28 Mar 2017

Book Marketing – 9 Ways to Waste Money and Time, Spin Your Wheels and Get Depressed

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Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published AuthorOne of the most difficult tasks for many authors, self-published or traditional, is book marketing. Many of us spend days, weeks, months or even years pouring our hearts and souls into a book, overcome the barriers of publishing, and then are disheartened to receive few, if any, sales. Oh sure, usually you can depend on a few family members or friends to buy a few copies, and there’s always a regular fan or two, but that won’t pay the bills – or even break even on the costs. Are there book marketing tools that actually work?

What happens at that point is many authors become convinced there is a “secret sauce” or some magic to getting their books to sell. If only they keep trying different things, stumble around enough, they’ll find that pot of gold and suddenly see their dream come true: being number one on a bestseller list. So instead of creating a rational book marketing plan, they stumble around blindly, trying different things they hear about until they lose heart. They just don’t understand the art and the science of marketing a book.online.

I understand because I’ve been there. When I started my self-publishing journey, I labored and sweated over my first few books, writing and rewriting, proofreading over and over, and sending out to beta readers to review them for accuracy. Yet when I published these labors of love, I received few sales for my efforts. In fact, I didn’t even come close to breaking even.

Book Marketing Services are available but be careful and have a planNot one to give in, I tried again and again, took countless book marketing courses, bought hundreds of affiliate products, and tried just about every scheme that I found in articles on the internet, listening to webinars and talking to other writers.

This article is a summary of the huge time wasters, money pits, and useless tactics that I discovered. Hopefully, you will learn from my mistakes, as I did, and be able to take advantage of better ways for book marketing. Let’s face it, promoting books on Amazon (or anywhere else) is hard work, and can be very upsetting due to lack of results.

Hiring Any So-Called Publishing House with a Marketing Package

Many smaller, and some larger, publishing companies offer book marketing packages that go along with their publishing services. The slick-looking advertisements for these services make it appear they will work hard to sell your book for you. They often use vague phrases such as:

  • Promoting books on social media
  • Advertise your book in distinguished publications
  • Radio and TV advertising
  • Internet-based marketing
  • Promoting books on Amazon
  • Promoting books on Twitter (this seems to be a favorite)
  • And so forth.

Sometimes these are sold as a package and sometimes as extra-cost (and usually very expensive) add ons.

While I’m sure there are companies that do provide quality services, filtering through the chaff to find the ones that actually succeed is an monumental task. You may want to engage with a book marketing specialist or company, but steer clear of these generic “we’ll do it all” offers from publishers.Instead, either self-publish on your own or hire a company to perform that task (and only that task) for you.

Poor Cover Design

Nothing will stop sales as quickly as a poorly designed cover. In the 58 books (to date) that I’ve published, some of the covers have been horrible, and the lack of sales was dramatic. Once I changed the covers to to more professional designs, sales picked up almost immediately. In most instances, until you have the skills, a book cover designer should be engaged to create your cover. That’s the best way to create a book cover that sells.

Poor Description on Amazon

I’ve seen some terrible book descriptions on Amazon, and almost without exception (except for very well known authors with a good following) those books had terrible sales.

Spend the time to create a great Amazon description and most likely see your sales increase. You can get the product “Hypnotic Book Descriptions”  to learn more about how to do this.

Content Rife with Errors

Come on, you’re a professional writer. You’ve published (or are working on) a book. Your tools of the trade are good grammar and spelling in your language of choice. If you don’t understand grammar take a course and learn. Udemy has excellent courses on all subjects, including grammar. These are generally short and usually excellent. Grammatical errors in books do happen, and don’t lose sleep over them, but do your best to review your book, get it proofread, and use beta readers. Otherwise, if you have more than a few errors, you’ll find yourself getting bad Amazon reviews, which won’t help your sales.

Placing Advertisements on Paid Book Sites and Newsletters

I’ve spent thousands of dollars putting advertisements on paid web sites and in newsletters, and placed hundreds more ads on free sites. The net effect: crickets. I have made a single sale due to placing any ad in any newsletter or on any web site – except BookBub.

Don’t waste your time or your money.

Listing your Book on Book Websites

There are many websites on the internet that cater to authors, publishers and readers. The better ones, such as LibraryThings, have an interface that allows you to enter search criteria to look your books up on Amazon – this means you don’t need to reenter the data. Since it’s trivial to add the books to their site, I’d recommend taking the time.

However, for most sites, especially those where you have to hand-enter the data over and over again, spend your time on something more fruitful.

Blog tours for Self-Published Authors

Over the past 3 years, I’ve purchase five different blog tours for authors, four for my non-fiction books and one for a novel I wrote under a pen name. The net result was zero sales, a few reviews on Amazon and several reviews on various blogs.

As far as I can tell, blog tours are a waste of money and time, unless you have a very focused book for a popular genre. I’ve heard that blog tours for romance books work very well, for example. However, for non-fiction works, they seem to be ineffective.

Do Facebook Ads Sell Books?

One of the affiliate marketing courses that I purchased a few years ago highly recommended taking out Facebook ads in order to get books sales. Like an idiot, I followed the advice and, when I finally shut off the ads I found I had wasted almost a hundred bucks with zero sales.

I’m sure you can make Facebook ads for books work. However, it’s an exacting process and you’d do best to consult with (or hire) an expert. Otherwise, you’ll just be stumbling in the dark and wasting your money.

Posting in Facebook (and other) Book Promotion Groups

When authors start looking around Facebook, they inevitably run across groups that specialize in listing books for sale. Anyone can post their books. The problem is these tend to be unread by anyone. Authors never look, because they just post and run. Readers are looking for specific genres, so they tend to look elsewhere.

Don’t waste your time on these.

Conclusions for Book Marketing

Wow, that was depressing, wasn’t it?

In spite of what I’ve written, there are excellent ways for you to market your book. Future articles will explore those thoroughly.

However, time for all authors is limited and money is usually scarce. Don’t waste your time or money. Instead. learn what book marketing techniques actually works and focus on those methods. Stay tuned for more on that later.


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