5 Online Book Marketing Strategies that Don’t Work

by | Jul 20, 2021 | Book Marketing Basics, Marketing Your eBook, Social Media for Authors

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I talk a lot about online book marketing strategies that work – but what doesn’t work? What is a time waster? Well, as it turns out – a lot of online book marketing really is a time suck and doesn’t move the needle on book sales.

Let’s look at a few things that you should stop doing immediately:

Online Book Marketing Strategies That Fail

First let’s address the obvious elephant in the room. Lots of authors subscribe to random book marketing. Like a mishmash of book marketing done haphazardly with little to no planning and no real connection to other things you’re doing. And that’s what we’re really digging into here.

You can’t do one thing and hope it’s successful without other elements supporting it. And in particular, the five items I’ve listed below almost always tend to fall into the online strategies that just fail and when they do, authors assume they’re just bad, when they aren’t. Let’s have a look.

eBook Price Drops

I love doing eBook price drops, but I’d never do them in a vacuum. Meaning there has to be one or more other strategies to help support the price drop. Surprisingly, a lot of authors do price drops assuming that Amazon will do the rest.

Yes, consumers love sales, but even with a hefty price drop, your book won’t gain much momentum unless there are other strategies supporting it. So don’t plan an eBook price drop unless you have a plan to promote it.

And while I love using services like BookGorilla, Kindle National Daily and the like, it’s still a good idea to promote the promotion. Don’t just book a deal in a newsletter and sit back and wait for the royalties to flood your bank account.

Some things you can do to promote your eBook price drop are newsletter announcements, ads on social media, social announcements and Bookbub ads!

Social Media Ads

When authors come to me, I always ask them what they’ve done to promote their book – and many say “social media ads” which seems to be the go-to for many authors who aren’t sure what to do to market their book. And I get it, absolutely. Because a lot of online writing and publishing groups speak of social media ads like they are the only thing you need to do to promote your book.

The issue with this way of thinking is not only is it wrong, but it’s also a great way to blow through your marketing budget.

Why? Because social media ads don’t sell books, but they can sell your reader on your book and get them to click through. But in order to sell a reader on your book, you need to have a reason for them to click through and putting up an ad for a book isn’t enough. But putting up an ad to push a special reader promotion you’re doing, like a BOGO or an eBook promotion is a great way to use any kind of social media ads.

So, doing ads to support a pricing discount, or special book launch deal you’re doing is ideal. But I wouldn’t leave the ads running after your promotion is over – you’ll want to start and stop these in line with whatever promo you’re doing.

how to sell self published books through your website

Social Media Posts

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media (even though it can be a real time suck) but I see a lot of authors just posting for the sake or posting, which isn’t a good way to build your audience. You’re better off posting less, and spending time really getting to know what your audience resonates with – and once you’ve identified that, keep on doing more of that.

You want to post with a purpose. Don’t just randomly and haphazardly post things you hope your readers will like. Sure, in the beginning there’s always a bit of trial and error but at some point, you really want to zero in and identify the posts that are helping you to build your engagement and fans.

And here’s another tip: if you want engagement you need to be engaged with your fan comments. Always, at a minimum, give a like to all comments and try to respond to some of them, as appropriate.

This is why when I coach author on social media, we spend a lot of time trying to find the one social site that their fans will resonate with. Remember: it’s not about being everywhere but everywhere that matters.


I love blogging, but you really want to blog with a purpose and that purpose should be to drive more traffic to your website and your online book marketing strategies. Blogging without an SEO plan is almost a waste of time. Why? Because at its most basic, SEO is all about using keywords in your blog (we use them in every post we do). Because smart blogging can really help to drive attention to our website and bring in more readers.

Not sure what your keywords are? I’ll post a link to one of my fav SEO sites in the Resources below. It’s a great way to get started on a simple plan to incorporate keywords into your blog posts!


I love Goodreads, but readers aren’t going to knock on your door just because you’re on the site. Take time to engage with genre readers, add new connections – join one group, build your network. Goodreads doesn’t require a ton of work, which is one reason why I love it, but it does require that you’re active.

Carve out an hour a week to add new connections and check in with the group you belong to to see what’s going on. Comment on other people’s stuff, too. Review books – even if you’re just adding a star rating. It all helps to build your platform on one of the biggest social media sites for readers and authors!

The idea is that online book marketing strategies never work in a vacuum, and they also don’t work without a certain amount of consistency. So whatever strategies you decide to do, pair them with other promotions, or make sure you have the time you need to spend on a particular platform, like Goodreads or a bunch of social media sites you may never have the time to check.

Being thoughtful with your book marketing means taking smart steps to produce content readers will love and executing smart online book marketing strategies that build on each other!

Good luck!


Resources & Free Downloads

Book Marketing Kickstart Package 

Reader Profile Brainstorm

Ubersuggest has excellent keyword and SEO tools.

How to Sell Books: 11 Book Marketing Myths You Should Not Believe!

How to Sell Books: Eight Critical Mistakes Authors Make

Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors for news and resources


  1. Janice Litvin

    I agree with everything you said here. I would add that it’s important to look at the overall purpose of the book marketing strategy.
    Maybe an author is trying to get picked up by a publisher.
    Maybe they’re trying to sell a trilogy.
    I’m selling books to get more speaking gigs, not just to sell books.
    So my strategy includes doing podcast interviews and byline articles.
    Looking forward to seeing you at BAIPA very soon.

    • Penny Sansevieri

      You’ve made a good point. I’m looking forward to the BAIPA as well! Please reach out if you’d like to learn about additional strategies for your marketing efforts.

  2. Vicki Weisfeld

    Is one of the above links the one you said you’d attach because it’s “one of my fav SEO sites”? Can’t identify it from the title or initial content. Thanks!

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Hi there Vicki-I apologize for the delayed response and thank you for catching that! Ubersuggest has excellent keyword and SEO tools. Best of luck with your work and don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re ready for more marketing strategies.

  3. geometry dash subzero

    amazing to come across articles with holiday marketing plan pointers. As Christmas approaches, I find myself at a loss for activities to occupy my time. I’m still learning the ropes of business promotion. That was a very helpful article.



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