Wednesday, December 16, 2009

10 Marketing Excuses That Can Kill Your Book and Career

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Here are excuses many authors use not to promote, killers all. Each includes advice that will help a writer salvage his book and career from wrong thinking.

 "My book is doing well enough. My career is on an upturn. I can easily take a year off from promoting to write."
Advice: Cut back if you must but slot in some time to keep the efforts you've already made at least at a simmer.

 "I hear everyone is cutting back on promotion so why shouldn't I?"
Advice: Didn't your mother ever ask you, "If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?" Look at those authors. If they're selling lots of books, it's because somebody (their publisher, bookstores, their publicists) is promoting them. I'll bet, though, that most of the authors saying this aren't selling very many. Look at your situation. If you don't do it, who will do it for you?

 "I like Carolyn's Frugal Book Promoter ( idea so I'm going to only do things that cost no money at all."
Advice: Hey! Frugal is one thing. Cheap is another. Some of the best things you can do cost some money. An example is American Booksellers Association Advance Access program. Find it at Careful though. Always weigh the "rightness" of any program for your particular book.

 "I'm gong to examine everything I'm doing and only continue what I can prove is working."
Advice: You may not be able to prove much, if anything. That's not the way marketing works. Judge how well your entire campaign is going only after you have given it plenty of time to work. If one thing is working well, maybe it is because your title or name is being seen elsewhere. Balance your campaign, yes. Try new things, yes. Cut back on a few only if you must. Keep in mind that book sales are not necessarily the most valid way to evaluate your promotion.

 "Nothing I've tried works. I'm giving up."
Advice. You may be on the brink. Or maybe you've been giving up on each aspect of your campaign too early. Any marketing plan must be many-pronged, frequent and long-term.

 "If I cut back on promotion and find my sales slipping, I can always gear up again."
Advice: Yikes! Good publicity and promotion build. It's like skipping rocks on a pond. With each stone, ripples wave out, out, out. Eventually, after you've skipped lots and lots of stones, the results start coming back to you in waves. If you stop whipping those stones into the water, the results dissipate. It will take a long time to get enough stones dancing across the water again to match what you've done and, once you lose momentum, you may never get it back.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, (, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success ( and an Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less."  Follow her writing tips on Twitter @FrugalBookPromo.


  1. One excuse/reason you didn't mention: I'm so busy publishing and promoting other people's books so don't have time to promote my own.

    That's my problem.

  2. I like this helpful information. I probably should by one of the books. Great info. Thanks.

  3. Ha! Vivian, that's what you get for being so good hearted (and talented) to promote and publish others' books! And Kristi, I'm pretty sure you'd benefit from either or both books. I am so blessed. So many people write to tell me how they've helped.


  4. Hey Carolyn,

    Great advice...some of us writers are shy, don't like getting out there, or just want the book to sell itself. By constantly pushing ourselves the journey gets easier and easier, although you wonder when is enough enough...

    I'm learning that promotion is a 24/7 365 job...and I thought the writing was the hard part. Now I look forward to "just writing."

    Thanks for keeping us on the straight and narrow...and letting me know we are all in the same boat!

    Philip Nork
    author of Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male

  5. Thanks for the great tips, Carolyn!

  6. Loved the post, Carolyn, and will link it to some of my blog postings for writers to refer to over and over again.

  7. Thanks to all of you for coming by. Phil, I think we all share that feeling. Balance isn't alway an easy thing to arrive at. (-:

    And thank you, Lea. Great cross promotion! (-:

  8. Excellent article, Carolyn. I have to admit that I haven't done everything in your "Frugal" book, but am working on it. It's hard to know how much to do prior to the release of one's book.

  9. Great artice, Carolyn. I love #2 about Johnny jumping off the bridge.

    I've been there at the nothing is working spot and realize you just have to trudge on through. Also, taking a moment to evaluate your strategies.


  10. To Kingdom Expansion,

    Thanks for the comment, but it would have been better with out the business plug.


  11. These are all great things to think about and a good reminder that authors are the keepers of their own success relating to their book.

  12. I probably should by one of the books. Great info. Thanks.

    Work from home India


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