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Five Marketing Mistakes I Made Self-Publishing My First Book

Like so many writers I often find myself at odds with the art of marketing. Since publishing my first book two months ago I made at least five marketing mistakes. If you’re thinking of (self) publishing a book, these might be of interest to you:

1. Waiting.

It took me 30 years to summon the courage to start a blog. I was already somewhat good at writing at 20. That’s 10 years of list building that didn’t happen.

When my blog gave me the idea for my book, I essentially gave up on blogging to ‘make time’ for writing my novel. Isn’t that what writers do in movies after all? They retreat to an exotic location to work on their masterpiece, don’t they?

Anyone with experience in publishing will tell you writing is the easy part. Writers seclude themselves. Authors connect with people. And connecting with people takes confidence I lacked the first 30 years of my life.

Lesson learned: Confidence is a decision.

2. Being hasty.

After revising my book eight times I hit Publish on Amazon. I managed to sell some copies to a few bloggers that still remembered me. I was confident they would enjoy my 576 page diary novel. Some apparently did, but the general opinion was that it needed an editor. Badly. And that it needed to be shorter. Also badly.

It takes distance to read your own material objectively. Mine turned out to be an oasis of typos, clumsy grammar and endless pages of 'plotlessness'.

Lesson learned: Confidence is not always rooted in reality

3. Connecting with people in the wrong place

The first review my book received was a one-star review.

It was an unpleasant start of my career as an author, but upon closer inspection of my book I came to realize my first reviewer had a point in saying my book needed an editor.

So I decided to write a funny acceptance speech in the comment section of her review. I ended up doing the same with four other reviews, which ranged from two stars to five.

I had read on this forum how the comment section is a good way to discuss the book’s progress for the world to see, so that’s what I did. I initiated a dialogue about my book’s progress. It got zero response.

It would be awkward if an actor came up to you insisting a dialogue about your opinion of his latest film. The same goes for authors. Writers write in the comment section. Authors let the comment section be.

Lesson learned: You're in a dialogue with your audience. Know when to listen.

4. Connecting with the wrong people in the right place

Forums, comment sections, the blogosphere and social media have all been very helpful to me. I managed to strike up a small following of people interested in the subject matter of my book.

Until I realized that Subject matter ≠ Target audience.

At least not necessarily in the case of a fiction novel.

My book is a fictional tale set in a real world country. I spent time letting people know how much of an expert I am on my subject, neglecting the tale. Only when I started adding content about subjects that interest me as a person did I start to make some small but valuable connections. Marketing a book means marketing myself and the story I want to tell, not the background it takes place in.

Lesson learned: Confidence needs aim.

5. Assuming the quality of my book would be a factor

Knowing how many famous writers faced many rejections in their lifetime, I figured it might just be a matter of time before my book would land under the eyes of the right publisher.

While the quality of my book will no doubt be a factor in its eventual success, quality is like fuel lacking a flame. It takes an audience for publishers to take note.

Regardless of my unnecessary responses to my reviews, all of those reviews have been incredibly helpful to me. They helped me create an infinitely better book.

Those writers we see in movies tend to craft their classics in isolation. My reality is that my book didn’t start to shine until my audience became involved.

Lesson learned: I takes your audience to build your book.

Bonus mistake:

Doubt

Despite what you might think after reading about my mistakes, marketing is a lot of fun for me, in part because of the mistakes. I find the only thing holding me back sometimes is doubt.

There are millions of books on Amazon.

It’s easy feeling small when you are.

Lesson learned: Confidence is the best decision

Hopefully my mistakes will be as helpful to you as they have been to me. I for one am glad I made them.

Maybe you have experience with marketing hick-ups as well; share in the comments section. Or maybe you think writing a post about my mistakes is a mistake.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lennard van Ree Originally a therapist, Lennard van Ree ventured into music composition and script writing and even wore a suit and tie as an HR manager for a while before becoming a full-time writer.

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