Writers participating in Camp NaNoWriMo are no doubt racking up daily word counts (keep it up – you’ve got this)! However, there’s more work to come when you elect to become an indie author. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but what dream worth having comes easily? Our characters often suffer for their happiness so we authors need to as well.
Don’t worry, this guest post isn’t about suffering…it’s about how to help you avoid suffering!
It’s never too early to prepare for your writing career. Even if this is your first NaNoWriMo effort, take a look at these tips below. There are also some great links to other blogs to aid your writing journey!
5 Common Marketing Mistakes Self-Publishing Authors Should Avoid
By: Desiree Villena
Authors who self-publish their work know that if you want your book to sell well, you need to invest a significant amount of time in marketing. It can be a steep learning curve, especially if you’ve never had any experience with marketing in your non-writing professional life — but if you do your homework, you’ll see you don’t need to be a marketing expert to manage well!
You’ll have a lot to read up on; there’s far too much material to cover in a single guest post, so I’d like to focus instead on five marketing mistakes I’ve seen many self-publishing authors make, in the hopes that this post can complement your research as you put together your own plan. You’ve taken a great first step by just showing up here! Writerly communities exist so we can all learn from each other, making blogs like this one invaluable for tips and advice. Without further ado, here are five common marketing mistakes self-published authors make.
1. Not paying attention to the design of their book
Many first-time authors are understandably convinced that you shouldn’t judge books by their covers. While this sentiment is widely held as true, sadly the reality is different. Even though the contents of the book remain key, your book will be judged by its cover a lot. It’s also going to be judged by its interior design, which includes things like typesetting, margins, and general sleekness of appearance.
Other authors think they can create their own covers without consulting a professional designer. This is true in some cases. But the real question is whether they should, and whether it’s worth losing many would-be readers over an unappealing graphic. Nobody’s book should look like it was designed in PowerPoint. And, yikes, nobody’s book should ever actually be designed in PowerPoint.
In very rare cases, authors are able to create excellent covers themselves, of course, either purely out of talent or because they’re trained professional designers. But unless you’re an established artist, it’s always a safer choice to hire a professional.
2. Neglecting their book description
While we’re on the topic of presentation, let’s not forget the importance of polishing your book description. This is an often overlooked but perpetually valuable aspect of marketing a book. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to summarize your plot, compare the book to similar titles, and really emphasize that USP (Unique Selling Point) — so hone in on whatever makes your book interesting, original, and authentic.
Once your book is out in the world, it’ll be defined by the words of other people: readers, reviewers, booksellers’ recommendations. But until it gets there, you have total and complete control of your reader’s first impressions, so don’t underestimate how important it is to write an excellent book description. Look into the descriptions of other titles in the market, especially within your own genre, and try to maintain the same tone, while still allowing your book’s personality to shine through.
3. Not specifying a target market
Many authors believe — or want to believe — their book is for everyone. This is never the case. Even the world-conquering Harry Potter series isn’t universally adored. So you need to think hard about specifying your target market well in advance of your book launch. Part of this process will involve breaking down the key elements of your genre, as well as the particulars of your plot, and using this data to identify what’s known in marketing as your “reader avatar” — in other words, the exact demographic of readers who would be interested in your book.
The point of performing this little exercise in imagination is to then be able to know what the best places are to reach your readers. Is your book about superheroes? Comic Cons might be the perfect place to promote your work. Are you targeting a children’s book market? Go into schools and libraries! Once you’ve worked out where your readers congregate, you can be sure they’ll find your book, whereas generic marketing efforts can get lost in a virtual world of indifference and cacophony. If you’ve made mistakes in your previous marketing efforts, don’t be put off by failure! Accept your past limitations and grow from them as much as you can.
4. Not being accessible for reader feedback
Readers are incredibly valuable to any author, and not just because they support you by reading your book and talking about it. They can also reach out directly to authors, offering suggestions, demanding more of a specific kind of writing, critiquing work, and just generally being your literary guardian angels. But to do all this, your readers first need to be able to reach you.
To enable this connection between yourself and your readers, you can create a Facebook group, a blog (with an open comment section), or just an active social media account; the whole Internet is at your service, so don’t waste the opportunity to reach your audience. Even a good old-fashioned mailing list can help you build a relationship with your fans that can lead to useful input. Include details about how your readers can reach you at the bottom of your author bio, or somewhere you know readers are likely to see them. As long as you actively engage your audience, you’ll see that they’re most likely going to be helpful and responsive!
5. Being afraid to try digital advertising
Many authors talk themselves out of dabbling in digital advertising, convinced that they aren’t qualified or experienced enough to have a go at it. This is a totally subjective perspective, determined by each writer’s worldview and perception of themselves. Regardless of how you feel about your own abilities, there is such a vast amount of information about digital marketing available online that you’ll never have to fear the unknown if you’re willing to do some research.
Amazon ads, Facebook ads, Bookbub ads… Depending on where you’re most likely to find readers in your genre, it’s definitely worth investing time and money into working out how you can use these tools to your advantage.
Although I’ve dedicated this space to describing mistakes you should avoid, it goes without saying that mistakes are part of the process. Practice makes perfect, so research widely, be open to new ideas, and don’t get hung up when you do fumble at times. (And if you want to learn more about marketing a book from start to finish, check out this comprehensive post on how to market a book!)
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources and professionals. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction, writing short stories, and giving (mostly) solicited advice to her fellow writers.
As I noted, writing isn’t for the faint of heart but there are resources and options as Desiree shared with us. Other writers aren’t my competition – let’s support one another as much as we can! If you’re in the writing community and would like to do a guest post here, let me know and we can chat! Maybe you’re prefer to comment on this post with your thoughts and advice? That works too!
You can use the Contact tab on this site to reach me so don’t by shy! Let’s all learn and grow together – there can never be too many books in the world!
Now, you’ve had enough of a break, get back to writing!