I know that you got into authorship because you loved to write, but not necessarily because you signed up to learn marketing.
Unfortunately, authorship is a business, which means that like it or not, marketing is now a part of your job. But I want to ease the pressure here by emphasising that it’s normal to make mistakes in the beginning. After all, it’s a completely new skillset that you’re trying to master.
That’s why I want to set you up for success by sharing some of the most common marketing mistakes I see time and time again when new authors step into the online space:
Mistake #1: Not Linking To Your Book Purchase Links
You’d be surprised how many authors don’t do this.
If you’re going to be online, you need to be discoverable (as in, people need to be able to find you and your books easily). The problem I see a lot of new authors making is that they’ll have a website, a Goodreads, an Amazon author page… but none of it is backlinked.
So sometimes I’ll visit an author’s website, but there’s no direct link to their books. Sure, they’ve told me they have books, and maybe they’ve even shown me the cover and blurb, but how to find it and purchase it is a total mystery.
Did you know that:
- A LOT of people don’t know where to buy books online (seriously, if you look at my DMs over on my author instagram, the #1 question I still get is “where is your new book available?” Because for some reason, people think it changes every time.)
- A lot of people don’t just Google the title of your book. It would be super helpful if our readers were this self-motivated, but oftentimes, they’re just lazy and can’t be bothered trying to find it on their own.
- Even if they do, sometimes your book doesn’t show up in the first page of Google because you haven’t done any SEO optimisation, or you’re simply too new to the industry. So in this case, it’s on you, not them.
My point is… if you don’t make it easy for people, you’ll lose the sale. The reason why is irrelevent next to that plain fact. So by not linking back to your book, your website, your socials… you’re making it incredibly difficult for people to purchase your book because they can’t find it. And if they can’t find it? They ain’t buying.
The solution? Make sure your Author Pages link back to your website and your social media platforms, and make sure those platforms are all interlinked so people don’t have to go searching to find out who you are/where to buy your book.
Mistake #2: Not Having An Online Presence
Carrying on from my previous point, you need to establish a diverse online presence that leads to the sale (like a trail of breadcrumbs!)
When I talk about online presence, I don’t just mean being visible in Facebook Groups or posting in threads online. I mean having your own social media platforms, a website, and being mentioned across various blogs and websites on the internet. Because in order for people to find your book or your website, they need to be able to easily discover you and get an immediate first impression of who you are and what it is you do (or in this case, write).
The easiest way to get discovered is via social media, which is why having platforms is important. From there, people can be lead to your website, and eventually to your book listing. But chances of them finding your website or book listing are slim if you don’t have an online presence to begin with.
If you want to learn more about how you can get started building an online presence, check out this post.
Mistake #3: Not Having A Book Marketing Strategy
Having a strategy for marketing your books is very important, and if you don’t have this, you’re basically stumbling around in the dark and relying on luck. In my experience, luck is of the rare variety, so it pays to have a plan of action.
Now, there are lots of strategies out there for book marketing, and there are no hard and fast rules for which ones work best because it really differs based on your genre, passion for book marketing, and willingness to show up. But at minimum, I suggest developing a book launch process. Without this, everything else regarding book marketing becomes 10 x more difficult. Think of your launch strategy as a foundational step on your marketing journey.
If you want to really break things down and build out a sales process for long term sales, consider putting a front end strategy in place for new releases (e.g. a book launch process) and a back end strategy for backlist titles (e.g. ad campaigns, automated email sequences, etc.)
Mistake #4: Not Positioning Your Book And Brand With Authority
Building trust is the most important thing you can do to start selling books. Do you think people who create products just put them up for sale, let people know it’s up, and the sales just start rolling in?
No. It most certainly does not work like that.
The successful people who create and sell products are out here every single day communicating and engaging with their audience. And as an author and bookseller, that’s exactly what you need to be doing too.
Now, you might be thinking… “but as a reader, I don’t care about any of that. If I like a book, I’ll buy it.”
True. But there’s a lot of unconcious marketing work going on with even that:
- Think about the last huge thriller book that blew up (for me, it was The Girl On The Train). Think about how you came to know about that book, how it became so hyped, how you felt when everyone was raving about it? For me, it was because major publicity outlets were talking about and recommending it. Didn’t it make you want to learn more, even if it was a book you’d usually never pick up?
- Or, think about the last time you found a random book in a bookshop or on Amazon… what was it that pulled you to the book? Was it the cover? The blurb? The raving reviews? A snippet the author shared? None of that is by chance: it’s done strategically to position the book, the author, and draw in ideal readers.
- Or, try this: when I say ‘horror books’, who’s the first author that comes to mind? For me, it’s Stephan King, and when I tested this with a number of my clients, 8/9 of them said exactly the same thing. Why? Because he’s established himself to be a leader in the genre through credibility, success and widespread awareness. Even if you’ve never read from him, he’s probably the first author you’d seek out when looking for a horror novel.
So yes, we buy books impulsively all the time, for a number of reasons, but at the end of the day the author is still putting time and effort into building trust factor with you-whether it be through:
- Getting to know the author and the book prior to release.
- Coming to like the author and the book through the things being shared and posted online.
- Coming to trust the author and book through their choice in marketing visuals and messaging.
Mistake #5: Rushing Into Publishing The Book
Finally, a HUGE mistake I see new authors make all the time is that they focus on publishing the book, but they do NO marketing work leading up to the book release.
As a result, the book has no product awareness. It’s not established in the marketplace. It doesn’t have a warm audience to be sold to. It has no reviews, no publicity, no credibility, no hype. And that’s why it doesn’t sell when the book goes live.
Before you release a book, you want to have a minimum of a three month warmup and marketing period, but for new, unknown, unestablished authors? I highly recommend extending that to 9 months or longer (after all, your NYT bestselling authors take 8 - 12 months for their book launches too, and that’s not a coincidence. That’s intentional and strategic, because that’s HOW they cultivate the widespread awareness and hype that makes the book sell, even with an established brand and name.)
If you found this post helpful, come follow me over on Instagram and let’s connect!
Pagan Malcolm is a bestselling fiction author, speaker, podcaster and business coach for authors. She helps aspiring authors finish their books, build the foundations for consistent book sales and establish a standout author brand that gets them KNOWN.
Pagan Malcolm is a business coach for authors helping writers to leverage the business side of publishing so that they can kickstart profitable writing careers and become established authors. She has been featured in various publications including Writer’s Digest and The Write Life Top 100 Websites For Writers.
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