Common Mistakes of Debut Authors (OMG!)

Ok, I can’t believe new authors are STILL making these mistakes. I’ve been blogging and podcasting about book marketing since 2000!  OK, get it together authors. Read this article by a colleague – and if you still need help, contact either one of us!

pam perry speaking


Prior to being published, new authors frequently make mistakes that damage or even preclude their book’s marketability. Commonly, these errors include:

Poorly designed or stock cover art
• Unedited, under edited or unprofessionally edited manuscript
• Inadequate book marketing budget
• Insignificant blog and website presence for author and title
• Absence of platform and clear audience for the material

Book Covers can make or break your ability to obtain reviews and readers. You can judge a book by its cover.

As James Cox, Editor of Midwest Book Review puts it,

“Stack #3 are those titles that are immediately rejected — not for their subject matter; not for being written by a first time author; and not for their self-published, POD-published, or small press published status, but because they are poorly designed or defectively produced in terms of presenting substandard, inadequate, or otherwise unattractive covers.”

Appealing covers summon buyers. Whether these buyers actually read your book is another matter, but the most important element for purchasing a publication is its wrapper. It has been proven that people choose a book by what they see and read on the cover, especially if they don’t know the author or the title.

Make sure your cover is designed by an award-winning book designer, not a general graphic designer. For different angles and musings on book covers, visit book design web sites and blogs.

Editing is also critical to your book’s success. You want to interview several editors and hold their completed books in your hand. Choose a set of editors who are experienced with your genre. Among equally qualified candidates, hire those with whom you have some professional chemistry. For an explanation of the types of editing your work might benefit from, read the Northwest Independent Editors Guild four types of editing.

What is a reasonable Marketing Budget for a book launch? Plan to spend $2.5 to $12K before and during the first three months of your book’s life. If you get an advance on your manuscript, I recommend spending the whole amount on marketing your book.

Line item expenses in a prep & launch budget might include research & fact checking, editing, indexing, illustrating, cover & interior design, web design, optimization, & maintenance, distribution, shipping, travel, publicity, and advertising. If you need media training or a public speaking coach, include that. You may want to also add book festival and industry or genre conference registration, book award submission fees, exhibitor costs, and presentation equipment.

An author’s Web Presence is absolutely crucial in today’s book market. Internet book sales have risen exponentially. For this reason, each author needs a web site that pulls incoming traffic from people who are searching on the book’s issues, title, and author name.

The internet is so dynamic that each year the way to attract customers on the cyber superhighway seems to morph. Recently, for instance, video became mandatory for good page rank. Perhaps 152 million blogs exist today because blogging trains Google to find you.

Use search engine optimization (SEO) tools like Google AdWords to discover high ranking keywords, and then repeat those throughout your web site, blog and press releases. Seek a web designer who is both imaginative and good at taking direction, while exhibiting a proficiency in English, design, WordPress, SEO, and business.

Finally, if you cannot define your book’s Audience and Platform, your book will never get off the ground. To market your book, you must be able to distill its issues and know who and where your readers are and how they search for books and information. Create your value proposition to attract them and prioritize your first year plan so that you fully fund and lead with the strongest element in your platform.

pam perry in barnes and nobleDon’t end up in the slush pile! Spend time and money with your editing team, a book designer, a web designer, and a publicist, so your book is more likely to remain competitive among the 300,000 titles released in America each year.

Stephanie Barko is a Literary Publicist focused on nonfiction & historical fiction.

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