marketing process.

  • Authors overinvest energy, time, and/or money in the drafting phase

  • Not understanding the importance of pacing your energy for the 3-phase journey

  • Going it alone: writing is a solitary task, but being an author doesn't need to be lonely

One client shared a story:

She spent 3 years writing and invested over $10,000 in writing coaches and editors only to find out that to pitch her non-fiction manuscript to an agent she needed only three chapters drafted but an 80-page book proposal. She needed to focus on her book proposal because no agent would read a full manuscript.

Solution One

  • Pace Yourself: writing is only a third of the game

  • Get Curious: investigate/research publishing and marketing options early, before you draft

  • Be willing to make mistakes: Read my recent book Typo: The Art of Imperfect Creation

  • Market Early by sharing the process on your social channels & with your existing audience: (have a strategy and a plan)

  • Connect to a Community of writers, authors, and publishing folks… to learn what you don’t know you don’t know and to share support. Build bridges. No writer has to be an island.

Writing Best Practices: Research the genre you want to write about, research comparative titles, and explore publishing options that suit your budget, timeline, and goals. Have an initial marketing plan in place as you begin the writing process to maximize your time, build momentum, and attract attention to your book.

Publishing pitfall: Two

There are so many publishing options available; this does not make it easier. Overwhelm leads to stagnation, poor choices & poor execution

  • Procrastination- hesitant to pitch to agents, research your options, or make a definitive choice

  • Doing Steps Out of Order because you don’t know enough at the beginning

  • Sloppy DIY Publishing attempts either out of frustration or trying to save money

  • Analysis Paralysis: too many publishing choices can prevent the author from learning what the realistic options are, choosing, and acting.

Publishing Twice:

Erica Hull co-wrote a book pre-pandemic, and learned on the go: she drafted the manuscript and edited it, learned how to self-publish on Amazon, designed the cover, and did everything possible to get her book out into the world. People were interested in the book. But there were two problems:

1) She burned herself out.

2) She hesitated to share it because her final product was riddled with errors.

Two years later, she hired Red Thread Publishing to help her republish the book, But That’s Not Me, professionally edit it and put it out into the world. Congratulations to her on both efforts. But having the right support and a proven system in place to do it only once can save so much time, money, and distress.

Solution two

  • Take Small Actions Regularly: the solution to procrastination is breaking a big task into small steps so it is mentally and logistically easy.

  • Know & Choose a Publishing Method: research publishing options early.

  • Chart the Publishing Timeline from beginning to end.

  • Work with people who know more than you about the things outside of your skillset

  • Commit to Ongoing Marketing throughout.

Publishing Best Practices: Learn more about what is available so you can make the best choice for you, your book, and your audience.

To help inform your choice, answer these questions:

  • What is the best avenue to publish this book– for the audience that needs it?

  • What is my ultimate goal?

  • What is my budget and timeline?

  • How much energy and relevant skills do I have to invest in this project?

  • Who can support me to get it done well?

Marketing pitfall: Three

Marketing doesn’t start when your book comes out. Far too many authors have no energy, time, or money remaining for ongoing book marketing because they pour all into the writing and publishing process.

Marketing is the common hangup for new authors:

  • Misconception: The old adage – it is better to do one thing at a time… Write. Then publish. Then market

  • Delaying/Procrastinating marketing your book for fear, overwhelm, or exhaustion

  • No Strategy: Trying everything and never getting good at anything

  • No Plan - Inconsistent Efforts, sporadic sharing, and haphazard messaging

Self-published authors, indie authors, and traditionally published authors alike are all required to show up to market their books in countless ways. PR still largely falls on the author's shoulders. Be aware of this. Be prepared for this. Create a time and a budget for this.

A client shared a story about her previous book:

Only after her first book came out did she realize that the terms of her contract gave her a meager royalties percentage. This led her to not want to market the book at all because the publisher made all the profit. Her poor publishing choice led to an aversion to marketing.

Solution Three

  • Start Marketing Early and be consistent with it. (Yes, I have said this three times in this article, because IT IS IMPORTANT).

  • Have a Strategy and a Plan mapped out BEFORE you publish.

  • Break it down into manageable chunks with a 90-day Marketing Plan that makes clear messaging and consistency feasible and repeatable.

Book marketing best practices

Start Early – [LIKE TODAY] Build the awareness and momentum now so you don’t have to create all the momentum from zero, instead of having traction & excitement at the start.

Jennifer Johnson’s Success Story

She launched her first book, THRIVing After Burnout, in August of 2022 and had been sharing throughout her drafting and publishing process. Additionally, with her ongoing marketing plan in place, in the course of the first year, she had strategically positioned herself as an expert in her field, applied to speak at influential conferences, consulted with some big organizations, and had a 5 million dollar offer in front of her. We don’t market our books just to sell books; we market our books to help our ideal audience, position ourselves as authorities, and secure significant income for the core work we offer (more on this in future articles).

Final thoughts & takeaways

  1. Divide your energy: 30% into writing, 30% into publishing, & 30% into marketing. Consider this in terms of time, money, and skill set.

  2. Connect with a community of peers and experts to guide you in the process, connect with the appropriate resources, and support your decision-making process.

  3. Take small actions to break the enormous task of writing, publishing, and marketing a book into manageable chunks.

If this article has inspired you, informed you, or debunked a myth for you, please leave a comment, share & tag us. Thanks so much.

Red Thread Publishing is on a mission to support 10,000 women to become successful published authorpreneurs and thought leaders. If you have a book in you, but you're not sure where to start or how to proceed. I'd love to talk to you.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and visit my website for more info!

Sierra Melcher Brainz Magazine

Sierra Melcher, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Best-selling author, international speaker & educator, Sierra Melcher is founder of Red Thread Publishing LLC. She leads an all-female publishing company, with a mission to support 10,000 women to become successful published authors & thought-leaders. Offering world-class coaching & courses that focus on community, collaboration, and a uniquely feminine approach at every stage of the author process. Sierra has a Master’s degree in education, has spoken & taught around the world. Originally from the United States, Sierra lives in Medellin, Colombia with her young daughter.



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