Four Momentum-Killing Mistakes Authors Should Avoid

There’s nothing more exciting than finally being at the point where you can launch your incredibly amazing, brand-spanking-new book. You’ve put so much time and effort into this project, and now you’re going to see things really take off.

Right…?

The truth is, launching your book isn’t a cakewalk - in fact, the work you put in after your launch is every bit as important as the work that came before. And the last thing you want to do is stop the momentum before it even gets going. Here are a few mistakes that might be killing your progress, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: You have an unclear target audience

Of course, it’s natural to want to spread the word about your product to every single person you can reach. The more awareness, the more sales, right? But a lot of times, this just ends up wasting time and money. If you’ve written a self-help book for young entrepreneurs and you’re advertising on platforms that cater primarily to middle-aged parents, you won’t be seeing as many sales as you might hope. By spreading your resources and your time too thin, the audience that is most interested in what you’re selling might not hear about you until it’s too late.

A good way to avoid this mistake is to plan ahead and determine a) who your target audience is, b) where they spend their time (i.e. what online platforms they visit, places they might hear about your book, if word-of-mouth will influence their choices, etc.) and c) the most effective way for you to reach them.

For example, if you’ve written a cookbook filled with healthy recipes that are easy to prepare, you probably want to focus your advertising efforts on stay-at-home parents, since they are a very large audience and are always looking for ways to help their families eat well in the midst of a busy lifestyle. Stay-at-home parents often visit blogs, Pinterest, and the grocery store, so look into options for getting your name spread in these places. Don’t try to cover too many bases at once - just make sure the bases you are covering are relevant and accessible to your target audience.

Mistake #2: You’re over-saturating your social media platforms with launch content

It’s tempting to post every single day about your new book once it’s time to launch. The cover is gorgeous, the blurbs are winsome, and you want to show the world what you’ve got to offer. However, we all know how annoying it is when someone overshares on Facebook; who wants to see 38 individual posts about what your coworker had for breakfast?

It’s the same with books (although, books are decidedly more interesting than breakfast choices). Seeing a few posts throughout the week will keep people interested and will ensure that your audience is aware of your launch - seeing 4 posts a day, on the other hand, will eventually start to annoy your followers, and might have the opposite of the desired effect.

Keep it simple: don’t post more than you need to. Does your audience really need to see a multi-paragraph Instagram post about the title font of your book? Probably not. Think about what things your audience would actually want to know about your project, and favor fewer, better-quality posts over excessive, low-quality posts.

Mistake #3: You’re prioritizing ads over people

While it’s true that a good chunk of marketing happens through ads and the “website algorithm beast”, sometimes authors get caught up in the online formula and forget the importance of real people. Word-of-mouth is one of your best friends when it comes to selling people on your book - and yes, the difference between selling people your book and selling people on your book matters. Any vendor can sell a book, but it takes an author who forms and nurtures relationships with their friends and buyers to really make them believe in the book.

One person who read and enjoyed your book can be more effective than a dozen costly online ads, if they decide to share their love for it with their friends and family. Given time, you might find yourself with a whole network of people who recommend your writing to others for free, simply because you took the time to reach out and connect with them personally about your project.

In other words, don’t fall down the algorithm hole and then wonder why you’re only receiving a handful of reviews or comments about your work. Remember that books are bought by people, and people are who you want to impact most, during all stages of the launching process.

Mistake #4: You’re taking shortcuts

Ah, shortcuts. Those ever-enticing sirens who sing of “cheap” and “easy” ways to sell your book. Some shortcuts are worthwhile, but most of them will only serve to stab you in the back.

Some of the more notorious shortcuts are skimping on the editing, spamming your email subscribers instead of taking the time to plan and schedule your emails, and not serving refreshments at book launches. These might save you time or money in the moment, but in the long run they’re going to hurt your success more than bolster it. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.

Making mistakes is inevitable, and it can be scary to go all in without knowing how things will turn out. But book publishing is a learning process, and as long as you keep moving forward and being thorough in your endeavors, you’ll become more and more skilled at launching your books, and the effort will pay off!

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