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 who are of course desperate to sell their books, but will all fail very badly.

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, and as I have one, I can attest to the number of pesky messages I receive on a daily basis.

If you want to sell your books, the following book promotion ideas are definitely ones to avoid at all costs.

However, read on after these nine bad ideas, and then read about three simple ideas that do work.

1. Thank you and 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 my Kindle ebook.

It’s a bit like being told to buy dinner for people you don’t know.

Sorry but no, I don’t buy dinner for people I don’t know, and 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 in 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. Any surprise why?

3. My dog is sick!

Pleading, begging and generally bemoaning how tough life is will not sell books and 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 email list.

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 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. Like 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 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, as over 30% of the Internet is powered by WordPress that some would see an opportunity.

Luckily my WordPress spam filters work very well and catch and trash a pile of failed attempts at bookselling spam.

8. Yeah, Facebook messages will make people buy my book!

Um well, no. 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.

Use Facebook 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. ‘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, 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 a little time reading and learning about building awareness and discoverability.

But who has time for that?

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, but there are those who will never bother reading, learning or taking advice.

Luckily, they are a very, very small minority, but boy, they can find extraordinary and almost endless ways to annoy the hell out of people.

When they ultimately fail, they disappear, but 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, which 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 trying to direct sell $0.99 – $2.99 ebooks, which return peanuts per sale.

The most successful book promotion ideas are always 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, was interested in the book’s theme, and decided that it was exactly her cup of tea.

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 some books while I was working away on this piece. How did that happen?

Three book marketing ideas that DO work.

Obviously, my few sales did not eventuate from my effort in writing this particular article.

These sales came from three basic 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.

Get your metadata right and your chances of sales from search will increase dramatically.

You should also set up your Amazon Author page on Author Central as you can add much more to your book’s metadata.

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.

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 can help you extend your reach even further.

It’s funny how simple book promotion can be, isn’t it?

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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

  • Numbers 2 & 7 are pet peeves. .
    However, I admit to doing number 8…twice. It rarely results in a sale.

    When my next book is published, I’m planning on doing better research about marketing. After 3 years of do-it-yourself, I understand why successful ad agencies are so expensive.

  • I wish more indie authors would read this than will find out the hard way that yours is excellent advice.

  • Thanks for the superb advice. These words prevented me from making some poor choices in the marketing world. :)

  • Haha! This is one amazing article. Trust me, I have got a lot of author friends and all of them do these mentioned points. The Facebook Inbox and WordPress comment section point cracked me up. Keep posting such classic work. Congrats.

  • I choose to be an Indie author after having gone down the route of agent/publisher, so I am a hybrid. I do put up covers and when the book is published on FB, but I hate the ‘buy my books’ thing and even more the ‘you’re my new friend, here is my FB page, please follow me’ posts. I have never done that. I write because I want to and I am good at it, but the plain fact is you cannot make people buy your book. So now, I tweet a couple of times a day and also RT things I think are good – I’m a sucker for covers – and that is it. FB is for friends and family and mining info in the groups if you need it. If you want to read my books, you only need half a brain cell to find where they are. You do not need me shoving them down your throat.

  • I’m stunned people would ask you to promote their book’s for free. $49 over the course of a year is a very fair price.

  • As a new author, I have been shocked at how so many people out there are promoting that you basically “annoy” people into paying attention to your book. I’m the type of person who will immediately shut you down and walk away if I feel like you’re just trying to annoy me or push me into something. Love this article!

  • I am sure that you are right and i am in the process of opening a blog. However, i want to use my energies for writing and not on Facebook, LinkedIn,ect. ect. This seems impossible nowadays and i pay the price. The next best way would be to pay someone to do the marketing {if you have the money} There appears no solution.

  • I am sure that you are right and i am in the process of opening a blog. However, i want to use my energies for writing and not on Facebook, LinkedIn,ect. ect. This seems impossible nowadays and i pay the price. The next best way would be to pay someone to do the marketing {if you have the money} There appears no solution.

  • Very helpful advice, thank you!


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