deadly sins of marketing Urban Publishing School

Ways To Avoid The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing

We’ve all heard of the classic seven deadly sins, but did you know that same concept can be applied to how you think of your marketing plan?  If you have a book out or if you are working towards a new release, evaluating your plan in terms of these 7 areas can help avoid headaches and frustration down the road.  Let’s take a look at the following pitfalls and how to avoid them.


Many will see profiles across every social media platform boasting that they can help you raise your exposure by paying them to get you likes and followers.  Sounds good, right?  That’s what we want for our budding platform is followers!  Sold!  WAIT – Don’t be tempted. Fake likes are not real people who are actually interested in your product. You’re paying someone to use their fake accounts to artificially inflate your page numbers.

Paying for likes will mostly likely come from bot accounts that will not provide real interaction or long term sales.

Does a twitter account with 10,000 followers look impressive? Yes. Does a twitter account with 10,000 followers and no favorites, replies, shares or lists look impressive? NO. There’s no magic bullet or pill that can instantly make you ‘known’ that will get you sales in minutes.  Just work to reach out to others on the platform, offer them help with what they’re doing…even if just in the form of support.  Thank contacts for interacting and mention them by name in a weekly post or tweet.  Cultivate yourself as one who is real, who is paying it forward, who is working hard and is there to chat with.  That will go further than buying a like.


With current algorithms hiding page posts already, just doing the minimum to keep your author profile active will most definitely get buried and ignored. And blasting one account 24/7 isn’t the answer either.  How many times have to gotten onto Twitter and seen nothing but two dozen posts by someone and thought, ‘I’m turning this OFF.’  But don’t fall into the trap of barely posting just to get by.

Social media is not all the same – different platforms are optimized by different methods of posting.

By watching analytics of your regular posts and tweets, you can, over time, discover what times of day your growing audience is most active.  Just about every platform these days offers free analytics for you, so this will not cut into your marketing budget.  In many cases, you can see what hashtags landed you more exposure by looking at ‘top tweets’ in your Twitter analytics.  These readings will give you a feel for your niche and what they respond to from you and when they are online. Move towards a schedule you can stick to where you can actively engage and maintain this audience.  Being there to build interest over time will show you’re tuned into your audience and not phoning it in.


Being active on social media is great.  And who doesn’t love those funny cat videos that are always floating around the internet?  While posting and sharing tons of stuff is fun, if is not somehow linked to what you’re about, it is just going to become super annoying and ignored.  Your target audience is coming to you to fulfill a need they have or answer a question they have.  If their need isn’t cat videos, you’re going to lose them quickly to the competition.

Spamming in the hopes of a sale can cost you setbacks.

As it goes for social media, the same holds true for your inbound marketing.  As you build your email lists, respect that these people have allowed you access into their private inbox. Don’t take their kindness as permission to blast them daily to buy your book with emails about everything under the sun. Keep it targeted and related so that they find it beneficial – a once a month campaign is typical for getting good engagement and feedback – especially when it goes out Mondays at 10 am.


The Biggest sin can be seen as this:  Many authors insist they do not have to do anything… they sincerely believe that the book should speak for itself.  Now, I’m not here to shoot down someone’s work.  There are many strong books that are solidly written, well formatted and excellently presented with a great cover and blurb.  In a perfect world, this type of book would be presented to the public and eaten up with a spoon.  But those books that seem to come out of nowhere have not hit some magic formula of just appearing and making the author instantly famous.

If the masses haven’t heard of you, how will they know you’ve written a book?

In the real world, not having any social media marketing is just shooting yourself in the foot. Period. lists totals on their site to give you an idea of the output of such indie options as Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace and more.  The number was nearing 500,000 back in their 2013 report, so it’s fair to say that is well over a half a million this year.  Be prideful of your work but be realistic in knowing that you are one drop in an ocean of internet information that readers need to sift through.  In this age, online marketing is a must. It’s the nature of the beast. Even just one well-maintained social media feed is better than nothing. Don’t be so full of pride you don’t connect via even one platform.


