These are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing

Are you failing at book marketing?

You’re not alone. I hear this from authors daily.

I’ve gleaned a lot of information on author behavior over the years and especially with the free 30-day book marketing challenge I started on a year ago last February (if you missed out, you can purchase the book which has all the tips in one place — available now from my publisher, ShadowTeamsNYC).

If you get nothing else from this article, I’m here to tell you this one thing: you can market your book(s). It will take work on your part — there are no magical fairies waiting to sprinkle magical book marketing dust on you. Publishing is a business. But you can do it.

I’d like to share my insights with you here. Thank you for all the wonderful emails, feedback, and questions! You make me better, every day.


These are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, Book Marketing, @BadRedheadMedia


The Main Reasons Authors Fail at Book Marketing

  • Analysis Paralysis

    I want to market my books, but I’m completely overwhelmed at all the many options, I don’t know where to start! So I don’t. 

That’s the beauty of a daily challenge — one assignment (or two — I’m sneaky), every day, which builds on the knowledge of previous assignments. I create the plan for you, so you don’t have to.

**Note: this information applies whether you have a book out yet or not. Part of book marketing is PRE-marketing.**

Many people have shared with me that this kind of learning — having a plan set out for them — helps them so much — it’s like taking a class, really. You still have to do the work of course, but without having to create the assignments yourself. Being lost in the cyberspace world of online book marketing is confusing — I get it.

This kind of author is pretty much a self-starter, they just need a little push in the right direction. Without that push, they have lots of ideas and notes, yet never get started. 

Tip: Buy a book from a reputable source (my book or any book), take a course, create a marketing plan, work with a buddy. You need direction, a map, solid goals.

  • Temper Tantrums 

    It’s too hard. It’s stupid. I quit.

I’ve fielded several of these emails and comments this past year. I understand how discouraging it can be to attempt to conquer say, Hootsuite, and walk away utterly confused. One good friend said, “That’s it. I’m stupid,” and she’s not. She’s a brilliant PhD! Sometimes, our brains just don’t work the way a certain model or tool is designed, and that’s okay. Find a different one! In this case, I offered alternatives for her (Buffer is awesome, too). Listen, each of these social media management tools is designed in a way that appeals to different parts of our brains.

We are adult learners, which means we carry certain biases already. As a sales and marketing trainer in the Pharma industry, I spent quite a bit of time learning how to break through these barriers. As authors, we have to learn how to motivate ourselves to do this, and most of the time we simply give up. According to Malcolm Knowles, who identified the ways adults learn back in the 1970s, these barriers include:

(a) lack of time, (b) lack of confidence, (c) lack of information about opportunities to learn, (d) scheduling problems, (e) lack of motivation, and (f) “red tape.” If the learner does not see the need for the change in behavior or knowledge, a barrier exits. (Source: Medscape.) 

You have to be both the teacher and the student as authors who market our own books, and that can be tough. If you’re not motivated to learn, you simply won’t do it.

This kind of author gives up easily if they lack motivation or can’t see the use of doing the tasks at hand, even for their own books! Let’s face it: time is an issue. We have lives outside of books.

This author will say, ‘It’s stupid, I don’t get it, therefore, it’s not for me.’ 

Tip: Have your meltdown, eat a cookie, then get back at it. Figure out what the stumbling block is, and seek help (whether that’s taking a course, reading a book on the topic, or paying a consultant if you have the budget). There are plenty of blogs (like mine) with free tips, or find video tutorials, and free webinars to help you with book marketing if cost is a factor.

And don’t forget: I do a free weekly #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday, 6pm pst/9pm est to help you. Join us.

  • Tech Challenges

    I can’t do this. I don’t have the skills necessary. Forget it.

Fear. That’s what is getting in your way. You panic because you are terrified of this technology you have convinced yourself you cannot figure out. Well, you have somehow managed to read this blog post, learned how to use Word or some other program to write your book, and you’re certainly on Facebook bitching about stuff so nope, sorry, I don’t buy it.

This is especially true for older authors (please don’t throw things). You may find this hard to believe, but I didn’t grow up with computers. I still clacked out my college papers on typewriters, too. I had to learn how to use computers in my work life, just as many of you did, or at home as I progressed as a writer.

These are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, Book Marketing, @BadRedheadMedia

I learned how to use social media by researching, reading, watching, taking webinars — learning. How much time have you invested in truly learning how to use social media? How much time have you taken to research the best way to market and promote your books? 

