Some new authors stretch the reasonable boundaries of book promotion ideas and wonder why they have trouble selling books.
Here is a short listing of nine very annoying methods that I have received and experienced from newly published authors. They are, of course, desperate to sell their books, but they will all fail very badly.
If you have published a book, all of these techniques are irritating and will drive away potential readers and book buyers.
Many new authors are aiming at online book promotion sites. As I used to have one, I can attest to the number of pesky messages I received every day.
9 Ways to fail badly at promoting your book
If you want to sell your books, the following book promotion strategies are definitely ones for Indie authors to avoid at all costs.
However, read on after these nine bad ideas.
Then, you can read about how to promote a book with three simple book promotion ideas that do work.
But first, the book promotion methods that do not work.
1. Thank you, and now buy my book
I followed a lot of authors marketing their books on social media.
But then I am hit immediately with, ‘Thank you for following me, and here’s the link to where you can buy my Kindle ebook.‘
It’s a bit like being told to buy dinner for someone you don’t know.
Sorry, but no, I don’t buy lunch or dinner for people I don’t know. It goes double for a book by an author I know absolutely nothing about.
2. Unfollow all new followers and block them!
This is a uniquely Twitter (or now X) silliness.
For some odd reason, there are those out there who think that encouraging people to follow them, and then as soon as they do, unfollow them, will bring rewards.
Worse, many then block them. Why?
Who knows what the reasoning is?
They are of the same group who follow large accounts and then unfollow them.
Only to refollow again to appear high on the list of followers.
Again, blocking any user who happened to follow them before.
Oddly enough, many of these perverse Twitter users end up suspended. Is there any surprise why?
If you use Twitter, never unfollow a potential book buyer. In fact, never unfollow anyone except obvious bots and spammers.
3. My dog is sick!
After you write a book, pleading, begging, and generally bemoaning how tough life is will not sell books.
It rates a minus zero on the list of book promotion ideas.
Being sick, unlucky, poor, or using any other attempt at gaining sympathy will lead nowhere.
You may as well be begging for readers in front of your local library.
Readers want books written with confidence, not by an author bent on creating an image of begging in the street.
4. Blast that contact form
Whoa! Once some authors find a contact form on a website, they can’t resist.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they sent only one message listing all the wonders of their free Kindle ebook.
But does it need to be sent every day? Yes, daily!
Worse than that, I had one determined author who sent me book details along with a book review three times a day for a week.
It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to block this author from accessing my site.
Sending a daily email or contact message to people about a book is a great way to drive people nuts.
5. No way will I pay
I used to own a book promotion site.
But almost every day for years, I got messages from authors wanting me to list their books and ebooks for free.
I am a nice guy, so on the first occasion, I sometimes suggested some free book promotion sites they could use.
But when I got a second message saying that my book marketing service should be free, I asked them why I should invest a lot of money and expect nothing in return.
Some authors can’t figure out that they are in business, as I am too.
6. I want to feature my book reviews on your site
Yes, well, okay, but my site is about publishing advice.
Perhaps if you would like to write an informative long-form article about … ‘I don’t have time to write articles! I just want you to post my book and stuff. I’ll send you a free book, though!
I sometimes directed these authors to submit their books to my paid site. But I usually got a similar reaction to my point 5 above. ‘What? No way, I don’t want to pay for it!’
Yeah, yeah, everything in the world should come easy and for free. Yeah, I know, I know.
7. Hey, WordPress comment spam is cool
It’s logical, I suppose because WordPress powers over 40% of all sites on the Internet.
Some see comments as a great opportunity.
Adding a copy and pasted comment to a lot of blog articles with a link to a book on Amazon is so tempting.
Luckily, my WordPress spam filter works very well, as it does on most WordPress blogs.
Every day, it catches and trashes a pile of failed attempts at bookselling comment spam.
8. Yeah, Facebook messages will make people buy my book
Um, well, no.
Marketing your book through personal messages on Twitter and Facebook is a losing strategy.
Facebook messages on my personal profile are for my friends and family.
They are not for rude authors wanting me to download their free ebooks.
I give a little more leeway on my Facebook Pages. But there is a handy delete button I find comes in very useful indeed.
As for Twitter direct messages, they are mostly spam, so who reads them?
Use Facebook for book launches and to promote your books, of course.
