The Seven Deadly Sins

What follows is a paraphrase of an article by Dan Smith on the mistakes and actions that can destroy an author’s chances to get substantial media coverage, and how to avoid these common pitfalls. For the full version see the BookBaby Blog

1. Sloth
If you think sitting back and watching royalty checks roll in is your destiny, think again. Virtually all authors must “get out there” and be seen and heard. Book signings and tours are not passive events; they require a hunger for success and kinetic energy level. Interviews can be a gold mine or a disaster for one who puts forth a half-hearted effort. Publicity doesn’t happen; you have to make it happen.

Lazy authors languish in the million rankings on bookselling sites.

2. Pride
If you are promoting a book, prepare for your pride to be pierced a few times. One of the most common mistakes we’ve seen authors make is letting a negative review or a bad interview derail their determination.

The author believes his book is a bestseller; it is his baby, his labor of love. He has great pride in what he has written, so much so that it has created an excessive belief in his abilities and his book; after all—his relatives and friends love it. When the tough times come, pride begets anger, which begets frustration, which leads to disillusionment.

Roll with the punches, and stay the course. Put your ego on bed rest.

3. Envy
Envy serves no purpose in book promotion. The only way other authors get great publicity gigs is because they try. If anything, you should learn from them. Watch successful authors carefully, examine their topic, and then examine your own project. We all can learn something from others; we still do every day.

4. Lust
How does lust come into play with book promotion?  Good publicity can be intoxicating. Appearing on talk shows, reading articles written about you … it all makes you feel good, and it should. We always tell authors to enjoy the ride, because it won’t last forever. However, letting your good time change you, (or bring about actions which have nothing to do with the hard work of promoting your book) can be disastrous. Losing focus–taking your eye off the ball–is a surefire way to run into trouble..

In the end, lust almost always makes for an unhappy ending to what can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

5. Gluttony
Gluttony in book promotion touches upon several of the other sins. In its purest form, it is the insatiable desire to “consume” as much publicity as possible, and not being satisfied with each opportunity. Local radio interviews, for example, become unsatisfying, and an author starts to shun them because she wants more and bigger opportunities. A book review in a small newspaper is dismissed as insignificant, because she wants bigger newspapers. A local TV opportunity is declined because there aren’t enough viewers to fulfill the need for exposure.

Book promotion is like a seven course meal. You start slowly, testing the waters, then move onto the next course. Small opportunities open the door to larger ones. You proceed in a steady, measured manner, enjoying every course while building confidence, momentum, and sales.

6. Greed
Like gluttony, greed is the offspring of several other sins, and perhaps the most common sin of book promotion.

When clients truly understand the nature of publicity, they are able to roll with the busy times and slow times, knowing it is the cumulative efforts of the entire campaign that count.

Greed may be good on Wall Street, but it will bankrupt a book promotion campaign.

7. Anger
Anger comes in many forms in book publicity. We once worked with an author who received a brutal review of his book, and was so angry he proceeded to drive over 200 miles to the reviewer’s location, storm into the office, and scream at the reviewer.  This was, putting it mildly, a bad move.

The reviewer reacted by contacting reviewers at other newspapers in his company’s chain, and urged his colleagues to review the book. Five additional negative reviews appeared in the ensuing weeks.

It is important to keep in mind when promoting your book, you are opening yourself up for scrutiny. In fact, you are inviting it. You want the scrutiny and attention.  Assuming everyone will react positively to you or your book is foolish and naive.

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