Don’t fall for these 3 book promotion myths

There’s a frustrating amount of “myth”-information out there about book promotion.

I don’t know how the book promotion myths get started, but I do know that they spread pretty quickly.

Because I’m constantly educating authors about myth versus reality in author online discussion groups and in my courses, I thought it might help to share three of the most common myths here along with a nice dose of reality.

There are more than three of course, but these are fairly common.

Which one resonates with you?

Myth 1: You will succeed if you just copy what other authors are doing.

Your book marketing plan will be based on your book’s target audience — those people most likely to buy your book — and finding them where they hang out.

That’s why before you copy another author’s approach, you want to be certain that the author you’re copying:

  • Has the same target audience as yours
  • Is successful

Copying somebody with different readers is a waste of time. So is copying somebody who isn’t selling many books.

If, on the other hand, you write the same types of books and that author’s books are best-sellers, definitely study what she’s doing. But don’t copy anyone else just because it’s easier than figuring out what will work best for your book.

Learn as much as you can about who is most likely to buy your book, then learn which tactics you’ll need to get your title in front of those people.

Myth 2: It’s okay to wait until the book is published to start the marketing process.

boxesDon’t feel bad if you’ve done this.

The world won’t end if you didn’t think about the marketing process until after you uploaded your book to Amazon or accepted delivery of so many that you’re using the cartons as furniture.

To enjoy the most success and exposure for that wonderful book you’ve written, you want to start the marketing process early, though.

Learn exactly what you should be doing as soon as possible. Get help from “When should you start promoting your book” and “Book promotion timing: Implement these 9 strategies as soon as you’ve finished the first draft.”

Your goal is to make sure you have the right network and tools in place to sell books as soon as yours is available. Some people have the network and connections they need even before they start writing. Others need to work on it.

Give yourself plenty of time to build that foundation before your publication date.

Myth 3: If you aren’t using social media, you won’t sell books.

Did I just hear a collective sigh of relief?

Can social media help you sell books? Yes, if you use the right platforms and learn how to use them effectively. But there are so many other tactics you can use that are also quite effective.

The first step to selling enough books to do yourself proud is writing and producing a great book. (You’ll need a team of pros for that.)

The next step is figuring out who will love, buy, read, and recommend your book. They’re your ideal readers, your target audience. Learn as much as you can about them.

Once you have a great book and know who will appreciate it, get it into the hands of the right people. When they love it, they will recommend it to others.

Your fans will probably use social media to spread the word about your book. But you don’t have to be on Instagram, or Pinterest, or Twitter, or Facebook to make that happen. They do.

And don’t forget that many people (including me) recommend books to others in real world conversations, too — as do bookstore employees.

Social media is just one of the many resources available to you for book promotion. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking it’s the only one.

Take time to learn

As with everything else related to the book publishing industry, knowledge is power. Take the time to:

  • Learn as much as you can about book promotion long before your book is published.
  • Consider the source of the information you find rather than accepting what you’re seeing as fact.
  • Think before you do.

Book marketing isn’t hard, but you do have to know which tactics are the best for your book, and you need to know how to execute them.

Let’s bust a few more myths! What other book promotion myths are you seeing or wondering about?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2014. It has been updated and expanded.)

Tip of the Month

book promotion myths 2I like to share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

Today I’m recommending the “We Read Too” smartphone app available from the Apple app store and Google Play.

We Read Too is a directory of hundreds of picture, chapter, middle grade, and young adult books that feature main characters of color. All of the books are written by authors of color.

The app lets you:

  • Browse and search age group categories
  • View details about each book
  • Share the book to any social media network or add it to your Goodreads profile
  • Suggest titles to add to the directory

The app is free.

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


    1. Good point, Cari! I agree.

      I’ll add, though, that while most self-published authors don’t have a shot at critical reviews, they’re still an option for those who are traditionally published. (Not a guaranteed option, but an option….) For example, one of the novelists in my October Book Publicity 101 for Fiction course just snagged a fantastic review from Publisher’s Weekly for her book being released next month.

      One of the free tools in my new free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” download at http://buildbookbuzz.com helps authors generate those important reader reviews. And hey, congrats on the high scores from your reviews! That’s great!


  1. Hi Sandra,

    Thank you for this. I was recently hired by an author who has self-published one book. He was formerly partnered with a publisher but now handles everything himself (or I do). Libraries, wholesalers/distributors, booksellers, etc. now show the book as out of print. I have been applying to these but there is no marketing plan & I am trying to establish one now. We are behind the eight ball but I am trying to turn this around. We did a bunch of books to Scholastic and the author did a Ted talk but no cigar afterward. It’s an education graphic novel. Any suggestions? I really appreciate!

    1. Hey Magdalene,who’s the target audience for the book? Start there. My best guess, if it’s an educational graphic novel, is that it’s not people who watch Ted Talks, but I’d need to know more to be sure.


    1. Thanks for the feedback, Jennifer, particularly about focusing on 3 myths rather than 23 of them. That’s helpful to me.

      And hey, I LOVE your head shot. Adorable!


  2. Sandra I love your website. I’ve read so many of your articles in the past few weeks and I’m not even new in the business. My sister is a suspense author who has released 3 books and the fourth is on its way. I’m her publicist and what you’re mentioning on your blog is absolutely true. AS someone who is still actively seeking more readers I can especially relate to your comment about social media. If you keep limiting yourself to social media you won’t think of all the other options. I happened to me, and only now I’m really stepping away from that zone and looking at the world outside. Keep writing your blog!

    1. Thanks, Kate! From what I’ve seen, most authors put all their effort into social media, so you’re in good company. I’m glad you’re exploring other options. Your sister is lucky to have you on her team!


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