9 Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work At All

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Nine Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work

There are some authors who stretch the reasonable boundaries of book promotion ideas.

Here is a short list of nine very annoying methods that I have received and experienced by newly published authors. They are of course desperate to sell their books, but 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 have one, I can attest to the number of pesky messages I receive on a daily basis.



9 Ways to fail badly at promoting a book

If you want to sell your books, the following book promotion ideas 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.


1. Thank you and now buy my book!

How many times have I followed an author on social media, only to be 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 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 uniquely a Twitter stupidity.

For some odd reason, there are those out there who think by 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, then unfollow them. Only to refollow to appear high on the list of followers. Again, blocking any user who happened to follow them before.

Oddly enough, most of these perverse Twitter users end up suspended. Is there any surprise why?


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 marketing ideas.

Being sick, unlucky, poor or using any other attempt at gaining sympathy will lead nowhere.


Readers want books written with confidence, and 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 just 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 daily? 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 and get off his mailing list.

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 have a paid book promotion site, Whizbuzz Books, but almost every day I get messages from authors wanting to list their books and ebooks on my site for free.

I am a nice guy, so on the first occasion, I sometimes suggest free sites they can use.

But when I get a second message saying that my book marketing service should be free, I ask them why on earth I should invest a lot of money in my website and expect nothing in return?

Some authors just 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 direct these authors to submit their book to my paid site, but I usually get 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, I know, I know.


7. Hey, WordPress comment spam is cool!

This is a new one on me, as I hadn’t seen it until recently. It’s logical I suppose because well over 30% of sites on the Internet are powered by WordPress. Some would see it as a great opportunity.

Adding a copy and paste comment to a lot of blog articles with a link to a book on Amazon is 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 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, and not rude authors wanting me to download their free ebook.

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 very bad idea.


9. I don’t have time for all that baloney!

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 a number of replies in that reply, but I am sure you get my drift. The very worst book marketing idea is not to have a clue about how to plan a campaign.

Maybe because that would mean spending some 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?


The best book promotion ideas are not about targeting individuals.

I’ll stop my list of dumb 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, there are those who 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.

The big mistake all these annoying authors make is that they are typically trying to sell their books to people individually and directly. This 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 return peanuts per sale.

The most successful marketing plan is to use book promotion ideas 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 exactly 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 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 who are searching Amazon, Apple or Kobo for a new book have a chance to discover your books.

Each week thousands of books are published, so you need to continually work on your book discoverability.

Get 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 then 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, build relationships, but don’t waste hours every day on social media. However, use it to your advantage to promote your blog.

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 and then share it 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 books.

Having a great author blog, informing and engaging with as wide an audience as possible and investing the time in making your books discoverable on book retailer sites are the three best book marketing ideas.

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 such as Whizbuzz Books 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, isn’t it?


Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

13 thoughts on “9 Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work At All

  • October 26, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    On your Whizzbuzz Books site, do you offer any discount for listing more than one book at once? I have two published now, and will finish another soon.

  • July 24, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    I think also the sites that advise to hold free books. In the first instance once a free book is given the recipient does not need to buy one. If they like they book they are not likely to recommend to their friends to buy a copy, they will lend them theres. The only people who make out of giveaways are the e-book publishers who charge the full price plus postage to the author. Yes, of course that will move the book up the charts, but the reason for this is that the author is effectively biuying disown book

  • July 12, 2019 at 2:28 am


    I’ve looked at your marketing plan.
    It is SO MUCH WORK and it is SO BORING.
    Plus, there are no guaranties of any kind that it is actually going to work anyway.

    I sincerely regret now that I ever wanted to publish a book…

    I don’t think any sane authors would like to self-publish their books these days anymore.

    It is obvious that book quality is completely irrelevant today.

    There are so many best sellers on Amazon, which – at the best – are very mediocre books in their own rights.

    People judge books today primarily by the cover and the advertising campaign behind it.

    It is just not worth the trouble for an indie author on the low budget.

    No matter how good or bad he or she may be as a writer…




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