When self-publishing you have to do most of the marketing yourself, but it can seem like a minefield if you’ve never done it before. Getting it wrong can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are ten mistakes to avoid when promoting your book.
You may think that writing a book is the main part of being a self-publisher, but what good is a great book if no one knows it exists? You need to market and promote it, but get it wrong and your work might never land in the lap of your precious readers.
Here are some mistakes you should avoid in order to give your book the best chance of success.
1 Waiting until your book is published
Don’t wait until your book is all ready to rock ’n’ roll. You should start marketing both your book and yourself as an author as early as possible. You should be looking at starting to promote at least six-months before your book is ready to go.
Look at building up an early audience with things like email lists. That way you’ve got an existing potential reader base to sell your book to, who will give reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, talk about your book with their friends and family, and help build a bigger audience.
You need to build up excitement and anticipation before your book launches so you can ride the wave after publication. It will be tougher to do once our book is launched and a slow burner may fizzle out along with your motivation if you don’t get the response you were hoping for.
If you’ve already published your book, it might not be too late, just set a specific promotion date across all your efforts so that everything is focused together to hit at the same time rather than bumbling along independently.
2 Not focusing on what you need
People won’t know what you want unless you tell them. This can be friends and family in helping spread the word, trying to capture email addresses, or asking for reviews.
Focus different elements of your marketing and ask people for what you need.
Pre-release you want to be collecting people’s info so that you can contact them when you launch your book. You’ll also need to get some great reviews, send out some advance copies and make sure you let them know to all post their reviews around the same time. Once your book is launched you’ll need people to create a buzz across social media.
You can do all these things with promises of free copies, extra features, and other marketing resources, but focus each element so that your calls to action don’t get diluted.
3 Not engaging people online
Social media is a boon for self-publishers, it’s a way to get your voice potentially in front of millions of people who are looking for books like yours. To not use it would be a wasted opportunity.
Get online, sign up to all the major social networks, and actively engage people.
Be nice and build up a following, but also look at connecting with people who might be able to help you. And if they do help you do not forget to thank them.
Once you’re on social media, make sure you’re not spamming people. It can be very easy to think you’re being drowned out by all the other posts and therefore believe you need to post more to stay at the top, you don’t. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality.
Don’t post every hour saying “Buy my new book!” it won’t gain you new followers and will annoy the ones you already have. Instead, interact on a personal level, talk to people, and be relevant.
5 Sticking to one thing
Don’t only do one type of marketing. If you’re only trying out one social network, or only promoting in one area you are missing out on other potentials elsewhere.
The danger also lies in the fact that when your efforts dry up in one area you have no back up.
If you’re on Twitter be sure to sign up to Facebook and Google+ too. If you’re using social media, make sure you look at traditional forms of promotion as well. If you’re only attending book fairs, be sure to get online and support your physical marketing.
You should look at your marketing as a complete strategy, encompassing as many aspects as you can, and they should all complement each other.
6 Forgetting about the real world
You may think it’s easy to manage all your promotions from behind a computer screen, but don’t forget that there is a whole real world out there that you can take advantage of.
A reader who you physically meet and talk to will be more valuable than a random Twitter follower, so get out there and meet people.
You could arrange a signing session with your local book store, do a reading at a book club, meet and greet at the library, arrange an interview with your local newspaper, or any number of things that require you to leave the house.
7 Not doing SEO
In the online world you might as well be shouting in the dark if people can’t find you or your book. You need to get your author and/or book website search engine optimised.
Look at things like keywords, meta data, and hashtags to enhance your chances of being found online.
If you’re really not sure what you should be doing, have a look at book sites that are similar to yours, and look at the page source, you can usually do this by clicking on your browser’s developer link. You’ll see what extra data they’re using in their pages.
You can also find tools online that will find this info for you, looking at things like keyword density and backlinks.
You don’t have to be a search engine guru, but if you make an effort it can make all the difference.
8 Refusing to work with newbies
You may find that hiring some people to help you with marketing is easier than taking all the burden on yourself, but don’t be afraid to give unknowns a go.
We were all new and inexperienced once, and sometimes going with someone who’s trying to make a name for themselves would be better than hiring someone who is already established.
A new company will be more enthusiastic and more likely to go above and beyond to get your book noticed, meaning you get more bang for your buck. They may also offer very generous discounts for being amongst their first clients. So don’t refuse to work with them as a matter of principle, find out what they’ve got to offer.
9 Expecting immediate results
Good things come to those that wait, and work at it, hard. You won’t get best seller status immediately, you need to make it happen and this won’t happen overnight.
You need to commit to marketing your book and put in the effort because if you’re not prepared to help make your book a success, who is?
10 Giving up
Don’t give up. You’ve written your book and it deserves to be read. Don’t think that just because you’re not raking in millions that you’re not worth it, no one makes it easily at the first try.
Keep plugging away, and release another book, starting the process again, and who knows the second or third might be the ones to breakthrough making all of them a success.
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