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Book Promotion: Dos and Don’ts

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Book Promotion: Dos and Don’ts

Writing your book is a very intense process. You’ve spent endless hours of writing, editing, re-structuring, re-writing, and proofreading. But the hardest part is yet to come: the promotion.

As a writer, you are solely responsible for planning and structuring your story in a way that leads to a completed book. Unfortunately, promotion does not work that way. There’s no magic wand to make your book sell instantly. Many of the aspects influencing your book sales are beyond your control, and in spite of all your work, your efforts do not necessarily convert into success. Regrettably, skipping these efforts completely will unquestionably result in failure.

dos and donts1 Book Promotion: Dos and Donts

Over the years I’ve observed that authors who successfully self-publish have a common denominator; an approach to do certain things without fail. This knowledge made me publish the following ‘Dos and Don’ts.’

DO write a great book
You’re not the only writer out there, and the competition is murderous. Books that are merely ‘okay’ won’t be able to compete. This also means your book should be painstakingly edited and proofed before final publication. No shortcuts available here.

DO use a terrific book cover
If you are not a graphic artist yourself, using clip-art and a word-processor will most likely produce a cover that looks poor and unprofessional. Your potential readers will never read your first page. You’ve heard it before, but a book is judged by its cover, first of all. Even on a shoestring budget it is possible to have a book cover created by a professional. It’s totally worth it.

DO regard your writing as a business
This means you need a marketing plan and a budget. Don’t waste all your hard work by simply dumping your book out there. Do your homework, and do it well. Due Diligence.

DO talk about your book to everyone
This is free promotion, and it can be done with little to no additional effort. Put a link to your eBook in your email signature, your business cards, and of course, use the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, G+, et cetera, to share it wherever you can. If you had it printed, always carry a few copies with you everywhere you go. If you don’t let people know, chances are they will never learn about your book.

DO your own networking
Try to get coverage for your authorship, by having your excerpts, book reviews, and interviews featured in magazines, blogs, and social media. Features and interviews are more likely to create significant attention, but are considerably harder to get. While doing all of the above, still expect only a fraction of all these efforts to pay off. Be patient.

DO engage your writing colleagues
Like you, your fellow writers thrive on comments, critiques and recognition. If you would like them to reciprocate, and have an interest in you and your work, resulting in a larger fan base, and acceptance of your work as an author, show interest and solidarity.

DON’T spam!
After all these DOs, it’s likely you’ll start overDOing it. As a magazine, we receive literally over a hundred thousand unsolicited book promotions, by email and social media, per year. Just imagine the time spent to manually curate this influx. Useless for the sender, and a complete waste of time for us, while it may very well ruin your reputation as an author in the process. Instead, try to find an angle of mutual interest with your recipient that is not blatantly obvious book promotion. Above all, be courteous and respectful.

DON’T get upset
If someone doesn’t want or like your book, so be it. Not everyone has the same interest or appreciation for what your book is about. Expect and accept that. Move on.

DON’T define success in terms of unattainable goals
If success for you means nothing less than getting a listing on the New York Times best seller list, you may become discouraged quickly. (Of course, I’d love for you to prove me wrong.) Instead, set reasonable goals, and consider yourself successful if you reach them.

DON’T give up
Keep at it. It takes time and effort to promote your book and create a fan base. Giving up could mean never selling another book.


Any dos and don’ts you would like to add? Please DO!

Book Promotion: Dos and Don’ts was last modified: March 1st, 2015 by Angie

8 Responses to "Book Promotion: Dos and Don’ts"

  1. Robert Politz  Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 18:51

    Good advice Angie. Unfortunately, most “authors” tend to be focused on becoming the next millionaire instead of being realistic and understanding that not only are they unknown, they don’t have the television show or well known celebrity connection from which to launch their work. Your “define success” point is a good one and spot on.

    DO DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET: One of my books, “After 2012”, was written specifically for a school literacy program. Prior to publication my expectations were to sell about 1,000 books. My purpose for writing it was not for the money. Instead, it was to provide a “fun” way for the teachers in one particular district to entice fifth graders to actually read a book. In that sense, it was and still continues to be a great success. That same book on Amazon (and other seller platforms) has garnered only slight notice/sales with ratings from “Terrible” to “Wonderful”.

    So, do I consider it successful? Absolutely! Is it a Best Seller in the general retail market, in the top 10 on Amazon or the New York Times…? Not even close.

    When you define your target market, you also define why you are writing it in the first place and that can make all the difference in the world.

  2. Jack Eason  Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 19:20

    Great article Angie. Not enough attention is paid to the quality of the product. Plus, so many newcomers simply turn off potential readers with their constant ‘Buy My Book’ pleas on sites like Facebook and Twitter. 😉

  3. Paula Boer  Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 1:47

    I agree with Robert. It’s important for an author to know what their own measure of ‘success’ is.

    To add another ‘do’. DO get a thick skin. Negative comments at least mean someone is (maybe) reading your work, at least they are seeing your name. All news is good news to quote an old cliché. (And of course, DON’T use clichés in your writing) :-).

  4. Hank Quense  Friday, August 30, 2013 at 16:23

    One of the most important (and often ignored) aspects of promotion is this: the author has to identify who the book’s readers are and aim the promotion at that segment of book readers. Shotgunning a message to everyone is a waste of time and money and leads to frustration

  5. Kristin Fouquet  Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 19:36

    Great and practical advice. I mostly write literary short stories and flash fiction. Obviously, my target audience is substantially smaller than a genre author’s, therefore, I am grateful for my small successes.

  6. Mr.J  Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 2:35


  7. Eva A Blaskovic  Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 3:55

    “Many of the aspects influencing your book sales are beyond your control, and in spite of all your work, your efforts do not necessarily convert into success.” — Thank you! This really had to be said. And “the competition is murderous” is the best description I’ve heard yet. Truly a great article on this subject, Angie. Not cutting corners on quality is another important aspect, and you covered that in the first two points of the article.

    I agree with Hank about readers and audience. I’ve found that a complex book may be difficult to identify and target, but initial exposure and some trial and error may remedy this. Sometimes process of elimination works, such as what a book is not, to help narrow the target audience.

    • Angie  Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 12:08

      Thank you for your feedback, dear Eva,
      I like your tip on identifying your target audience by asking yourself ‘what a book is not.’


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