You have written your book at last, and it is finally available on Amazon, Kindle, Apple, Kobo and all your other online book retailers.
So now you are ready to start marketing a new book to potential readers. Naturally, the next thing you do is open a Twitter account and start a Facebook page to do some social media marketing.
Perhaps you will even design a new website. You might even get back to using your blog and writing a blog post, which you forgot to do while writing your book and getting it published.
With all that work done, the New York Times will be on the phone in no time and the book sales will start rolling in. So, so very wrong! This is not how digital marketing works. Here are ten mistakes to avoid making when marketing books.
Mistake No. 1. Selling books
Thinking that you need to sell your book on Amazon is probably the most common mistake new authors make. Cars need sales people to sell them. Real estate needs agents to sell houses.
Books cannot be sold like this. They are bought by readers, with no one pushing a pen and a contract across a desk and pressuring them to sign.
Therefore, you need to develop a marketing strategy that will probably focus on content marketing and personal branding to attract book buyers.
Mistake No. 2. Social media
Thinking that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can help to sell books.
Social media is very useful for an author in creating awareness and building an interested following.
But in saying that, you need to be seen as an interesting or informative person to gain these followers and friends.
People want interaction, information or light entertainment on social media. Not hourly posts of your book covers and Amazon links with pleas to read my book.
Social media posts that are clearly promotional, including Facebook Ads, generally have an extremely low conversion rate.
Mistake No. 3. No plan
Releasing a book with no book launch or marketing plan. Readers can only buy books that they have heard about.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert. But you do need to think about how you will make your book visible over a period of weeks and months.
Your marketing campaigns will be the means by which you plan to make your book known to potentially interested readers.
Mistake No. 4. Everyone will love my book
Thinking that the world is a huge book market and that your book will appeal to everyone.
In reality, your book, like all books, will only be of potential interest to a very tiny part of the market.
Readers who are interested in business books about blue ocean strategy are certainly not going to be great prospects for a YA paranormal romance novel.
You must know your niche market. If you don’t know what it is, you need to identify it and then define your target audience.
Thinking that having the title of an author will impress people. It doesn’t, and especially nowadays when everyone can or is an author.
Basing your online presence on the title of the author is not going to sell books.
‘Author of the Up The Spout‘, is now so common, it is an instant turn off. Being someone interesting, though, can and does attract book buyers who just might keep you top of mind and add your book to their reading list.
Mistake No. 6. Poor data
In some respects, book marketing can be as simple as getting your books in the right place. Books at the front of a bookstore always sell better than those at the back of the store.
But today, this means at the front of an online store.
To get any attention at all, a book needs to be published with precise metadata, which includes categories, keywords, a short book description, ISBN and title.
Metadata, and not persuasion, is how book buyers can find your book – and then buy it.
Mistake No. 7. Kill words
Using ‘kill’ words online.
These include check out my book, buy my book, check out my blog, get my book for free, free for two days only or only five-star reviews for my book.
These call to action words and imperative phrases might work for dishwashing detergent, but not for books on social media platforms.
The mistake many new authors make is in not thinking about how they themselves react to these ‘kill’ words.
Most often, the honest answer is, negatively.
Mistake No. 8. It’s all for free
If you haven’t invested any money in your book, don’t expect a return on your investment. Self-publishing is like a small business.
Money spent on a great cover, good editing (or at least thorough proofreading) and affordable online book promotion before, during and after the release is always money well spent.
It does not need to be a huge investment, but you get what you pay for.
Mistake No. 9. Free ebooks
Promoting a free ebook. Why waste time and probably a lot of money on promoting something that has no possibility of making a cent in return?
The days of giving away 1,000s of free ebooks to get book reviews and help a book’s ranking on Amazon are long gone.
On top of that, free ebooks are a great way to attract one-star troll reviewers. Why give them a chance?
Use free ebook campaigns in moderation.
Mistake No. 10. It’s a thriller
Failing to use your book’s themes and topics as the cornerstones for attracting interest.
Telling the world that your book is a crime thriller is of no real interest. But if its theme is about mafia gangs in Naples in the 19th century, this may well be of interest to some readers.
You should use semantic keywords in your promotional content and blog posts to attract readers.
Follow blogs related to the theme of your book, comment, interact and inform people of your knowledge and build an audience, but leave any mention of your book aside.
If you interest people they will discover your book, and discovery is by far the most powerful bookselling tool in your marketing tool cabinet. Use it.
Free Bonus Mistake. No second book
Not having a second book underway or almost ready.
Relying on one book will rarely bring in a lot of royalties. Writing a second book will help, but a third is even better.
Most importantly, the lessons learned from your debut book can be invaluable in not making the same mistakes again.
Writing and self-publishing have a steep learning curve. Only those who persevere, step by step, and are willing to learn, succeed.
An Extra Free Bonus Mistake. I know everything
Not reading advice articles such as this.
There is no shortage of sound advice available on the Internet for new and not so new self-published authors.
Use other people’s experience to help you understand how to give your book its best chance of success.
Keeping up to date on news in the industry, changes, which are constant, and trends in online publishing all help in making better decisions.
I know how bad the consequences of these mistakes can really be because I have made absolutely all of them over the years.
Take a shortcut on gaining real-life experience the hard way, and try not to make my mistakes all over again.
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.
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