Top Ten Book Publicity and Marketing Mistakes

Mistake #10: Focusing Only on the Numbers

We’ve talked about this before, quite recently, in fact. Focusing only on platform numbers creates desperation; An obvious neediness that causes others to avoid you like the plague. Remember, whatever your numbers are, there really is no such thing as a small audience. While it’s true other authors may have more social media followers or a larger list of newsletter subscribers than you, that doesn’t diminish the importance and significance of the people that are already following you. This is key!

When we only focus on growing our numbers, we tend to neglect or look past the audience that is already paying attention to what we have to say. Does this sound smart? No. It’s not smart. Treat those who have already signed up to hear from you like gold. They are! Ask questions, get to know them, and create a solid connection. Don’t overlook what you already have by chasing after others. Instead, learn to become attractive to others. (More on this in an upcoming Savvy Sunday News post.)

Mistake #9: Relying Too Heavily on Automation

In an era where greater engagement is the name of the game, it is surprising how many build walls that get in the way of any kind of engagement. Some of these tools are fabulous and very helpful, e.g., Hootsuite and Buffer; Mailchimp is amazing for managing newsletters, but others not so much.

When an automation tool takes over or replaces personable interactions between you and your readers, things can get worse. Using a tool to automatically comment on social media or blog posts is not the best way to build an audience. Nor is it in your best interest to take your blog post and have some tool automatically farm it out to all your social sites. Believe me, I’ve played with this stuff. It’s tempting and I understand that temptation. Resist! It won’t help you and it can actually hurt you. For one thing, different social media platforms require different social etiquette. For example, on Instagram, it’s expected that you’ll have lots of hashtags, but on Facebook, not so much. Automation is a huge turnoff since most people can tell when you have used it for responses or placements. Plus, it can actually put you in danger of getting your social media sites shut down.

Taking just a few minutes a day to leave personal comments on posts and following people you are genuinely interested in can do more for you and your book than playing with some of these tools will ever do. Keep the engagement personal and genuine.

Mistake #8: Spamming Your Readers

Nooooo…spamming is a bad idea. Think about all the junk mail you get on any given day. Does that bring you pleasure? It gets deleted without another thought. Sometimes it gets marked as spam, which can really hurt you. What’s surprising is some people really understand social media and know how to be engaging and approachable UNTIL their book comes out, and then this alter ego emerges that is somewhat like a carnival barker. Have you seen this? It’s as if all their good sense went right out the window and gone is the fun, informative, engaging person you’ve come to know and in his or her place is someone you’ve never seen before.

Bombarding every contact you have with information about how to buy your book is just not a good plan. Before sending anything, put yourself in your reader’s shoes. If you received what you’re about to send, would it feel spammy to you? Pay attention to those feelings. You know when something is spammy and when it isn’t. You really do. At the very least there is a hesitation inside. You might question if it’s the right thing to do. Listen to it.

Mistake #7: Using Social Media Only As a Sales Tool

We’ve touched on this…time to dive in. Yes, you do need to promote your book on social media. You need to let people know that you have a book available, where they can purchase it, and so on, but you won’t see big results from this unless you have laid the groundwork and created interest and trust. If you’re only posting to social media when your book is pubbing, you’ve waited too long.

Start talking about your book long before the publication date. Share with others what you’re working on, how it’s going, and add special little tidbits during which you share nuggets from your book. Invite comments. Invite engagement. Be real. Share the good, the difficulties, the challenges. This is what makes us human. This is what creates attraction. We want more than to be sold to. Much more. When you’ve done this, you’ve earned the OK to do some promotional announces. Chris Brogan says the radio is about 10 to 1. For every 10 posts that are personal and engaging, you’ve earned social capital for 1 promotional piece. That’s probably about right.

Mistake #6: Talking and Focusing only on Yourself

We’ve all been at a cocktail party where the person in front of us is holding us captive, while at the same time, we’re scanning the room looking for a way to extricate ourselves from the “conversation.” You’ve tried conversing and you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. It’s time to bail. The same thing happens online and it can be a huge problem with your marketing.

Knowing how to effectively talk with your readers comes back to knowing your ideal reader and focusing on them. When you know specifically who you want to connect with, you’ll know what conversations and topics they will be drawn to and take part in. Some people seem to just naturally understand this; others need to work on it a bit, but it can be done.

