Top Five Things Authors Do Wrong When Marketing Their Books

It’s taken me a while to get the hang of this marketing business. I’ve always hated it. I can spend hours working on the right wording of a press release, but if someone asks me in person what my book’s about, it’s all ‘oh, nothing, it’s rubbish, chick-lit, nothing that will change your life.’

I am not the only one who does this. So I thought I’d highlight the top five things authors should not be doing.

1) Missing out on the chance to talk about their work/belittling their work.

This is your creation, man! Own it! You made it happen, be proud of it. Sure, it might not be Moby Dick, but that’s fine. Being able to say, authentically, ‘yeah, I’ve written a book actually, it’s about THIS and is released ON THIS DATE’. People talk about their jobs all the time. The only difference is this person might become a customer.


I know what I said, but be aware. You’re a writer, you’re meant to take in situations and people and understand them. Trying to tell a stranger at Auntie Mavis’ funeral that you’ve written a book about alien ducks from the planet quack is not going to fly. ‘But,’ you say, ‘I have to take my chance, they’re an agent/publisher/journalist/someone useful to me.’ You can talk to people as people, in REAL conversations, where you ask them what they do. Your friends are probably tired of hearing about that line in chapter four that was really good too.

3) Drop the air of desperation

This is linked to the second one. I’ve had people turn up, hear what I do, then suddenly ask me to read their manuscript, hear their pitch, give them a job, help them make a business plan. They don’t let you talk, because they’re not conversing, they’re scanning your words for things that are useful to them. And there’s nothing less attractive than such desperation.

4) Not Using Social Media

There’s a whole world out there! I’d never really liked Twitter until I used it as a writing marketing tool. You can meet other writers, reviewers, readers, and each have their own lovely communities, who are supportive and lovely. You can get access to information, and you can be pretty blatant about self promotion without anyone judging you.

5) Being aware of their audience

Okay, so maybe fifty-five year old male mechanics from Wandsworth are going to read your chick-lit about a bunch of 25 year olds. They’re completely welcome. But you should be focusing your limited time and effort (and money) marketing towards the people who you KNOW like your book, the people you wrote it for. Ask for reviews, find people who read similar things, identify other authors who are writing about the same thing or in the same style. In the marketing world, there’s a reason the ‘X meets X’ system works (E.G It’s like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ meets ‘War of the Worlds’). Use that until you’ve written enough to be ‘from the author who brought you….’
You have to create and reinforce your own brand and that comes from knowing yourself and knowing your audience.

If you feel like you want a bit more help with this, I’m working with creative business specialist Steven Sparling to run a two day Marketing Bootcamp for Writers. We’ll be giving you insider advice, creating a plan, give you the chance to meet a publisher and do a pitch, as well as Q and As. We’ll create a marketing timeline for you, guide you on audience recognition, branding, press releases, social media and everything you need to boost your sales! Plus there’s swanky lunch included! More details and to book, click HERE

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