While self publishing, especially ebooks, offers writers an incredible opportunity to get their books under reader's noses, one of the most common mistakes made by those new (and sometimes not so new) to self publishing, is to get caught up in the euphoria of publishing a book, and rushing to hit the publish button.
It can be a tragic and perhaps fatal mistake, which could damage your reputation as a writer for a very long time. Publishing a book with a weak story, gaps or holes in the plot, errors and typos and/or poor formatting will not only kill sales potential, but immediately damage your reputation as a writer.
Publishing an ebook on Kindle or Smashwords, or a 'Print On Demand' paperback with Createspace or Lulu takes literally minutes to complete and anyone with an ounce of computer know-how can do it. But don't fall for the trap.
If you haven't had your manuscript read by someone else, do not publish. As a writer, it's impossible to be objective about what you have written. Get at least one opinion, but preferably a lot more to find out if the story actually 'works' and if there are any holes in the plot. This should be done before detailed editing and correcting. It's simply about the story, so don't worry about grammar, spelling and typos too much at this stage.
When you get some feedback, don't publish. Act on the feedback and improve the story. Once you've done this, don't publish.
Now you have a story that works, walk away from it. Leave it for a month, or even two. Why? Because you need to approach the next stage with a fresh mind. Do not publish.
After a good break from your manuscript, start your editing process. Tidying up repetitions, over used words and phrases and check that the dialogue works and is properly punctuated and reported. 'Perhaps get rid of all those adverbs you added when you were wrapped up in the story when you wrote it,' he said wryly. Make sure your characters keep their 'voice'. Take your time, and then, do not publish.
Now it's time to find, pay or barter and get yourself a proof reader. Be patient and wait for that to be done and make the corrections. Then, do not publish.
Prepare your manuscript for publication and test it with a program such as Calibre and load it up onto your Kindle or iPad and read your book as your readers will. For POD, prepare the pdf version and check it carefully for pagination and font styles. Now, ready? No, do not publish.
Find some beta readers to read your finished book on their Kindle or iPad or what ever e-reader they have. Wait for their feedback, and act on it and make any necessary changes you think will make your book better. Do not publish.
Prepare your manuscript again with Calibre, then read your book again, just one last time and be proud of how fantastic it is.
And know that you have given your book the care and attention it deserves, and will enhance your reputation as a writer and self publisher.