5 Mistakes Authors Make When Promoting

This is a lesson in how not to promote a book and hopefully this will save you the heartache. This is a real email I got yesterday:

“Wow, oh wow, my new book, BOOK TITLE CHANGED,  is now available as a book, and also as an e-book. Please click the link and check it. 
Here’s the link:  http://www.blahblahblahblah.com/bookstore/book.php?w=292781620247
 And please tell your friends about it. It is the kind of book that you won’t wan to put down until you hear the conclusion of the whole matter.Let me know what you think about it, okay. And by the way, it will make a great Christmas Gift. Blessings.”
Dude Really?
It probably took you at least six months to write this book – and all you do is send an email (with typos)?
Ok, let me break it down to you why this is SO wrong.
1.  The author did not even communicate with me. It’s like out of the blue, “Hey I got a new book.” I haven’t heard from this person in months – and frankly, why should I care they have a new book. I had a relationship with them but after so many months you just can’t pick up where we left off and say, “BUY MY BOOK.”

2. The author did not use an email marketing program like Constant Contact or Aweber.  He just hit “select all” in his email program and blind copied everyone. Thank goodness he did use the “bcc” and not show everyone’s email to each other, it said undisclosed recipients. Whew!

You may not know this but it is illegal according to FTC to “spam” people with marketing material if they have not requested it. The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.

3. They did not tell me what the book was about anyway. Just the title. No subtitle.  No book cover even!  And he didn’t even tell me if it has a foreword – and if so – what did they say.   It’s always better to have others speak well of you than you do all the talking yourself.   Getting advance reviews would have been smart too. Providing endorsements is a critical step in the book marketing process.
4. The author did not give me their website (so I can remember who they are and what they’re all about). People like to shop and lurk before they buy. Send me to a blog for more information – don’t just send me to the store. And don’t use the long, ugly link for the purchase button.  The least the author could of done is made a short link using bit.ly and using something like prettylink – it makes a difference how url’s look. If you use a “link shortner” like bit.ly, you can even get link metrics.
5. The author’s email subject line was too vain. It read, “My new book.” Seriously?  I don’t know about you -but I get over 300 emails a day – and opening an email that says, “My new book” from someone I haven’t heard from in a very long time gets pushed down the priority list. And when I do get around to opening it (though I guarantee most people won’t), he suggests I buy the book as a Christmas gift! What? Why?  I don’t even know if I like it – and he’s suggesting I buy and give it out. Oh my. That’s a great way to  get blocked.
So, what should the author have done? Obviously do the opposite of the errors above.
But here are some simple things an author can do to create a buzz – and gain some sales:
1. Start at least 3 to 6 months BEFORE the book is published by identifying and “warming up” your target market with exciting information about the book. How?  By “teasing” with blog posts, articles, status updates, podcasts and videos online. Just like a movie does a “trailer” – create a quick “trailer” for your book and put on your blog. (You do have a blog, right?) The key is to build a platform, get to know your audience better. Build anticipation. Engage people in social media. Evoke curiosity. Provide good content!
2. At least 3 to 6 months BEFORE the book is out, concentrate on building a list of those who would be interested in buying the book. How? By giving away free chapters (as many as you can) to people in exchange for their email address.  Promise to keep them updated of the progress along the way. Survey this list, ask their opinion as you write your book and design the cover. Listen and incorporate their ideas in your book. The more “buy in”you have from your new friends – the more likely they will buy when the book is finally here.
3. Create a really good “media” list at least 3 to 6 months BEFORE the book is published.  By scoping out the ideal media for your book and getting the names, emails, faxes (yes faxes), addresses and (even birthdays if you can) – the more you’ll move with confidence once your book campaign starts.  Send the media some “teaser” info and be creative. If you book is about babies – send them a press release with a baby bib or powered formula.  If your book is about love – send them some chocolates.  Make yourself stand out.  Let them know you are PLANNING in advance.  Follow the media on Twitter and read their blogs/articles and make comments. Become friends with the media – be helpful – and offer to be a source for their stories or programs. Do this before your book is even finished! 
It’s all about relationships and growing a “fan” base – and raving fans are the best.  And you have to work at it – it takes time to cultivate a list of “fans.” You can’t be lazy and think you can just “select all” in your gmail or aol account and get sales.  And quit “eBLASTING” people!
The more intelligent and advance marketing you do before you “launch” the book campaign the better. There are no short cuts – and it’s best to get help if you need it.
pam perry book pr lady
Writing the book is only 5% of the work – marketing the book is the other 95%. But it doesn’t have to be  frustrating and expensive if you know what you’re doing – and give yourself at least 3 to 6 months lead time.
Watch this quick video below. It will take the “edge” off this post.
I know I sound harsh on this author – but I really want them to succeed. That’s why I do the PR 2.0 & Platform Building Bootcamp – to toughen up these authors to position them to be ‘best sellers.’
With over a half million new books a year coming out, you have to use all the tools available just to be heard.  It’s a noisy world – that’s why it’s critical to use social media to build your brand BEFORE YOUR BOOK IS EVEN FINISHED!

