4 Obstacles to Self-Publishing Success

by | Apr 1, 2013

Are you one of those authors who keeps meaning to get to publishing your own books, but somehow never manages to actually get all the way to the finish line?

Hey, you’re not alone, it happens to lots of people.

Gathering information from many talks with authors, it seems to me there are 4 big obstacles that trip authors up, and that get in the way of their goals.

What are they?

  • Rejection–Thinking that you’re just not good enough, that people will hate your book—and you—because you’re actually a no-talent hacker with no business publishing your own book.
  • Worry–Feeling overwhelmed by how big the project is, that you will never be able to do it all.
  • Fear–Feeling that no one will notice your book and no one will buy your book and the people that do read it will hate it and write bad things about you on the internet.
  • Confusion–Becoming so totally confused about just what to do and where to start that you never end up doing anything.

Let’s face it, these are powerful human emotions. Putting our work out into the world can bring up lots of resistance and make us question the value of our message, the quality of our writing, and the passion we bring to our work.

That’s why I hate to see authors trapped in these emotions, because they just keep you stuck.

New Video: “Self-Publishing Mistakes, Screw-Ups and Disasters”

I’ve got another video for you that addresses this subject head on, and suggests ways you can get over the traps if you happen to be caught in one at the moment.

In the video I also look at some common mistakes new self-publishers make, and go over some of my own classic goofs just to reassure you that even professionals can screw up big time.

At the end of the video there’s a story I call “The Most Important Book of All,” and I think you’ll get something out of it.

It describes some of the things that happened to me when I first overcame my own resistance and succeeded in publishing a book I knew there was a need for.

Getting that book out into the world wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap either. But I had no idea when I published it just how much it would change my life.

I would have to say that nothing was the same afterwards as it was before.

But better yet, go over and have a look at this video. It runs about 21 minutes and it’s packed with content.

Here’s the link: Self-Publishing Mistakes, Screw-ups and Disasters

If it brings up issues for you (I just watched it again, and it brought up issues for me!) leave me a comment below the video. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s the link one more time, this will be 21 minutes well spent: Self-Publishing Mistakes, Screw-ups and Disasters

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Tracy R. Atkins

    Rejection: You are going to be rejected, over and over. You know what; it doesn’t matter because everyone in the arts gets rejected until they find the right fit for their work. That is just how it works. It often has little to do with your talent or the merit of your work, but in how it fits with someone else’s needs, agenda, taste, viewpoint or even if they are having a bad day.

    I could tell you to not take rejection to heart, but you will. Negative comments from editors, publishers, reviewers, and readers can sting. The best advice I can give you is this. Don’t be arrogant or even cold to rejection. Listen to why you are being rejected. If several different rejection reasons are similar, make an adjustment to your work if possible. Never focus on one person’s opinion, but take a broad view. Moreover, remember, there are so many outlets for your work that even fifty rejections aren’t that many.

    Even talented people with a lot of great work, get some works rejected. Heck, think of your favorite music group, do you love every single song they have made? I will bet that you have cringed and rejected a few too.

  2. Michael N. Marcus

    Fear and worry are useless emotions because they cripple people and accomplish nothing.

    If you are so afraid of doing the wrong thing, you’ll do nothing.

    It’s much better to do something, anything. If you find out it’s the wrong thing, then you’ll know to do another thing.


    A related problem: the pathetic pursuit of perfection can delay many things, including publishing a book. No book is perfect. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect.

    I knew a man who, even in 2005, refused to buy a color TV for his family because “it’s not perfected yet.” When he died, the first thing his widow
    did was buy a 55-inch flat screen.

    Human beings are not perfect yet. We have tonsils we don’t need. Men have nipples they don’t need. The small toe could probably be eliminated. Most Americans need to wear eyeglasses.

    Don’t publish a book until it’s good enough to not embarrass you. However, with POD and ebooks, you can keep making improvements. Early adopters will get good books and people who wait will get better books.

    BookMakingBlog, https://www.bookmakingblog.com/2013/04/front-list-back-list-black-list.html

  3. Ernie Zelinski


    Same problem in viewing the video as Colin had.

    Even so, I just would like to say that I have overcome my fears of self-publishing by operating with this motto in mind:


    These quotations relate to the motto:

    “Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life’s ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved.”
    — W. Somerset Maugham

    “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.”
    — William Shakespeare

    “It is far better to know too little than to know too much.”
    — Samuel Butler

    “Sometimes you face difficulties not because you’re doing something wrong, but because you’re doing something right.”
    — Joel Osteen

    “A lot of disappointed people have been left standing on the street
    corner waiting for the bus marked Perfection.”
    — Donald Kennedy

    Following this important motto is what has contributed to my success in having over 750,000 copies of my books sold worldwide.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 175,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  4. Colin

    Hey Joel
    “Error 404 – Page Not Found” for your video…

    • Colin

      Cool stuff, I can access the video. Now, the patience to wait to watch it…



  1. 4 Obstacles to Self-Publishing Success | Publetariat - […] is a reprint of a post that originally appeared on Joel Friedlander‘s The Book […]
  2. Friday’s Round Up – April 5, 2013 | Calamus - [...] 4 Obstacles to Self-Publishing Success via The Book Designer [...]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *