So many authors continue to make unnecessary ‘wrong turns’ with their book marketing, which costs them a significant number of sales.
In this article, part 2 of ‘The Book Marketing Maze‘, I’ve outlined 11 more wrong turns that are all too easy to take, including the worst mistake of all.
Fortunately for you, I’ve already taken most of the wrong pathways at some point, and my intention is to save you from wasting time doing the same. So I’ve also included a solution for each ‘wrong turn’.
The 22 Book Marketing Wrong Turns … continued:
12. Avoiding The Online Author Community
If you have decided that other authors are competition to be avoided, this can have several negative effects, such as isolation. You may find yourself without support.
Solution: Interact with authors whom you like.
Interact with other writers in your fiction genre, and send people over to them as well. This shows confidence in your own work, and attracts reciprocation.
The reality is that you want to find readers far more than writers, yes? I agree entirely, but there is great value in mixing it up with the author community in your genre. You’ll discover far more about book marketing and how to find readers. And you can also share any writing challenges you are facing – a problem shared is a problem halved.
13. Ignoring Your Fans
“I’m not interested in all those people. Suckers. I never reply to reader emails or questions in social media…” The strangely ironic thing is, people who say this can’t fathom why readers aren’t talking about them and their books.
Solution: Interact and communicate with readers.
Readers have given you their commitment, you owe them yours. Take time to communicate with them and reply if they ask questions or send praise.
Why? If you keep producing titles and maintain contact, your readers will become your fans and Word Of Mouth promoters for life.
Your fans value the fruits of your imagination far more than you may ever know. From your very first book, the first in a series, readers become invested in you. They’ll buy everything you write and feel they own you.
You certainly owe them your allegiance, because they’ve given you theirs.
14. Lacking A Firm Commitment
You haven’t truly decided you’re going to set out on the marketing highway, so you avoid taking action, hoping that somehow, something will turn up.
Or you suffer from haphazardness and unleash a torrent of communications on social media and your blog, then… nothing for months.
Solution: Commit to briefer content, more often.
This requires far less time commitment. Even a tasty release of weekly candy for fans is more effective than an epic every month.
I do this myself quite frequently. For example, this post you’re reading is far longer than most I have planned. Instead, I would rather help people and keep them motivated with interesting, shorter pieces of contact more often. Agree?
15. Expecting A Publisher To Do It All For You.
Publishers, if you can get one these days, don’t usually promote unknown authors.
As a result, very few new authors will ever sell more than a handful of books unless they understand book marketing.
Solution: Build your Author Platform.
What’s really required is promoting your books yourself. You want your book read so word of mouth can spread, so your main task is to ignite that process.
Download my free book containing information about how to build your Author Platform: The Bestseller Labs Guide To Publishing. Sign up for it in the form below this article. Also read through the growing collection of author marketing articles I’m publishing on this site.
16. Chasing A Trend, Or Picking A Genre Because You Think There’s Money In It.
Be afraid. By the time a trend is hot it’s probably already over. Try starting when a trend is everywhere, and you may be left with a pile of books you can’t sell.
“…Vampires go in waves, and it kind of feels like now we’re finishing a vampire wave; at the point where they’re everywhere. It’s probably time to go back underground for another 20 or 25 years.”
Solution: Write for a genre that intrigues and excites you.
Never underestimate how much difference this will make to your work. When writing for a genre you’re genuinely interested in, the characters will be more colorful, the stories more addictive, and the world you create for your readers more vibrant.
Read my interview with George R.R. Martin’s editor Jane Johnson. She answers 3 key questions about writing.
17. Unprofessional Presentation
Your books are unedited, with strange formatting and odd page breaks – i.e. they look ‘DIY’. You don’t fill out your author profile on Amazon either, and your blog is rife with unedited content just like your books.
For some reason, book sales seem ‘sluggish’. You seek help, and spam 20 agents you’ve never met with a book manuscript typed in comic sans. Your books continue to be ignored.
Solution: Raise your standards.
To attract your perfect audience and grow book sales, you’ll need to impress bloggers, publishers, agents, reviewers and in particular readers with a fine quality, polished look. This requires close attention to detail – i.e. a professional approach.
18. Amateur Book Covers
Your book cover resembles a school project. It might have made your mother proud in 3rd grade, but won’t gain attention in the marketplace, particularly at thumbnail size on Amazon.
Solution: Don’t skimp, have beautiful covers designed.
Covers are the billboards for your books, need to be attention getting and also speak to your target market.–
White can appear ghostly on an Amazon or B&N.com sales page. Use a striking color or one dark enough for it to stand out online. Employ a designer to create a beautiful, arresting image.
See my ‘how to’ post: Book Covers – Billboards That Sell
19. Promotional Content Reads As If Written By A Committee
All your communications, such as promotional work and blog posts sound corporate with no clue as to your identity. There is nothing unique that stands out.
Solution: Let your personality shine through.
The author needs to be up front and personal. As I said before, the ‘secret’ is that people are interested in people.
This applies especially to your blog. The cornerstone of your promotional presence online is your author personality. No-one can write quite like you, nor can anyone create a fake ‘you’. Building this up can turn you into a lighthouse brand.
20. Neglecting To Build An Author Blog
If you use social media such as Twitter and Facebook your a ‘blog‘, and as your main promotional strategy, it can be extremely slippery path to take, because all your followers can vanish overnight.
Picture what would have happened if you’d spent years building up your fan following on MySpace: Now all gone.
Solution: Bring readers off social media to your own blog.
This allows you to engage with people at no cost, make them aware of your books, encourage them to buy, and grow long term relationships.
Social media is of extreme value, but the danger is that you don’t actually own your social media followers, and they can disappear in a blink.
So bring them from social media back to your author blog, and then onto your mailing list, where you get to keep them forever. (I cover the easiest way to do this in my Blogging For Authors course.)
21. Your Blog Posts Are As Dense As A Hawthorne Hedge
I see so many blogs of this type. A solid block of text from top to bottom with no breaks. This not only looks daunting, but takes a considerable effort to read.
Even worse is a blog with white type on a black background. If the intention is to make your blog almost impossible to read, that is the perfect way to do it.
Solution: Split up your content to make it readable.
Your blog is a ‘poster boy’ for your books. So split up your content and make it readable with paragraph breaks, bullet points, subheadings, lists, graphics and photographs to illuminate the points.
This will make it easier for those who wish to skim and read just the parts in which they’re interested.
Here’s where to find free photographs for your blog.
22. Aiming For One Big Hit Instead Of Growing A Career
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of that big hit.
When Colleen Hoover hit stellar success out of the gate with her books Hopeless, and Slammed, authors worldwide were awestruck and wanted the same naturally. This also occurred with E.L James 50 Shades series, fan-fiction that caught fire and went global at breakneck speed.
But both those examples are rare occurrences, and not a workable strategy on which to base a career plan. Aiming for a single hit out of the gate instead of working to enhance the quality of your books is the biggest mistake of all.
Solution: Focus on writing first.
It’s crucial to have well written books. Achieving a bestselling book is a journey, not a rabbit to be pulled from a magician’s hat. Writing that is deeply enjoyed by readers is almost always shared. They’ll gradually spread the word for you, book by book.
So writing must always remain your primary focus. It’s the key pathway through the book marketing maze.
Note: This post is part 2 of the ‘Book Marketing Maze’ .
Here’s Part One: 11 Wrong Turns And How To Avoid Them.
Have you made any of these wrong turns? Any other mistakes you’d like to reveal so fellow authors don’t suffer the same fate? I’d love to know.
Please leave a comment.
Article written by Jonathan Gunson
Author / Book Marketing Coach
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