Marcie Brock is the pen name of Laura Orsini, a self-publishing consultant based in Phoenix, Arizona. Download your complimentary copy of Laura’s highly useful Marketing Skills Evaluation. This will help you determine where you’re on track and where you may need a little extra boost.
Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make
You’ve spent lots of time, energy, and perhaps money producing the best book possible. Maybe you’ve got a dozen cases in your garage or perhaps you have a PDF of your eBook on your website. Either way, you may be wondering how you’re going to get the readers to come to you.
Here’s a list of some of the top marketing mistakes indie authors make. If you find yourself committing any of these, don’t beat yourself up. Just create a plan NOW, and stick to it.
1. Waiting until their book is done to begin marketing
The minute you commit to writing your book is the minute you should begin marketing it. Far too many authors wait until they have their book in hand to begin looking for their readers/audience. This is far too late to begin creating your platform, which is your ability to reach your book-buyers or your plan to do so. Unless you are a celebrity of any measure, you probably don’t have a built-in audience. Start early by tapping into all the ways and places you can create demand for your book before it is printed.
2. Failing to specifically identify their target reader
You’ve written or are writing a book, so you have a message. But do you know who will receive that message? Do you know who your audience is? Do you know where they spend time, and if or where they buy books? Is your niche audience comprised mostly of men? More than 80 percent of books are purchased by women – so if your audience is mainly male, do they read, or have women in their lives who buy books for them? Failure to identify your market will make it very difficult to sell books to them.
3. Thinking the book will market itself
One of the most difficult things for most new authors to grasp is the time/money/energy commitment involved in marketing their book. Hundreds of people write books. What differentiates those whose books sell well is not their writing talents as much as their ability to market their books. Many authors believe they should be left alone to write while someone else handles the marketing and promotion, but YOU are going to sell this book – no one else is. That means you must be as available and open as possible. If someone from the media calls you for an interview, drop everything else and get there. Become a media darling, even if you are shy! Take an acting class or join Toastmasters if you’re afraid to speak in public. Spread the word about your new title on the Web. Send preview copies to select reviewers and/or personalities with long reach. You went to all that effort to write your book. Now be fearless in promoting it.
4. Designing their own cover
Many indie authors, in an attempt to conserve money, forgo the investment in a graphic designer with book cover expertise. This is a HUGE mistake. According to selfpublishingresources.com, 225 out of 300 booksellers surveyed identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component of the entire book. All agreed that the jacket is the prime real estate for promoting a book. If you hope to have your book make it onto bookstore shelves, you must impress the book buyers who will likely make their determinations based on just a few seconds’ glance at the cover. Additionally, a shopper will spend an average of just 8 seconds looking at the front cover and 14 seconds on the back. This is a total of less than a half-minute to decide if your book is even worth flipping through! If you do not have a professional image that is congruent with your contents, you will likely miss the sale.
5. Failing to think like a marketer
Like other artists, many authors live for their craft but recoil at the thought of marketing their work. “I’m an author, not a SALESperson!” However, unless you want you and your mom to be the only ones who buy your book, it’s essential that you learn to think like a marketer. That means knowing WHO will read your book and HOW you will connect with them. It also means putting on your Savvy Book Marketer thinking cap and noticing all the chances for connection as they arise. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you will get at seeing marketing opportunities everywhere.
6. Failing to create a plan
One major place where indie authors get tripped up is in understanding how long it takes to build an audience. This is why you must create a plan and dedicate time to marketing. It’s understandable that writers prefer to write, but your book won’t sell itself. The amount of time you can dedicate to marketing your book differs for each author. Even if you can only afford two hours a week, schedule that time. Put it in your calendar. Make a sign for the door: “Do Not Disturb ― Mommy’s Wearing Her Savvy Book Marketer Hat Until 2 p.m.” Get up an hour earlier. Stay up an hour later. Write a blog post during your lunch hour. Get a digital recorder and dictate your ideas so you remember them. Find an accountability partner to check on your progress weekly. Do whatever works for you – but create a marketing plan and find a way to stick to it.
7. Spreading themselves too thin
Marketing is an unending process with virtually limitless options, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Determine ONE strategy to start with. If you already have a sizable mailing list, an e-mail drip campaign might make sense. If you’ve got a good-sized social network, you may want to begin there. If you are building your platform from the ground up, a blog may be the best place to start. Begin with ONE strategy and master it. Then explore the next strategy to add, and so on.
8. Never getting started
Some authors let the fear, unknown, or other issues sabotage them, so they never get their marketing off the ground. Don’t let this be you!
If you’re ready to get organized, download our free BOOK MARKETING CHECKLIST.
Happy writing and marketing!