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5 Reasons Why Authors Fail at Content Marketing

5 Reasons Why Authors Fail at Content Marketing

By on Sep 5, 2016 in Sales and Marketing, Self-Publishing Tips

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Most authors go about their books and their craft without stopping to think about content marketing. They hear the word marketing and it makes them think of advertising, and well, that seems easy. And it may be true – advertising is not that difficult. Marketing, content marketing to be precise, needs forethought and other elements that you might not be focusing on. And when that happens, you do not see the results you want. You do not have that many readers who will rave about your next book, and you probably do not see the amount of sales you were (maybe secretly) hoping for. Before we continue on what your content marketing might be missing, let us explain a bit about content marketing. Content marketing is the content you put out there – on your website, social media profiles, everything. It’s all about content, what you’re putting out there for the world to see, and you would be surprised at how much that can affect your overall success as an author.

1. Lack of strategy

If you are a writer who has gotten lucky and is getting published the traditional way, good for you! However, do not forget that the publishing house probably has a lot more books to focus on, many writers with the same hopes and dreams as yourself. Do not expect any special treatment in terms of marketing and promoting your book (even if it is a masterpiece). You need to take matters into your own hands for two reasons: first, because you should show the whole world how much you care about your work, and second, because you can control the effects. Research marketing plans, and find one that works best for you. Modify, modify, and modify it all the time when you see that one or other element of the plan is not working out. Remember, everything you do will have an effect on your overall success, and having a strategy that didn’t work out is better than having none at all. You can change the bad strategy with little effort. Creating one from scratch when your book is already out and not generating enough attention…is a bit more difficult.

2. Forgetting your two strongest aspects

There are two aspects you’re very good at: writing in your genre, and writing. There is a great chance that most of your readers are aspiring writers – or did you forget that you are an avid reader as well? In fact, writing in your genre, writing and being a reader are your strongest aspects, are what you do. Do not focus your content only on your books – although it’s not a bad strategy in itself. But you also have a lot of knowledge about writing, you read books just as much (hopefully) as your readers, so, instead of content focusing only on one thing, your books and your work, you can also share material that shares your experience as a writer. That means becoming present online more without boring your subscribers and followers.

3. Focusing only on yourself

Alas, mistake number three is always turning your online content into a diary-blog. We say diary-blog, because a decade ago, that’s what blogs actually were, diaries where people shared their emotions and everything that happened to them in the course of a day or a week. Today, blogs are all about offering the kind of content to readers which will help them, in some way. That is the reason why your knowledge as a writer is important – offer it to your readers, encourage them to ask questions, and when you answer them, point out how you used your own advice in your novel, without revealing spoilers, of course. It will make your readers want to read the whole novel to discover how everything turned out in the end, while you have offered help to aspiring writers who will begin to look up to you. You are slowly transforming from the author of that book, to the author who has many books and shares a lot of knowledge with readers.

4. Goals and milestones

Above, we mentioned modifying a plan in order to achieve maximum effect. The best way to measure the effect of a marketing plan is to create small, measurable goals or milestones. If you reach it, then you know you’re doing well, if not, a change is in order. The goals do not have to be complicated – a goal can be, for example, I want to get 1000 new subscribers within the next two months. In two months, if the goal is not achieved, then you need to review your whole plan, analyze what you did to attract the new subscribers, and whether it worked or not. Then, you need to get creative and find new ways, through both research and invention. Find out what has worked for other authors, for other businesses even, and see how you can tweak it to suit your own type of work. Remember, other writers write different books than you, they offer different content, and the same strategy that worked for them might not work for you – unless you adapt the strategy in a way that it will.

5. Free content

Once you start focusing on your readers and your audience, you will discover one thing: everyone likes free content. Free short e-books, in the form of short stories or essays of yours about writing are a good way to start. For example, authors who have written series of more than five books with a lot of different characters usually offer a free character guide. All the reader has to do is subscribe. It’s as easy as that. Do not get discouraged at the thought that you’re offering it for free, because at some point, you would have probably put that content on your website for free anyway. Of course, you shouldn’t forget about free copies from your upcoming books, and other types of freebies. Together, they can be very powerful in attracting readers and endearing you to them as well.


Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.

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Also published on Medium.

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