Top 10 Marketing No’s-No’s for Authors

Today's guest post comes from the formidable marketing team of C. Morgan Kennedy and Therese Patrick, who offer great tips and tricks on building your brand and book promotion at When they taught at the Emerald City Writers Conference last year, they offered a truly effective workshop on building a author marketing plan, from web site to attending cons to promos, that blew me away. So these ladies know what they are talking about. Without further ado....

Top 10 Marketing No’s-No’s for Authors

1.       No Pink Fluffy anything. This is a pet peeve of ours and it extends to pink-fluffy personas. Unless you write about pink fluffy kittens and unicorns, please leave them off your website, business cards, and other professional communications.  Authors, no matter how cute or perky they may seem, do not owe their success as authors to their looks or personality. Writing GREAT books and letting the world know they exist is the key to success.

2.       No Apologizing. A post that begins with some form of, “Oops!” needs to include a call to action and reason – like “I forgot to let you know my novel is free today! Get it before midnight!” Never apologize for a late blog post because no matter how loyal your fans may be, most will not plan their day according to whether or not you posted a cute tidbit.

3.       No Whining. No one wants to hear about how much you hate promotions, or how tough it is to be a writer, or how many people have not liked your page.  You can write for fun all you want, but when you choose to try to sell your books…well now you’ve entered into a business venture.  Suck it up and do what it takes to be successful or resolve to “let the chips fall where they may” without complaint.  You can’t continue to do nothing and expect to have a best seller.  Plus, do you really want to be perceived as one of THOSE negative, whiney authors?

4.       No Dirty Laundry. You are an author, you write books to entertain and inform readers. So unless your topic is stain removal or chiropractic adjustments, keep the soiled undergarments and skeletons in your closet.

5.       No Rants. Keep your indignation and politics private unless you are an authority who has the power to create change with a rant so stellar it causes peace to break out in war torn countries.

6.       No Shotgun promotion blasts. This refers to authors who load promo materials into a shotgun, climb into the back of a pickup, and tour social media sites blasting “buy my book.” If you are offended by the gun analogy, refer to this point as “No Blind Bowling”.  Target your marketing for specific audiences and your efforts will pay dividends.

7.       No Purple Promotions. This applies to descriptions of your friends’ books as well. Reviews are important but don’t trade gushing praise for each other especially if you haven’t read the book, or wouldn’t buy it if you didn’t need a review of your book.

8.       No Menopausal Meanderings. This applies to men as well. Unless your core audience is menopausal women...otherwise create blog posts, newsletters, and other marketing messages that are suitable for your audience.

9.       No Fad Following. Every year there’s a new gimmick for promotions that costs more than it sells. If you do invest cash in a promotional tool MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS ON IT! Make sure it represents the same colors and themes of your website and business cards.  And have FUN with it.  Consider how this new thing fits into your overall marketing strategy.  If it makes sense, do it.  If not, don’t waste your time and money.  For example, when author trading cards first hit the scene a few years ago, a lot of our author friends scrambled to have them designed and printed.  Trading cards only make sense, if you frequently attend READER functions.

10.   NO Using Marketing and Promotions as an EXCUSE that you are too busy to WRITE. ONLY 10% of your writing time should be used for marketing and promotions.  Remember, you are a writer FIRST and great books will keep your readers coming back for more!


C. Morgan Kennedy has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and an MBA from Otterbein College. Marketing and Entrepreneurship were her MBA focus.  Throughout her fifteen year career in Corporate America, she has worked in international and large account sales, corporate training, and product marketing. She is currently a Product Marketing Manager for a $20 million global product portfolio. Ms. Kennedy is based in Portland, OR.

Therese Patrick is an active member of RWA for ten years. For Rose City Romance Writers she was a past treasurer, on the newsletter staff, and has been a coordinator with the Golden Rose Contest teams since 2003. A former Business Operations Consultant and Technical Writer she was part of the start up team for a national electrical services company. Ms. Patrick is a mother of four daughters, lives in Oregon, writes contemporary romance and memoir. She is an active blogger since 2009 and is marketing both her fiction and memoir.