7 Book Marketing Myths You Should Forget About
Last week, I did an intro to marketing basics. This week, we have a guest post by Jordan Ring, who has launched several books of his own and has learned by experience some of the ins and outs of marketing and promotion.
We hope that his insights and experiences will help and guide in your own marketing endeavors. One thing to keep in mind along the way is that every book is different and that works for one book and one author might not work for another. Also don’t forget that the publishing world is very much in a state of flux. What worked even last year might not work now or next year.
The key takeaway from Jordan’s advice is that authors need to do their research, preferably before they launch their book, but if you didn’t and already launched your book, it’s never too late to follow his advice and get on the right path.
Speaking from a personal perspective, my own books could use some marketing help, so I plan to try Jordan’s advice myself.
Even though Jordan currently writes only nonfiction books, every piece of his advice applies equally to any kind of book. You can’t use the excuse that “He writes X books, and I write Y books, so his advice doesn’t count.” Remember that Scott and I did write the nonfiction book Punctuation For Fiction Writers. And who’s to say that Jordan’s lifestyle books would not find an audience among writers?
Now, here’s Jordan Ring.
There is a lot out there on the web that is false. We all know this, but it’s sometimes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Book marketing advice is no different from anything else on the web. There is a lot of really good information and, unfortunately, some very bad information out there. How do you determine who and what to trust? The answer, research and deliberation, and by asking questions when needed.
When I started with self-publishing, I wrote my first book, paid good money to have it edited, formatted, etc., and expected the money to come rolling in when I hit “publish.” To my utter disbelief, it didn’t bring in the cash. I struggled to sell any copies. I had no plan other than to share it several times per day on social media and sign up for as many book promotion services as I could (more on that later).
I had no idea how to market my book. I read so much on the subject that I was in full-on information overload. Instead of coming up with a launch plan that would work, I decided to just get the book out there and hope it would sell, and it didn’t.
It was a valiant effort by a first-time author, but I was naive in a lot of ways. I believed most of the following myths about self-publishing. I share these here to help you avoid the same problems that I had with my initial book marketing adventure.
As an author it’s my goal to share the truth about self-publishing with other authors so they know what they are getting into. It’s a major time investment that won’t pay dividends until you have several books out there. But you can indeed learn to sell more books and figure out the marketing avenue. Start with these myths and do your own extensive research before you publish your first book.
MYTH #1: IF I DON’T HAVE A BIG EMAIL LIST, I WON’T SELL ANY BOOKS
Contrary to popular belief, you can market your book as a new author with no list. Is it easy? Of course not. If you have a list of 10,000 fans eager to read your work, you will sell a ton of books. If you have a list of 5 fans, you might sell one book to your list. That’s the cold hard truth.
In order to sell books with no list you just have to work a little harder (cold email outreach, social media work, guest posting, etc.) and pay a little bit more (promos, ads, etc.).
While It’s true that cultivating an email list is the #1 way to sell books, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible without one. Every author has to start somewhere, right? This is why I advocate starting a list as soon as possible for your genre. Make sure you ask people to join your list through blog posts, social media posts, and within your books themselves.
If you have no list, you need to hustle to start one, and then work to capture leads and grow your community. Use your book to accomplish this task, and consider a lead as worth more than a book sale (because it is). Work on this aspect of book marketing and don’t fall prey to the lie that you NEED a huge list in order to sell books. It certainly helps, but you do have to start somewhere.
MYTH #2: MARKETING IS SCAMMY, AND COLD EMAIL OUTREACH IS ALWAYS SPAM
Marketing might feel icky to you, but there is no way around it. Even if you are lucky enough to land a traditional publishing deal, you will still have to market your own book. You need to book blog tours, podcast tours, book signings, etc. You need to get out there and get your book into as many hands as possible. Marketing is not scammy; it’s just what you have to do.
Cold email outreach is also a necessary evil when it comes to being a new author. You probably don’t have a lot of contacts, and with that very few people to actually read and review your book. This is where you will have to reach out and connect (through email) with people that have read books similar to yours and ask them to read and review yours. If you ask the right people, there is a good chance you will get invaluable feedback, and possibly even a social share if they love your book.
This is not spam, but some people will think that it is and will send you angry emails asking you to never contact them again. Shrug it off, don’t reply, and move on to the next email.