Example: many of the (now-defunct imprint from Booktrope) Gravity Imprint authors came in terrified to participate in a Twitter chat, and come out beaming because it was so incredibly interactive and fun!

This kind of author tends to close themselves off to opportunities before they even have a chance to find out about them, because they say, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that,’ which is really sad. 

Tip: You don’t have to have a BS degree (or be thirteen) to use Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+ or Pinterest. How many times have you become frustrated because you didn’t know a process, and then realized later you could have googled it? If you’re overwhelmed by Twitter, take a basic webinar on it. If you can’t figure out how to use Pinterest, do the same. Again, most are free (How to find them? GOOGLE.), or hey, check the Help Sections!

  • Old-Fashioned LazinessThese are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, Book Marketing, @BadRedheadMedia

There’s no getting around this one. Some people are just lazy. I was literally spoon-feeding valuable free information to people daily with this challenge, and they still wanted more. I get that this challenge was challenging (um…), but do the work! Nobody said that being an author is easy, or that learning how to market our books would be a cakewalk. Get off your ass and do the damn work.

Tip: I’m not offering any tips for this one because if it’s not obvious by now, I can’t help you.

I’m thrilled and honored that over 1200 people signed up to take my challenge, and as of today, I’ve sold several hundred books since the late-December 2016 release, but remember, it’s a challenge! If this was a college class and you couldn’t complete the assignment, would you wait until class the next day to ask the teacher all the questions you had? No, you’d find the answers somehow by researching online, at the library, asking a classmate, right? (Well, maybe you wouldn’t, and that’s why you’d fail the class.) So…

You can do this.


photos courtesy of unsplash

For a more detailed plan on developing your book marketing, purchase Rachel’s new book, The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge now on Amazon!

Already a 5-Star Reader’s Favorite! 

30-Day BadRedhead Media Book Marketing Challenge,, BadRedhead Media, @BadRedheadMedia, Book Marketing

(updated 3/4/2017)


  1. Lisa Shambrook on February 11, 2016 at 8:11 am

    I’m really enjoying your daily challenges! Some, I grin and say “Hey, I’ve already done that!” and others are teaching me brand new things. So, a big thank you, Rachel x

    • Rachel Thompson on February 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      thank you for reading and the feedback and comment, Lisa! So glad you’re finding the challenges helpful (kinda lol). At least for the things you already know, it confirms you’re on the right path. xx

  2. C.C. Havens on February 11, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I’m so grateful for the daily challenges, Rachel. I’ve learned that when my circuits get overloaded, I just need to take a break and come back when I’m feeling rested. It’s a process and with each format I learn, the others get easier as I start to figure out the general logic of the technology. I remind myself that I’m staying current which is sexy. It’s a quality I admire in people older than myself.

  3. Mary Rowen on February 12, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Nice article, Rachel! The daily challenges are great too! Thank you!

  4. helenhanson on February 12, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I knew you were the twitter Princess, Rach, but your facebook recos are just as deep. Kudos and thanks. I shall see you in my in-box tomorrow 🙂

  5. Susanna Donato (@susannadonato) on February 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

    This challenge is fantastic — I feel like I’m pretty media-savvy, but I’ve learned tons, and the challenge finally motivated me to set up a page to promote some recent publications (I think I’d been in the shy/”run away” category previously). So generous of you to share. I’ll suggest your book to writing friends when it is available.

  6. Sue Coletta on February 12, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Stumbled, Googled, and tweeted. You rock, Rachel. Thanks so much for all the work you’ve put into this. Much appreciated.

  7. Jason Chapman on February 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    This is brilliant. I have spent the best part of five months studying how to sell more books on Amazon.

    I have brought a few self-help guides which have worked.

    I have learnt that there is a world of difference between being an author and being able to market your book.

    If there is one lesson I have learned, it’s that if you want to sell books you HAVE to be able to know how to market them. You HAVE to know where to market them.

    One place where you will not sell books is facebook. There are hundreds of book promotion pages where you can upload a link to Amazon. But the chances of selling any books is slim. This is because hundreds of other authors are uploading their books. In essence, the only people who go on these book promotion pages are other authors, not people who read books.

    Book promotion websites however, are a different matter. These are the pages you need to be on. Why? Because they target people who read books, and that’s where the money is. There are dozens of book promotion sites out there, some massive like Bookbub, others small like Ebook-soda.

    You can also use amazon’s advertisement feature which allows you to target different genres.

