I originally wrote this blog post in January 2014 one year after I started publishing ebooks on Amazon, and before one of my titles got picked up by a traditional publisher and experienced a wider release. One of my titles (the one on divine healing) reached number one in Pentecostal Christian books the weekend I launched it when I got about 60 people in my tribe and email list to buy it on that same launch day. Meanwhile, I’ve launched other books of mine and nobody even knows I’ve written them.
I’ve had successes and failures.
I’ve followed what other people are doing and I’ve seen what works and doesn’t. I’ve thrown a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks in a manner of speaking. And sometimes actually thrown things at the wall.
People think I’m more successful than I really am, and have the illusion that $4.99 books with 70% royalties buy me my own yacht and beachfront property, even if I crack the top 20 best seller’s list in my niche frequently, which happens thanks to running ads on Amazon (an expense), and whenever I get a boatload of attention on social media thanks to high-profile influencers sharing the link with their audience.
It takes work, planning and strategizing.
And knowing how to market.
That being said, I thought I’d post some of my best advice on how to be mediocre at book promotion.
But Steve, why not be excellent or even successful?
Because an awful lot of authors are not. This is not an insult or a jab. It’s just if you search Google, everybody is writing how to be successful and achieve excellence even if they have not.
That’s boring red-water stuff where all the sharks are already circling around.
And too much work.
Why not be mediocre instead? I’m going for blue waters instead of where the sharks are eating up all the carcasses.
Nobody can teach you how to suck at marketing your book, it’s a gift caught and not taught. So let me help you with the following steps to under-performing book marketing.Nobody can teach you how to suck at marketing your book. It's a gift caught not taught.Click To Tweet
1) Wait until you have published your book before building a platform to promote it
I had a podcast and blog for years before I wrote or at least published my first Kindle book. I had a small audience to sell my book to. Some bought it and encouraged others to. But don’t let that make you think you need to build a platform. Just write your book and assume that you can build your platform after you’ve written it and get the same results.
Bonus inaction: go ahead and assume the number of your Facebook and Twitter friends are the same number of sales you’ll get on your book. Convince yourself EACH person is interested in what you wrote and will buy a copy “just because it’s your book”.
2) Believe your book’s content is SO GOOD, you won’t need to promote it
This is another thing I’ve been told in Skype conversations, strategy calls, email exchanges and have seen people say on messages boards and in Facebook groups. We all spend so much time writing and editing our work that in many ways it is a part of us. It can be hard to believe anything other than the book’s praises and good qualities that we just know the world needs to read it.
Why on earth would we need to do something so that the world even knows that it exists, when the content is just soooo good, it will promote and sell itself?
Bonus inaction: if you have been published traditionally, go ahead and assume your publisher will do all the work for you.
3) Relent and Convince Yourself That You Should Promote it, But Just Not Very Much
OK, so you’ve been persuaded on step number 2: IF you do cave in and start to promote your book, only share it on Twitter or Facebook, but only once and then be surprised that very few see it.
Bonus inaction: Don’t even bother checking the page insights on the Facebook page you probably didn’t create in order to see what times of day are prime times to post your links for optimized views. Just go ahead and randomly do it whenever you feel like it.
4) Believe That Spamming Every Facebook Community with a Link to Your Book is “promoting it”
OK, come to your senses some more and promote with a link more than just one time at 2 in the morning. Join EVERY group on Facebook, whether it relates to your book or not, and spam the heck out of those babies by posting the link to your work in each and every one of them.
Heck, get yourself banned from a few of them. This is the BEST way to be mediocre at promoting your book! It’s got to be, after all, since that’s what most indie authors are doing — all of them fishing from the same pond and posting it for other authors who are trying to sell their books.
Bonus action: start spamming people in those groups through individual private messages to go buy your book. Balk at them, telling them it’s “their loss” when they politely tell you they’re not interested or that they don’t understand why you messaged them, like this brilliant marketer.
I swear, you won’t look like this dog:
5) Believe That An Editor Is Not Necessary
I can’t keep track of how many self-published Kindle books I’ve read where authors believed it was a good idea to spend a ton of money on an excellent editor when they could have just done it themselves. Guy Kawasaki says that a self-edited book makes about as much sense as a self-medicated patient, but he clearly didn’t know how good an anesthesiologist you are. And I swear this has nothing to do with why I won’t do review swaps anymore.
Bonus action: Just put it through Grammarly.com and let it catch all the mistakes and bad grammar for you. Why hire someone when you can just use software for cheaper, or do nothing at all for FREE? Fewer expenses = higher profit margin. Duh.
