9 Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work At All

Nine Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work

There are some authors who stretch the reasonable boundaries of book promotion ideas

Here is a short list of nine very annoying book promotion ideas that I have received and experienced by authors who are of course desperate to sell their books, but will fail very badly.

All of these techniques are irritating and will drive away potential readers and book buyers.

Many new authors are aiming at book promotion sites, and as I have one, I can attest to the number of pesky messages I receive on a daily basis.

If you want to sell your books, the following book promotion ideas are definitely ones to avoid at all costs.

However, read on after these nine bad ideas, and read about three book promotion ideas that do work.

1. Thank you and buy my book!

How many times have I followed an author on social media, only to be hit immediately with ‘Thank you for following me, and here’s the link to my book.

It’s a bit like being told to buy dinner for people you don’t know. Sorry but no, I don’t buy dinner for people I don’t know, and it goes double for a book by an author I know absolutely nothing about.

2. Unfollow all new followers, and block them!

This is uniquely a Twitter stupidity.

For some odd reason, there are those out there who think by encouraging people to follow them, and then as soon as they do, unfollow them, will bring rewards. Worse, many then block them! Why? Who knows what the reasoning is.

They are of the same group who follow large accounts, then unfollow them, only to refollow to appear high in the list of followers. Again, blocking any user who happened to follow them before.

Oddly enough, most of these perverse Twitter users end up suspended. Any surprise why?

3. My dog is sick!

Pleading, begging and generally bemoaning how tough life is will not sell books and rates a minus zero on the list of book promotion ideas.

Being sick, unlucky, poor or using any other attempt at gaining sympathy will lead nowhere.

Readers want books written with confidence, and not by an author bent on creating an image of begging in the street.

4. Blast that contact form!

Whoa! Once some authors find a contact form on a website, they just can’t resist. It wouldn’t be so bad if they sent only one message listing all the wonders of their book, but does it need to be sent daily? Yes, daily!

Worse than that, I had one determined author who sent me book details three times a day for a week. It took me a while, but I finally figured out how to block this author.

5. No way will I pay!

I have a paid book promotion site, but almost every day I get messages from authors wanting to list their books for free.

I am a nice guy, so on the first occasion, I sometimes suggest free sites they can use. But when I get a second message saying that my service should be free, I ask them why on earth I should invest a lot of money in my website and expect nothing in return.

Some authors just haven’t figured out that they are in business, as I am too.

6. I want to feature my book on your site!

Yes, well okay, but my site is about publishing advice. Perhaps if you would like to write an article about … ‘I don’t have time to write articles! I just want to post my book.’

I direct these authors to my book promotion site, but I usually get a similar reaction to my point 5 above. ‘What? No way, I don’t want to pay!’  

Yeah, yeah, everything in the world should be easy, and free, I know.

7. Hey, WordPress comment spam is cool!

This is a new one on me, as I hadn’t seen it until recently. It’s logical I suppose, as over 30% of the Internet is powered by WordPress that some would see an opportunity.

Luckily my WordPress spam filters work very well and catch and trash a pile of failed attempts at spam book promotion.

8. Yeah, Facebook messages will make people buy my book!

Um well, no. Facebook messages on my personal profile are for my friends and family, and not rude authors. I give a little more leeway on my Facebook Pages, but there is a handy delete button I find comes in very useful indeed.

Use Facebook to promote your books, of course. But using direct messages to people you don’t know is a very bad book promotion idea.

9. I don’t have time for all that baloney!

Occasionally, and I mean very occasionally, I ask a pesky author what book marketing plan they have. ‘I don’t have time for all that rubbish; I just want to sell books.

Well, I paraphrased a number of replies in that, but I am sure you get my drift. The very worst book promotion idea is not to have a clue about book promotion.

Maybe because that would mean spending a little time reading and learning about building awareness and discoverability.

But who has time for that baloney!

Book promotion is not about targeting individuals.

I’ll stop my list of dumb book promotion ideas here, but there are many more I have come across.

I have written so many advice articles on book and author promotion, but there are those who will never bother reading or taking advice.

Luckily, they are a very, very small minority, but boy, they can find extraordinary and almost endless ways to annoy the hell out of people.

When they ultimately fail, they disappear, but there are always more on the way to replace them. For a handful, the tried and true methods are never good enough, and neither is being remotely considerate or polite.

The big mistake all these annoying authors make is that they are typically trying to sell their books to people individually and directly, which might work when hard selling insurance or used cars, which offer high-value returns on a sale.

But it simply doesn’t work, or make any economic sense to spend hours trying to direct sell $0.99 – $2.99 ebooks, which return peanuts per sale.

How do people decide to buy a book?

My wife recently told me about a book she bought, read and enjoyed very much. She stumbled on it while she was on Facebook.

When she mentioned the title, it rang a bell. I checked, and yes it was a book listed on my book promotion site and auto-posted out to Facebook.

But she had no idea about all that. She bought the book and read it because she noticed it, was interested in the book’s theme, and decided that it was exactly her cup of tea.

And another odd fact. I have spent a few hours preparing this article, and now that I am almost finished, I checked my KDP dashboard.

Lo and behold, I sold some books while I was working away on this piece. How did that happen?

Three book promotion ideas that DO work.

Obviously, my few sales did not eventuate from my effort in writing this particular article.

These sales came from three basic book promotion practices.

1. Attract Interest In Your Books

A good blog or website is the number one way to get noticed and spark reader interest. Keep your site up to date and write informative, entertaining or question answering articles.

2. Get Your Book Listing Right

Make sure you have selected the best two categories and seven keyword phrases so readers who are searching Amazon, Apple or Kobo for a new book have a chance to discover your books. Get your metadata right and your chances of sales from search will increase.

3. Leverage Social Media

Keep it simple, and don’t waste hours on social media. However, use it to your advantage to promote your blog. Yes, promote your blog and not your books on social media. Getting readers to your blog or website is the best way to help your book sales.

Having a great author blog, informing and engaging with as wide an audience as possible and investing the time in making your books discoverable on book retailer sites are the three best book promotion ideas.

Because once they are set up, they will all work for you 24/7 without you having to lift a finger.

Also, investing a little in online book promotion can help you extend your reach.

It’s funny how simple book promotion can be, isn’t it?

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

5 thoughts on “9 Book Promotion Ideas That Do Not Work At All

  • Numbers 2 & 7 are pet peeves. .
    However, I admit to doing number 8…twice. It rarely results in a sale.

    When my next book is published, I’m planning on doing better research about marketing. After 3 years of do-it-yourself, I understand why successful ad agencies are so expensive.

  • I wish more indie authors would read this than will find out the hard way that yours is excellent advice.

  • Thanks for the superb advice. These words prevented me from making some poor choices in the marketing world. :)

  • Haha! This is one amazing article. Trust me, I have got a lot of author friends and all of them do these mentioned points. The Facebook Inbox and WordPress comment section point cracked me up. Keep posting such classic work. Congrats.

  • I choose to be an Indie author after having gone down the route of agent/publisher, so I am a hybrid. I do put up covers and when the book is published on FB, but I hate the ‘buy my books’ thing and even more the ‘you’re my new friend, here is my FB page, please follow me’ posts. I have never done that. I write because I want to and I am good at it, but the plain fact is you cannot make people buy your book. So now, I tweet a couple of times a day and also RT things I think are good – I’m a sucker for covers – and that is it. FB is for friends and family and mining info in the groups if you need it. If you want to read my books, you only need half a brain cell to find where they are. You do not need me shoving them down your throat.


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