Most writers want to focus on writing and dislike the idea of marketing. Inevitably, many of us end up making a lot mistakes with our book marketing campaigns.

Don’t do this. Marketing your book is key to achieving any sort of sales. 

Here’s a sobering fact for you. There are over a million books published on Amazon every year and most of them will never sell beyond 250 copies. 

What most writers don’t realize is that once your book is up on Amazon, it is competing for attention with tens or hundreds of thousands of other titles in its genre. 

If you do not do the work to get your book to stand out, it won’t. Books don’t sell themselves. 

Here are seven common book marketing mistakes you want to avoid as a writer:

Believing that if your book is good enough it will sell by itself

I have spoken to many writers who believe that if they write the best book they possibly can, it will obviously sell. [Buzzer] Think again. 

It’s like singing. Lindsey Burda, Digital Marketer and founder of Burda Marketing, speaks about auditioning for American Idol in 2010. There were 17,000 people who auditioned on the same day as her and many of them were really good. She realized that there was nothing unique about her ability to sing. 

There are tens of thousands of great singers out there. Success is about more than the fact that you are talented. 

Someone has to push your book into the world; position it, promote it and get a busy would-be reader to stop and take a look at the cover, and feel curious enough to open it.

Believing that your publisher will market the book for you

Look at any book that succeeds and chances are the author is heavily involved in marketing it- or already has a following. 

Publishing companies do not have marketing budgets as big as they used to. And even when a publishing company puts its weight behind a book, they expect the author to be heavily involved in the marketing.

Author, Heather Demetrios, wrote in 2019 about how her husband, also an author published a book with a Big 5 Publisher and received very little marketing support. She also spoke of her own experience with publishers, having written 8 books at the time; “I’ve been in publishing long enough to know that the current culture does not include author brand consultation. We ALL know that in-house help on that front is not usually forthcoming, unless, perhaps, you’re a big title for them…”

Not knowing who you are writing the book for

If you don’t know who your target audience is, you won’t know who to market the book to.

There are some authors who say their books are for everybody, which is obviously nonsense. Even the most famous book you can think of is not for everybody. There is a target market. A core group of people to whom your book will appeal.

When you understand who these people are, you can figure out where they spend their time online, where they buy their books, what sort of language they use, etc. All of these are critical for putting together a marketing plan.

7 Book Marketing Mistakes To Avoid - Infographic

Not having a book launch plan

I often see writers launch a book by making an announcement on Facebook.

“Excited to announce that my new book is now out! Click here to get a copy!” 

This is NOT a book launch. 

It is a lazy and ignorant way of putting a product out into the world. First and foremost, your Facebook friends are not your target market. Some of them might be, but it will be a small percentage at best. Yes, some of your friends may buy your book just to support you, but if it’s not their cup of tea, they will not read it.

Secondly, making a book launch announcement this wat is a great way of making sure that very few people see it. Unless you have a ton of reach and engagement on social media, pulling stunts like this will reach very few people. 

You need to do the damn work. Make a plan. We have a great checklist here to help you do that. 

Carrying out a fireworks book marketing campaign

If you’ve ever been to a fireworks show, you’ll know that they are intense and don’t last very long. 

Too many book marketing campaigns are like this. There is a burst of activity about the new book and then it quickly dies down. 

The longer you stretch out your campaign, the better because you reach more people and you can hit the same people more than once. 

Paolo Coelho’s, ‘The Alchemist’ is one of the best-selling books of all time. But it was years after it was first published before it became a bestseller. 

Building awareness takes time. Building critical mass takes time. 

Thinking that a newspaper article or TV appearance will lead to book sales

In one of his training videos, leading high performance coach, Brendon Burchard, talks about how author appearances on shows like Good Morning America used to automatically lead to tens of thousands of book sales and now, not so much. 

People are inundated with media and recommendations and influencer reviews. It’s no longer about getting seen anymore. It’s about getting seen by the right audience AND building trust with them. 

Even book reviews in top newspapers like the New York Times don’t move sales the way they used to; not consistently anyway. 

If you know how to use it, a media appearance is a great tool for leverage and credibility but it cannot be your only tool for book sales.

Not doing your research

Before you launch your book, find out what is working for your genre. What’s the trend with book covers? What are successful authors in your genre doing with their own marketing campaigns. How do they announce their new books? 

Having a good understanding of what’s out there helps you avoid many other hidden pitfalls.

Fungai Tichawangana
Author: Fungai Tichawangana

Fungai is a journalist, writer and web developer who is passionate about tech and promoting the arts. In 2015 he was awarded a Nieman Journalism Fellowship and Berkman Klein Fellowship for Journalism Innovation.

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