But using direct messages to sell your book to people you don’t know is a terrible idea.
9. I don’t have time for all that nonsense
Occasionally, and I mean very occasionally, I ask a pesky author what book marketing plan they have and what book promotion services they plan to use.
“I don’t have time for all that rubbish; I just want to sell my books.”
Well, I paraphrased several replies in that quote, but I am sure you get my drift.
The very worst book marketing idea is not having a clue about how to plan a book promotion campaign.
Maybe that’s because it would mean spending time reading and learning about building awareness and evaluating a range of promotion services to increase discoverability.
But who has time for all that nonsense?
Book promotion is not about targeting individuals
I’ll stop my list of poor book promotion ideas here. But there are many more I have come across.
I have written so many advice articles on book and author promotion.
However, some will never bother reading, learning, or taking advice.
Luckily, they are a very, very small minority. But boy, they can so often find extraordinary and almost endless ways to annoy people.
When they ultimately fail, they disappear. Yet there are always more on the way to replace them.
For a handful, the tried and true methods are never good enough, and neither is being remotely considerate or polite when promoting books.
The big mistake all these annoying authors make is that they are typically trying to sell their books to people individually and directly.
It might work when hard selling insurance or used cars, which offer high-value returns on a sale.
But it simply doesn’t work or make any economic sense to spend hours each day trying to direct sell $0.99 – $2.99 ebooks to people individually, which will return peanuts per sale.
The most successful marketing plan is to use book promotion tools and book marketing tips that are designed to attract book buyers and then give them the information they need to make a buying decision.
How do people decide to buy a book?
My wife recently told me about a book she bought, read, and enjoyed very much. She stumbled upon it while she was on Facebook.
When she mentioned the title, it rang a bell. I checked, and yes, it was a book listed on my promotion site, and it had been posted on Facebook.
But she had no idea about all that. She bought the book and read it because she noticed it, liked the book cover, was interested in the book’s theme, and decided that it was precisely her cup of tea.
That’s exactly how people buy new books.
And another odd fact. I have spent a few hours preparing this article, and now that I am almost finished, I checked my KDP dashboard.
Lo and behold, I sold a couple of books while I was working away on this piece. How did that happen?
Three book marketing ideas that DO work.
Obviously, my two sales did not eventuate from my effort in writing this particular article.
These sales came from three basic ideas for book promotion practices.
1. Attract Interest In Your Books Via A Blog
A great blog or author website is the number one way to get noticed and spark reader interest.
Keep your site up to date and write informative, entertaining, or question-answering articles and blog posts.
If you don’t have your own blog, you can always guest post on other blogs and add links to your books.
2. Get Your Book Listing Right
Make sure you have selected the best two categories and seven keyword phrases so readers searching Amazon, Apple, or Kobo for a new book can discover your books.
Each week, thousands of books are published. You need to work on your book discoverability continually and find better-performing Kindle keywords.
Getting your metadata right and always trying to improve it will dramatically boost your chances of getting sales from readers who search on Amazon for a new book to buy.
You should definitely set up your Amazon Author page on Author Central because you can add much more to your book’s metadata and sales page.
Your Amazon Author page can work as business cards do. All your details will be available in one click on every one of your book sales pages.
3. Leverage Social Media
Keep it simple and build relationships, but don’t waste hours every day on social media.
However, use it to your advantage to promote your blog and improve your book sales funnel.
Yes, promote your blog and not your books on social media. Getting readers to your blog or website is the best way to help your book sales.
If you are planning a free ebook campaign, discounting your books on Amazon, or planning book signings, write a blog post about it.
Do you have any new book trailers? Write around them on your blog and then share them on social media.
You can also set up a bookstore on your Facebook page to bring your books to the attention of more readers.
It doesn’t matter if you are traditionally published or self-published.
Today, all authors and publishers need to use online tools as best they can for book publicity to promote a print book or Kindle ebook.
The three best book promotion ideas are having a great author blog, informing and engaging with as broad an audience as possible, and investing the time in making your books discoverable on book retailer sites.
Because once they are set up, they will all work for you 24/7 without wasting hours of your time.
Also, investing a little in online book advertising can help you extend your reach even further.
What does promote mean? It means attracting attention and then letting the book buyer make a decision.
It’s funny how simple book promotion can be.
Related reading: 11 Common Errors A Debut Author Makes When Publishing A Book