Advice, authors, writing

reasons authors fail at marketing: (Ty to badredheadmedia)

These are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing

I’ve gleaned a lot of information on author behavior over the years and especially with the free 30-day book marketing challenge I started on February 1 (registration is closed at this time, so if you missed out, you can purchase the book which has all the tips in one place — available soon from my publisher, Booktrope).

I’d like to share my insights with you here. Thank you for all the wonderful emails, feedback, and questions! You make me better, every day.


The Main Reasons Authors Fail at Book Marketing

  • Analysis Paralysis

    I want to market my books, but I’m completely overwhelmed at all the many options, I don’t know where to start! So I don’t. 

That’s the beauty of this challenge — one assignment (or two — I’m sneaky), every day, which builds on the knowledge of previous assignments. I create the plan for you, so you don’t have to.

Many people have shared with me that this kind of learning — having a plan set out for them — helps them so much — it’s like taking a class, really. You still have to do the work of course, but without having to create the assignments yourself. Being lost in the cyberspace world of online book marketing is confusing — I get it.

This kind of author is pretty much a self-starter, they just need a little push in the right direction. Without that push, they have lots of ideas and notes, yet never get started. 

Tip: Take a course, create a marketing plan, work with a buddy. You need direction, a map, goals.

  • Temper Tantrums 

    It’s too hard. It’s stupid. I quit.

I’ve fielded several of these emails and comments this week. I understand how discouraging it can be to attempt to conquer say, Hootsuite, and walk away utterly confused. One good friend said, “That’s it. I’m stupid,” and she’s not. She’s a brilliant PhD! Sometimes, our brains just don’t work the way a certain model or tool is designed, and that’s okay. Find a different one. In this case, I offered alternatives (Buffer is awesome, too). Listen, each of these social media management tools is designed in a way that appeals to different parts of our brains.

We are adult learners; we carry certain biases already. As a sales and marketing trainer in the Pharma industry, I spent quite a bit of time learning how to break through these barriers. As authors, we have to learn how to motivate ourselves to do this, and most of the time, we simply give up. According to Malcolm Knowles, who identified the ways adults learn back in the 1970s, these barriers include:

(a) lack of time, (b) lack of confidence, (c) lack of information about opportunities to learn, (d) scheduling problems, (e) lack of motivation, and (f) “red tape.” If the learner does not see the need for the change in behavior or knowledge, a barrier exits. (Source: Medscape.) 

You have to be both the teacher and the student as authors who market our own books, and that can be tough. If you’re not motivated to learn, you simply won’t do it.

This kind of author gives up easily if they lack motivation or can’t see the use of doing the tasks at hand, even for their own books! Let’s face it: time is an issue. We have lives outside of books.

This author will say, ‘It’s stupid, I don’t get it, therefore, it’s not for me.’ 

Tip: Have your meltdown, eat a cookie, then get back at it. Figure out what the stumbling block is, and seek help (whether that’s taking a course, reading a book on the topic, or paying a consultant if you have the budget). There are plenty of blogs (like mine) with free tips, or find video tutorials, and free webinars to help you with book marketing if cost is a factor.

  • Tech Challenges

    I can’t do this. I don’t have the skills necessary. Forget it.

Fear. That’s what is getting in your way. You panic because you are terrified of this technology you have convinced yourself you cannot figure out. Listen, you have somehow managed to read this blog post, learned how to use Word or some other program to write your book, and you’re certainly on Facebook bitching about stuff so nope, sorry, I don’t buy it.

This is especially true for older authors (please don’t throw things). You may find this hard to believe, but I didn’t grow up with computers. I still clacked out my college papers on typewriters, too. I had to learn how to use computers in my work life, just as many of you did, or at home as I progressed as a writer.

I learned how to use social media by researching, reading, watching, taking webinars — learning. How much time have you invested in truly learning how to use social media? How much time have you taken to research the best way to market and promote your books? Example: many of my Gravity Imprint authors come in terrified to participate in a Twitter chat, and come out beaming because it was so incredibly interactive and fun!

This kind of author tends to close themselves off to opportunities before they even have a chance to find out about them, because they say, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that,’ which is really sad. 

Tip: You don’t have to have a BS degree or be thirteen to use Twitter or Google+ or Pinterest, or to Google shit. How many times have you become frustrated because you didn’t know something, and then realized later you could have googled it? If you’re overwhelmed by Twitter, take a basic webinar on it. If you can’t figure out how to use Pinterest, do the same.  Again, most are free (How to find them? GOOGLE.) or hey, check the Help Sections!

  • Good, Old-Fashioned,

There’s no getting around this one. Some people are just lazy. I am literally spoon-feeding valuable free information to them, and they still want more. I get that this challenge is challenging (um…), but do the work! Nobody said that being an author is easy, or that learning how to market our books would be a cakewalk. Get off your ass and do the damn work.

Tip: I’m not offering any tips for this one, because if it’s not obvious by now, I can’t help you.


I’m thrilled and honored to have over 1200 people sign up to take this challenge but remember, it’s a challenge! If this was a college class and you couldn’t complete the assignment, would you wait until class the next day to ask the teacher all the questions you had? No, you’d find the answers somehow by researching online, at the library, asking a classmate, right? (Well, maybe you would, and that’s why you’d fail the class.) So…

I’m challenging you to find the answers you seek on your own — if I’ve given you an assignment and you still have questions, google the answer or check the Help section of Twitter or Facebook or whatever it is I’m talking about.

You can do this.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo)

All content © 2016 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.

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