As is the case with producers and editors, when a reader comes across your social media account, they are asking themselves, “What’s in this for me? What am I going to gain from following this person?” If you’re only talking about yourself, your book, or constantly posting selfies, it’s not going to attract and keep your ideal reader’s attention. Think more about how you can involve your readers in the online conversation. Act as you care about them.

Mistake #5: Starting Too Late

When someone approaches me about publicizing and marketing his or her book, I brace myself. “When is your publication date,” is my question, and sometimes I hear, “Next year” (music to my ears) and other times I hear, “Next week,” which produces a different internal response. Having a strategic plan is the most important thing you can create and deliver on. Starting early is always better so that you don’t run into the “carnival barker” syndrome.

Promoting your book actually begins the minute you start writing it. This is not where you start talking about or promoting your book itself, by the way, but rather it’s where you initiate the connection with the people you’re writing it for – your ideal readers.

One of the biggest mistakes I see authors make is starting this process too late. This doesn’t mean that if your book is coming out next week, all is lost. It isn’t. There are strategies for that too. However, the earlier you begin the process, the stronger your results will be.  

Mistake #4: Only Using Your Newsletter to Promote Your New Book

A newsletter is – hands down – your most powerful marketing tool at your disposal. (At least at this moment in time. Things are always changing, after all, and when I see a better alternative, I will let you know.) At this point, the good news is that newsletter subscribers are one step away from buying. They are your attentive audience – they are perked up and ready to go. As mentioned earlier, you need to treat this group of people like gold.

Be consistent in your contact with them. If you have decided to write to them once a month, once a week, or whatever your editorial decision is, stick with it and do it. Your subscribers are incredibly important. They have given you their email address and in doing so they have said, “Yes! I’m interested! I want to hear more from you!” So providing great content on a consistent basis is key to keep the relationship going.

Some say they don’t want to inundate their readers with too much information so they only send something out when they have something for sale — whether it’s a book, a class, a webinar or whatever. But this can be even more intrusive. Not only does it look like you only connect when you have something for sale, but because there’s no consistency in your outreach,  it’s an intrusion when you do. That’s a good way to get those dreaded unsubscribes. Be consistent and share helpful content.

Mistake #3: Not Having a Plan in Place

Winging it isn’t a good strategy when it comes to publicizing your book. Start off by thinking of a goal that you want to accomplish. Think of one thing and then work backward to figure out how you’re going to accomplish that goal. Nailing down which social media outlet you’re going to use to connect with new readers, what kind of content you’re going to share, and so on, will not only help you market your book and grow your audience, but it will also help you keep your sanity.

Mistake #2: Trying to Do Everything

Overwhelm is not a fun place to be, yet more times that I can say, I’ve seen authors run themselves ragged by doing everything they can think of and then some to market and publicize their books. No plan. No strategy. No fun. No success.

Doing more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get bigger results, but having a strategic plan is everything. It’s like having a road map. It’s plugging in the address of where you’re going, and then taking the turns to get there until you hear, “Destination on the right.” It isn’t about how much you do, it’s about doing the right things in the right order. If you don’t know what that is, then get some help from someone who does.  

Mistake #1: Marketing Your Book to Anyone and Everyone

If you’ve been a Savvy Pro News reader for a while, then you know better than this. I think I’ve covered this key message in every speech I have ever done in all the years I’ve been doing book publicity and marketing. It’s a fundamental point that will always be the case:  If you’re marketing your book to everyone, you’re marketing it to no one.

If someone asks you, “Who is your book for?” and you answer, “Everyone,” then that is the signal that you don’t have it yet. No book on the planet is for everyone, so take some time to get this right.

Keeping your message general so that it looks like it’s appealing to everyone will come across as milk toast. Fine when you’re sick, but it isn’t going to get any attention from anyone. Remember: It’s easy to stand up these days. The much bigger trick is to stand out. Pick your audience and then be specific and speak directly to them. This is the key. You can have multiple audiences but you want to speak to each of them in a way that tells them you’re talking to them. Clearly identify your ideal audiences. Speak to them directly.

The truth is there are far more than ten mistakes when it comes to book publicity and marketing, and I will no doubt create other lists of them, but the bottom line is this:

Book publicity and marketing is not brain surgery — thank goodness. We can all learn more and get better all the time. Is that a smart thing to do? You bet it is!

To your success!


P.S. Anytime you need a little help, you can check out our Media Strategy Sessions. They’re an inexpensive way (Far less expensive than hiring someone to do it for you.) to get powerful tools to move forward with your book.





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