    All you need to do is believe in yourself and your ability to write a good story.

    • deepercolors on February 16, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Yeah but BookBub for instance is expensive. So are most of the promo sites. Do you have any recommendations for the poor writer? :-\

      • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2016 at 9:41 pm

        Agree, BookBub IS outrageously expensive. So many other options and ways to get exposure and visibility. Blogging is free, networking is free, guest blogging is free…it goes on. and many sites offer free options when taking one’s book free also.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      HI Jason! Kudos to you for studying book marketing which is something few authors even bother with. Most release their book and then sit back, waiting for the sales to roll in, shocked when nothing happens. A terrible business plan!

      Facebook is fickle — I think that, if you boost your posts through smart advertising, you can have some success, but it’s a science, like anything else. I’ve found that using AuthorRise and their FB ad service to be very effective (and they only charge for the ads, not the service). I let them do the work!

      In past posts, I share many reasonably priced sites that are far more affordable than BookBub. Sure, it’s great for visibility but awfully hard to get into and very, very spendy.

      Ultimately, the writing is what’s most important, as you say. The hardest part is always the writing — but we can’t ignore the rest.

  8. brendasbookbeat on February 12, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I am loving your challenge and i seem to learn something new most days. Like those above, some of them i have found, but of those i had found (so far) some i had already forgotten about, or you have shown me a better way to use it.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      so glad you’ve found it helpful, Brenda! thanks for commenting and participating

  9. od_writer on February 16, 2016 at 4:15 am

    Great article. I like how it’s down to earth and yet far from condescending. Also inspiring to read your bio. I look forward to learning from you and the process as I make attempts to market my work =)

    • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      thank you so much! It’s a long process and it takes a lot of constant work! I’m dedicated and ambitious, but ultimately, it’s about the writing. That’s always my focus. The writing has to be great, or I won’t be happy with myself. The rest of it — the marketing and promotion, supports the books, but the books have to be the best I can make them. <3

  10. […] is Why Your Books Aren’t Selling: 4 Ways To Improve Now and These Are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing by Rachel […]

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  12. carol hedges (@carolJhedges) on February 23, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Well, as a nearly 66 yr old, I’ve learned so much! And set up my own special author page completely on my own with the help of the tips. So if klutzy oldie here can do it, anybody can. Yep, there are some things I have deided not to do: book bub (they didn’t take me when I was with a publisher anyway), a few of the more ‘American’ publicity things, but it has been enlightening to read about them anyway. A very good series of advice sheets..most of them filed away to read later. Thanks you.

  13. UncoveredMyths (@UncoveredMyths) on March 3, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Your article was re-tweeted today.

    A few years ago, I thought I would have to give up writing. I lost almost all of my vision.

    However, a few stories are begging to reach out to others.

    I tried to learn spoken VoiceOver as a screen reader. No luck.

    I started to learn braille.

    Managed to get accepted to the training center, only to find – they could teach braille. No VoiceOver for computer training. And certainly not for a writer’s needs! The trainer, although a nice person, had no interest in any document programs. Her longest writing was her grocery list.

    Tried to learn on my own again. Gave up in a sense. I bought a braille display and am teaching myself to use VoiceOver through it. Over 1,000 times easier than spoken VoiceOver which I can’t comprehend. I didn’t realize how deaf I was!

    Oh, and there is no manual to teach how to use a braille display with VoiceOver. So. Um. I’m writing it as I go along. It is actually helping me learn.

    Deafblind, and doing fine. And soon, I’ll be back to figuring out how to market (can’t use visual social media like Pinterest well).

    First – I need to figure out how to find my audience.

    Gonna be a long road.

    In another month or two, I’ll be ready to try again. When I can pick up my braille display and use it as if I know what I am doing.

  14. […] No need to fight with yourself or come up with further excuses (i.e., yea, sure but I can’t afford not to work, etc… we’ll cover that below). Just answer the questions! The point of this exercise is to assess your commitment to not only writing, but to the business of writing. These are two very different animals. You can sit at your computer and pump out book after book after book, which will sit in a nice, neat little pile for time immemorial, or you can learn the business of selling and marketing your work correctly (hello, this does not mean spamming “buy my book!” links on social media). […]

  15. […] Source: These are the Reasons Most Authors Fail at Book Marketing […]

  16. Jake Parent on April 29, 2016 at 5:46 am

    This is so real and honest and full of good advice we all need to hear (even if it’s just to be reminded).

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