By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
People always ask me what the single biggest mistake authors make is. I’m not sure it’s just one mistake, though the truth is that one mistake can sink your entire book. Here are ten things you should avoid like the plague:
1. Waiting to see what happens: Often authors will put stuff out there and wait. They’ll wait to see if it works, wait to see what comes back, or wait to see what kind of sales they make. It’s just not a good idea to wait, at least not in this climate. You should keep working, whatever you can do.
2. Feeling like you have to do everything: You don’t. Yes, I know it often feels like you need to do everything. There are social media sites calling your name, blog posts to be written, book events to attend, blogs to read. There’s a lot that you can be doing but focus on what you should be doing and, to that end, make sure you’re doing the right things. Spend your time wisely.
3. Not putting out enough content: The reason that it’s important to pick your battles in social media and marketing is because you have to create content. Lots of it. Blog posts, Twitter updates, YouTube videos, and the list goes on. Creating content can be a full time job if you let it, but there are hundreds of articles out there that can teach you simple ways to create helpful, engaging content for your readers.
4. These rules don’t apply to me: Last week at a speaking event an author came up to me and told me about his book. I asked him what he was doing to promote it, he said: nothing, really. Not because he didn’t have the time, but he felt that his topic was such a hot trend, he didn’t need to. This might be the worst mistake authors make and the most frequent. The basic rules of marketing today do apply to you.
5. Not staying on top of trends in your industry: The basic idea here is that you stay on top of not just your industry, but the industry you’re in, too. That is: publishing. Why should you stay on top of what’s going on in publishing? Because the trends might affect you.
6. Lack of engagement: If a reader writes you a note or an email, are you responding to them? Often times the answer to this is no, which surprises me. Reader engagement is crucial, not because you need to be polite but because in an age where bloggers are inundated with review copies and review space is shrinking, guess who will be your next best ally? Yes, your reader. Engage with them, thank them but most of all, respond to them.
7. Waiting till the book is done to launch the website: I speak with authors all the time who are a week away from having a book and have no website. “It’s coming” they tell me. When? I ask. The answer is often, “Oh, when the book is out.” That’s about three months too late. Now, granted, sometimes this can’t be avoided, I totally get that. Delays happen. But in 90% of the cases when I hear this, it’s because the author didn’t know that it can take months to get traffic to a website. Start early and the minute the site is up, start blogging, too.
8. Being in a rush: A few weeks ago I got an email from an author who asked me for my recommendations on a publisher. I told her and the next day she emailed back and said “I got so excited that I just uploaded it. I didn’t have it edited but that’s ok, I still have a book!” Well, I’m not sure of that. Ok, yes, you still have a book but in the long run, did this really benefit you? Just because you can publish quickly, doesn’t mean you should.
9. Ask for what you want: I was speaking with a group of authors recently and there was an author in the crowd who said that every book event she does always has a great turnout (lucky her!). I asked her what she really, really needed for her book. She said she needed more reviews. I told her to ask her readers for help. “You can do that?” she asked. You bet you can. Readers really do want to help authors they love so let them and tell them. Whether you’re doing live events, online promotion or whatever. If you want reviews for a book ask your readers.
10. Wanting to make a fast buck: With all the news around eBooks and the money some authors are making in this industry, it’s tempting to think, “Hey, I need some cash, let me publish something.” But as with any industry, these stories are the exception, not the rule. You can’t just throw content out there and wait for the sales to roll in but you’d be surprised how many people do this.
I often find myself telling authors that “publishing is a business” and I’ve seen authors who have spent years in this industry, struggling for success because they keep making the same mistakes over and over. Even for traditionally published folks the world is a different place and no one, even the biggest names, are immune to this. As to point #4, the rules apply to everyone. Yes, that means you.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.
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