When an author hits “publish,” they often think the hard work of book publishing is done. After all of the writing and editing and formatting, finally having the book live in various online marketplaces seems like a relief.
But while publishing a book is an enormous deal, and one that you should be proud of, you’re not going to sell many books without marketing.
Many authors are overwhelmed by the thought of marketing. It is not an easy group of tasks to complete, and it feels overwhelming.
Here are nine frequent book marketing mistakes. They may seem like common sense, but each one is based on mistakes I’ve seen authors make in the past.
1. Not asking for what you need
It can be hard to ask for help. But you cannot do it all by yourself.
You need reviews, social media shares, and enthusiastic fans to help spread the word about your work.
While you don’t want to wear out your welcome, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to help you. Start to develop a street team or launch team; such a team will include hardcore friends (or your mom) that you’ll ask to help on specific tasks.
2. Ignoring book marketing beginners
Sometimes, the help we need is more than our friends and family can provide. When that happens, it may be time to hire help. If you choose to work with a blog tour company, a virtual assistant, or a book marketing company, don’t ignore the new ones.
While it may seem smart to go with a more established company, sometimes the new ones who are trying to make a name for themselves will work harder to help you — and sometimes at a cheaper rate, too. They need to build their base and you can help them. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship to consider.
3. Ignoring SEO
When you have good SEO, or search engine optimization, it’s easier for people to find you among the ocean of information online.
Hashtags and keywords are a huge part of how people find you. Make sure to use the right ones on your blog and social media posts. Pay special attention to the wording in the blurb on the back of your book. Pick up books similar to yours and see what words they’re using in their blurbs and online product descriptions.
If you can get an idea of what keywords people are searching for, then you can work with those keywords to improve your blurb and other marketing materials. Consider using Google’s keyword planner to gauge interest levels in certain keywords.
4. Not engaging online
Interact on social media. Be polite on social media. If a blogger helps you out and shows interest in helping you, be generous in your thanks. Make sure to respond promptly, and professionally. Do not forget to thank people who help you.
I wouldn’t personally thank every person who reviews your book, but bloggers, writing groups, and blog tour companies should get shoutouts. These people are doing you a service by exposing your work to their followers; when you thank them publicly, you’re returning the favor.
To meet new readers, look for Twitter chats, Goodreads giveaways, and Facebook takeovers to participate in. That being said…
5. Spamming people
A million tweets screaming “BUY MY BOOK!!!” will not sell your book. It will make people block you. A Facebook post every half hour pointing out that your book released a day ago will only annoy, not encourage, those who follow you.
Find a happy medium. People want to interact with their favorite authors. Personal interaction will help sales; spam will not.
6. Doing only one thing
Readers are everywhere. If you only post on Twitter, you miss the people on Facebook. If you only post on Google+, you miss the people on Twitter.
While you may have some of the same people following you on each social media platform, each one will appeal to different people for various reasons. Marketing a book is a little like throwing spaghetti at the wall. You want to do a wide range of social media engagement and see where it sticks.
You need to focus your energies on what works, while always continuing to throw spaghetti at new walls to find other methods that stick. Marketing will ebb and flow, and it’s up to you to recognize new opportunities to interact as new tools and methods rise in popularity.
7. Forgetting to think locally
Book marketing isn’t only an online thing. Look around you. Local book stores, consignment shops, coffee shops and the library are all good places to get the word out about your book. Scheduling a reading at your library or local bookstore can be a major piece of your marketing plan.
Don’t forget about local newspapers. Many will be interested in writing a profile about a local author. Check their websites to see about submission guidelines or who you need to contact.
8. Waiting until the book is ready to launch
In a perfect world, you should start marketing about six months before your book comes out. In these early stages, focus on talking to people, networking, getting plans in place for promotions.
These efforts are all crucial. They should be done early. You want to create buzz, anticipation, and momentum. If you start to build buzz around your new work, you should already have a small audience for when the book launches — and a small audience will help you build a bigger audience.
If your book has already launched, set a promotion date for several months into the future, and plan to tie your future marketing to this promotion date. (Go back to point number one for a reminder to ask for help!)
If you’re not sure when to set the date, think about things that are happening. Will you be getting ready to release another book? Then six months prior to that release would be perfect. What about holidays, or before summer vacations start?
9. Expecting overnight success
Very few authors enjoy overnight success. For the rest of us mere mortals, it takes time and hard work. Marketing a book is either a labor of love or a job. Either way you look at it, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time. You should be committed to putting that time in.
The thing about book marketing is that it is difficult to mess up too badly. Even if you have made one of these errors, you can usually fix it, learn from the mistake, and move on.
What lessons have you learned while marketing your books?