Important things to get done BEFORE you start promoting your book

We have run over $1.9 million of book promotion packages for Authors & Publishers at our sister company, Books Butterfly

Here is a list of things we strongly recommend you do BEFORE you start promoting your book

If any of the following are true

  1. Your book is getting rejected by book promotion sites
  2. Your book is getting sales but not getting reviews
  3. Your book is not doing well when promoted with book promotion sites
  4. Your book is not selling when promoted with Facebook Ads and Amazon Marketing Services Ads
  5. You are not being able to make back what you are spending on marketing

Then the likely reason is that one or more of the below items are missing

11 Important Things to get done BEFORE you start promoting your book

  1. Most Important: Make sure you have written for a Market That Exists
    1. Are there actually readers in this market?
    2. Do they buy books?
  2. Joint Most Important: Make sure you have created a product (your books) that is right for this market
    1. The book you have written – Is it right for this market?
    2. Does it match what readers buy?
    3. Does it make readers happy? Is it what they are looking to read?
  3. Make sure you have polished and crafted your book
    1. Less than 2 rewrites means the book is definitely not well crafted yet
      1. There is no one on the planet who writes a great book in the first attempt (first draft)
    2. You have to do your research about what the market is asking for
    3. You have to do your research for your book specifically
  4. Get a book cover from a professional book cover designer
    1. Let them make a cover without micro managing them
  5. Get your book professionally edited
    1. Not by a friend
    2. Not by a fellow author
    3. By a professional editor
  6. Follow the advice of the editor and rewrite your book if needed
    1. Yes, getting an editor will work only if you follow their advice and make your book better
    2. Don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking you know more than the editor
  7. Get a professional proof reader and make sure your book is free of spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical mistakes
  8. Write down EXACTLY what you want your book promotion to achieve
    1. Do you want to get sales?
    2. Do you want to get reviews?
    3. Do you want to make money?
    4. Do you want to get recognition?
    5. Do you want to get a book deal?
    6. Do you want to become a bestseller?
    7. The approach is different based on what your desired outcome is
  9. Figure out which book promotion channels and book promotion sites work for books in your category, and for your desired outcome
  10. Create a full marketing plan and schedule, and start setting everything up well in advance of your desired promotion dates
  11. Joint Most Important: Set up a plan to ensure your book has reviews by the time the marketing starts
    1. There MUST be reviews by the time you start marketing
    2. If you cannot get reviews, then it is fine to start marketing without reviews

Not doing these 11 things, BEFORE you start your book promotion and marketing, is not a good idea at all

What if you ignore one or more of these and promote regardless?

The best case scenario

  1. Your book is written for a market that has very strong demand
  2. OR Your book is very well written
  3. Despite not preparing properly, you still do well

This happens less than 5% of the time

The most likely scenario

  1. Your book doesn’t do well
  2. You start wondering if the book is good or not
    1. Even though it is the lack of polish of the book, and the lack of preparation, that caused the book to fail
  3. You start wondering if you should quit being an author
    1. Again, even though it has to do with your lack of preparation, you think it has to do with you as an author

This happens 80% of the time

The worst case scenario

  1. Your book doesn’t sell at all
  2. You start getting depressed and discouraged

This happens 15% of the time

Can you succeed while still ignoring one or more of these items?


The amazing thing about any market is that if you create a product the market is looking for, it will sell even if the product isn’t very good

Take hoverboards. Most of them were cheaply made in China. Some of them were exploding

People still kept buying them

All the advice we have in this post. All the advice in the entire blog

It is not one tenth as powerful as Writing What Readers are Looking to Buy

You do that (find what readers are looking to buy) and you can break all the rules

Exploring the Topic More

Now that we have the main stuff out of the way, let’s look at some additional areas

Your Book getting Rejected by Book Promotion Sites

Have you got the following 5 main elements covered?

  1. Professionally edited book
  2. Professionally proof read book
  3. Professionally designed cover
  4. Book is written for a market that exists
  5. Book has some good reviews, and zero fake reviews

In general, book promotion sites will look for

  1. A book that will do well with their readers
    1. This is determined by what books have done well in the past
    2. It is also determined by what book categories they are strong in
  2. An author who seems like she/he knows what they are doing
    1. If an author seems unaware of the level of polish required to sell books, then nearly all book promotion sites will reject the book
    2. Regardless of how good the writing is
  3. Past Success
    1. If the author has done well in the past with their service
    2. If the author is a successful author in general
  4. Common Courtesy
    1. It’s a red flag if authors are rude or make unusual demands
    2. Please keep in mind that you are a BUSINESS selling a product (books) to end customers (readers)
    3. A book promotion site (like an editor or cover designer or proofreader) is a Business helping you (a Business)
    4. It is a Business to Business relationship
  5. A Real person
    1. Most promotion sites will not work with someone where they cannot tell whether it is a real person or not
    2. Almost no book promotion site will work with an ‘anonymous’ person
  6. Reviews are real reviews
    1. Fake reviews are one of the biggest indicators to reject your book
  7. All Reviews should not be from ‘free copies’
    1. If a few reviews are from people who got ARC copies, or a free copy of your book, that is not an issue
    2. If 100% of your reviews are from people who got it as a ‘free ARC copy’ then you might not be accepted
  8. Not a Content Farm
    1. If you are running a content farm, where your books are written by ghost writers paid $3 per hour, any book promotion site that becomes aware of this will stop working with you

