From the desk of Kara Leigh Miller
Four Things Not to Do When Promoting Your Book
There’s lots of advice out there telling you how to effectively promote your book, what works, places you can advertise, etc., but I’ve noticed there’s a lack of advice on what not to do—pitfalls that will, in the long run, cause more harm than good. So, today I’m going to give you some tips on things you shouldn’t do when promoting your book.
- Add people to your newsletter without their permission. This is a big no-no, and it’s also illegal per the CAN-SPAM Act (https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business). If someone doesn’t explicitly give you permission to add them to a mailing list, don’t add them. And definitely don’t go to your email contact list and import all your email addresses. Doing so will undoubtedly cause hard feelings. Not to mention, it defeats the entire purpose of a mailing list — a newsletter is a direct line of communication with readers who want to hear about you and your books. Why add someone who doesn’t want what you’re selling? They’ll simply unsubscribe, and now you’ve wasted their time and yours. Not to mention, you’ve now made a bad professional impression on said person, which could prevent them from ever buying your book(s). Instead, offer people something in return for subscribing — a free book, exclusive content, book recommendations, writing advice, etc.
- Spam Facebook Groups. A simple search on Facebook for reader groups will return a lot of results, most of them geared specifically toward a certain genre. Great, right? Sure. You can join and interact with readers, which is always a good thing. But don’t join a bunch of groups, make a “buy my book” post, and then leave. And especially don’t do this in multiple groups at a time. Not only will this get you thrown in “Facebook jail” for spamming, your followers will get tired of seeing the same posts over and over. You risk losing friends and followers. If you take time to look at other posts in groups that do this, you’ll notice very little to no interaction — mass posting like this simply doesn’t sell books. Instead, join a select few groups and become a genuinely active member, and when the opportunity presents itself, talk about your book in an organic way.
- Swap and/or Pay for Reviews. Getting readers to leave reviews is hard, and the persistent emphasis on getting as many reviews as possible doesn’t help. So, authors will try to find ways to get more reviews, such as paying people to review, offering incentives like prizes or gifts, and/or swapping reviews with other authors (they read and review your book in exchange for you doing the same for them). But did you know that all of these actions are against Amazon’s Terms of Service? (https://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-review-guidelines-faqs-from-authors) If Amazon finds out you’re doing this, they can remove the review, prohibit your ability to leave reviews, and even in extreme circumstances, close your account completely. Is that worth the risk? Instead, offer free review copies (which is allowed), utilize blog tours that organize reviews on your behalf, and just ask people on social media to kindly leave a review once they’ve read your book.
- Send Private Messages. When you gain a new follower or friend, do not immediately send them a private message and try to sell them your book. This is the quickest way to get yourself blocked or unfriended and guarantee a lost sale. Instead, engage in meaningful contact with the person. Let them get to know you as a person, and in the natural course of talking about your book online, your new friend / follower will see it and if interested, buy your book or ask you about it.
As an author myself, I understand it can be tempting to try anything and everything to see what works, but I urge you to consider what you’re doing and what sort of impression you’re making with your efforts. Remember: readers are more likely to buy something from someone they like, so be genuine in your online communications.
What has or hasn’t worked for you while promoting your books? Share in the comments!