OK, so you have a bit of budget and you get a Bookbub ad; this is good. Then you get results and try topping that off with events giving participants discounts to your ebook.  Great! Before you know it, you’ve started sponsored posts, giveaways in your newsletter, purchasing MailChimp and Rafflecopter accounts to host and blast about more sales.  Uh-oh.  Now you’re digging a hole you can’t pay to get out of because it can be so tempting to see our name and our book on every internet page imaginable.

Watch your ROI (return on investment) so you don’t get carried away spending too much. 

Don’t be greedy and go overboard with all the options available to indie authors today. Try a giveaway on a small scale to start off and see how it goes.  Keep your budget at a reasonable range so you feel comfortable if you spend it all and don’t land any new sales.  Realize that, just because it cost you almost $20 per book to create doesn’t mean it’s going to sell at $25. Unknown authors need to find a sweet spot, which doesn’t necessarily have to be .99, but if it’s too high, it’s never going to sell, either.  Many find that the $2.99 – $3.99 range is a profitable one for them.  At that rate, it will take 7 sales to pay for the cost of making one book.  Try free sites and cash in on those willing to spread the word for free to get you going as you build your budget.


Nothing is more irritating than checking into a trending hashtag and seeing other companies or people tweeting about something totally unrelated. If #ILoveShopping is trending, that’s not the place to tweet: “Horrors await her, and even his love cannot save her. #ILoveShopping” It just doesn’t make sense. Even if you put in a book link, it’s a bit out of place.  Tweeps are just going to roll their eyes at the way you don’t ‘get’ how to use a hashtag.

Setting up your own hashtag can set the trend you need.

Now, if you used: “It’s never too early to add a book to your Christmas list, especially this: (link here) #ILoveShopping” At least that’s a bit better.  Regardless of the genre, you mention an upcoming event every shops for (Christmas) and remind them politely about what you have for sale.  Trying a tweet like “When I see a bookstore, I am helpless! #ILoveShopping! 🙂  What’s the latest book you bought?”  That, although it doesn’t mention your book, might be even better because it invites your Tweeps to answer and spark conversation.  Avoid creating random tweets that piggyback on a trending hashtag; it’s not going to win you love or new followers. Creative tweets that can weave a trending hashtag into their product go much further.  Making a unique hashtag nobody has but you can even help you to be the future trendsetter.


Yell and Tell marketing IS one way to try and make sales, but it’s in your face and intimidating.  Imagine going on a first date and, before dessert comes to the table, they are proposing to you.  Say what?  Not going to happen!  You just met the person!  Same with the ‘buy my book’ tactics.  It’s not that we don’t know you are a writer and that you have a book, it’s that we haven’t made up our mind to buy it yet or not. We don’t know enough about it yet and we don’t feel we are connected with you enough yet to part with our money.

Helping the writer get hooked lets them make up their own mind.

Give a book trailer and sample chapter on your website.  (Clueless about how to make one for yourself? Talk to Opal.)  Give interviews online in radio and print about you and your process, your book, your upcoming projects, etc. Give newsletters with free advice and tips to be of benefit to your audience. Keep a steady blog that prompts comments and builds a conversation. Answer every comment and tweet, even if just with a ‘thank you’! Build a relationship and draw them in so they go looking for the link. Don’t scare them with “BUY NOW” buttons everywhere and the constant blast of “BUY MY BOOK” on every post, link, share and tweet. That has been proven to be intimidating for a first-time visitor to your site.  Get through dessert, let them ask you out on a second date, build up to the proposal.  Then they will want to show off that rock (your book) to all their friends and help you by word of mouth marketing!

It’s sometimes impossible to avoid one of these elements as we new writers start getting our feet wet with our marketing.  Don’t despair!  Website buttons are easy to edit and promotions DO end.  Inactive Twitter accounts can be jump-started and discussion boards can be joined.  If you feel you’ve painted yourself into a corner or don’t know how to get out of the gate, one little step a day can get you on the right road in no time.  And if you look at it all and just want to hide in your study and write and never come out, hang in there.  With a little scheduling, you can create a productive hour of social media and marketing into your day that will benefit without draining you of every bit of writing motivation.

What have I forgotten? What have you run across in your own travels across the internet?

What have you tried that you found worked? I’d love to hear and keep this conversation going!


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