Here are a few of the mistakes I've made while marketing my book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Cleveland. These are, of course, only the mistakes I KNOW I've made. I'm still learning. (I have a funny feeling this could become a multi-part series.)
1. Did too much homework
I spent hours (hours!) learning about bookplates, their uses, where they're printed, who might print them locally, how authors have used various designs, and recommended tech specs for printing. I think bookplates are a nice-to-have item, but frankly, I over-did the research. (Translation: wasted time.)
2. Didn't do enough homework
My first set of bookplates were very pretty, and generic. In fact, they were from the first vendor I found online when I searched for "bookplates." Like, duh. After all that research to find a nearby vendor and secure a reasonable price, ultimately, the best option for me was to order from BookplateInk. Sheesh.
3. Gave too freely, gave too little, or gave the wrong thing
When the first edition of my book was published, I followed the oft-heard advice to "give a copy to all of your friends." Well, there are some problems with that. First, which friends? No matter how excited I am about my book, it's financially unwise to hand a $17 book to each of my friends (even with my author discount). So I redefined "friend," this time looking critically at my contact list to select those who appeared to be most likely to tout the book to others, or (in a few cases) buy a bunch of books for other people. In other words, I learned to give to the friends of my book, but sadly, not to all of my friends.
I haven't mastered this yet. I try to be well-organized and yes, over-prepared, for book signings and other appearances, but still I find I'm loading the car in a rush at the last minute. A couple of times I have forgotten to bring along an extra copy of the book, which would have been a nice thank-you gift for the event host. That's more time-management (and Checklist Manifesto-type stuff) than book marketing know-how. The other side of the coin is book-marketing savvy. As in, what's the right thank-you gift for a book-signing host anyway? Perhaps it's not a book (many event hosts already have one) but a photo or notecards featuring one of the trails, instead. (Any book promotion experts out there?? Speak up - just, please, go beyond 'bookmark,' ok?)
4. Spent too much time on Facebook.
I'm still struggling with this one, too. Check out my Facebook page, where I waste a lot of time I could be spending on the trail. Or not.
5. Failed to maximize my face time
As friend (and award-winning author) Debbie Alferio points out,* word of mouth is the best form of advertising. I've been too cautious about mentioning that I'm an author in the past, a habit I vow to correct before it's time to make New Year's resolutions.
I've also stumbled when promoting events. Once I lost a sale because I didn't show up early (aim to arrive at any signing at least 30 minutes in advance) and another time, I planned a GRAND event with another author... and turnout was abysmal because I didn't chat it up enough. I Facebooked** the heck out of it, though; yet another reminder the original social networking tools - your face! and your mouth! - are often more effective than newer ones.
I'm sure I'll discover many more mistakes I've made... but until I'm willing to admit them, what about you? Got any mistakes to share?
*OK, she wasn't the first to say so, but she makes the point eloquently in an upcoming guest post.
**I know it's not a verb. But you knew what I meant, didn't you?