3 Ways Authors Waste Time With Bad Book Marketing

I hear it all the time. Authors complain that they're fed up with book promotion. They want to spend their time writing and not marketing their books.

In many cases you can cut down on marketing time significantly. All you have to do is stop making some common book marketing mistakes, doing things to help your book sales when in fact you might be hurting them.

Here are three ways authors often waste time thanks to bad book marketing.

1. Spamming Your Social Network

Social media can be a wonderful part of your book marketing strategy. But it's also a notorious time-suck. It's vital that you spend your social networking time effectively rather than wasting time on tactics that won't help you (and can even hurt you) over the long run.

If your idea of social media marketing is to constantly post links for people to buy your book, spend all of your time talking up your latest title, or endlessly sharing every nice comment anyone has ever said about your work, you aren't marketing. You're spamming. You aren't adding any value to members of your social network.

Instead focus on more effective social networking. Give back. Promote others. Share things that benefits your readers more than yourself. The idea is to turn your followers into true fans -- the type of people who keep coming back for more and who aggressively promote your book for you. That's the real value in social media marketing -- building a fan base that cares enough to keep spreading the word. The more your fans do that for you, the less time you have to invest in doing it yourself.

2. Marketing to Writers Before Readers

Another common mistake I see authors make is to focus their book marketing efforts on other authors rather than their ideal readers. This is often reflected in author blogs, blog commenting, and even social networking.

If you're spending most of your marketing time writing for, or talking to, other authors, you're wasting a lot of time. While there is nothing wrong with networking with colleagues and even running cross-promotions, it shouldn't take away from reader-focused marketing. Unless you're trying to sell books about writing to writers, those two groups aren't the same.

3. Drowning in DIY Book Marketing Mishaps

A surefire way to waste your time and hold back your marketing efforts is to try to do too much yourself. Yes, I know it can be expensive to hire pros. But if you can't yet afford to publish your book well, then you can't yet afford to publish. Rushing some half-assed book to market does you and any future work you release a disservice.

If you can do something yourself in a reasonable amount of time and do it well, by all means, go for it. But very few authors are equipped to be their best editor, designer, and publicist all rolled into one.

If a pro could do something significantly better and faster than you, bring one on board. If you can't afford to hire them outright, consider bartering. Or spend time on some freelance writing projects to bring in extra money to put toward book development. It will probably still take less time than you would have spent trying to, for example, design a professional level book cover yourself. And in the end, you'll be left with a better product that helps sell itself and more time to write your next book.

What other book marketing mistakes do authors make that potentially steal time from additional writing? Have you ever made these mistakes? If so, how did you move past them and find a way to more effectively and productively market your books? Share your stories and ideas in the comments.

This was originally published at BusyAuthors.com. 

Profile image for Jennifer Mattern

Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

Subscribe to the All Freelance Writing newsletter to get freelance writing updates from Jenn in your inbox.

12 thoughts on “3 Ways Authors Waste Time With Bad Book Marketing”

  1. That second mistake really resonated with me, Jenn, because it’s true of non-fiction writers too. I started out by creating a blog for writers (and I’m glad of it) but it didn’t do much to promote me with potential clients. Once I understood where I’d gone wrong, I created a client-facing site. Great advice!

    • I know how silly it must look to have that advice on a blog meant for other writers. 🙂 But that’s why this site was set up – as a promotional vehicle for an upcoming e-book series for authors. It would be nonsensical to start a blog like this if my primary goal was to sell fiction. But that’s exactly the kind of thing I see all the time, and then authors bitch and moan about how much time blogging takes or how little it improves their sales. Well, duh. (Do people still say that?)

      At least in your case you figured things out and set up a blog targeting the right market. Plus, I know you have help with the content on the writing blog, so hopefully that cuts down on the time required to manage it. Do you sell e-books, coaching, or anything else there? I didn’t see anything for sale on quick glance. Do you have plans to? I know your site is pretty well established in the niche, so if it’s something of interest to you, you could probably put the time spent there into some nonfiction e-books or other products. 🙂

      • Funny you should mention it, Jenn, but for me, 2014 is “the year of the ebook”, aka, the year I finally get off my backside and write some of those titles I’ve had on a list FOREVER! I plan to promote them on both sites. On the writing site, it will be advice for writers; on the client site, examples of the kind of work I could do for them.

        I’ve been spending less time on the writing blog – after nearly 8 years, there’s a limit to what else I want to say, so I think a transition is coming. Luckily, I’ve had some great guest writers who have stepped into the breach. 🙂

        • It sounds like you have a great plan in place. 🙂 I’m with you on the e-publishing drive this year, moving further away from freelance services and putting most of my time into nonfiction e-books and fiction. Yay for changes! 🙂

    • Absolutely. I completely understand some authors’ desire to focus on writing alone. But if your goal is to sell your books, or even get them in front of as many readers as possible, you can’t avoid marketing.

  2. I’m with Sharon (and you) 😉 about that second point. Recently, I was approached by a blog that wanted to post my business writing site as one of the top 100 for freelance writers. I politely declined because I don’t view my site as one for freelance writers (although I certainly have them as followers).

    The other point that resonated with me, Jenn, was: if you can’t yet afford to publish your book well, then you can’t yet afford to publish.

    Like so many things in our world, it seems ever person and his brother are trumpeting how EASY it is to self-publish, Kind of reminds me of something my dad always said, Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you should buy it.

    Just because you could slap an ebook together & publish it, doesn’t mean you should.

    • I admire you for being able to decline them. I don’t know many bloggers who willingly have their sites dropped from a “top blogs” list. But you know your audience, and you’re maintaining control of your blog in their interest. I had the experience several years ago of my readership essentially changing the focus of my PR and social media blog — NakedPR.com. It was set up to offer practical advice to small business owners on how to handle their own PR issues and maintain transparency. But it took hold with industry pros faster, started getting added to those kinds of top blog lists, and before I knew it, I was writing for the readers I had instead of the readers I wanted to reach. It can happen before you even realize what’s going on.

    • To your other point, I’m with you 100%. Very little in this world is “easy” if you actually care about doing it well. But in self-publishing you hear it all the time. That’s where the money is to some degree — pseudo-publishers want to make it sound like anyone can do it and get rich in the process, if only the writer pays them to take on all the real work. Um, no. But I suppose we can’t fault them. “Easy” is a selling point for pretty much anything. Indie publishing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. But if you think you’re going to end up with the best book possible without spending a dime, think again.

  3. Great insights my friend about blog commenting..If one eliminates the “I need backlinks stuff” and start being authentic is amazing how many insightful discussions and creative ideas can show up in the comments area.
    I love the last part: the comment is a reflection of your self: your character, values and common sense ? How you treat a itsy bitsy little comment is how you treat the big things in life too.
    Glad to see that we’re both in MLSP:) Look forward to network more..Keep the posts coming!


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