Sometimes what you mustn’t do is just as just as important as what you must do.
I’ve had a dozen novels published and have made far more than a dozen mistakes. Which is why Randy Susan Meyers and I wrote a guidebook to help authors avoid making our mistakes. This list contains just a few my “must nots” inspired by the much longer list of “must dos” from What To Do Before Your Book Launch that just launched this week.
1. Don’t assume everyone will wake up the day your book comes out and rush out to buy it. (No one can buy a book they have never heard of.)
2. Don’t spend more than 10% of your marketing/pr budget on a trailer. Trailers have to be marketed too. So far too many authors wind up marketing their trailers instead of their books.
3. Don’t spend more than 10% of your marketing/PR budget on your website — people only find your website after they hear about the book and no one goes looking for a book that no one has ever heard of.
4. Don’t plan readings for bookstores that include you reading all 20 pages of the first chapter unless you’re a stand up comic and there is only one joke on each page.
5. Don’t be in awe of your own talent, book, brilliance, success or transcendental prose. It’s better to have someone other than you, the author, praise the book.
6. Don’t spend all your money hiring a PR or marketing firm that no one you have ever heard of has used. Equally don’t hire firms that don’t specialize in books.
7. Don’t do a crazy expensive contest giving away something like an iPad — thousands of people will enter the contest to win the iPad — but not be incentivized in any way to buy the book. In fact most will only take notice of the words “iPad” and not even register title of your book.
8. Don’t expect all your writer friends whose books you have not read and not praised, to read yours and praise it.
9. Don’t use your advance to buy an antique sports car, diamonds by the yard or a bottle of wine from Thomas Jefferson’s cellar instead of investing in your book.
10. Don’t put the “buy the book” links on an inside page of your website where no one can see them or hide them in a corner — it should never take more than 2 seconds for someone to figure out how to buy your book. It is not crass to make it clear how to buy the book that no one has ever heard of before and that you are trying to sell.
11. Don’t drop into your local bookstore and yell at the booksellers because there aren’t twenty copies of your book on the front table.
As Randy’s grandmother always said, it’s easier to be nice. My grandmother wasn’t nice so she never had anything nice to say.