Smith Publicity Identifies the “Seven Deadly Sins of Book Marketing”

by Dan Smith

Dan Smith CEO of Smith Publicity gives his seven deadly sins of book marketing. Most authors take the time to educate themselves about the book marketing process and go into campaigns understanding key elements of what book publicists do, how they do it, and how the process works.

On the other hand, based on observations of over 3,500 book publicity campaigns Smith Publicity has implemented, we’ve seen various mistakes, missteps, and attitude related issues that have derailed efforts to secure media coverage and expand awareness of a book.

Too many authors go into book promotion with a lack of understanding of what’s involved, what they’ll need to do, and have unrealistic expectations. Book publicists are of course key, but authors are also an integral part of a promotion campaign and can either help or hurt a publicist’s efforts.

Here are what I call ‘the seven deadly sins of book marketing:’

1. Sloth

  • There is no place for laziness or indifference in book promotion. To be effective, campaigns require authors with energy, passion, and determination.
  • Lazy authors who expect things to happen will have books that languish at the bottom of Amazon rankings.

2. Pride

  • Every author – even household names  – has to inevitably deal with negative reviews, harsh critiques, and potentially ego-busting comments. Authors need to leave their egos aside. Rather than enjoying the release of their book – which may be a once in a lifetime event – they’re bound for unhappiness and disillusionment if they don’t.
  • Authors should go into book promotion, knowing not everyone will like their book and that regardless of what happens, they need to stay focused and on course.

3. Envy

  • Common book marketing mistakes to avoid. It is common for authors to see others on national shows or major publications and become envious, thereby creating major problems for book publicists.
  • Envy serves no purpose in book publicity and author promotion. The key is to learn from what you see or read involving authors and books and try to emulate what other authors are doing successfully.

4. Lust

  • There are several ways lust can come into play in book marketing, but the most common is lusting for fame.
  • This happens when authors become so enthralled with media exposure that the book becomes secondary. It can evolve into a near addiction for accolades and coverage, such as national TV.

5. Gluttony

  • In its purest form, gluttony is the insatiable desire to ‘consume’ as much major publicity as possible and never being satisfied. Book publicity is like a seven-course meal. You start slowly, testing the waters, then move onto the next course.
  • Don’t demand all seven courses be delivered to your publicity table at once. Enjoy the entire experience of the meal, be patient, and understand that it will end at some point.

6. Greed

  • Like gluttony, greed is the offspring of several other sins and one of the most common book promotion sins. It happens when authors get a taste of publicity and demand more, and more, and more, and become unreasonable.
  • Once greed starts, it is almost impossible to control. Greed may work on Wall Street, but it bankrupts book promotion.
  • Authors should reflect gratitude and thanks for the good things that happen and not get consumed with greed.

7. Anger

  • Over the last 21 years in book publicity, we’ve seen anger manifest in many forms.
  • We worked with an author who received a bad review of his book, and then drove 300 miles to confront the reviewer in her office.”
  • A story recently caught significant media attention about an author who targeted a Goodreads reviewer in an essay and essentially ruined her literary career by doing so.
  • Authors should understand that they are opening themselves up for scrutiny and are actually inviting it.