Book marketing overwhelm: How to avoid being crushed

It's easy to see why so many authors suffer from book marketing overwhelm. There's so much to do! Here's how to avoid it and still succeed.

Raise your hand if you really want to stop thinking about book marketing and just write your next book.

I don’t even have to see you to know lots of hands are in the air.

You could be suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis book marketing overwhelm.

You’ve learned that it’s not enough to just write a book. If you want people to read it, you have to tell them about it.

And getting your book title in front of the right people takes time, knowledge, and effort.

Why you experience book marketing overwhelm

There’s so, so much you “should” be doing to promote your book (or so gurus, promoters, and other authors tell you …).

Are you feeling pressure to use TikTok? (I sure am.)

And don’t forget about Instagram! Oh, right, there’s Facebook, too!

What about those new social networks popping up — you’ll have to figure out how to use all of them effectively too, right?

Build an email list! Email marketing is where it’s at!

You have to get publicity in the news media!

Get out there with a virtual book tour!

Reader reviews! Get them! Then get more of them!

Be a podcast guest! How about creating and hosting your own podcast, too!

Create videos! People love watching videos!

Blog, blog, blog! Then write guest blog posts for others, too. Might as well blog on Medium, as well.

And this is just a start. There’s so much you “need” to do to promote your book.

Or is there?

Do you really need to be doing all of this? Do you need to do any of it? Can you do just some of it?

Pick just one …

Here’s an unexpected idea: How about picking just one tactic and mastering it?

Does that sound more appealing?

What’s that tactic, though?

… but which one?

Determine the single tactic you’ll master by spending a little time upfront learning which of the many options appears to be a good fit for:

  • Where you will find the people who are most likely to read your book
  • The time you have available for marketing
  • Your skills
  • Your personality
  • What you enjoy doing

Find the intersection of where you’ll find your readers and what you enjoy doing and are good at.

It’s that simple.

If you’re shy, you don’t need to master public speaking simply because it’s a good way to reach your audience. 

Is writing your thing? (It’s definitely mine.) Building an email list and creating a newsletter for your readers makes sense. So does blogging and guest blogging.

If you love creating short YouTube videos for your young adult readers, figure out TikTok and share them there, too.

Master that single tactic

Then, when you identify that one tactic that puts you at the sweet spot where you’ll reach the right people doing something you enjoy, learn how to do it really well.

Learn how to do it better than anyone else.

Later, if you feel you can take on a second tactic, repeat this process. Learn how to use it effectively, then make things happen.

When you focus on a tactic you understand and enjoy, you’ll start to look forward to connecting with your audience in ways that support your overall author goals, not dreading it.

Permission to avoid book marketing overwhelm

Give yourself permission to find this focus so you avoid book marketing overwhelm.

Limiting yourself to one or two tactics while tuning out the rest (no matter what you hear from others) is liberating.

It will help put you in the mindset to write that next book while freeing up time for that project, as well.

And you’ve done it all while avoiding book marketing overwhelm.

What do you think of this idea? Would you like to master just one book marketing tactic, not all of them? Let us know in a comment. 

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2015. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. The best thing I did was to get my website going and develop a habit of posting, Facebook, and Twitter before (now almost 3 years before!) having a novel published. It would be just too much to try to get on top of all of that at once! I like the idea of figuring out one new thing and doing it very well. I can branch out from there, if I have to. Thanks, Sandy!

    1. That’s the right way to do it, Vicki. That way you’re building a platform before you need it — you’ll have a fan base waiting for that first mystery (which I can’t wait to read!).


  2. The information is very well pointed and important for people to understand. Because I made the decision to focus on writing, I am much happier.

    Having said that, I need to add that marketing has always been a pet peeve of mine. In some cases I will be using companies like Iuniverse but add additional marketing to what they provide.

    1. Many people don’t enjoy the marketing process, Merlin, but you can’t ignore it completely. I hope you find a rhythm that works for you.


