7 Big Issues I’ve Come Across Writing My Debut Novel

by Matthew Turner

Today’s guest post comes from Matthew Turner. In November Matthew posted here about 4 Online Haunts Where Your Readers Live. Tomorrow marks the launch of his novel Beyond Parallel and he’s back with us today to share some of the biggest issues he has encountered while self-publishing his novel … over to you Matthew…

I love writing…I hate writing…I love writing…I hate writing…

If you’re a writer of any kind I’m sure you understand this never-ending cycle of torture. It’s the greatest, most enthralling thing in the world, when you sit down and create something from nothing.

However, there is so much more that comes with the process, especially if you decide to self-publish your work. You’re not only a writer, but a marketer, designer, editor, proofreader, salesman, formatter, networking genius, and general ninja.

As Beyond Parallel is my debut novel, I came into the process rather naive. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, blogs you digest, or presentations you devour, there’s always something that pops up that you simply didn’t think about.

7 Issues I Came Across

There are many more pitfalls to worry about, but here are 7 aspects I’ve come across in recent months:


1: Writing

What I’ve learned is that there’s a difference between writing for fun and writing for real. Once you set yourself some deadlines, involve editors and Beta Readers, and basically develop a platform, writing takes on a new identity.

My advice is to always push yourself and never be 100% satisfied with where you are. Every time I thought I hit the jackpot I took a step back and considered where the next issue was. I asked other people and lo and behold, it wasn’t the perfect scene.

Keep learning and keep progressing. The fight is never won!


2: Formatting

OMG why didn’t anyone tell me that formatting would be so fiddly? Wait, you did? Well, I don’t remember you saying anything, but I’ll take your word for it.

Creating an Ebook or paperback is tough times x 1000. Every time you think the end is in sight, another issue will present itself, and considering each type of format (paperback, hardback, epub, mobi & pdf) are all slightly different, an hour’s job can quickly turn into days.

My biggest piece of advice is to use Scrivener and Calibre, two pieces of software that have just about kept me sane. Those who try and do everything in Word…well…you have my sympathies.


3: The Industry

The publishing world is big, and it isn’t until you start digging that you realise just how big it is. Oh, and it’s getting bigger every single day, so that’s good, too.

The sooner you realise you’re going to be a small fish in a big pond, the better. Don’t fret, there’s a lot of food for everyone; so long as you plan and take EVERYTHING seriously.

Do your research, consider your reader, and prepare months in advance. If you simply release your book and then start working, those issues can flood the surface.


4: Advice

It’s great, but there’s so much of it, and the problem is much of it contradicts the other. If you listened to everything you’d go crazy and end up with the worst book ever.

My advice is to listen to as much as you can but filter EVERYTHING. You have to agree with the decisions you make and be on board with the path you craft. Don’t simply listen because a big-time author told you to.

Take it on board but filter whatever comes your way. Your gut instinct will get you through the tough decisions, and you’ll learn from the rest. Advice is great, but don’t try and implement it all.


5: Authority

There is still a stigma about self-published authors, and everyone – from other writers to reviewers – will be cautious about you. You can’t defeat this on your own, and it will take time and a mindset to change it, but you can help yourself by being a model professional.

Do what you can to build authority. Blog, Tweet, go to conferences, and whatever else that allows you to showcase your skills. .

We can’t buy authority, nor can we pretend to have it. We can act in the right manner, though, and one day we’ll wake up with it in abundance.


6: Editing

More specifically, self-editing. We all have to do it, but boy is it hard; much harder than I had ever dreamt. As such I advise you to involve an editor as soon as you can (and as your budget allows).

That doesn’t mean get an editor as soon as you’ve scratched a few notes on a napkin, because what you give them needs to be good. However, understand it won’t be great. We don’t create greatness on our own, it’s a team effort.

Saying that, it’s important that you self-edit often. I’m not saying I’m a super star editor, but I’m much better now because of the work I’ve done over and over again. It’s enough to drive you insane, but it’s worth it.


7: Obscurity

Finally, your biggest obstacle will be to get noticed. Most of us start at the bottom and need to work our way up. The good news is that thousands of people have done it before us, and although some get there through luck, most do it with hard work.

Make yourself visible, be more than a writer, and LOVE your book as if it’s a child. Be proud of it and beam when you talk about it. You don’t want to sell sell sell and be that annoying Twitter follower, but be proud of the art you create.

In time you’ll get there, and soon you’ll be a big-time author who can share the love with the rest of us.


Over to You

That’s my two cents, but we won’t get anywhere with just seven tips. 

I ask you to share your own. Scroll down to the comments area and leave one piece of advice that you’ve picked up along the way.

Together we can take on the world.

Matthew Turner


About the Author

Matthew Turner is a writer from Yorkshire, England. His debut novel, Beyond Parallel launches tomorrow (8th January) and now is the perfect time to take notice. For the first three days you don’t only get the book, but over $50 of extras.

In the same mould as Sliding Doors, Beyond Parallel flips between two parallel tales. Grab yourself a copy and be part of a true coming-of-age story that everyone can relate to.


  1. Good, useful article, Matthew! I think you’ve covered all the issues about self-publishing, and the formatting (for publishing on Kindle, E-Books etc.,) is an issue that comes up time and time again. Luckily, there are low-cost solutions about the subject, as well as the ones mentioned, and these are touched on in many of the E-Books promoted on our ‘Write2Profit’ Writer’s Website.
    Regarding the ‘stigma’ applied to self-published authors, I think this will eventually disappear as E-Books/Kindle Publishing/Screen Reading etc., continues to grow as a ‘normal’ way to read books. The key – which you touch on – is marketing and promoting your work. Writing the book or guide is only half the story… finding effective ways of promoting it is the key to publishing success. Of course we now have Facebook, Twitter and more to help with this, but ONE DAY I think there’ll be a new way that will revolutionise the way we can promote our work. ‘Till then, best keep on writing, and never give up.
    Thanks. Andy.

    • Good points Andy, and yes, I think more tools will be made available. Who knows where we could be in 2, 3, or even 5 years from now.

      I certainly think the stigma will decrease – hopefully completely one day

      Matthew Turner

  2. Just a word about Calibre, which I love and used to utilize all the time. Recently I have had serious formatting issues with my Kindle ebooks when I have re-uploaded these due to a new cover or adding a sub-title.

    After numerous back and forth emails to KDP, I was told that KDP no longer supports third-party conversion software such as Calibre. Now only KindleGen may be used.

    This unwelcome news (presumably because of Kindle Fire) has required me to go through a steep learning curve to create all the documents needed for each Kindle ebook in order to use KindleGen.

    But I agree that risking the look of one’s ebook on uploading a Word doc to KDP is not worth the risk.

  3. Many thanks. Just getting ready to publish an ebook, and searching round for all helpful advice.
    My “cunning plan” is to publish one or two less important small articles to learn the ropes, working my way up to my books.

  4. Hi Phyllis, when did this issue arise? I have been using Calibre, and uploaded my most recent version to KDP a few days ago. There were only a few minor changes made, but everything seems to be fine.


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