Have a book coming out? Don’t start your marketing until you read this list of 10 book marketing mistakes that self-published authors make.
1. You shotgun sales messages and call it marketing.
Too often, self-published or first-time authors release a book with LOUD! and persistent-persistent-persistent announcements all over social media. If you’re selling used cars that might work, but marketing your book is (hopefully) a more subtle endeavor. There will be close to 500,000 new books released this year, all clamoring for attention and sales, so when you shotgun marketing messages about buying your book, you do nothing but add one more fat guy to an already overcrowded elevator – and no one appreciates that. There is a far better way to market and gain sales.
2. Not blogging and then not blogging some more.
Blogging is an overused word these days but the intention is to release quality content about the subject matter in your book. Keep your posts short but write them consistently – a blog should be just one thought on paper. They should always answer a question, solve a problem, entertain, or provide value. Blogging will give you something to post via social media (think of the bullets and the gun analogy) draw in an audience, establish you as an expert, build trust, and form literary friendships – all while selling books.
3. Not establishing a niche.
With tens of millions of books flooding the market, it’s more important than ever for an author to understand their ultra-specific niche if they want to sell books. Before you even write your book, figure out what niche it will serve. I don’t mean just a genre, like “Romance” or “Travel Adventure,” but you should know the specific demographic of who will absolutely love and needs your book. Make a list based on age, gender, lifestyle, hobbies, and interests and you’re just getting started defining the niche you want to target. No lie, it’s easier to market a book about left-handed fly-fishing than a romance novel because you know who your demographic is!
4. Not realizing the value proposition.
Do not write a book just because you want to see your name in print or drop that you’re an author at fancy parties (I’ve tried it – people aren’t that impressed.) Your book should add value to the reader’s lives above and beyond what already exists in print. Does it fill a need? Solve a problem? Explore a human truth? Tell a story in a unique or fresh way? If not, then you’re just regurgitating what’s already out there, not “adding a line to the eternal conversation.”
5. Setting unrealistic goals.
I get it – you want to be a best seller, sell the movie rights, and end up on the Oprah show. Those are great goals and I’m all for dreaming big, but you might want to focus on jogging a mile before you’re ready to qualify for the Olympics as a sprinter. By setting certain stages of goals – or marketing plateaus – you won’t get burnt out or disappointed when reality comes knocking. I like to set goals of marketing activities executed, people who are exposed to the book (not necessarily pay for it) and “literary friendships” formed instead of raw sales numbers because you can directly control those.
6. You think the book is about you.
Writing a book can be one of the most intimate and deeply personal experiences you’ll ever have. You’re baring your soul for all the world to see but marketing is the exact opposite. When you’re promoting your book the focus should be 100% about the reader and their experience with the topic in the book, not your art and certainly not your ego. It is no longer your story when you release it into the world – it’s a gift you’re giving away. This is perhaps the biggest shift of perspective authors as book marketers fail to make, and will make all the difference.
7. Not treating it like business.
Never forget that you are a businessperson trying to market a product, expand your brand, garner sales, and build a following. What you’re trying to accomplish is on a root level the same as Coca Cola, Toyota, or the Oakland A’s (a GREAT case study!) Treat it as such with a focused business plan, analysis of your competition, strategic partnerships, a marketing schedule, and accountability to the results of your plan. It’s just business, so don’t be afraid to look outside the narrow and incestuous world of traditional book publishing and marketing for inspiration.
8. Taking it personally.
You’ll need to grow a thick skin very quickly if you’re going to be in this game, and it takes practices to be emotionally detached but not dispassionate. You should put your heart and soul into writing but then market the book like a cold robot but at first it’s almost impossible not to live and die with every review, every insult of a friend who didn’t buy your book, or every rejection. However, with practice you’ll also be able to train your mind to bounce back immediately and even turn negatives into positives. I’ve written a lot about handling bad reviews and how they’re actually good things!
9. Not getting creative.
Hanging out on Facebook all day does not a book marketing campaign make. (I know – I’ve tried!) There are endless possibilities to gain exposure for your book in creative way, especially with social media these days. Make custom photos, infographics, shoot author videos, conduct giveaways and raffles, do readings, speak in public, contact big shots, and taking advantage of national days and holidays (like Valentine’s Day for romance novels) just to name a few. Make a brainstorming list and get a little crazy!
10. Not having fun!
Guess what? If you don’t have fun while you’re marketing the book, no one else will, either (nor will they buy it.) Excitement is contagious so if you have a fun, positive, reader-first attitude while marketing that will rub off on others and reinvigorate you. Think of your book marketing as a huge party – a celebration of art and life – and your job is simply to invite as many people as possible!
About Norm Schriever
Norm Schriever is an Amazon.com best-selling author, pro blogger, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work has been seen in The Huffington Post, Good Morning America, the Anderson Cooper show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, Hotels.com, the University of Connecticut, and newspapers, websites, and radio shows all around the world. He’s the founder of 7 Wave Media, a pro blogging and online marketing firm that helps smart companies grow their brands and skyrocket sales.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of over-studying, and went on to live in Colorado and most recently in Northern California.
Dissatisfied with a conventional existence, Norm sold or donated all of his possessions and moved down to Costa Rica in 2011. In the sleepy surf town of Tamarindo, armed with his secret weapons: fresh ocean air and Baileys in his morning coffee, he completed his first book, Pushups in the Prayer Room. In 2012 he migrated a chicken bus ride north to San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, where he settled into a local barrio and wrote the best-selling yet controversial expat memoir, South of Normal.
He is now trekking through Southeast Asia where he’s collecting material for his next book, writing his heart out for his clients, and volunteering with local schools and charities.
He sees his words as a way to illuminate the commonalities of human existence, and thereby hopes to leave this planet a little better than how he found it. This is why he writes.
You can find him on Twitter @NormSchriever