How Not to Market Your Book – 12 Rookie Mistakes

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market your book

Did you just publish your first book? It’s an exciting time, isn’t it? You’re probably thinking that now it’s time to market your book.

To learn about how to market your book, you’re probably reading blog posts like mine and absorbing as much information as you can.

Writers put so much energy into writing their books that they have little time to think about marketing them until the final edit is done.

That’s when your head tends to come up and when you stop typing. You think to yourself, “It’s time to publish!”

Mistakes You Make When You Market Your Book 

 No. 1 – You Start Too Late 

market your bookThe first mistake writers make is that they focus solely on their writing and not on their marketing while they write a book.

Sure, your writing needs to be top-notch, but if you don’t start to market your book early enough, it won’t matter how well you wrote your book.

As soon as you have an idea for your book and start to write it, start your marketing.

Solution: Find a reputable website developer and build a website. Here’s a post I wrote on author websites. Read it. If you need referrals to website developers, ask me.

No. 2 – You Don’t Blog 

Start a blog. At this stage, you can blog about your writing process, characters you kill off, places where you write, and reasons why you write.

No. 3 – You Think You Don’t Have Time for Social Media 

think about your readers. Who are they? Why would they want to read your book?
Look at Pew Research Centersocial media studies to determine which social media networks your readers use. Start to use at least one social media network that your readers use.

Six months later, learn how to use another social media network that your readers use.

No. 4 – You Exclude Your Publishing to Paperback Books

This is a real problem that I’ve encountered with some clients.

Publishing today, if you want to be successful, needs to include paperbacks, ebooks, audiobooks, and box sets.

The more options you give your readers, the more ways they’ll have to buy what you write.

No. 5 – You Go Wide Right Away

amazonWhen you start out in publishing, it’s preferable not to go wide. In other words, with your first and second books, limit your publishing to Amazon. Doing this will make your books eligible for KDP Select, which will enable you to discount your book to $.0 for five days each quarter.

Also, when you are in the KDP Select Program, Amazon automatically enrolls your book in Kindle Unlimited as well as the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, a collection of books that Amazon Prime members who own a Kindle can choose one book each month with no due dates.

The KDP Select Program offers opportunities that new authors can benefit from.

Once you write your third book, then go wide. In other words, use a service, such as Draft2Digitalto publish your books on iTunes, Kobo, and elsewhere.

No. 6 – You Think Giving Books Away for Free is Dumb

I used to think that. I figured that after all my research, writing, three editors, designers, etc., that it would be ludicrous to give my book away for free.

Man was I wrong.

As a new writer, you don’t have readers yet. One way to acquire readers is to give your book away for free.

Sign up for KDP Select and use your free promotional days. Send free copies of your books to leaders in your niche and industry. Send copies of your books to bloggers and give away ten copies of your book on Goodreads.

No. 7 – You Don’t Learn About Amazon’s Categories

Before uploading your book to Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, learn about keyword phrases and categories.

Here is a list of the BISAC codesyou need to know so you can find your categories.

Also, learn about keyword phrases. This is an excellent postfrom Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur about how to conduct your keyword research.

No. 8 – You Ignore Goodreads

GoodreadsPlease don’t ignore Goodreads. It’s a social media network for readers.

When you join, don’t use this channel purely for marketing. Goodreads, above everything else, is a network designed for readers. A good number of its users have graduate degrees.

So when you join Goodreads, build your library of books you’ve read and write reviews regularly. Also, join a group and give some of your books away for free.

No. 9 – You Don’t Help to Market Your Colleagues’ Books

As you write your book, get to know writers in your genre. After you publish, continue to meet other writers in your genre. Retweet them, share their blog posts, and help them to be a success.

In other words, build a cooperative gathering of similarly minded writers who help each other find success.

No. 10 – You Talk About Your books and Yourself too Much on Social Media

Too often, writers view social media as advertising channels. They aren’t.

The essence of social media is that it’s social. Ask and answer questions. Find information that your readers would love that you didn’t produce.

Social media isn’t about you and your books and blog posts. It’s about the community you build.

No. 11 – You Don’t Include a Letter to the Reader in Your Book Requesting a Review

Every book needs a letter to the reader. Some people put it in the front of the book, but most people include it after the last page.

Thank your readers for buying your book and tell them how much it would mean to you if they would leave a review, especially on Amazon.

 No. 12 – You Don’t Develop a Street Team

social mediaA writer needs help selling her books. You can hire assistants or people like myself or publicists. Even if you hired those three categories of experts, you would still need a street team t.

Members of a street team receive advance reader copies of your books, they tweet about your books, post on Facebook about your books, and take a picture of your cover and put it on Instagram.

In other words, these readers love your books so much that they talk about them and recommend them. They may even help you get speaking gigs locally.

Do whatever you can to develop a dedicated street team. And treat them well. Give the members of your street team chachkies, free books, a kindle, or an Amazon gift certificate. These are your most dedicated readers, and they deserve your loyalty and special treatment.

How Not to Market Your Book - 12 Rookie Mistakes


Want to know all of my best social media marketing tips? Get a copy of Social Media Just for Writers.

Social Media Just for Writers 2nd Edition

Well written, well researched – well thought out. This book is a must have!

Ryshia Kennie 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Online Book Marketing Strategies for Writers

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  1. Hi, Frances.

    Love these tips! I’ve put the article in my buffer queue to share with Twitter followers. One thought of mine is that folks new to Twitter should introduce themselves right away within specialized groups like #writingcommunity. I know I wasn’t even of them until much later (in the meantime I was watching a ton of unrelated stuff sliding by on my feed).

    Also, true or not, writers are reputed to be towards the introvert side of the social scale. Any tips for how such folks can go about building a street team?

    Once again, thanks for these tips.

    • Phil: Great comments and question. I started a VIP list by offering people a chance to get my books for free if they provided Amazon reviews. I attracted 100 people quickly. Of course, about ten provided reviews but from those ten you can form a street team.

  2. I have written a number of books, but I still have most of those ‘donts’.

  3. Hi Frances,
    This article hit home and seems to have come at just the right time for me. My completed cozy mystery manuscript is about to be sent off to publishing houses via my agent and part of my job now is to come up with a marketing strategy, establish my street team, etc. Coming from someone who works full-time and writes for enjoyment, these tips are extremely valuable! The good thing is that I’ve already done a lot, like establish a blog called “A Nurse Practitioner’s Script” over a year ago.
    I’ve opened myself up to social media (my kids still make fun of me because I don’t know how to use SnapChat)
    I plan on purchasing the books mentioned as well. Right now, I’m comparable to a sponge, soaking in as much information as possible so that I can be successful in the long run.
    Posts like yours help make this possible for me.
    Thank you,
    Diane Pagan

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