I hear it all the time. Authors complain that they're fed up with book promotion. They want to spend their time writing and not marketing their books.
In many cases you can cut down on marketing time significantly. All you have to do is stop making some common book marketing mistakes, doing things to help your book sales when in fact you might be hurting them.
Here are three ways authors often waste time thanks to bad book marketing.
1. Spamming Your Social Network
Social media can be a wonderful part of your book marketing strategy. But it's also a notorious time-suck. It's vital that you spend your social networking time effectively rather than wasting time on tactics that won't help you (and can even hurt you) over the long run.
If your idea of social media marketing is to constantly post links for people to buy your book, spend all of your time talking up your latest title, or endlessly sharing every nice comment anyone has ever said about your work, you aren't marketing. You're spamming. You aren't adding any value to members of your social network.
Instead focus on more effective social networking. Give back. Promote others. Share things that benefits your readers more than yourself. The idea is to turn your followers into true fans -- the type of people who keep coming back for more and who aggressively promote your book for you. That's the real value in social media marketing -- building a fan base that cares enough to keep spreading the word. The more your fans do that for you, the less time you have to invest in doing it yourself.
2. Marketing to Writers Before Readers
Another common mistake I see authors make is to focus their book marketing efforts on other authors rather than their ideal readers. This is often reflected in author blogs, blog commenting, and even social networking.
If you're spending most of your marketing time writing for, or talking to, other authors, you're wasting a lot of time. While there is nothing wrong with networking with colleagues and even running cross-promotions, it shouldn't take away from reader-focused marketing. Unless you're trying to sell books about writing to writers, those two groups aren't the same.
3. Drowning in DIY Book Marketing Mishaps
A surefire way to waste your time and hold back your marketing efforts is to try to do too much yourself. Yes, I know it can be expensive to hire pros. But if you can't yet afford to publish your book well, then you can't yet afford to publish. Rushing some half-assed book to market does you and any future work you release a disservice.
If you can do something yourself in a reasonable amount of time and do it well, by all means, go for it. But very few authors are equipped to be their best editor, designer, and publicist all rolled into one.
If a pro could do something significantly better and faster than you, bring one on board. If you can't afford to hire them outright, consider bartering. Or spend time on some freelance writing projects to bring in extra money to put toward book development. It will probably still take less time than you would have spent trying to, for example, design a professional level book cover yourself. And in the end, you'll be left with a better product that helps sell itself and more time to write your next book.
What other book marketing mistakes do authors make that potentially steal time from additional writing? Have you ever made these mistakes? If so, how did you move past them and find a way to more effectively and productively market your books? Share your stories and ideas in the comments.