Most companies are happy to help authors, provided those authors are providing a real, genuine, well polished product (books) to readers

Your Book is getting Sales but not getting Reviews

Usually, it means you have to write a better book, and improve your writing

  1. If your book is selling, it means you are convincing enough to sell
  2. If, however, your book is not getting reviews, then it means one out of three things
    1. Your book is not good enough and you need to write better
    2. Your book is not polished enough. Instead of leaving a 2 star review complaining about editing and typos, the reader decided to just not leave a review
    3. Your book did not make the reader feel anything. Again, this indicates you have to write better
      1. You have to be able to make the reader FEEL … something, anything

Whether or not you sell the book comes down to Marketing and Sales

Whether or not you get reviews and word of mouth sales – that depends on how well written your book is and whether or not you can make the reader FEEL something

Your Book Not Doing Well when Promoted with Book Promotion Sites

There is a no man’s zone between

  1. Being polished enough to get approved by most book promotion sites
  2. Being polished enough to sell

If your book is getting approved, and then is not selling, it usually means you are caught in that no man’s zone

There are 3 main areas to look at (basically, the 3 Core Skills for Authors)

  1. Knowing What to Write – Are you writing for a market that exists? Are you writing a book that is right for that market?
  2. Writing Very Well – is your writing strong enough to compel readers to buy?
  3. Marketing Very Well – are your book cover and sample polished enough to sell? Are you putting your book in the right genres?

Basically, you have two options

  1. You complain that all promotion sites don’t work and try to find some other marketing channels
    1. If you make enough of an effort you will find some channels where your book will sell (Facebook Ads), even if it is not polished enough to sell at the book promotion sites
    2. You will, however, struggle to get a positive return on investment even with Facebook Ads
  2. You improve your book’s appeal, and write for markets that have strong demand
    1. Then after polishing and improving your book, you take another shot with the book promotion sites

Your Book Not Doing Well with Facebook Ads

If your book is not doing well with book promotion sites, and it is not doing well with Facebook Ads, then it definitely means you have to improve your book and your writing

If you have not tried promotion sites, or if you do manage to sell there, and then with Facebook Ads, you are unable to sell

  1. 95% of the time it means you are not targeting the right readers
    1. Facebook offers an incredible amount of targeting
  2. 5% of the time it means you don’t know who your readers are

In general, Facebook Ads should work for everyone because they have 2 billion people on there. You just have to correctly figure out

  1. Who will buy your book? Who is it right for?
  2. How to target those specific readers

Your Book Not Doing Well with Amazon Marketing Services

This does not mean very much

  1. Amazon Marketing Services work for 45% of authors when they target popular authors and popular books in the same category as their book
  2. Amazon Marketing Services work for 5% of authors when they try other methods
  3. Amazon Marketing Services don’t work for 50% of authors

For the 45% + 5% of authors for whom Amazon Marketing Services work, it will be split as

  1. 15% for whom it works very well
  2. 15% for whom Amazon Marketing Services works, but they cannot get positive Return on Investment
  3. 20% for whom Amazon Marketing Services works for a few months, and then it stops working because bids have gone up too much, or there is just too much competition

It’s not as good as Facebook Ads. It’s not as good as the top book promotion sites. However, Amazon Marketing Services will work for 45% of authors when you target the top authors and top books in your book’s exact categories

You not being able to make back what you spend on marketing

This is a very tough question to evaluate

  1. If you have just 1 or 2 books, it will be very difficult for you to find sustainable marketing
    1. You have a certain ‘customer acquisition cost’
    2. As you have just 1 or 2 books, your Customer Lifetime Value is very low
    3. It will be difficult for you to get your Customer Lifetime Value to be higher than your Customer Acquisition Cost, because you have just 1 or 2 books to sell each customer
  2. Between 3 to 7 books, you will discover some marketing channels that are sustainable for you, and some that are not
    1. If you can accurately figure out the marketing channels that give you good Return on Investment, then you are set
    2. At the same time you have to accept that some marketing channels are never going to work for you because you have only a small to medium number of products to sell to your customers
    3. For these marketing channels – The cost to acquire them (Customer Acquisition Cost) will always be higher than the amount of money you make from these customers (Customer Lifetime Value)
  3. Above 8 books, you will find that most good book promotion channels will work for you
    1. Focus on finding the superstar marketing channels that give you very good return on investment
    2. Also build a list of ‘good’ marketing channels that give you positive return on investment
    3. Focus on these two sets of marketing channels

Of course, all this assumes that your books are all high quality, well written, and well polished

And above all else – That your books are Written for the Right Market AND Are the Right Product for that Market

If you have books that are not worth readers’ time and money, or if you have written a book which is not right for the market it is written for, then no amount of marketing can work


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