We really designed this book marketing podcast episode around aspects of publishing and book marketing that we really see authors stressing about, and stressing about unnecessarily – or because there’s a lack of understanding of how this all really works.
So we’re going to cover some myths that will hopefully give you some important insight, and also a little relief going forward!
Myth #1: If I build it, they will come.
Having a social media following, or professional connections, or even friends in high places aren’t a replacement for thoughtful and strategic marketing and promotion. Books are very personal, reading is a luxury for many of us in regards to setting aside the time. So at the end of the day, people will buy if they feel a personal connection to your work – and that doesn’t happen casually.
Myth #2: There’s an exact right release day. Yes, day of the week.
It’s easy to stress about messing something up, that’s pretty human. But the day of the week your book comes out isn’t going to derail all the other things you do right. So focus more on the general timing, your availability to do some self-promotion, the availability and timeline of the marketing company you’d like to work with – having a support network for your book is more important than the exact day.
Myth #3: Publishing delays are unusual.
This goes along with the above point, but deserved its own mention because we’ve seen this really throw authors for a loop in unproductive ways. Publishing delays are normal. Whether it’s in editing, in printing, in the completion of your website – things happen – and freaking out or thinking you need to stop everything and reconsider releasing a year from now instead, when you assume everything will be perfect, is wildly destructive. Instead, just be prepared to be flexible, and again, the more you focus on how you’ll support your book, the easier it will be to accommodate delays.
Myth #4: Most of my marketing needs to happen in the first couple weeks my book is out.
We bring this up because a lot of marketing companies out there try to sell authors on massive marketing campaigns that really only have any actual promotion happening for a couple weeks. Sure, the timelines include lots of calls to make you feel important, or lots of special reports and emails, but those efforts aren’t getting your book in front of readers. And longer isn’t always better either. What we encourage you to focus on is how much actual marketing is happening for your book and how much of that marketing is focused on introducing your book directly to real readers. And how much of that marketing will serve you once it’s over.
Myth #5: A book marketing company can fix everything.
I’m sure most of you have heard the expression, “Like putting lipstick on a pig?” Well, that’s kind of what marketing is if you haven’t done the necessary work to create an excellent product. Or if you refuse to make smart updates or changes to things like a book cover that missed the mark, or a book description that wasn’t written with buyer psychology in mind. Marketing is awareness, it’s an investment to get your book in front of the right people. But at the end of the day, if book marketing is just making people aware of a sub-par product, it’s not going to do anything to help you sell more books.
Myth #6: I just need one big media opportunity to skyrocket my book.
We’ve had numerous authors come to us, some of them bestselling authors, and say they got a great feature in some national magazine but didn’t sell any more books than month than they usually do. Now, that doesn’t mean the coverage isn’t great for their brand – media coverage or influencer coverage is absolutely a key part of your long-term success, but not because coverage immediately converts to sales. So we support authors who list media as part of their goals, we just want to be clear that media is still just exposure, it’s a piece of the pie, but it doesn’t trump all the other pieces of book marketing that have to come together to really move the needle.
Myth #7: Sales and reviews are linked.
Don’t we all wish! But I think most of us can say we own a book or two that excited us but we haven’t gotten around to reading yet. And I’m sure many of us have a few eBooks downloaded that we haven’t started. So sales and reviews are definitely not linked. Your efforts to obtain reviews need to be ongoing, and consistent. People are typically well-intentioned, but life gets in the way, we all get busy. Regular reminders are helpful, and there are lots of creative ways for authors to work in review reminders as well, including special promos.
Myth #8: I will be the exception to the rule.
If someone in publishing is being honest enough to tell you something that doesn’t paint the perfect picture of success – pay attention. Our regular listeners know we’re very honest about what success is, and what it isn’t, and the common roadblocks. So if someone trying to work with you gives you advice on sales expectations, assume it’s because it’s a real thing. If someone is telling you the Today Show only features 3 authors a year, think about what that should mean for your near future goals. Confidence is excellent. But unrealistic expectations will create a lot of disappointment, and often a lot of misguided investments.
Myth #9: Bad reviews will ruin me.
Negative reviews are part of this game, so get used to it. Even if you write an excellent book there’s always a chance someone will get ahold of it that’s not your target reader, and they’ll be predictably disappointed. Instead of wallowing in your grief or getting irrationally upset, try to learn what you can from the review if they’ve included insightful details. Really the only time you need to be concerned is when readers leave reviews that refer to issues with the book itself.
Myth #10: I can hold off on getting a website or social media.
We did a minisode on “good enough” and “everyone loves it recently” that is definitely worth a listen if you haven’t caught it yet, because this is really in the same realm. A basic, easy to navigate website, even if it’s just a single page set up, is really a basic requirement at this point in the publishing game. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it needs to represent your brand and look professional. We’re not telling you you have to love social media, or be on every platform, but really – being on a single platform that makes sense for your market and using it to the extent that it supports your brand in a positive way really shows readers and potential buyers that you take them seriously, and you want to be accessible to them – you’re putting in the effort to connect.
New episodes of our book marketing podcast go live every-other Friday! You can stream full episodes from our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Plus, you’ll want to follow us on your preferred podcast platform in order to catch our helpful- and often hilarious- minisodes!
Do you have any suggestions for a future book marketing podcast episode? I would love to hear from you down in the comment section!