The Worst Book Marketing Mistakes Authors Should Avoid

Book marketing mistakes how to avoid them

Selling a book might be a million times harder than writing it.

If you’re working as an independent or an agency writer, marketing a book is a daunting task because the audience is used to seeing hundreds of new books presented to them every week.

Often, mistakes are made. Even if an author makes the book available on Amazon and creates fancy social media pages and a website, it still might not be enough to spread the word.

Let’s review the worst book marketing mistakes authors make in this article.

Mistake #1: Designing own cover

Many authors who are confident in their writing abilities feel the same about their design skills. They create amateurish cover designs and use them for their books because they think they look great.

Well, people with a genuine sense of design might not share their opinion.

By seeing that the cover was created by an unskilled amateur (and many people can instantly recognize that), they won’t buy the book. Thus, the author has lost the chance to make a good first impression.

How to avoid this mistake:

Consider using the services of professional designers. It is their job to create appealing and eye-catching covers, so this task is better left to them.

Here are some resources to help you make the final decision:

Do I need a professional cover designer to design my book cover?

Simple Tips for Hiring a Book Cover Designer


Mistake #2: Selling to everyone

When asked who their book is for, authors often say: “It’s for teens,” “It’s for middle-aged women” or something like that. Age and gender thus often are the most important determinants of the target audience.

This is a huge mistake. The first reason is that the expectations for selling to all “teenagers” and “middle-aged women” are unrealistic.

Not every representative of this group will read your book (unless, of course, you come up with the next Lord of the Rings).

It is much more likely that a small share of a target group will read it. They might share some experiences or characteristics that go way beyond age and gender.

How to avoid this mistake:

Sell your book to a particular target market. You should think about this before you even started to write a book because the target audience will define the characters, their features, actions, and events.

Here are some helpful resources for identifying target audience:

Writers: 5 Tips on How to Identify Your Target Audience

How to Identify a Target Audience for Your Book Marketing


Mistake #3: Lack of engagement

Some authors often downgrade the importance of regularly communicating with readers because of the lack of time. So if someone writes them an email about their work, they typically ignore them.

This is another dumb mistake that can be very harmful to your writing career.

If a person wrote you an email, this means that he or she is interested in your work, which is your primary goal. Any writer strives for attention, right?

By failing to respond, an author makes themselves look like an egotistical person. A much better thing to do is to be polite and answer. The reader is an ally of the writer, so engagement is critical.

How to avoid this mistake:

Always try to answer emails and letters from your readers. If the person who sent you an email is a reviewer or a blogger, they can let others know about your ignorance. You can imagine what might happen next.


Mistake #4: Ignoring the power of free

Many authors out there have chosen not to give their books away for free. This decision may look like a reasonable one since Amazon and other book selling sites are flooded with free offers.

The choice is so enormous that it’s difficult to pick one good book.

Moreover, with the launch of Kindle Unlimited, readers have the freedom to explore new genres and authors without any restrictions in terms of price. Why bother, with at all these free books, right?

Well, wrong. A free book will still get you more visibility than a book that comes at a cost (even if it’s $0.99).

Once again, popularity is something authors relentlessly pursue, and free can maximize the reach of the book.

How to avoid this mistake:

Write free books! They will be your tools for discoverability and maximizing reach. Run free promotions, and you’ll see that free is still a better way to get the word spreading. And remember: name recognition is priceless!

Here’s something that will help you to reaffirm your faith in the power of free:

8 Rules to Consider Before You Write for Free for the Exposure

Why You Should Write for Free… and When You Should Stop


Mistake #5: Failing to interact with people on social media

Social media is an incredible marketing tool if used properly. For example, it’s very easy to forget that the initial purpose of Facebook is communication (not promotion).

“There are millions of people there, that’s a lot of exposure! I’ll create promotional posts and start letting them know about my latest work!”

This “buy my book” approach will not work because the author fails to communicate with people.

Instead, their main focus is promotion. Social media sites are created to make more friends, not direct sales.

Therefore, expecting immediate results after the launch of the promotional campaign is pretty stupid. Marketing a book is a marathon, not a sprint.

How to avoid this mistake:

Interact with people on social media! You’re a writer, so write. Don’t sound like another marketer trying to get people to open their wallets. Make friends and get to know them to determine what could be interesting for them.

These resources could be helpful for your social media promotion campaign:

Using Facebook to Promote Your Book

9 Ways to Use Social Media to Launch a Book


Mistake #6: Not starting to market a book early enough

Publishing a book without prior marketing is a serious mistake that minimizes the reach and reduces a chance to be a bestseller. It means that potential readers are not ready because the anticipation has not been built.

As a result, the book will go largely unnoticed by the reading community. The only people who will pay appropriate attention will be the die-hard fans.

How to avoid this mistake:

Build anticipation before releasing the book by posting on social media and letting the audience know what to expect and when.

Read these articles to see how to create anticipation:

Using a Book Teaser to Create Anticipation

How to Build Anticipation For Your Book Launch

Don’t commit these horrible mistakes and follow the tips to make sure you’re on the path to success!


Lucy BentonLucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing her own thoughts as a blogger, and currently works at Assignment Helper. She is constantly looking for ways to improve her skills and expertise. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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