Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Biggest Mistake Authors Make

When an author first releases a book, it is a given that they will make a few mistakes when it comes to marketing and promoting their book. That’s OK. You are basically starting a new business from scratch, and not every idea for promoting your book is going to be a good one. This blog is dedicated to helping authors avoid some of those mistakes and concentrate on the things that actually do work.

However, of all of the rookie mistakes a first-time author can make, there is one that towers above all others, and guarantees that a book will not be a success. It will relegate a title to the remainder bin of bookstores, or even worse, cause an author to have several copies of their book collecting dust in their garage. What is this mistake, you might ask? OK, here it is:

Doing nothing.

That’s right, if an author does nothing to promote and market their book, their book is not going to sell, no matter how hard a publisher may try. If an author isn’t involved in the marketing and promotion process, nothing a publisher does is going to make that title fly off the bookstore shelves and get into readers’ hands. Jim Miller, one of my co-workers, says it best: “Readers purchase books based upon the reputation and talent of the author. We can’t create that for you.” He’s right.

So why would an author do nothing to help get their book into the marketplace? Here are a few common reasons:

1. Fear of failure. Authors love to write, but they don’t always love to meet people face-to-face, sell themselves (and their book) or read negative reviews of their book. The thing is, this comes with the territory of being an author. Think about how often actors and celebrities come under the microscope. When someone releases a book and it gets some attention, some of that attention is going to be focused on the author, and it isn’t always the good kind. Remember, it’s not personal. It’s just business.

2. Unreasonable expectations. On the other hand, some authors feel that once they have written their book and it is printed, their job is done. They expect a publicist and the publisher to do all of the selling. While you may get some assistance from a publicist and a publisher, the lion’s share of making your book known to the reading world falls on you. After all, you are the person who wrote the books. If a bookstore is interested in hosting an author for an event, or if a media outlet is interested in doing an interview, they don’t want the publicist or the publisher, they want the person who wrote the book, the author. Even if your book is stocked by several bookstores, forget about just sitting back and waiting for the royalty checks to roll in. You have to help those books move.

3. Disappointment. Many authors have visions of hitting their book’s release date and seeing it take off like a rocket to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list. This rarely ever happens. Bestsellers are often the result of an author spending years developing a readership and a fan base that will go to the bookstore and buy anything the author writes. When authors don’t see the kind of sales they expected, many of them get disappointed and give up. Often, this happens just a few months, or even a few weeks, after the book is released. Remember, you are starting a new business venture, and those are not built in the matter of a few weeks or months. It takes time to build a fan base. Working hard to promote a book won’t guarantee success, but doing nothing to promote yourself and your book will most definitely guarantee failure.

Marketing and promoting a book can seem like a daunting task, but if you do just one thing a day to raise awareness of yourself and your book, you can break it down into manageable, realistic chunks. Avoid the mistake of doing nothing, and you will see something happen with your book.
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