Things I wish I had done differently (AKA All the mistakes I made) #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #AmWriting #BookMarketing

mistakes 1Today, I’m going to eat a huge slice of humble pie and talk about all the mistakes I’ve made as an authorpreneur. Hopefully, someone can learn from my mistakes. Lord knows it took me forever to learn from them. So, without further ado, all the mistakes I’ve made.


Not using an editor. Hangs head in shame. How could I have been soooo stupid? I was convinced I didn’t need an editor (and couldn’t afford one) when I started out. It took me three (3!) books to realize what a colossal mistake I’d made. Don’t be like me. Use an editor from the get go. There are plenty of affordable ones out there.

Formatting. As someone who is detail-orientated, I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t really notice formatting when reading. Since I didn’t notice it, it didn’t matter, right? Um, no. Who cares if readers complained about margins and such? No one pays attention to that stuff. Amazing how much we can lie to ourselves.

Pen name. This is a big one. I write in several different genres: historical fiction, romantic comedies, and cozy mysteries. In the beginning, I even wrote more genres – military suspense and suspense. I didn’t think it was a big deal. After all, I read anything that catches my fancy. *Pounds head against table* Stop thinking like a writer and think like a reader, Dena. Because readers are extremely faithful to their genre. I should have created a pen name for each genre. (More about this in a future blog.)

Newsletter. More head banging. I wish I would have taken my newsletter seriously from the beginning. I’ve been writing for several years now and instead of having a large newsletter following, I’m only now building one. Plus, I didn’t pay any attention on what to put in a newsletter. So, I still have a ton of subscribers who are inactive. I’m only now starting to glean the benefits of newsletter swaps.

Genre specific covers. I was listening to a podcast yesterday that described my problem to a T. Your cover shouldn’t be about the story but about what readers of the genre expect. Why oh why didn’t I hear those words earlier in my writing career? Because that is exactly what I did in the past – I found a cover to match the story. This mistake cost me sales. By changing the covers in my Death by Cupcake series, I’ve been able to increase sales without doing extra marketing.

Marketing courses. As a writer, I check the tiniest details in my books. What time does the sunrise in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 15th? Hold on. I’m checking. But I didn’t do any research about marketing or take any marketing courses until I was years into my writing journey. WHY? Sure, some of the courses are expensive but podcasts are free. What was wrong with me?

I’ve made a ton more mistakes, but the above are the big ones – the ones that cost me sales and readers.


This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

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18 thoughts on “Things I wish I had done differently (AKA All the mistakes I made) #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #AmWriting #BookMarketing

  1. robertawrites235681907 says:

    Thank you for sharing your perceived mistakes. I was really interested in your comment about pen names. I write under two names and, from a marketing point of view, it has been hard work to promote another author brand for my adult books, but I think it is worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie Blackbird says:

    Great post. I’ve only been 1 1/2 years published and I’m finally starting to develop a newsletter. I’m glad I’m not the only one who put it off. And yes, the content is important in the newsletter, too. So I’m working away on mine. It’s set to go out in mid-March.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carmen Lezeth Suarez says:

    Well…. I say this with love and with so much respect, gurl, you are too hard on yourself! The information is BRILLIANT. Thank you for sharing it. But please stop being so mean to yourself about when you figured it out, how you figured it out. I think the words we use to describe ourselves — even with the best of intentions of helping others — matters to our own personal psyche. You are an amazing resource, a fabulous writer — and as the great Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.” This is the path you’re on and all along the way you do the very best you can, until you know better. Here’s the great thing — on top of writing and doing this creative brilliant work you do, now you’re sharing your experience to help others… gurl, you would NOT have been able to teach others had you not experienced it all. What a lovely way to take your experience and make some fabulous lemonade for everyone else. No shame, no more pounding of your head and no, nothing is wrong with you! I know we’re all about helping each other with writing, but I feel the need to share how perfect your timing of learning what you had to learn was — all of us who have the pleasure of learning from you can now incorporate this into our own work. Thank you for that! (GREAT POST! Hugs!).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. J.Q. Rose says:

    Written from your heart. Thank you for helping many writers with your advice. I’m guilty of most of them too. Pen name–I’ve heard both the pro and con sides of keeping the genres separate by using different pen names, but I have not because I didn’t want the added work of marketing both names. That decision may have cost me sales. I can understand from the readers POV that readers of my mysteries are not going to be interested in my non-fiction. I don’t think I can do much about it now.
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rosepoint Publishing says:

    excellent post and yes, haven’t we all been guilty of most or all of those but the two that has me banging my head is the one about pen names for different genres and the cover matching genre expectations–NOT what the book is about. OOPS!! Really?! maybe time i went on another campaign…

    Liked by 1 person

    • D.E. Haggerty says:

      The cover matching genre expectations is a big one. I seriously lost money because my covers for cozy mysteries didn’t match genre expectations 😦

      I promise to write more about pen names later.


  6. lalanquist says:

    I’m still a bit of a baby writer in terms of experience in the publishing world, so I hadn’t even thought about the genre expectations for covers! I’ll have to keep an eye out for common motifs/themes from now on when I’m at the library!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    And then you have to find the RIGHT editor for you and your books. Sigh. It’s a lot like dating…

    As for all the other things, I just listen to what Joanna Penn, Nick Stephenson, Mark Dawson and Geoff Affleck have to teach me 🙂

    I recently learned the hard truth about covers, too. I’ve had a 100% increase in sales since changing one book’s cover… now to do the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Chuck says:

    I made the mistake of not using an editor for my first book. A third of my reviews make mention of all my mistakes that could have been caught if I had. What is odd though, is my first book that outsells the other two. Go figure. I’m currently rewriting my first (this might be a mistake) with the help of an author critique group. I will then send it to an editor for final review. I don’t plan on changing the title, but do plan on a new cover. I’ll make it clear in the front matter that it is a revised (rewritten) version. Any other advice on this process?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    Truly, this is a very helpful post for me. I so need to do all this. This newsletter thing. I am so fighting myself with this. I feel how can I find time to do all this AND write my stories. Bookmarked the post. Thanks so much! And so sorry you learned the hard way. I usually do, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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