Top 5 Author Marketing Mistakes

So you’ve written your book, polished it to perfection, and now it’s time to pimp it out… but you’ve got no idea how to do it. Marketing, it’s one of those things that sends an icy sliver of fear right into the heart of the most accomplished author. It’s like black magic, alchemy, the occult. A dark art practised by people with fake tans, wearing shiny suits.

Like writing, there is no actual secret to marketing. There are no rules, only what works, and what doesn’t. And here’s the rub: what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. But to help you along in your marketing journey, here are five things that a pretty much useless to the majority of indie authors:

#5 Spamming your friends

This should be a no-brainer. But then marketing and common-sense seem to be incompatible. Chances are that on your contact list you have a mix of real-life friends, “friends”, and people who are contacts because they are vaguely associated with you. They already know that you have a book out. They may already have bought it. So what they need is for you to post a dozen times a day about your book. Hell, why stop there? They put a picture of their little bundle of joy, so why not put in the comments that your book would make a brilliant Christening present… Can you see where I’m going with this. Save your spam for your official author channels, keep your friends as friends.

#4 Preaching to the choir

Some of you will say: “But authors are readers too!”. And although that is true it doesn’t make for a good marketing strategy. Like #5 above, spamming other authors/author groups will elicit the same response – a roll of the eyes every time your name pops up. Yes, authors are readers too, but of what genre? I’m and author, and I’m a reader. But I’m fussy. And so are most people. Authors also have limited time to dedicate to reading, so if their genre is, for example, historical fiction, what are the chances that they’ll give your transgender paranormal romance a whirl? While the scatter-shot technique may provide some results, it makes more sense to channel your efforts into a targeted campaign.

#3 Using Social Media as a one way pipe

This is my pet hate. Social. Media. The clue is in the name. It’s not called Amass a Billion Followers Who You Never Interact With Media. That’s what happens though. Accounts with tens of thousands of followers and followees all blast their messages into the interwebs – and neither side sees the other because they’re too busy saying “FOLLOW ME” and “BUY MY BOOK” to interact. Or worse still… they’re not even there. Their accounts all linked to one automated crud cruncher that churns out message after message at set times during the day. What a great way to foster a relationship with readers and potential readers. [that was irony by the way]

#2 Being Free with Freebies

People love something for nothing. But nothing devalues your work as quickly as nothing. See what I did there? And now the explanation: You are not a “best-seller” if you top the free listing chart. The majority of copies you gave away will never be read (sorry, but pretty much every Kindle, Nook and Kobo are jammed to the digital gills with free books that were downloaded for one reason, and one reason only: they were free). I’m not against giving your work away for free. But only if it is done as a way to entice sales. Make your readers (and potential readers) value your work, even when it’s free. Make it quid pro quo. They get a free book by following/tweeting/sharing/liking. OR, if you want to be even more fiendish with the freebies (and increase the perceived value) make it into a draw. Their interaction enters them into the draw for a copy. FREE free copies have had their day as a marketing tool, and will simply gather digital dust. Respect your work, and retain the value of it to your readers.

#1 Copying the Big Boys/Girls

Okay, this is quite a big topic so I’ll condense it as best I can. When I talk about the Big Boys/Girls, I mean the traditional publishing marketing methods. Unless you can match their budgets and manpower, forget it. They may be dinosaurs, but they still have a lot of clout, like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Definitely don’t get bogged down by meaningless numbers. The only numbers you should be concentrating on is your ACTUAL readership. Not how many followers you have on twitter, not how many likes you have on facebook, not how many klowns you have on klout, or even how many hits your website gets. If they’re not translating into sales then you’re wasting your efforts. Your marketing needs to be cost effective so think very carefully before you put any cash down on advertising. Every clam you shell out on marketing needs to do one of two things: increase your reputation, or increase your sales (hopefully both). Unfortunately, the majority of “marketing solutions” will do neither, and the majority of “marketing solutions” won’t guarantee to do either. So buyer beware. It makes better sense, as an indie author, to invest your money in you and your readership.

What do you consider to be the worst marketing mistakes?
Have you got any marketing nuggets you’d like to share?

Lament for the Living is out now: paperback and ebook

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