What would you do if you just published your book and no one knew about it?

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  • Pam: I am going to do it, I’m going to publish another book! I’ve been writing all along, but I think I’ve been avoiding publishing because of the 95% marketing requirement, as you so artfully pointed out above. However, I believe in this project and can remember enjoying the process before. And I will seek your council. Thanks for all you do! You’re a real treasure! Renee

  • Soleil Meade says:

    This was such a great article and I loved the video! My first book is releasing this upcoming February and I can say I’ve done some of the thing you mentioned but not everything! I wish I would have came across you months ago when I was writing but I’m glad I’ve found you now! It may be a little to late to market this upcoming book properly but ill be sure to connect with you for my future books! Thanks for sharing your gift with the world!

  • Dorethia says:

    I love it Pam – excellent, so many write the book, then expect everyone to buy all their copies! When no one buys, they are discouraged and say the industry is too ‘hard’. I recommend you to all new authors I run in to, great advice.

    – Dorethia

    • Pam Perry says:

      Yes, Dorethia,people need to think of a book as a business. It takes planning and marketing. But the main thing is research and learning the industry. Thanks for your comment.

  • Lauryn Doll says:

    My first books were published using pen names because they were meant to be quick and dirty. I didn’t understand the whole marketing and PR system as an author. To my surprise, sales took off pretty quickly within a year and a half without PR & Marketing.

    Now that I’ve realized the earnings potential – made several thousand – I want to really dive into the content and improve upon what I’ve written, edit it, refine the voice, etc – just absorb everything I can and put out some masterpieces for the audience who reads it. I am largely Kindle and Nook based as a writer, so while marketing is important, a good part of my success comes from showing up with a solid product that is well written, answers questions and creates great word of mouth to support the marketing I’m going to do.

    • Pam Perry says:

      Two words: SEX SELLS. Basic marketing for the Mass Markets. That’s why Porn is the #1 thing on the internet – and #1 thing in ebooks. People love ready that stuff in private. Thanks for the comment.

  • Thank you, Pam! I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to post such valuable information. When I published “Making My Own Rainbows: Poems of love, life, and lamentation”, I had no idea that marketing would be more difficult than writing the book!

    I am, however, compelled to touch upon the subject of relationship building. This has been very tricky for me. It seems like perfect strangers are willing to support you faster than those already in your circles. Unfortunately, the haters, naysayers, and prognosticators are often “friends”, family members, and colleagues. To be honest, I am still taken aback by the reactions received by those who should have been in my corner. Have you had any experience with this issue? If so, how did you handle it?


    • Pam Perry says:

      Simply, Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Mark 6:4

      Haters make you greater. Keep going. Thanks for your comment.

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