Recently, I was chatting with a few author friends of mine about some of the mistakes we made when we first started marketing our work. It turned out that several of us felt we’d made similar mistakes, especially when promoting our debuts for the first time. So, based on that conversation, here are a few common mistakes authors make when marketing their books.
- Lacking a personal connection
Sometimes, the sheer volume of books being released feels overwhelming, especially for those of us who are heavily involved in the industry, and it can be hard to pay attention to every single book that’s being promoted. What helps is to think about connecting with readers rather than making sales. If you connect with your readers as a person, then they’ll be excited to read your work. Generic “buy my book” promotion doesn’t provide incentive to anyone, but a personal connection does. So think about how you can form meaningful relationships with potential readers instead of just grabbing attention for your book.
- Spending too much
It can be incredibly tempting to go all out on promotional materials and expenses, especially if it’s your first book. But overspending was one of the biggest regrets among the writers I spoke with. The truth is, you’re not going to see a big return on your investment for most of the big swag items that authors often purchase. So while you certainly can buy tote bags, T-shirts, coffee mugs, buttons, pens, erasers, notepads, posters, and any other merchandise that you want, be aware that it might not be the best promotional investment, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase everything. (Though of course you certainly can if you have extra cash to spare!) The most effective swag is often simple and relatively inexpensive. Items like bookmarks and postcards are great, because they mail easily and can be signed but are also cost effective.
- Overemphasizing social media
Social media sites can be incredibly useful tools, and I would encourage writers to try out social media to see if it works for them. But it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not the only way to market your work. It’s easy to get caught up in all the buzz of social media and forget that there are other things you could be doing that might be even more important—like, say, writing your next book. Social media can be useful and even fun, but it isn’t everything.
- Being afraid to promote yourself
Several of the authors I spoke with find it difficult to self-promote, and it’s something I struggle with myself. You don’t want to come off as “spammy” or annoying, especially to friends and followers who aren’t necessarily interested in your writing. And while it’s important not to go overboard, there’s no reason to feel apprehensive about discussing your work. While you don’t want to say “buy my book!” every day, it’s okay to do a little promotion here and there, especially just before and just after a book’s release date. Remember: your work is valuable, and it deserves to be seen.
- Not trying new things
Marketing can seem overwhelming and scary. There are so many options, and it can seem so difficult. But by deciding not to do something before you’ve even tried it, you might be missing out on great opportunities. Be open to new ideas and willing to try something new.
- Trying to do everything
On the other hand, it’s impossible to try everything. There are so many potential options, and there’s always more that you could be doing. Don’t burn yourself out by taking on too much. Focus on what works best for you, and don’t worry about the rest. Be willing to experiment, but also be willing to let it go if it’s not working. Do what you can and don’t stress the rest.
What do you think? What marketing mistakes have you made? What else would you like to know about author marketing? Let me know in the comments!
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