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Three Mistakes I Made When I Published My First Book

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

We all have- or at least most of us have the common bug to tell our own story and share with the world. My first foray into writing began when I was a young school administrator. I had so many experiences in my head that I had to share. After writing for years- mostly on scraps of paper while sitting in meeting after meeting, it was finally time to share my knowledge with the world. Little did I know- that although I was ready, I didn't know if the world was ready to hear from me! I made three vital mistakes (things I did not do) I believe any first-time writer would make- with your enthusiasm to tell your story. First- Hire an Editor. When I wrote my first book- Inner-City Public Schools Still Work, I shared my transcript with the many teachers I knew, friends, family, and strangers. Trying to save money, I depended on their expertise to spell check, idea check, and somehow read my mind to figure out what I was trying to say. With my own eyes, I read and re-read my manuscript hundreds of times, only to laughingly find out during publication that my final document was wrought with errors. While writing my second-book- on its way to becoming a best-seller (The Making of a MAD Man)- I hired an editor, and the finished product was/is so much better than the first.

Second- Reach for an Audience You Have Never Met. Your social media friends and followers will support you- somewhat, but I learned that my success would come from an audience I had yet to meet. I expected my entire social media following to support my writing endeavor and purchase a copy hurriedly- nothing could be further from the truth. If you believe in your book- don't be afraid to reach an audience you are not connected to. Hire brand marketers, call radio stations, bookstores, schools, churches- market yourself! A perfect example would the global entrepreneur Master P. and his No Limit Music label. He started selling music from the trunk of his car. You must have the same tenacity. If you don't believe in your product, no one else will. Finally- Really Self-Publish. When I say "self-publish," I am not referring to a hybrid model, where you write the book and hire a publishing service (such as LuLu) or the many others out there. They are all great at what they do, but you must be prepared to take all the risks if you plan to self-publish. Not only did I create my own publishing company (The Alhaven Group Publishing), I hired designers, marketers, editors, and-, my book can only be purchased from my website ( Yes, I even sell out of the trunk of my car.

Although behemoths such as Amazon provide a fantastic service to make your book available to the world- their services come with a cost. That cost is absorbed by every book you sell. Plus, you will receive royalty payments on a time-schedule those companies provide to you when you use such services. Whereas they make money daily- you must wait quarterly or semi-annually. I like the part of the Lord's prayer where it reads, "give us this day our DAILY bread." If you think of money as loot, cheddar, or BREAD- you will realize that God commands that we get our blessings daily- not quarterly, monthly, weekly, or semi-annually. Here's hoping that your next novel is as successful as you can imagine!

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1 Comment

Dr. Mateen, This is a great overview of your book and your story. I'm more inspired to finish writing MY book. Thanks for sharing! Best wishes!


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