#1 Uploading MS Word doc file to Amazon and letting it convert
Many authors tend to think that uploading their MS Word docs is all that is needed and suddenly decide that they have officially ‘self-published’ their books. To let automated software take control of your book’s layout and typesetting is a very WRONG approach. Self-publishing is much more than just that. MS Word is NOT a layout program but a word processor. It’s fine to write your book with it but that’s about it. Do NOT use any layout formatting with MS Word (especially if you wish to sell with other retailers).
#2 Selling only with Amazon
This mistake goes hand in hand with the first. Don’t stick with Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program (with KDP Select you give Amazon exclusive rights and are NOT allowed to sell anywhere else, not even on your own website!) What about all the other retailers (Apple/kobo/Google/BN/etc.)? Yes, the majority of your sales may come from Amazon, but how did the customer find your book? By placing your book on other retailers, you’re increasing your reach to more customers. This is better than merely uploading your new book to Amazon, where you will probably be ranked far back in your niche.
#3 Using cover templates for the book cover
Don’t use the cover templates from Amazon or Canva, unless you’re a professional graphic designer. Much thought goes into designing a stunning cover that many authors will overlook. A talented cover artist can design 100x better than any Amazon template or online cover creators. Period.
#4 Use Amazon’s free ISBN
Amazon will assign a free ISBN to each book (if you do not provide your own). Please be aware that this ISBN can ONLY be used with Amazon and will show Amazon Digital Services as imprint. You cannot use this ISBN with other retailers. But you SHOULD sell with other retailers and you SHOULD have the same ISBN across all retailers.
#5 Outsourcing distribution
Those not signing up for Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select tend to sign up with a third party distributor/aggregator in hope of making the book available on more platforms. Either a set-up fee is required or a percentage of the sales will be taken as payment, or a combination of both. You may choose this option because you do not know how to get all required files for different retailers. Consequently, you’ll begin to think that you are a self-published author when in fact you are vanity press published.
I think this is a wrong approach as well. Why would you give away control of your book to a third party? After spending years writing your book you just give it away to a third party? A small investment of under $500 would give you ALL files needed for ALL major retailers; a professional layout suitable for all retailers and all formats; a print-ready layout to have your book printed; a stunning cover with front/back/spine; a publisher assigned ISBN which can be used with all retailers, and you are in full control and get paid directly from all retailers with no middleman involved.
What do these points all have in common? Don’t stop the publishing process after you finished writing! If you are going to self-publish, make sure you do it professionally.