MYTH #3 BOOK PROMOTION SERVICES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO MARKET A BOOK
As I mentioned earlier, I signed up for an array of different book promotion services, most of which didn’t sell a single copy of my book. It was my only real marketing plan for my book, and it didn’t work out well. I was counting on these promos to get the word out about my book, and then all of Amazon would recognize it, love it, and I could retire to Fiji.
That didn’t happen, and I went away from my first book feeling pretty down about the entire experience. The problem was that I believed this myth! I didn’t put time into the more valuable marketing opportunities like building relationships with other authors, seeking out guest post opportunities, and focusing heavily on building an email list.
Book promotion services can be a great addition to your marketing plan, but they shouldn’t be any more than just that—an addition. Utilize them to boost your book marketing efforts, but don’t rely on them 100%.
MYTH #4: IT’S ALL LUCK; IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT I DO
The fact is that it definitely matters what we do with marketing our books.
I had to wrestle with this one quite a bit after I launched my second book, and it did markedly better than my first, even though I did about a quarter of the marketing work. Now, I had the experience of my first book launch under my belt, so that shouldn’t be discounted, but there is truthfully a certain amount of luck involved. No one can say for sure if a book is going to sell because no one really knows. You can do market research, choose a fantastic cover, and write a killer book description, and still, for whatever reason people, don’t bite.
There is definitely a luck component to the entire book marketing process, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can do to push the needle in our favor. Give your book the best possible chance at success by writing one heck of a good book, but don’t feel any less accomplished if no one buys. Pick yourself up and try again.
MYTH #5: MY SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK ISN’T AS GOOD AS A MORE TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED BOOK
This is one of the biggest myths in this list. A self-published book can be just as good, if not better, than a lot of published books out there. Just because you couldn’t get the book past a publishing gatekeeper (or didn’t try) doesn’t mean the book is bad. It just means that one person didn’t like it. Heck, even J. K. Rowling was denied by many publishers for Harry Potter.
ALL 10 OF THESE BOOKS were originally self-published and then went on to become best sellers. There is nothing wrong with a self-published book, unless of course it fits the negative stereotype: poorly edited, poorly formatted, and a poorly designed cover that stinks. If you take the time to create a clean, final copy of your manuscript, it’s worth shouldn’t be devalued because it has been self-published.
MYTH #6: The only way I can get book reviews is to hope and pray for organic ones to surface
Organic reviews are ones that occur naturally, without you asking anyone to write a review for your book. These types of reviews are what we love as authors, but you can’t count on them during launch week.
The troubling fact is this myth is still highly prevalent. During the research I do for the self-publishing company I work for, I notice books that launch and have ZERO reviews. I cringe when I look at those books’ pages because oftentimes the cover is ugly, the book description is poorly written, and the book has no reviews and therefore has no social proof.
That book might just be the best book on that particular subject, but it has a non-existent Kindle ranking, which means no one has purchased it.
You need to take the review gathering process in your own hands and reach out to potential reviewers. As an indie author, you can’t sit back and wait for people to write organic reviews. It’s not a luxury you have.
Eventually, as you build more contacts and grow your email list, you might not need to reach out to as many people, but at first, review gathering needs to be a high priority. Shoot for at least ten for your book’s launch, or if your book is already out, drop everything and get the book into the hands of potential reviewers.
MYTH #7: Book Marketing begins after you publish
This is another one I see quite often. Someone publishes their book and then reaches out and asks how they can market it. Marketing begins from the very first page written, and then continues during post-launch. It’s simply a fact of being an authorpreneur that we can’t afford to miss the marketing side of writing.
The sooner you can begin to make a plan for your book marketing efforts the better off you will be. Don’t wait, get on it today.
Keep in mind that things are constantly changing within the book marketing world. What works great today might not work well tomorrow. What works for one author and one book might completely fail for another. You have to keep up, and that can take a lot of work, but don’t give up. Keep your head up and keep on writing.
In fact, if you can do one thing right when it comes to book marketing, it would be to keep writing and honing your craft. Never give up on the big dream. Keep seeking.
Good luck to you, fellow author.
ABOUT JORDAN: Jordan Ring is the marketing and launch guru with Archangel Ink Publishing Services. You can follow him on HIS BLOG and for help with your own book launch.
You can get his free book here: BOOK LAUNCH GLADIATOR: THE FOUR-PHASE APPROACH TO KINDLE BOOK MARKETING IN 2018