6) Design Your Own Cover
No seriously. You got this!
You have “graphic arts skills”. After all, you’ve made your own header on your free WordPress.com blog or Blogspot. Not hard at all, was it!?
And besides, it’s MUCH cheaper than hiring someone to make one for you when they can’t make one that expresses exactly what’s in your mind when you visualize you want to express on your cover. I mean, cover designers can’t read minds, now can they? Only YOU know what you want.
Don’t believe what anybody tells you about how you can judge a book by its cover. Those people have not read the amazing self-edited content inside your book.
7) Convince Yourself that Branding is Not Necessary
Branding is just for arrogant and narcissistic overachievers. I mean really, who “brands themselves” anyway? In fact, don’t bother doing anything to stand out from the crowd or make your works differentiate you from other authors in your niche or circle of the internet. Your audience will just find you and figure it out for themselves.
It’s OK to blend in with the crowd in an over-saturated market in your highly competitive niche.
BTW that cover you designed yourself in Canva or got someone cheap on Fiverr to design for you is totally boss and NOT the reason people skip over your book when they see it on Amazon.
8) Don’t Network with Other Authors in your Niche
Who needs ’em? They’re your competition! I mean, if their readers buy your book, then that just means you’ll lose your audience to their book, as well. What good is that?
Bonus inaction: just go it alone. Don’t bother guest blogging or doing anything that would be free promotion elsewhere on the internet. Reject all podcast and Facebook Live invitations, while you’re at it.
9) Don’t Bother Having a Target Audience — Just Scatter Shoot it
Be a “jack of all trades” author and assume it doesn’t matter which category you put your book in on Amazon, after all, it’s going to be number 1 anyway! Finding your niche and playing to your strengths within that niche? Psha!
By the way, what the heck is a niche anyway? Is that something you eat? If it’s related to writing, then it sounds like something for overachievers who over-think these things.
People who go to Amazon with a specific idea or subject in mind when they search just don’t know yet that it’s your book they’re after. Even if you have not really made clear why they should buy or at least read your book even if they didn’t buy it.
10) Convince Yourself That Giving Your Book Away Free is a DUMB Idea — Only Sell it.
Why on earth would an author give away thousands of copies of their book for free? That will eat into the profits! Why would they give away that many copies when they could keep all $54 of the profits they’d make selling a few copies?
No, giving away a lot of copies of your book is the stupidest thing you could possibly do. “Exposure” is overrated. Stick to the mediocre sales and you’ll be on your way to the hardly-ever-heard-of author in no time. Real writers sell their books. It’s proof that you’ve made it as an author, not giving it away for free!
I thought of these since originally posting this article and hopping on quite a few strategy session calls with authors at various stages of the game who believe some of the things in this list.
11) Absolutely Refuse to Spend any Money on Advertising
After all, if you need to spend any money, you’re buying sales. And that’s fake!
No, you got this. Just throw it out there and expect sales to roll in. Why spend money on ads and only make double and triple that investment back. Are you crazy? I could have a 100% profit margin, albeit in smaller amounts, if I spend nothing on advertising and promoting the book.
Bonus inaction: complain bitterly about how other people who do this are selling a lot of copies of their books. Tell yourself they’re just lucky or they’re “marketers who know how to buy sales.”
12) Don’t Bother Writing Compelling Ad Copy on Your Amazon Page for the Book
Look, “hooks”, pain points, desires, “what’s in it for the reader”, those are all things those marketing losers worry about. Just write a bland generic synopsis of the book. You don’t need to worry about capturing anybody’s attention in 30 seconds. Just do what all the other bottom-feeding indie authors do who write their own blurbs: write a summary that really only means something to you. Don’t bother using this space to draw people in.
13) Do the audiobook yourself, even if you suck at it!
Seriously! Not only will you save scads of money instead of wasting it on a pro, you’ll also get to give yourself a crash course in using recording software and equipment that you’ve always wanted to, but never got around to until now! I mean, you’ve already done the cover and editing yourself. Why not do ONE more thing yourself that you’ve got no experience or expertise in.
14) And, post in your promo for the book itself how you’re aware your audiobook sucks!
Nothing tells your potential readers/listeners they can have confidence in the quality of your work like putting in the sales copy “I know this product sucks!”
If you want to be a best-selling author, follow none of these steps above, despite how common they are among indie authors.
If on the other hand, you want to be average or mediocre, then by all means, follow my advice outlined in this post. It WILL work for you.
Happy book promoting!