  3. Sandy,

    Thanks for the encouraging message. I agree authors need to keep learning but to take action. Recently I wrote about When An Event Fails Your Expectations. I tell about meeting the executive director of that library and asking for name of the person who adds books to their collections. I sent that person a book yesterday and heard today they received it and were adding it to their collection. There is always a way to make good things happen.


    1. Thanks for that link, Terry. I love that you made lemonade out of that big lemon — that’s a great reminder for all of us to do the same when things don’t go as hoped or expected.

      And thanks for taking the time to comment. We always learn something from you!


  4. My “druthers” would be to concentrate on the blog on my website and write something interesting, and have lots of guest bloggers, at least once a week. But I can’t seem to hit on the secret for getting traffic to the site. I did recently have a wonderful consultation-provided by my publisher-with a professional marketer who had a few excellent and concrete suggestions: categorized posts; use guest bloggers; choose focused and practical topics; pull occasional past blogs up to the front with new intros. But I still am not quite “getting it.” It’s a wonderful website. I just need to learn how to use it. The social media are sometimes fun and I’ve worked them like crazy but they’re just too much to keep up with, postings zip past and are gone, memories are short, and I don’t think they’ve had a bit of impact on book sales. The other thing is reviews on amazon and goodreads. Even friends and family members, with all good intentions, often just don’t get around to actually doing them.

    1. Blog traffic is a slow build, Dean, which makes it frustrating. Plus, you need to be writing things that people want to read — that’s easier for some than for others. Have you talked to any of your target book readers about what would interest them? Are you sharing links to each post on the social networks that your target audience uses?


      1. Good morning, Sandy,
        Thank you for the suggestions. Here’s where I am with the blog. After talking with a marketing consultant I’m trying to do two things: post every week, same day, predictably, and vary both topics and, I hope, guest bloggers. I do link all those posts to the social media I use–FB, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. I’ll just keep at it, I guess, trying to improve the product itself and also trying to hook up with friends and acquaintances who have websites and are willing to share contacts. If you can think of anything else, I’d love to hear it. I can do the choosing of topics, hustling of guests, and the writing. The selling just escapes me.

        1. Dean, if you aren’t writing what people want to read, or if your social media posts aren’t written in a way that makes people think, “I need to read that,” then it will always be a struggle. Checking Google Analytics to see what posts have generated the most traffic, then writing more of those types of posts, might help.

          Also, nudge nudge NUDGE your guest bloggers to share the link to their post with their networks. Many forget to do that, so you need to ask.

          Good luck. I know it isn’t easy, but it sounds like you have faith in your product, and that’s important.


  5. Hi Sandy,

    I appreciated this post, esp. with my debut novel coming out soon. I’d much rather speak w/a group and connect face-to-face than do ANYTHING online, but I have been working on my blog.

    So I hope those two combined will do the trick –probably not realistic, but since when are writers realistic? LOL

    1. Sounds smart, Gail! Just make sure you share links to your blog posts on social media so that people know you’ve got great content there and come back for more. I’m glad you like the face-to-face stuff — so many don’t!


  6. Comments on this post are from 8 years ago. I think the post is still relevant, but a lot has happened with social media since 2015. At the moment, I’m trying to decide between focusing on the blog on my website vs. my Substack. Content would be the same or similar. I’d like to point readers/followers one direction or the other. I’m wondering if you have suggestions. Thanks.

    1. Janice, I noted at the bottom of the post that I updated and expanded the article. I don’t remove old comments (relevant or not) when I revise and refresh content.

      About Substack vs your own blog…I’m working on a blog post on this topic, so I love your timing! I’ll tell you what I told one of my book marketing coaching clients 2 months ago: Why do you want to send all the traffic your content will generate to Substack and not your own site? One of the best reasons to blog is for SEO. It generates the relevant keywords your audience will use to find your site. Site traffic can pay off in many, many ways (but I’ll skip that topic for now). Moving your blog (which is what you’ll be doing) to Substack will hurt your SEO. Yes, your current content will stay on your site and help. But search engines like sites that continue to add content. You’ll lose that advantage.

      I hope that helps!


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