10 Book Marketing Mistakes That New Authors Can Sometimes Make

How New Authors Can Avoid Book Marketing Mistakes

You have published your book at last. It is available on Amazon, Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and all your other online book retailers. But be careful that you don’t make simple book marketing mistakes.

You are ready to start marketing a new book to potential readers. Naturally, the next thing you do is open a Twitter account and start a Facebook page to do some social media marketing.

Perhaps you will even design a new website. You might also get back to using your blog and writing a blog post, which you forgot to do while writing your book and getting it published.

With all that work done, the New York Times will be on the phone in no time, and the book sales will start rolling in. So wrong. It’s not how digital marketing works.

Tips for marketing a new book

Here are ten book marketing mistakes to avoid making when you are trying to promote your new book.

Selling books is hard work, and it is tougher if you don’t have a sensible plan.

Try to visualize your potential reader and think about how they will react to your marketing efforts.


1. Selling books

Thinking that you need to sell your book on Amazon is probably the most common book marketing mistake new authors make. Cars need salespeople to sell them. Real estate needs agents to sell houses.

You can’t sell books like this. They are bought by readers, with no one pushing a pen and a contract across a desk and pressuring them to sign.

Therefore, you need to develop a marketing strategy that will probably focus on content marketing and personal branding to attract book buyers.


2. Social media

If you think that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can help you sell lots of books, you’ll be disappointed

Social media is beneficial for an author in creating awareness and building an interested following.

You need to be seen as an interesting or informative person to gain these followers and friends.

People want interaction, information, or light entertainment on social media. Not hourly posts of your book cover, and Amazon links with pleas to read my book.

Social media posts that are promotional, including Facebook Ads, generally have an extremely low conversion rate.


3. No plan

Releasing a book with no book launch or marketing plan is a common problem. Readers can only buy books that they have heard about.

You don’t need to be a marketing expert. But you do need to think about how you will make your book visible over a period of weeks and months.

Your marketing campaigns will be how you plan to make your book known to potentially interested readers.


4. Everyone will love my book

The world is a vast book market, but your book will not appeal to everyone.

In reality, your book, like all books, will only be of potential interest to a very tiny part of the market.

Readers interested in business books about blue ocean strategy are certainly not going to be great prospects for a YA paranormal romance novel.

You must know your niche market. If you don’t know what it is, you need to identify it and define your target audience.


5. I’m an author

You might think that having the title of an author will impress people. It doesn’t, especially nowadays when everyone can be or is an author.

Basing your online presence on the fact of being an author is not going to sell books.

Author of the Up The Spout’ is now so common. It is an instant turn-off.

Being someone interesting, though, can and does attract book buyers who might keep you top of mind and add your book to their reading list.


6. Poor data

You need to understand the importance of metadata.

In some respects, book marketing can be as simple as getting your books in the right place. Books at the front of a bookstore always sell better than those at the back of the store.

But today, this means at the front of an online store.

If you want to get attention, you need to publish your book with precise metadata. This includes categories, keywords, a short book description, ISBN, and title.

Metadata, and not persuasion, is how book buyers can find your book – and then buy it.


7. Kill words

Using ‘kill’ words online is always a bad idea.

These words include check out my book, buy my book, check out my blog, get my book for free, free for two days only, or only five-star reviews for my book.

These call to action words and imperative phrases might work for dishwashing detergent. But they don’t word for books on social media platforms.

The mistake many new authors make is in not thinking about how they themselves react to these ‘kill’ words.

Most often, the honest answer is negatively.


8. It’s all for free

If you haven’t invested any money in your book, don’t expect a return on your investment.

Self-publishing is like a small business.

If you spend some money on a great cover, good editing (or at least thorough proofreading), and affordable online book promotion before, during, and after the release, it is always money well spent.

It does not need to be a huge investment, but you get what you pay for.


9. Free ebooks

Why waste time and probably a lot of money on promoting something that has no possibility of making a cent in return?

