Book Marketing Quiz — Can You Spot the Book Marketing Mistakes this Author Made?

by Karen Jonson

I Found 10 Book Marketing Steps this First-Time Self-Published Author Did Wrong — and One Thing He Did Right (Sort of)

Quiz on Yellow Background

Take this fun challenge and see how many marketing mistakes you can spot in an author’s article about his dismal book marketing experience. Share your results in the comment section so we can compare notes.

This blog post is a quiz of sorts.

Although there are no right or wrong answers.

There are only insights to be gained for self-published authors — and a cautionary tale about how not to not publicize your books.

This article — I’m a Self-Publishing Failure — appeared on on April 1st of this year (I don’t think it was meant to be a joke, despite the publication date).

In the article, an author whines about (okay, describes) why he decided to self-publish one of his books — and what he did and he didn’t do to sell his book, and how he sold almost no books or made almost no much money (according to him).

It’s a well-written, entertaining article to be sure. But as I read it, all I could think was: He’s not doing anything right to market his book.

I started taking notes and found 10 things that think he did wrong, most of them things he simply did not do.

However, I thought it would be interesting for other self-published authors to read the article and see if they spotted the same book marketing mistakes I found.

If you are game, go read the article — and make notes about where you think the author missed the marketing boat in his (minimal) efforts to promote his book.

Share your thoughts in the comments section.

After you’ve done that, take a look at what I found below. (If you read the comments in the article, you’ll see that a few people spotted some of the same issues I did.)

How One Author Missed the Book Marketing Boat — Big Time, IMHO

Okay, here’s what jumped out at me as I read the article:

1. His Website. It’s pretty bad. Actually, it’s awful. I can barely read the words with that crazy background for starters. In one of his blog posts he says that he took down his website at one point, but he was convinced (by friends, I guess) to put it back up. He should have been convinced to have it redesigned and rewritten, too.

2. His Blog. This too is awful and has the same hard-to-read-the-words problem. Also, he seems to have no central content theme or direction. He’s just rambling about whatever comes to mind. As a result, it’s less than riveting.

3. No Platform. From what he writes here anyway, it appears that he gave no thought to building his audience before publishing his book. (However, this is a common mistake of almost every self-published author with his or her first book. Also, he clearly wanted a publisher to publish it and didn’t consider self-publishing until the book was already written.)

4. No Marketing Plan. From his description, he never created a book marketing plan; he just started randomly executing tasks here and there. This is never a good idea. Every business venture needs a plan, including the launch of a new book. Without a plan it’s hard to know what to do each day and to get any traction from the things you do do.

5. Book Trailer. It’s boring. It’s less than two minutes long, and I felt I had to force myself to watch it What’s the point of creating a promotional video if you can’t even hold a person’s attention for a couple of minutes.

6. Poor Video Marketing. He’s got very little content posted with his video on YouTube. This is a huge mistake. YouTube is a powerful search engine in it’s own right and you have to maximize the potential by using all the tools it offers you.

7. Free Fail. He failed to do his research to learn that the “free angle” of book marketing no longer works and in fact only worked briefly, before a slew of authors jumped on the free bandwagon, believing it would spike his or her book sales. Today, if authors want to do a free promotion, they need a strategy behind it to make it work to their benefit.

8. Where’s the Publicity? I never heard him say anything about doing PR, not even sending out a press release. HUGE mistake.

9. Amazonian Oversight. He doesn’t use the book promotion capacity of Amazon well at all. Both his book description and his author page are weak and offer nothing to entice readers. Also his book is currently priced way to high ($14.10).

10. Next Book? He doesn’t mention anything about another book or a series. This is considered a big mistake by most fiction authors. To build traction, they say you need multiple books or, ideally, a series to begin building your name and readers.

And the one thing the author did right? Well, he did something really smart: He guest posted on

Congrats on that smart move John Winters.

However, I have to take points away from him, because he did not engage in dialogue with the people who left comments on the article. This is a huge missed opportunity.

Despite my critique, I did see from his blog that John has retained the services of a literary agent who is going to try to help him find a publisher.

I think that’s another smart move, because, based on his overall weak book marketing execution, he clearly doesn’t want to be responsible for marketing and selling his own books.

So what do you think? Share your perspective on John Winters’ book marketing efforts.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ron Gavalik July 31, 2013 at 12:58 am

I remember reading the same article on Salon. Your blog post is a helpful set of tips for authors out there who spend more energy on writing than marketing. Our team actually put together a helpful marketing plan that addresses in detail the very items you’ve indicated.

Thanks for the tips!


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