Many of my author friends find book-marketing to be an utterly confusing maze, where it’s all too easy to take a wrong turn and end up not selling anything at all.
If you feel this way too, you’re not alone. Truth is I’ve made almost every marketing mistake possible at some point. So to save you from needlessly stumbling up the same blind alleys, I’ve listed 22 of the most common wrong turns that can cost you book sales.
Plus I’ve also included a solution for each, so you can use your time more profitably.
-1. Frittering Away Hours On Social Media Without A Plan
Hours can go by, with no specific strategy, frittered away on social media. You know you’re procrastinating and feel vaguely guilty about it, but you keep doing it.
Solution: Set up a schedule.
A writer’s life is a business, not an arty dreamscape. Your time investment is valuable.
Schedule your communications and work time instead of randomly using social media. My own balance is 70% writing, 30% promotion.
2. Impatience – You Quit Before Your Book Has A Chance
Too many authors give up after a few weeks. They complain sales are slow even though they’ve done extensive book ‘promotion’ on Twitter, Facebook and their author blog.
Solution: Persist, and push on.
This is your career, not a get rich quick scheme. It will take time for your books to find their natural audience. Persistent work in the very early stages is vital for attracting the attention of readers - one by one.
If these early readers find your work appealing, they’ll begin to talk about it. Word of Mouth will begin to spread.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923–1929)
3. Employing Robots For ‘Efficiency’
Are you doing this too? Many authors are seduced by the magic of such tools as Social Oomph or Buffer app that can spew robotic messages about their book, 24 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter. What a great time saver!
But they also wonder why no-one responds and book sales don’t seem to improve in the slightest.
Solution: Interact on social media and build real engagement.
This cannot be faux engagement either. Taking a genuine interest builds valuable life-long relationships. This is a people business at all levels and if you want people to help you, then building relationships is a cornerstone strategy. This is only achievable with genuine human interaction.
Note: There is one exception: Bufferapp is an invaluable tool for scheduling Tweets outside normal working hours. I use it to give out valuable content at night when people in other parts of the world are awake.
4. Waiting To Promote Your Book Until After It’s Published
The day it launches is way too late to start marketing your book if you want to see a significant level of sales on launch day.
In the vast majority of cases, building connections with people who will help and pre-release promotional work needs to start well in advance if you want to see early sales.
Solution: Start today.
But, if you did leave it until after launch, then start today. It’s never too late to plant that tree. It’ll just take a little longer to grow. But if you’re just starting to write your book, that’s the time to start your marketing program. Many authors think that as soon as their book is published it’ll be a fully grown tree. But publishing is merely the beginning.
Full article on planting the seeds of marketing early here.
5. Treating Followers As ‘Cyphers’
Instead of growing relationships, you build up ‘follower numbers’, as if quantity was the magic star dust that will make your books popular. But somehow it doesn’t seem to be producing results.
Solution: Form relationships with a core group of followers.
It’s more effective by far to have 100 deeply committed Twitter fans than 1,000 disinterested ‘no-one in particulars’.
So interact with them. Take an interest in them meaningfully and give out information. They will look after you in return by spreading the word about your books.
“Be a meaningful specific instead of an everywhere generality.” Zig Ziglar
6. Writing A Lone Book
You launch your book, it starts out well then fizzles. Sales slump, and it disappears down the Amazon rankings to languish at the bottom of the well.
Solution: You need a whole series of books.
It is not obligatory to do this, but the results speak volumes. Your books are attractive products to which people become addicted and increasingly want more.
Furthermore, the third book is when success often starts to appear. It takes time for an author’s work to find its audience, but when it does, the books all then begin to sell each other.
For readership to grow there needs to be a steady stream of titles appearing. Even better is a series with a consistent main character.
See my keynote blog post about the power of a book series.
7. Flooding Every Social Media Channel You Can Find
On day one you join Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, YouTube, Goodreads, Digg, LinkedIn and more, and frantically start posting.
Trouble is, if you use that many channels at the same time, you’ll end up as a Jack of all trades and a master of none.
Solution: Choose a just few social media channels.
Read my information article for authors to find out more about effective use of social-media channels: The Social Media ‘Train Wreck’ That All Authors Must Avoid
8. Writing Each Book In A Different Genre
Many writers claim “I write what is in my heart and soul. My books will fit where they want to. I can’t focus on the audience as well.”
True enough, except for the second part. You can’t in fact write for everyone. Instead your books need to be written for a specific genre to build a broad readership.
Solution: Pick your fiction genre.
Write your books to appeal to those looking for a specific genre.
For example, bestselling Author HP Mallory focuses specifically on the paranormal genre. This played a major role in her hitting the New York Times Bestseller list.
9. Promoting A Book ‘Shotgun’ Style Without Any Targeting.
Aiming your marketing at absolutely everyone is a similar problem to writing books scattered across many different genres. It is unlikely to hit the ‘bulls-eye’ – a perfectly targeted, interested reader.
Solution: Focus your marketing.
Aim at the specific reader you have in mind. Define your reader age sex, interest, sub genre of interest, and go narrow. It will be far more successful because readers will immediately recognize that this book is specifically for them.
10. Using Social Media As An ‘Advertising’ Channel
You shout your book title ‘Buy my book!’, with no other interaction at all.
This clearly communicates “I don’t care about you the reader, just buy my book.” No-one will pay any attention. It will simply be viewed as mere radio static, causing them to tune out and unfollow you.
Solution: Engage first, and sell second.
Instead of promoting constantly and nothing else, mix value and promotion.
Take part by interacting and giving out valuable content about your readers’ needs and interests, and resend other people’s content as well. e.g. Write posts on your blog that lead to your book that give value first. Do the same with Tweets and FB posts.
Make this the majority of your activity, then no-one will object if you also promote your book. Warning post: The One Thing An Author Should Never Do On Social Media
11. Sending Your Book To Reviewers Without Developing Any Relationships.
You ask for a book review by Tweeting your book, emailing your book and snail mailing your book to 19 different book bloggers who don’t know you. Not a single one responds, and no-one reviews your book.
Solution: Build relationships with book bloggers.
“But it’s different now.” I hear authors wail. “They’re all too busy.” This is absolutely true. Reviewers are often far too busy to deal with complete strangers. You need to put in some work to become known to them by communicating constructively. You’re not attempting to become their best friend, but setting up a professional business relationship before asking for a review.
The way to do this is to leave useful comments on their blog, exchange information using Tweets, retweet their material, send them helpful emails, even ask for advice about your genre.
After you are certain that you’ve developed an honest professional rapport, introduce your book for review. You will not be an unfamiliar ‘door to door salesman’. See my full blog post on how to approach bloggers.
Note: This is part one of two ‘Book Marketing Maze’ posts. Click here for part two, which features another famous garden maze photograph, along with 11 more wrong turns to make when marketing your book, including the biggest one of all, and how to avoid it.
Do you make any of these mistakes? Which do you feel is the worst? Can you think of any other mistakes you’ve made so others can avoid them?
Please leave a comment.
Article written by Jonathan Gunson
Author / Book Marketing Coach
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