The days of giving away 1,000s of free ebooks to get book reviews and help a book’s ranking on Amazon are long gone.

On top of that, free ebooks are a great way to attract one-star troll reviewers. Why give them a chance?

Use free ebook campaigns in moderation.


10. It’s a thriller

Failing to use your book’s themes and topics as the cornerstones for attracting interest is a mistake.

Telling the world that your book is a crime thriller is of no real interest.

But if its theme is about mafia gangs in Naples in the 19th century, this may well be of interest to some readers.

You should use semantic keywords in your promotional content and blog posts to attract readers.

Follow blogs related to the theme of your book. Then comment, interact, and inform people of your knowledge and build an audience, but leave any mention of your book aside.

If you interest people, they will discover your book, and discovery is by far the most powerful bookselling tool in your marketing tool cabinet. Use it.


Free Bonus Mistake. No second book

Relying on one book will rarely bring in a lot of royalties. Writing a second book will help, but a third is even better.

Most importantly, the lessons learned from your debut book can be invaluable in not making the same mistakes again.

Writing and self-publishing have a steep learning curve. Only those who persevere, step by step, and are willing to learn, succeed.


An Extra Free Bonus Mistake. I know everything

There is no shortage of sound advice available on the Internet for new and not so new self-published authors.

Use other people’s experiences to help you understand how to give your book its best chance of success.

Keeping up to date on the news in the industry, changes, which are constant, and trends in online publishing all help you make better decisions.

I know how bad the consequences of self-publishing mistakes can be. I have made absolutely all of them over the years.

Take a shortcut on gaining real-life experience the hard way, and try not to make my book marketing mistakes all over again.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

11 thoughts on “10 Book Marketing Mistakes That New Authors Can Sometimes Make

  • Avatar for Christopher Marcus
    August 27, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Just gave you a 1/5 review by accident. I meant 5/5. This should be on every writer’s fridge (and many other visible places). Thanks!

  • Avatar for cbd shop
    August 7, 2018 at 4:31 am

    Great advice. I do try to avoid most of them. I didn’t think saying my books was free was an issue though. I thought people might like to see something free in this current day and age.

  • Avatar for Sandra.E.Barlow
    March 14, 2018 at 9:29 am

    What was the point of it? I don’t blame you being angry.

  • Avatar for Laurie Woodward
    March 14, 2018 at 1:24 am

    I just made mistake Number 9. I promoted my free book because my publisher encouraged me to do so. And it was so frustrating. Here I was spending all this time and energy to give my book away. Grrr.

  • Avatar for Julie Anne Rudd
    January 24, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    You’re so right; writing and self-publishing sure are steep learning curves as I am discovering, having published on Kindle last year and just published my first paperback. Thanks for your pearls of wisdom. They are reassuring. Onwards and upwards with love.

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      January 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      Good luck with your publishing adventures, Julie Anne!

  • Avatar for Ellen Dudley psuedonym
    April 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    As to free books, please take into consideration that there are people who cannot afford the 0.99 for e-books. People on welfare, pensioners, the disabled. So, make your books free when you can. Bollocks to the trolls, most of them only have half a brain.

  • Avatar for Sandra Beckwith
    March 7, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    This is excellent advice. Thank you! I harp on #10 a lot, especially with novelists. I refer to this as finding the “nonfiction nuggets” in your manuscript and using them to connect with the right readers. it’s especially important with publicity and guest blogging.

    Sandra Beckwith

  • Avatar for Karen Wirtz
    January 9, 2017 at 4:06 am

    Great advice! Thank you.

  • Avatar for Anthony
    November 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Great advice. I do try to avoid most of them. I didn’t think saying my books was free was an issue though. I thought people might like to see something free in this current day and age.

    • Avatar for Colin Reynolds
      November 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Anything free is worth what you pay for it. TANSTAAFL.

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