The 6 Marketing “Should Nots” No One Tells You

For the last four years I’ve had a front row seat to the book marketing process. I’ve seen best practices in action, I’ve launched books, I’ve discovered what works – and what doesn’t, and I’ve learned a ton about the industry. With all of that on-the-ground experience, you’d think I’d be a master promoter when it comes to my own self-published book… but you’d be wrong.

Of course I think the book is wonderful! I love the story and the illustrations, that our real-life postman is included in the plot, and that there’s a life lesson tied in. There’s so much I could say about this book, but I don’t – because I am self-conscious about over-the-top self-promotion.

I’m still a “work in progress” when it comes to promoting my own work, but I do have a few (hard earned) tips on how NOT to market yourself. These are things that turn me off, both as a promoter, and also as a potential customer. They are things I’ve been personally guilty of in the past, and things I’ve observed from my work online. They also apply to the sale and promotion of things other than books, so here we go…

6 Ways NOT to Market Your Book, Product, or Service

  1. Turn a personal Facebook account into a one-way, self-promoting megaphone. Despite what you might think, your friends do not love this. They will hide you from their feeds, and no matter what their initial reaction to your news, they will not be following everything you say with baited breath. They might even unfollow you. Take it easy.
  2. Personally reach out to every contact you have on LinkedIn to tell them about your book. Let’s be honest – some of your network here are connections of connections; they don’t even know you, nor do they care about the book you just published or the product you think they need. Don’t take advantage of those business contacts – honor their time, and save the private messages for thanking them when they choose to share your public updates.
  3. Casually mention your book (product/service) as soon as you meet someone. You’ve met these people, the ones who either have “author of the most amazing book you’ll ever read” in their email signature, or the ones who somehow manage to squeeze in, “Nice to meet you. You work at a hospital? I included a hospital scene in the book I wrote.” Don’t be that person. (One of my favorite comics, Brian Regan, calls them the “Me Monster.”)
  4. Ask people to leave you 5 star reviews. I know this might come as a shock, but your book (or my book!) may not actually be worth 5 stars. I’ve seen it from all sides. As a promoter, those 3 star reviews make me cringe; as an author, I’d be sad to see anything less than a 5 star review; but as a reader – I rarely leave 5 stars (a fact I’ve gotten into trouble for in the past). Strive to do your best work, but accept the fact that you won’t be 5 stars to all people, and move on.
  5. Fail to acknowledge those who support you in the journey. Let’s assume that through strategic asks and outreach you’ve created a community of people to promote your book or talk about your product, utilizing their social channels on your behalf. Don’t be the person who thinks you deserve to be talked about – acknowledge that people went out of their way for you. A bit of public gratitude can go a long way… and possibly get them to share again. Win-win.
  6. Expect people to buy your book. This was the hardest one for me to grasp. When my husband and I published our children’s book in 2010, I thought I had kept my expectations low, but in the end I was still disappointed in the response – or lack thereof. Friends didn’t rush out to buy it; those who had a platform to talk about it, didn’t; those who told us they loved it, didn’t review it. But you know what? It wasn’t their job to make our book a bestseller. Friends and online acquaintances are in no way required to buy, like, read, review, or promote you or your product, but if they do, remember to say thank you.

Bottom Line:  There’s a balance between letting your world know about your product and coming across as a self-promoting, “me monster” machine. 

Proceed with caution.