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5 Mistakes Authors Make That Ruin Book Marketing

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You’ve gone through the painful and enlightening process of editing, proofreading, and other general wordsmithing (new word!). You’ve had your designer create the perfect cover for the perfect book. You’ve had your book printed and digitalized in Mobi and Epub files, and it’s finally available everywhere in all formats. In a nutshell, you’re finally there–you’re an authentic, self-made, 14-karat author ready to get out and start selling! Congratulations!

I’ve enjoyed seeing hundreds of authors reach this stage, and believe me, it’s a great reward to see an author finally get “there”–if “there” means seeing the book’s live Amazon sales page. The greater reward? Seeing the author achieve a  real sales record, and a solid one at that. In order to get there, careful measures have to be taken to focus the marketing energies in the right arenas. Here are five mistakes authors make at this stage that can hinder the book’s marketing:

1. The author places too much time and effort into critically reviewing the book after its release. 

Author: Did you notice that on page 10 I spelled health care as “healthcare,” and on page 52 I spelled it “health care”? How did this mistake possible get through the  proofreader?!? I must find MORE mistakes!! 

Wise Ink: You’re right…I would drop everything and focus on this. No more blogging or being a guest on that awesome indie-author Podcast for you, bub–you need to focus all of your energies on finding every “imperfection” so that you can find out who’s at fault. Only then can you properly market and sell your book.

I’m not trying to diminish the value and necessity of meticulous editing, nor and I trying to undermine the author’s right (and responsibility) to care. However, nitpicking should be taken care of as much as possible before the book comes out, because when that book comes back from press, it’s going to need a parent to raise it! The book will never sell if the author is distracted and loses focus on what could MAKE the book sell.

2. The author puts too much focus on brick-and-mortar bookstore sales.

This one, I do feel a little bad about. After all, independent bookstores are often so good to indie and local authors, supporting their endeavors with book signings and readings and publicizing these events to the public. These events certainly have their place, and they are worthwhile. However, when it comes to a book becoming an international success, a small book signing at a local independent bookstore might help gather some local attention but will do very little for selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The only way to do this is to take advantage of online retailers.

3. The author refuses to engage in social media.

This is a big one. I work with a lot of authors who are afraid–legitimately scared–of engaging in social media. You might be one of them. You might even convince yourself that your audience is not using social media. You would be wrong. (P.S. Look at you reading my blog! Way to go!)

Without engaging on social media to create new connections, you are just banking on creating those connections organically. Once in a great while, you might create a great connection organically–face to face, at a coffee shop, perhaps, you stood next to said connection in line and both ordered the raspberry white-chocolate latte. More often than not, however, it will be up to you to make these connections elsewhere. The most direct way to connect with people you haven’t talked or connected with in the past? SOCIAL MEDIA. I’m not saying social media is the holy grail of book sales, because it still does take lots and lots of work to become effective. But if you’re not engaged in it, how do you also expect your international book audience (whom you’d never be able to connect with directly otherwise) to find out about it and wish to buy it online?

4. The author has static marketing text that isn’t regularly revamped and customized each time it is released.

Every author will have the standard book description, Sure, every author will have some standard press releases and marketing text. However, if the text isn’t customized each time it is released for what’s happening in the present, it has a much smaller chance of getting any traffic or getting noticed at all.

5. The author waits too long to start marketing.

A log of authors assume that they can focus on the publishing of the book first and foremost, and once that’s accomplished, they move the focus to the marketing plan. NOT SO. Most book vendors want to take advantage of a book’s “newness,” and if an author waits until the book is out to begin marketing the book, chances are that it won’t reach these outlets until it has been out a few months. The marketing plan should be completed before the book is done editing. Then, once the cover design is accomplished, it will be easy to slide it into the marketing plan and begin working!

Authors, what mistakes have you made in the marketing process? If you could go back, what would you do differently?


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  1. To answer your question? I would figure out EXACTLY who is the market for my book before I even turn on the computer to write. I’ve kicked myself a thousand times. If I write another book, I will choose a market and write for that market.

    5 years ago, I’d have been horrified at that notion! “I MUST write what is in my mind, heart, and soul…the audience is out there and I can’t concern myself with that.”

    Well, yes…and no. I can still write from mind, heart, and soul. But there must be an adaption for market. IMHO

  2. We couldn’t say it better ourselves. Once you know precisely who your book is written for, things become a lot easier.

    I love your comment about writing from the soul, BUT with an adaptation for the market. As writers we often struggle with striking that balance. One thing that has helped me is knowing that though one or two ideas or portions might not work for a certain project b/c of audience, it WILL work for another one.

  3. I must say I’m guilty of all the above. It’s just, for indie authors like myself, the world of publishing seems so subjective so we end up focusing of everything that could go wrong with the book.

    I want to personally thank you for the advice. Seeing this on texts let’s me know what I really need to work on. Thanks for such an insightful post!

  4. Asher Thanks for the comment! Just remember there’s an audience who is ready to read your book. Focusing on them is the key to staying encouraged throughout your book marketing

  5. Social media is a big focal point for me, and I’m determined to not make the mistake in foregoing social interaction. That being said, it’s all quite overwhelming at times, and it’s almost impossible to get a good grip on things with regards to social media. Gathering followers is a long and arduous process, but ultimately I know I’ve just got to persevere. Thanks for the post; now I know what else I should watch for!

  6. Dimitri thanks a ton for the comment. Social media is overwhelming, make no mistake about it. You’re right. It takes a lot of effort and you don’t necessarily know if you’re making any waves all the time. However, start small and focus on the social media outlets that you enjoy. I found that I prefer Twitter over Facebook b/c it’s just more fun for me, so I’m more successful there. It takes time, but with sticking it out you’ll be fine.

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