Most people like to learn things the hard way. Instead of listening to the advice of those who’ve gone before them, they’d rather repeat the same mistakes. Many authors fall into this trap when launching a book, but they’re not always aware that what they’re doing is wrong. As a result, they continue to repeat their faulty tactics over and over again.
Authors are a strange breed. They’ll demonstrate limitless creativity in their several hundred page manuscripts, but their attempts at marketing will mimic whatever they’ve seen their peers doing. They’d jump off a cliff if they saw that other authors were doing the same to promote their books. It’s time to stop repeating the same old unsuccessful marketing tactics. Here are five mistakes every author has made at least once and how you can avoid them:
1. Poor Editing
The first-time self-published author tends to be a little “publish happy.” He’s willing to push the book onto Amazon before it’s ready. If you do the same, then you may be surprised by the steady flow of one-star reviews and lackluster sales.
The bar has been raised for all books on Amazon and the other platforms. Nearly 100 percent of the bestselling self-published books out there have gone through one, if not multiple, editors. Between the high-quality editing, the professional-looking covers, and a punchy blurb, these books are practically indistinguishable from traditionally published books. Imagine what a reader will think if he picks up your book and sees dozens of typos, word choice errors, and poor grammar?
It’s much better to wait until you’ve received editing from at least one other person than yourself. Ideally, that person should be a freelance editor or someone with editing experience. You should pay that person to go over the book at least twice to catch all of the errors in your manuscript. Once you’ve gotten the book edited, you should read it out loud cover-to-cover to catch anything that slipped through. This is going to take a serious time commitment, but you have to remember that being an indie author is like running your own publishing company. If you don’t have the money to pay people to do all the jobs for you, then you’re the one who has to wear all the hats.
A well-edited book doesn’t guarantee you a successful launch, but it will improve your chances of getting positive reviews from your fans.
2. Spamming Friends
Ask yourself this question: If all my friends bought my book, would I earn back all the time and money I spent writing it? Unless you’re a massive Internet sensation, the answer is probably no. Despite the fact that friends typically can’t support book launches, many first-time authors go around spamming links to their book buy pages like it’s the most important news story in the world. It’s not, and your friends will block or ignore you if you keep it up.
To become a success as an author, you need to create a product that’s so good that strangers will pick it up. While friends may give your books a small boost at first, there’s little point to bugging them over and over again to hit the buy button. You should only post about your launch once or twice on social media. From there, you can provide friends who ask about your book with the link directly. That’s all the time you should spend on messaging your friends.
Your time is better spent connecting with people who have a larger following. Try working with bloggers or podcasters to promote your book to their friends and followers. A post from them to their connections will get you a lot more than your 20 posts to Aunt Ethel and the rest of your Facebook friends.
3. Doing It Alone
Unless you’re a collaborative writer, you probably wrote your book alone. When books are ready to go out into the world, most authors continue this solo effort throughout the marketing process. You’re missing out if you don’t connect with other authors to try to boost your promotional prowess.
The most successful authors have used the power of the group to increase their sales. From box sets to multi-author buying events, they’ve leveraged their followings to cross-pollinate their readers. Which do you think is more likely to be successful? One email with a link to your book that’s sent out to 100 people or ten emails that link to your book sent out to 5,000 readers? While not all group promotions will boast the numbers of the latter example, you’ll never know if you don’t try to connect with your peers.
Take the lead on setting up an event that’s associated with your book launch. Put in the necessary hours to contact other authors in your genre, format a box set or create an event, and establish what the authors should do on their part to make the event a success. The hours you put in will help you to forge connections that could make each future launch an even larger victory.
4. Buying Ads Without a Strategy
Email advertisers like BookBub, eReaderNewsToday, and Kindle Books and Tips can provide your book with a major boost. If you’ve procured enough early reviews for your books, then you might even find yourself accepted to one of these promotions. It’s easy to get excited about sharing your book with thousands of email contacts. What’s harder is strategizing how these types of promotions fit in with your launch strategy.
To effectively use promotional advertisements, you need to understand how the Amazon algorithm works. While it seems that getting your book as high in the rankings as possible would help your book to sell more copies, it’s actually better to get three to five days in a row of consistent sales. This is why advertisements should be spread out over the course of a few days to optimize their effect on your book’s ranking.
Additionally, you should never take an advertiser’s word for how many targeted readers it sends its email blasts to. Look to sites like KBoards and search for threads on which advertisers have the best results. More often then not, you want to use established advertisers who have at least three positive testimonials from other authors. Consider how much value these authors have received for the amount of money they’ve contributed. Keep in mind that while many authors have gotten temporary sales bumps from these email advertisers, very few have seen a promotion that gives them enough money to quit their day job.
5. Expecting Miracles
The first time most authors heard of the term “book launch,” it was likely in the context of some James Patterson-level writer selling tens of thousands of books and reaching the New York Times Bestseller list. The majority of authors will never experience something like this, and that’s just fine. You should come into a book launch with the proper expectations. Hope for a big gain all you want, but expect that you’ll sell a few books here and there and maybe pick up a fan or two. That’s how most launches go if you avoid the above mistakes. Every so often, if everything goes right, you may get onto an Amazon bestseller list or get a boost from the algorithm for a month or two. That’s a best-case scenario.
If you let yourself get too disappointed by not launching your book to a thousand-dollar windfall, then you might get discouraged from working as hard on the next book and its marketing. Don’t get yourself down. You should actually push yourself harder on each successive book launch, because the more books you have out, the more likely it is that you’ll gain additional true fans. Book launches should be small boosts in a long-term campaign that seeks to earn a living and a fanbase over the course of decades. The more you play the long game, both mentally and with your marketing, the better your chances are of success.
Launching a Book Shouldn’t Be Easy
Authors like to take shortcuts in marketing because they’d rather focus on writing the next book. This results in poorly edited manuscripts, spam posts, and subpar solo endeavors. There is no shortcut. You need to build up the platform from which you launch your books in a slow and steady fashion.
There are plenty of things to learn along the way. You’ll make mistakes; it’s inevitable. But as long as you keep moving forward and applying each lesson, you’ll find increasingly creative ways to launch your book into the stratosphere.
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