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Book marketing mistakes I’m ashamed to share

person with hands crossed saying no for article are you running toward rejection

I want to help you sell more books. Mine didn’t sell for years and the sales are only picking up because of the changes I’m making now (it’s never too late, right?).

I’ve done a ton of research on what went wrong, the changes I need to make, and what I’d do differently if I were starting over. I’m sharing all of this so you avoid my book marketing mistakes. I may be ashamed to tell ’em but I’m bearing all regardless.

Along with my mistakes, I’m writing a series of blog posts about book marketing in general. I am no expert in book marketing. I’m simply sharing what I’m doing that’s working. This is like a journey-along type of series. Let’s learn book marketing together!

Here’s what this series of blog posts will cover

  1. Understanding your readers (what they want, where they are, how they may be searching for what you offer)
  2. Getting more book reviews (ethically)
  3. Creating/maintaining an author website
  4. Understanding Amazon KDP SEO
    • Choosing the right keywords for your book
    • What to research before you write your book (if you’ve already written it, no worries. This is still useful info)
    • Writing the best book description
    • Choosing the right title and subtitle
    • Using helpful keyword tools
    • Understanding Amazon ads–and whether you should try them

As you see, the series focuses heavily on Amazon KDP because that’s where my books are self-published. But I’ll also feature general book marketing tips.

I’m kicking off the series by sharing a few mistakes I’ve made on this book marketing journey.

Book marketing mistake #1: poor SEO

person biting pencil ashamed

When I published my first book on Amazon (in 2013), I barely scratched the surface of Amazon SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keyword research.

Like most authors, writing and editing the book took so much time, energy, and fear conquering that by the time I finished, I just wanted to hit publish and take a (giant) step away from the whole project.

Plus, SEO seemed complicated. It is. Particularly if you approach it from the wrong angle. The SEO rabbit hole goes deep.

I’ve since realized it’s key to selling on Amazon. It helps you answer the following question (which is probably the most important book-selling question):

How will people find your books?

SEO is the research and work you do so your readers can search and find your books. Because, in reality, Amazon is a massive search engine. And it’s a search engine primed for buyers, not just lookers. When people want to buy something, they search for it on Amazon. Simple.

So you (we) have to figure out this SEO stuff whether we like it or not. It’s that important. Also, I’m learning it’s not so bad when you do it in bite-sized chunks.

Book marketing mistake #2: hiding my books

person hiding in bed ashamed

Say what? Who writes a book and then hides it?


I have a pattern of hiding.

This is an old pattern of behavior related to self-doubt and fear. Kind of embarrassing to admit this as a copywriter who helps people be seen and heard. I can gladly help others step into the spotlight but I (still) cringe when it’s time for me to do so.

Thankfully, the cringe stage is short-lived nowadays.

So, how did this ‘hiding’ habit play out with my books?

I’d write these books but then not share them….with anyone. Not on social media, not amongst my friends, not with current clients, not within my network, and not with new people I met who may need them. Nowhere. I didn’t tell anybody about my books.

I also didn’t do anything like Amazon ads.

So where exactly did I expect to get readers from?

Who knows?

So, to sum it up I did minimal SEO and keyword research and had no plans for marketing. I didn’t tell people about my books. Also, none of my websites received huge traffic. This meant my website generated ZERO sales.

Can you guess the result?




Kinda obvious, right? Sad thing is, most authors are like this. A fantastic (and somewhat depressing) thread on K-Boards outlines this phenomenon: most books don’t sell a lot.

In fact, most books don’t sell at all. Why is this? I chalk it up to poor marketing. And understandably so because most authors have about as much interest in marketing our books as putting our heads in a pot of boiling water. Still, it’s necessary.

And I’ve learned that if we tackle it in bite-sized chunks, rather than an all-consuming attempt to learn everything and do everything at once, we can make headway and market our books.

We may not make any bestseller lists, but dammit, let’s earn something and get those books moving.

So, follow along on this series. Or if you really want to kick your book-marketing-butt into gear and take action, join the challenge.

I’m hosting a challenge of sorts. I’m not sure how long it will last. As I learn, make changes, and market my books, I encourage you to work on your book marketing, too. In small chunks.

I’ll be sharing tiny steps you can take that don’t take up too much time and energy so you don’t get overwhelmed in the process and check out.

The challenge is free. I’ll send the first email on January 17th, but you can sign up whenever. If you sign up after the 11th, you’ll still get access to previous emails.


Filed under: book marketing, write publish a book


  1. I’m in ! Looking forward to learning more about marketing a self published book on Amazon and elsewhere. A much needed series, thanks Alicia.

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