Avoid embarrassing mistakes

Lots of authors get very excited about the ease of publishing these days and quickly upload books to the general public on Amazon. That's a mistake. First, publish to select groups of readers. Here's why.

Avoid the embarrassment of premature publication

Many authors who publish too quickly are sorry later because they discover typos, their interior margins are too narrow, the leading (space between lines) is too close, or their cover is not appropriate.

Reviewers on Amazon aren’t shy about complaining about poor editing. One author I know has a great book with excellent reviews, but there are lots of comments like this:

This is an awesome book, and I really enjoyed it, but it’s too bad the author was too cheap to hire an editor.

Can’t take it back

Finding critique partners or a group and beta-publishing can help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that will haunt you to the end of your writing days. Once you’ve distributed your book, it will appear forever on Amazon for resale as new or used by various third-party resellers with that horrible self-created cover and all those copyediting errors in your manuscript—not to mention that character you later wrote out because she seemed a bit too much like your litigious ex-roommate.

Avoid the embarrassment of premature publication and engage a critique partner and early readers to help you identify issues in the beta-publishing stage.


You just upload a Word doc and that’s that, right? Amazon likes to make it sound easy, and it is if you know what you’re doing. You need sufficient margins, headers and footers, consistent styling, proper pagination and treatment of front and back matter. Later, in the Make Your Book Course, you'll learn about Book Production Basics and how to create ARCs (advance reading copies) for early release.


Critique groups and partners can help by providing developmental editing. They’ll tell you about plot holes, theme breaks, problems with the narrative arc. They’ll ask you about that character you dropped halfway through the book. They won’t say it the way an editor would, but if you have a compelling story and they want more, they’ll let you know.

I’ve had readers point out that there wasn’t a full moon on the date I described it rising over the sea. Oops! (I write nonfiction.) Another corrected me on the population of a town, and another on the cubic inches of the engine on a particular model of motorcycle. Fact checkers are a great idea!

You don’t want to start selling before you’re sure your story is good, your facts are straight, and your book is formatted correctly.

Character development

Critique groups and beta readers can help you with character development. After all, you may be writing about somebody that you don’t know quite yet. I had an author contact me to ask about motorcycling. She wrote:

I’m writing a book about a woman in the midwest who had a fight with her husband. She buys a motorcycle and leaves him for a while to ride around the country by herself. What kind of motorcycle would she buy?

I gave her plenty of information to build scenes around purchasing a motorcycle and taking off on it, including the feeling of trepidation followed by the a surge of personal power after the initial fear. I’d also pointed her to a forum and recommended visiting a dealership to ask for advice and to just go sit on a few bikes.

These are the kinds of questions you can ask from your critique partners and beta readers, as well as in your email newsletter, or on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. Somebody always knows somebody who knows what you need to know.

If your characters aren’t believable, that’ll show up in the book reviews. Ditto for plot holes, tense mismatches and other copyediting errors. You want four- and five-star reviews, not one-star reviews!

What's next?

So, how do you find critique partners and beta readers? Let's find out!