The more I work with authors to help them understand the ins and outs of online book marketing, the more I realize that there are five basic and fundamental mistakes that 9 out of 10 authors consistently make.
If you don’t fall victim to these five book marketing fiascoes, you’ll be ahead of the pack…way ahead. So, here are five things to avoid when marketing your books online:
1. Inadequate Keyword Research
This is the #1 big kahuna and the place where 99% of authors quite simply stuff it up. Most of the authors I work with have had little to no success marketing themselves and their books online because they’re not thinking the way Internet marketers think — they have no systematic plan for finding, targeting and ultimately dominating a list of keywords and phrases related to their book or expertise.
In order to have success online, you need to familiarize yourself with the concept of long-tail keywords; to understand how to analyze your competition; and how to know, with almost certainty, how much traffic a particular keyword gets.
Thankfully there are tools out there that do all three. You can find them at the links at the end of this article. Be sure to check them out.
2. Thin Content
Surprisingly, even prolific authors with many books to their credit — gifted writers who can write volumes on their area of expertise — somehow think that they can skate by online with just a couple pages (or even paragraphs!) of content.
Here’s the deal: Google and the other search engines LOVE content-rich sites. This is why behemoths like Wikipedia get so much traffic. They have millions of pages in Google’s index. How many pages from your site does Google know or care about? My guess is it’s probably between two and five.
You’ll never rank well for anything other than your name with that kind of site. Bottom line: don’t think you can shortchange people online. If you want your site found, and you want potential readers to care about your book, demonstrate why they should by providing great free content upfront.
3. Ignoring Social Marketing and Web 2.0
If you haven’t noticed, the Internet is changing. In just the past couple of years, sites like Facebook, Digg, YouTube, and EzineArticles.com, along with services such as Twitter, have completely changed the way people interact online.
Gone is the top-down approach of “yesterday’s” media, which is quickly being replaced by a bottom-up system where real people, not editors, decide what’s hot and what’s not.
If you’re not using the sites mentioned above, along with about 100 others that can help you sell more books, you’re missing the biggest sea change in online marketing that you’ve ever seen. (See the links below for resources that will help you identify dozens of sites where you should be marketing your books.)
4. Failing to Build a Base of Support
It’s amazing how many authors don’t take advantage of the most powerful online marketing tool there is — the ability to build a base of support and loyal fans through things like mailing lists, or “followers” on Twitter, or subscribers to an RSS feed, or any number of other methods that traditional Internet marketers simply take for granted.
Here’s why this is so important: it’s infinitely easier to sell to people who already know, like and trust you than it is to sell to people who have no idea who you are.
If someone buys one of your books, they’re an ideal customer for your second, third, and fourth books. But if you have no way to reach the people who bought your first book, you’re going to have to go through the entire “customer-acquisition” process each and every time for every new book.
Wouldn’t it be easier to write a couple emails and send them to your fans? Or to simply put a post up on your blog with a new book announcement? This is the way authors build empires.
5. Trying to Sell Your Book
What? That’s a mistake? But isn’t that the point? Yes and no. I’d argue that by focusing on selling your book to the exclusion of everything else (see point #4 above), too many authors actually miss out on the long-term benefits of generating a loyal following online — the kind of following that buys hundreds of thousands of books.
What’s better, selling one or two books a day now, or selling thousands of books a day a year from now? Stop struggling. Start building information empires the way the most successful Internet marketers do. Stop trying to sell a book or two here and there. Start focusing on getting great content out to the people who need your book.
Sales (like you’ve never experienced before!) will inevitably follow.