What Not To Do When Promoting Your Book (And What To Do Instead)

We’ve all been there. Your great new novel is coming out and you want to tell as many people as possible about it. However, if you do it wrong, you not only risk alienating potential customers, you risk becoming labeled as a spammer. So here are a few tips you might find useful:

Don’t post about your book on people’s personal Facebook walls.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a fellow author, former reader or work acquaintance. You wouldn’t want people plastering ads on your personal space, so why do you think it’s acceptable to do it to somebody else? Posting ads in this way is a huge no-no. Not only will the recipient not want to buy your book, they will more than likely tell others not to either.

What to do instead: Join a Facebook group dedicated to promoting books in your genre. There you can freely post your ad without interrupting anybody’s personal life. Don’t spam, though. Once is enough. Maybe once more when your book is actually released.

Don’t mass e-mail your address book about your novel.

You may have a list of friends you’ve built up over time, but it’s not appropriate to send promotional material to their e-mail address unless they specifically request it. Mass mailing will your get your email account blacklisted as a spammer.

What to do instead: Start a mailing list. When people sign up, you can send them a newsletter at regular intervals or when you have a new release. These people have consented to receiving your e-mail and will be more likely to read it. You can even run newsletter-only giveaways to reward your regular readers and promote your mailing list.

Don’t harass reviewers on review sites to read your book.

Reviewers are busy. Most will try to respond to your request for a review but they have no obligation to read and review your novel, or even answer your request. If you don’t get a response within a few weeks, assume the reviewer is not interested and move on. Don’t send them an angry email demanding to know why your book hasn’t been reviewed. Reviewers get thousands of requests and probably won’t even know who you are.

What to do instead: Post on an appropriate group or message board that you would be willing to give away free copies of your e-book in exchange for honest reviews. Or try submitting your book to smaller, less known review sites that are likely to receive fewer requests.

Don’t message people on Goodreads with a promo, or recommend your own book to them.

This is similar to the Facebook rule. A Goodreads account is somebody’s private space. Don’t violate or abuse it.

What to do instead: List a Goodreads giveaway. Giveaway entrants often add the book to their to-read shelf, and their friends will be able to see that they have done so, promoting both your giveaway and your book without being obnoxious.

Don’t complain about bad reviews or attack the reviewers who write them.

Not strictly promotion-related, but commenting on reviews can become a PR disaster. You would think this would be obvious, but the Internet is full of horror stories about authors behaving badly, stalking and harassing reviewers who dared to give a review of less than three stars. Of course it hurts, your book is your baby and somebody just told you it’s ugly. However, acting like this is unacceptable, unprofessional behavior that will make serious readers and fellow authors roll their eyes while adding your books to their not interested list.

What to do instead: If you can’t take the criticism, it’s best to avoid reading the reviews in the first place. If you absolutely can’t do that, suck it up like an adult. Once you get through the pain you might understand that they have a point. Or maybe they just hate your book, your writing style and your characters. Either way, get over it and move on. Not everybody is going to like every book, and they’re entitled to their opinion. Books are like food. Everybody has different tastes, and one person’s favorite food is no doubt repulsive to someone else.

Don’t pay people or enlist family members to write good reviews for your book.

It’s pretty obvious that somebody’s cheating when their completely unknown novel has half a dozen glowing but oddly vague reviews on Amazon. It’s fine to have family members comment on your book privately but just downright embarrassing to have your mom claim your book is so good it deserves six out of five stars. There’s nothing wrong with having an empty review page for a while until people have read your book and decided to comment on it.

What to do instead: Submit your novel to review sites so professional reviewers can take a look at it. These respected reviewers will garner more sales for your book than a review from Joe Average ever could. They will often cross-post their review to Goodreads as well so it affects your rating there.

If you have any ideas about things that should be added to the list, leave a comment! Is there any behavior you just can’t abhor from authors? What kind of promotions make you interested in trying a book?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>