by Dan Smith

Book marketing doesn’t have to be complicated, but it also can’t be taken lightly. For self-published authors, there are many book marketing strategies and tactics that can be employed, and while some may seem quite direct, or even relatively “simple,” it’s very easy to make mistakes that can derail a book promotion campaign. There are generally accepted methods and many nuances in book publicity, and if you’re going to market your own book, don’t sabotage yourself by making avoidable mistakes.

Here are five of the most common book marketing mistakes self-published authors make.

1. Believing That the Fact You’ve Written a Book is Newsworthy

Just having a book published once was newsworthy, because there weren’t nearly as many books published as today. Due to the digital and print-on-demand revolution and other industry changes, thousands of books are published each week in the United States alone. To get the attention of editors, producers, bloggers, etc., you need to emphasize why you and your book should be of interest or value to them. What’s in it for them? What makes it unique? What makes you unique? What will readers or viewers get from reading about your book or listening to an interview with you? Answer these questions, and then reach out to media with your absolute best newsworthy foot forward.

2. Thinking Your Book is for Everyone

Book buyers are more sophisticated than in the past and have many more tools to discover a book, and to get the exact type of book they want. No book, and I mean NO book, is for everyone. Before promoting your book to media and non-media audiences, find your target market; find the right outlets, the right associations, and the right groups. Even very niche newsletters or blogs, for example, can sell a lot of books if you find the ones that match your book and present it appropriately to secure coverage.

3. Being on Social Media, but Not Keeping Platforms Current

Social media platforms can be great for book promotion, but they can also kill author credibility. Remember this: It is far better to NOT be on social media at all, than to have platforms on which you haven’t been active for months. It just looks bad, turns people off, and most certainly doesn’t create interest in you as an author. If you’re going to do social media, do it right. If your time is limited, focus on just one platform, and keep it active and busy.

4. Having a Low Quality or Poorly Designed Website

While many things have changed in the last ten years, the importance of websites hasn’t. Too many authors have websites that appear amateurish, or are difficult to navigate. As with so many things, keep it simple with websites. There is no need for flashiness and bells and whistles. Have a clean main page, and a few other pages. For example:

  • About the author
  • Excerpts
  • Contact
  • Press room/Author events calendar
  • Blog (but keep it active!)
  • Book-buying links

Increasingly, we’ve come across more authors thinking they don’t need a website. Wrong! You still do!

5. Saying “No” to Opportunities

Here is perhaps the best piece of advice I give to authors, whether they are self-promoting or have a publicist: Never say no to a legitimate media opportunity. Simply put: You never know who might be listening to that tiny radio show, reading that low-circulation newspaper, or listening to that obscure podcast. In my twenty years in the business, I have seen so many good things happen for authors that came about from “small” media opportunities.

[Dan Smith is CEO and Founder of Smith Publicity. From first-time, self-published authors to New York Times bestsellers, Smith Publicity promotes every genre, and has secured media coverage for authors and books with every top media outlet in the U.S. and Canada.]