Effective book marketing seems to be an elusive activity for many self-published authors. Sometimes I think that’s true because authors often make marketing their book more difficult than it needs to be. Remember, marketing is everything you do to get the word out about your book. That could include any number of activities, strategies, and tactics, from the most common to the more obscure.
You’re probably familiar with a few of these strategies to get the word out about your book: social media, advertising, blogs, book fairs, book signings, speaking engagements, media interviews, reviews … the list can go on and on. So this post is not about the marketing strategies you should employ as an author; it’s about the marketing mistakes you should avoid.
Without a doubt, authors who choose the do-it-yourself route to market their books will make some mistakes along the way. That’s okay; the point is to learn from them. Here are seven mistakes to avoid when marketing your book:
Waiting until your book is done to market it
If you wait until you have your book in hand (or in electronic format), you’ve missed at least two months of marketing opportunities. The months during the editing, graphic design, and formatting phases of your book’s production are a great time to begin marketing your book. Post excerpts on your website. Send emails to your circle of influence or ezine subscribers announcing the release date of your book. Take pre-orders. Post teasers on your social networks.
Think outside the bookstore
Bookstores are a great way to get your book sold, but as a creative author you have to think outside the bookstore. There are dozens of other outlets where your book could be sold. Consider your ideal readers and buyers of your book. Where do they shop? Where do they go? Are they into holistic health? Sell your book at wellness centers. Do they have children? Consider making your book available at toy stores. Are they retirees who love to travel? Get your book into travel stores, travel agencies, and luggage stores.
I’m all for keeping a supply of books in the trunk of your car, but those one-off sales will barely make a dent in your sales goals. You want to take your book to the masses. Offer it as a gift to attendees at your speaking engagements (have the event producer purchase books for each attendee and include the cost of the book in the registration fee). Bundle your book with other products and services you offer to help increase sales. Sell your book at a reduced rate to non-profit organizations to offer as an incentive for membership renewals.
Offering discounts early on
Nothing says “I’m desperate” more than offering a huge discount on a brand new product. Selling your book at a discount right off the press only diminishes its value in the long run. Debut your book with confidence. Select a sell price that is competitive and indicative of the value that readers will get from your book.
Basing everything on book sales
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: It’s not all about the book. Massive book sales are what every author dreams of, and I’m all for it. But what you’re doing should be bigger than the book. Get clear on the platform you’re promoting (business, cause, belief, brand, expertise), and let your book leverage that. A solid platform, and a great book to back it up, will yield you a greater return on your investment than book sales alone.
Ignoring PR opportunities
If relating to the public is something you’d rather not do, you might reconsider your foray into authorship. Part of being an author is talking to people about yourself and your book; it just comes with the territory. So do what you need to do to ready yourself for media interviews, appearances, and speaking opportunities.
Give, give, give! Sure, you want to make some money by selling your book, but sharing it with buyers only will slow your roll towards success. Giving your book can be a huge boon for your platform. Be sure to give strategically to those with broad audiences that mirror your target readers: celebs, industry experts, reviewers, reporters, bloggers, membership organizations, etc.
There’s no one foolproof strategy to marketing your book. It’s a practice. You plan, strategize, execute, and evaluate. Change or dump what doesn’t work, and do more of what does. Everyone makes mistakes along the marketing journey. Avoid these seven, and you’ll save yourself some time, money, and frustration.
What mistakes have you made in your marketing that could help other authors?
Anita Henderson helps entrepreneurs and executives enhance their platforms, and build their brands by becoming published authors. Through her Write Your Life program, new authors overcome the struggles of writing, publishing, and marketing books, and learn to leverage their books to achieve success.
Anita is the author of three books, including Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life And The Book You’ve Been Wanting to Write; and co-author of five books including Write Books That Sell Now and Building a Business, Building a Life: Incredible Stories of Women Entrepreneurs. She owns The Write Image, a boutique book publishing services company that created the proprietary Write Your Life book production process. Her freelance articles have appeared in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also co-creator of the Write Books That Sell Now online course for aspiring authors, and co-host of the Write Books That Sell Now weekly podcast.