Monday, August 8, 2016

The 8 Biggest Book Publicly Mistakes to Avoid

Many authors and publishers operate under misconceptions, myths, miscalculations, and taboos when it comes to book marketing and book publicity.  Their unfounded fears, factual errors, misguided beliefs, and incomplete observations cause them to make wrongful choices and conclusions when it comes to executing a solid book publicity campaign or book marketing plan. Here are the eight biggest mistakes you need to avoid – otherwise you’ll be infected with book marketing Zika.

Where do people get these wrong notions about book publicity?

Often it’s the blind leading the blind. Someone tells someone some advice that they heard or read about but never tested themselves.  Social media is good at spreading bad information – fast and far.

In other cases the right advice is applied incorrectly or incompletely, like a medicine taken with an ingredient missing.  It just won’t work.

The biggest reason people operate under outdated or incorrect assumptions is that someone’s bad experience becomes everyone’s fear. All of a sudden people don’t trust in what they really need to do.

Lastly, the reason why so many authors and publishers operate under false knowledge is they don’t always bother to test the theories they operate under. They willfully believe something should or shouldn’t work just because they once heard it eight years ago. Invest in reading reliable books, blogs, and magazines on this subject and always question who your source of information is.

Please do not operate under these 8 wrongful approaches, beliefs, or theories:

1.      Books can be promoted all year – they don’t have an expiration date. There’s a window of time to promote your book.  It is basically for the first three months that a book is out that one can garner media exposure for it.  The time to begin serving media could begin four months prior to your official release date.  This is when you send galleys to long-lead media and major book reviewers.  But the shelf-life of a media campaign is shorter than the life of a book.  Evergreen topics, fiction, or poetry may be relevant a year from now, but generally major media will give you a look only in that narrow window of time when your book is new.  Don’t waste time or money trying to promote an old book - and don’t think you can promote your book when it’s convenient for you.  You’re on the clock.

2.      Thinking you will sell some books before you start paying to promote it.  It’s the other way around. You pay to promote your books so it will sell.  Otherwise, you’re in a Catch-22 situation by chasing sales without an ability to generate them and by not having the money to do publicity, you’ll squander your chance to promote the book when it’s new.

3.      Being overconfident that your book will do well once people learn about it. But how will people learn about it unless you promote it?  Though exposure for your book should lead to sales, there’s no guarantee that everyone who hears of your book believes they need to buy it.  Don’t let your ego make you lazy.

4.      Trying something and running away when you don’t see immediate results.  You can’t test the PR waters and then cease promotion when things don’t go as expected.  Try new pitches and approaches. Experiment and find what works and ride it hard until it no longer produces.

5.      Letting fear or insecurity drive your PR. You have to check your emotional discomfort at the door. PR efforts can lead to rejection and feelings of dejection.  You’ll get turned down more than 90% of the time when you seek out media coverage.  Play for the wins and don’t get discouraged by those who turn you down.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t fear rejection and don’t let it define you at all.

6.      Thinking money alone can cure your book sales problem. I certainly advocate for authors and publishers to invest in their books and budget for marketing and PR campaigns, but it must be done wisely. You can’t blow your budget on ads nor can you just pay your way into automatic media coverage.  Even when you hire others to help, vet them properly, focus their efforts, and complement the things they can’t get to or weren’t hired to do. It’s a team effort to launch a book.  You can’t just hand over everything to one person.

7.      Believing you can Tweet and Facebook your way to riches.  You may find that social media helps grow your brand and sell some books but you need to be aware that it takes a lot of time, effort, creativity and street savvy to create and push content and to build up meaningful connections.  Build your platform before the train pulls in, meaning start now, way in advance of your book’s publication.

8.      Not understanding how media works but just thinking the news media should cover you. The media is not a single entity. Every media outlet and all of its staff members have unique needs, pressures, and deadlines. To secure media coverage it takes a timely, intelligent, customized and targeted effort. Persistence pays off just as much as having good connections.  Do not think that you are alone in feeling justified to get media coverage.  Every day thousands of other worthy writers, musicians, artists, actors, experts, professionals, celebrities, athletes, politicians, companies, non-profits, government agencies, and others also have a good, unique, powerful message for the media. You’ll need to work hard to get your message heard.

Maybe the biggest mistake one can make is not believing they are worthy of media coverage or that they feel uncomfortable asking for others to talk about their book.  By doing nothing you almost assure yourself that nothing will happen. Go out and stir a word-of-mouth buzz and give it your all, but be mindful of the eight pitfalls named above.

You can get publicity and book sales – but be prepared to work long hours, pay for help, and to push your creative juices to their capacity. Good luck.  

To learn more on how to promote books, read my greatest blog posts from the past five years and 2,000 posts:

2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit

2015 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit

2014 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit

Book Marketing & Book PR Toolkit: 2013

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.

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