It’s hard to get your book out there — I know this firsthand! — and you get desperate to come up with book promotion ideas to solve all your problems. When my first book published 18 years ago, I was terrified. One night I had a dream that my book had so much global hate that readers were chasing me down the street throwing my own book at me. It was bad. But fast forward, and go figure, I’m now able to design book promotion services that really blow past these typical author insecurities to put the focus back where it belongs — on pinpointing and executing book promotion ideas that get books in hands.
Regardless of what you’re publishing, it’s still a very personal and often difficult journey. I speak a lot about book marketing and while that’s important, developing an author mindset is truly the first step you’ll have to take before book promotion can really have an impact. It has been my experience that attitude has to come before skill every single time. Let’s have a look at some ways that a poor outlook or attitude can steal from your author momentum.
I got a bad review!
You know the feeling: you’re out there going gangbusters on your own book promotion when suddenly you’re hit in the face with a bad review. When this happens, it feels unfair and (often) like the person who wrote the review didn’t really read your book or understand its content. You want to fight back; you want to respond to the review. You want to tell them why and how they got it wrong. But here’s the thing, you really shouldn’t. Most of these bad reviews will happen on Amazon — not because Amazon is a hub for this sort of thing, but because in almost every case, bloggers who do book reviews won’t take the time to write a review and slam the author. If they didn’t like your book, they’ll probably tell you why and ask whether or not you want the review posted.
Bad reviews, even just one, are often hard to swallow and they can make you want to give up. Here’s my advice: Don’t. Not everyone is going to love your book — that’s just the reality. I remember my first bad review on Amazon and how I mentally argued with the person who posted it (even though I didn’t know them). It’s not worth your energy or your time. Once you’ve had a chance to get some distance from the review, have another look and see if there’s anything useful in it. In almost every case, there’s been something I could learn in a less-than-stellar review.
Everyone else is doing better than me!
It often seems like everyone else is selling books like crazy while you’re over here struggling to sell just 10 copies of your book a month. The truth is, some authors kick book marketing butt and do very well, but in most cases not right out of the gate. Meaning that they’ve had some ramp up time to promote their book. Many times, their first book was a failure (or something close to that), but they took what they learned (as well as the mistakes they made) and changed up their book marketing going forward. The lesson here is this: don’t make the same book promotion mistake twice. You won’t know it all your first time through, so be open to every opportunity to learn. This is an attitude that will serve you well going forward and not only in book marketing and promotion!
You might also keep in mind that, sadly, some people will inflate their numbers. I’ve had clients who belong to various chats and such, and when you’re anonymous online, and no one is asking to see your actual sales figures, some people inflate what and how they’re actually doing. It’s a lot like the social media mindset: people generally don’t post pictures of their failures. So bear in mind that while some authors gain great success, sometimes their version of success is a bit too far from the truth.
I am terrible at book marketing!
No one is born with the knowledge of how to market a book. It’s something you have to learn, and it’s always changing. No one is terrible at book marketing, that’s a broad statement. You may hate pitching bloggers or media or writing pitches. Or maybe you hate social media. Find the things you aren’t good at and (if you can) outsource those.
The other side of this is the learning curve, because there is a learning curve for sure — especially when it comes to a project that’s so personal to you. And regardless of your genre, publishing a book (whether your first or your 50th) is always personal. So give yourself some space and time to learn the ropes, follow good people, give yourself some more time to try a few strategies out, and be realistic about what you can accomplish.
When a book launches, things are exciting and everything seems to be firing at once. It’s a great time to hit the ground running, but it can also be a time when you lose momentum as nothing seems to be happening. Not everything in book marketing happens at once. In fact, most of it takes longer than you’d expect. Book promotion is a lot like gardening — you plant a seed, you tend it, you water it, and then, weeks later, it starts to sprout. Things take time, and if you’re actively engaged in your own success, cut yourself some slack. Nobody is born famous, and no book is an instant success.
Maybe my book is bad!
There may be some truth to this; on the other hand, maybe your book just hasn’t had enough time to grow legs and learn to walk. Have you spent a lot of time on your book promotion, or is your book too new to know whether you have or not?
If your book is getting a bunch of bad reviews, or if bloggers are kicking your book back saying it’s full of typos, or if you’re getting negative feedback on your cover, then maybe there are pieces of your book that need fixing. The truth is, if you’ve done the work, and you’ve done your due diligence, your book probably isn’t bad, it just hasn’t found an audience yet.
Let me ask you this: if you’ve been struggling with this particular pitfall, it might be something not even related to a book quality issue, but the way you’re positioning it. For example, we had an author who came to us with (her words) a paranormal romance. We pushed it to that market and did all of our marketing around this particular industry. The thing was, the book wasn’t quite up to snuff, in terms of what paranormal romance readers wanted. The book was great, the cover was great, and so just a slight shift in genre (from paranormal romance to contemporary romance) made a huge difference. Sometimes a small fix can have a major impact. Consider that before you throw in the book promotion towel.
No one cares about my book!
Truer words were never spoken. No one cares about your book — they only care about what your book can do for them. See what I did there?
The problem with most book promotion campaigns is that so often the book itself is pushed as the center point of the entire pitch, and it shouldn’t be. Consumers buy on emotion, and this is true whether they are buying fiction or non-fiction. You have to speak to their emotional trigger. Are you entertaining them? Educating them? Enlightening them? If your book is a “thrill ride,” then that should perhaps be the lead-in to your pitch. If it’s a surprising look at health and wellness, then that’s your lead. The book plays a major role, but it should not be a pivotal point in your pitch. Keep this in mind if you feel like no one cares about your book: you’re probably right. But if you change your pitch, and change the focus, I bet you’ll find a lot of people care about that!
Being an author isn’t always easy; in fact, sometimes it’s just downright hard. But stick with it, even through these hurdles, because we know that sometimes the biggest challenges we face are the ones in our head. Keep moving forward, learning as you go. I promise that if you do, good things will happen.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller is due out in Spring 2021.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.