Amanda Luedeke

February 18, 2016

Thursdays with Amanda: The Biggest Marketing Mistake an Author Can Make


amanda-squareI see author after author spend money and time on book trailers and digital shorts and book-specific websites and splash pages and artwork and bookmarks and THINGS.

I see them show off their items proudly, because LOOK HOW PRETTY! THIS CLICKY PEN WILL CERTAINLY GET PEOPLE TO BUY MY BOOK!

But then there the box of pens sits. And sure, they hand out a few pens at conferences and at church or school or work, but they’ve still got a lot of pens. Not to mention that book trailer no one has viewed. That website that no one has gone to. That $0.99 ebook that was sure to entice people to buy the real book.

Why does this happen?

No one knows about the clicky pens. Or the book trailer. Or the website. Or the super cheap ebook.

And the reason no one knows about these things is also the very reason that this person’s book isn’t selling. It’s not because the book is bad or boring or poorly written. It’s because no one knows it exists.

Let’s look at a really specific example …

You have a book. Yay! You hope people buy the book. I mean you’ve told your friends and family, right? That should count for SOMETHING.

But the numbers come back. Sales are bad. You haven’t even cracked 2,000 copies sold. You need to make a change. You start thinking about what it is that could make the book more enticing.

Eureka! You’re a great baker! Why don’t you put some free recipes together that coincide?

You slap the recipes online and sit back and wait just like you did before. Your numbers come from your publisher again. You STILL haven’t broken the 2,000 mark, and in fact, you’re going in the opposite direction because of all those  returns!!

Why is this happening?!

You check your recipe downloads. It’s pitiful. Clearly not helping. But how do you get people to  download your recipes?! And then how do you get them to buy your book! ARG! Now you have TWO things to promote!!!!

So now what? Maybe create a book trailer? Maybe a short story ebook? Maybe….

Maybe the problem isn’t with the things you’re creating, but with how you’re marketing those things.

Now I know I’m going to have people say that such-and-such an idea worked great for them. And yeah, these ideas can work! A list of recipes that coincide with your book could do amazingly well if you’ve already established your blog as a hub for foodies and home chefs. OR the recipe idea could work if it’s backed by a solid marketing plan … a strategy as to how you’ll push the content out into the world and in front of the people who would care about it.

I have cards on hand that I used to give away for my marketing ebook. I’d distribute them at conferences. It worked like a gem—a great reminder that my book existed. But the cards in and of themselves weren’t a big deal. The big deal was that I was at the conference, surrounded by the very people who comprised my target audience.

Bottom line: YOU HAVE ALREADY CREATED SOMETHING. You created your book. Now is the time to step out of the world of creation and into the world of relationships and networking. Get in front of the people who would typically read your book (and no, your author friends don’t count). Engage them. Befriend them. Let them know your book exists.

THAT is marketing. And THAT will sell your book.

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  • Bronwyn says:

    Such great advice. I think this is why it helps to make sure we are writing things that WE would want to read ourselves 🙂

  • Think of totally different ways to market your books that no one is using. I have 75 to 100 of my own techniques that have helped me sell over 900,000 of my books (mainly self-published). Also, buy John Kremer’s “1,000 Ways to Market Your Books.” And no, don’t get it out of the library just because it costs $35. If you don’t buy other people’s books, why should anyone buy yours?
    Recently John Kremer said on Facebook that he was looking for more ideas for the new edition of his book. So I sent him a few of my marketing techniques — which I didn’t think he would use. Surprisingly (to me), he did a blog post about some of them at the link below.

    Of course, sending him some of my marketing techniques was another marketing technique to get me publicity in the new edition
    of his book. As it turns out, I get publicity on his blog post too.

  • Thanks Amanda. My first book coming is coming out this spring, and I’m SO glad I invested in two conferences this year. Even though I haven’t made a penny! Yet.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Be sure the conferences are full of people that make up your target audience! My target audience is authors, so I can easily market my book at writer conferences. But for you, maybe your target audience is moms or romance readers or teachers. Whatever your audience, be sure to focus in on the conferences that appeal to them specifically.

  • Anne Hagan says:

    I’ve found writing multiple books to be effective. I’ve been working hard for the past year. I also have several planned for this year. Unfortunately, working on actually having multiple books to market and other commitments that are already set in stone for 2016 (and paid for), keep me from going to the big conferences in my genre that I really want to go to. My thinking is, I’m going to write, write and write some more this year, sell what I can here and there and put both the major conferences in my genre and at least one smaller one on my 2017 calendar. It’s not ideal but it’s what I have to work with.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Make sure they’re reader conferences! You won’t get any sales traction if they’re writer conferences 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    As someone who worked in marketing in a former life, those are very wise words, Amanda. All the gadgets and gizmos don’t work if you don’t.

  • Deborah Marino says:

    This is wonderful advice. Thanks, Amanda! It’s so great to see your posts again–but I’m glad you got to take a break!

  • Thanks, Amanda. I needed this advice! I was trying to think of how I could get in front of those people and then I realized, guest blogging might be the perfect way. So I’m going to work on that. Thanks so much!

  • kathrynjbain says:

    So true. You have to get out. One of my writer’s groups is setting up a table at a book festival. 8 hours of letting people know about your book(s). I’m the only willing to go. Blows me away.

  • Jackie Layton says:

    Great post Amanda!

  • Rick Barry says:

    All excellent points, Amanda. It’s even sadder to see a would-be author who doesn’t yet even have a manuscript but still spends oodles of time trying to drum up interest by tinkering with the website, upgrading to fancier business cards and doing all the peripherals of writing–but without doing the actual writing. The relationships and marketing tactics are crucial, but doing the writing is even more vital.

  • JJ Johnson says:

    Great reminder Amanda- I’ve heard several people say the same thing about Book trailers- That they don’t work well. On another note: It’s good to see “Thursday’s with Amanda” back after being absent for a bit. Enjoy your wisdom on this subject…

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep, book trailers are also just another “creation” that ends up needing to be promoted. So you end up with two things to promote! Your book and your trailer!
      Thanks for the welcome back.

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