There’s a ton of information out there for indie authors. However, there is also a lot of misinformation, too, as well as outright lies about book marketing. And indie authors are left in the cold to sort through the truths, semi-truths, and non-truths for themselves. Which means that you may have spent more time figuring out the best path through trial and error.
Because I believe that empowering authors to follow the best practices elevates the whole industry, today, I’m taking some time to set the record straight. Indie authors, read on to learn some of the biggest book marketing traps and pitfalls and how to navigate around them for the best success.
Trap #1: If you’re not good with computers and social media, it’s better to skip “that stuff.”
First of all, any time you come across a resource that tells you to skip something just because you don’t know how to do it, run the other direction! However, while social media can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with it, don’t skip it. I’d encourage you to learn. It’s a valuable skill, and it can actually be a lot of fun when you get into it. If you don’t want to learn, then you’d better be prepared to pay a premium to hire someone to do all of this for you.
Why is it important? Well, books don’t achieve success in a vacuum. If you’re going to publish a book, you need to be prepared to take on all aspects of marketing, whether or not you know how to do it. You can either do it yourself, or hire someone to take it on for you.
Trap # 2: If I don’t get big name endorsements and reviews right away, it will fail.
While getting people to endorse your book and big publications to review it can be a great thing, it’s not the only way to sell books. And, in fact an endorsement won’t automatically result in book sales. And, though you might have a wish list of big names, if you don’t have a particular connection to them, don’t make it a priority. Instead publish your book and spend your time marketing it through a wide variety of channels.
And, as you start to get book endorsements, blurbs or reviews, people may start posting them on your Amazon book page as well. Plus, if they don’t land there automatically, you can always add them. Additionally, unless you’ve printed a ton of books, you can also easily redo book covers to add them.
Trap #3: My book practically sells itself, so I don’t need a marketing budget.
Simply put. No. It won’t. Not even if it’s got an especially great cover or is well-written. You don’t necessarily need a big marketing budget, but you do need to have at least a small one, and a healthy amount of time.
Trap #4: My friends will provide all the book marketing support I need.
The sad reality is that all those people who said they’d buy your book probably won’t, regardless of their intentions. Of all the book marketing lies that authors complain to me about, this is the biggest. Don’t rely on advanced promises from people you know. Remember, it’s not personal. They definitely care, but they are busy and other pressing expenses may come up. Lower your expectations (perhaps to zero) of the friends and family who will buy your book. Then, anything you sell to them will be a bonus, and no one’s feelings are hurt.
What you can do? Ask friends and family to share your book socially. It might not move the needle on book sales, and may not help grow your readership, so consider this emotional support rather than a cornerstone of your marketing plan. Instead, put together a solid marketing plan and calendar, and then any gains you make as a result of friends and family are a welcome bonus.
Trap #5: You don’t need to be a good marketer because you’re a writer.
FALSE. Majorly false. In fact, you need to be both because publishing is a business.
And, just like any business, you might not actually like doing all of the tasks associated with it. But, keep at it, and eventually you’ll be able to hire people to do things you either don’t excel at or don’t like. At first though, it’s all you. This remains true if you hire a marketing company to help you. After all, you should always be engaged in your own success. The most successful authors are.
Trap #6: If success isn’t immediate, it won’t ever happen.
This is completely untrue. Some books take time, and others take a lot of time. Very few books take off immediately. But, how much time will it take? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. But if you commit to your book(s) for the long haul, follow a marketing plan, and are consistent in your efforts, you will see them pay off.
Trap #7: I’m spending all this time doing what I’m supposed to, but my books aren’t selling.
It’s time to break you free of this trap and help you work smarter instead of harder. The reality is that if the needle isn’t moving, then you probably aren’t doing all the right things. So take the time to do a solid assessment of your marketing efforts to see what’s working, what could work better, and what you should stop doing immediately. Other things to consider might be: Is your book cover strong enough? Is your book synopsis pulling in readers? Do you have enough reviews?
If you aren’t sure on any of these, then you either aren’t doing enough, or you need to change what you’re doing. And, this is often when authors come to me for coaching, because it can be overwhelming to assess and determine a plan to boost your book’s visibility, and in turn sales.
Trap #8: I’ll see how successful my first book is before I decide to write another.
This is a huge mistake. And if you are serious about making your living writing books, it can kill your success before you even get a chance to take off. This is true for a number of reasons. First, few authors can retire from their first book. Second, having multiple books lends credibility to your readers, especially if you’ve written a series, or books in the same genre. Readers absolutely love to see their favorite new author is planning to release more books, and it helps build anticipation. This is also true for non-fiction – none of my books are a series, per se, but each book release helps to revive interest in my backlist. Third, and possibly most important, you’ll find that your marketing efforts are cumulative from book to book. Your second book will help sell your first, and your third will help sell the first two. Bottom line, you can’t stop with one book.
Have you been ensnared by any of these book marketing traps? And, now that you know they are traps to avoid, don’t let them become excuses that stand between you and your success. In fact, I would like to encourage you to turn problems, or roadblocks, into opportunities.
If something isn’t working, find a new way to go about it, or replace it with something new. You never know what ideas you’ll come up with, or what will end up working really well for you and your book.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.