9 Mistakes Most Authors Make, Per Steve Harrison

By Douglas Winslow Cooper

On January 16, 2015, I listened to a fine webinar by marketing and publicity expert Steve Harrison (@PublicityGuy on Twitter, head of Bradley Communications Corp.) on nine common errors, to which he added a tenth. He emphasized that your book represents you, so make it as good as you can. 

The errors:

1. WRONG STRUCTURE: Don’t deviate from the tried and true, such as Covey’s itemized 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Blanchard’s parables in the One-Minute Manager, or the classic How To…. Imitate what has succeeded in the past.

2. WRONG PUBLISHING OPTION: Your choices include self-publishing, co-publishing with a subsidy press, getting an agent and a conventional publisher. Then, too, there are print and digital. Each has its plusses and minuses.

3. WRONG TITLE: Keep it short. Make it intriguing. Make a promise. Bust a myth. Quantify, such as Tim Ferriss did in The 4-Hour Work Week. Get advice from others, even run a focus group.

4. NOT MEDIA-GENIC: Need a hook to get attention: Fame. Celebrity. Current event. How to. Myth busting. Controversy. 

5. WAIT UNTIL PUBLISHED TO START CASHING-IN: No, start as soon as you have a good title and some work done on the book. Pre-sell, if you can. Lecture. Do interviews. 

6. TRYING TO SAY EVERYTHING IN ONE BOOK: Pick your best, save the rest. A few key ideas you can explain clearly, forcefully.

7. NOT IDENTIFYING  A “CHOIR” TO PREACH TO THAT WILL SING YOUR PRAISES: Need a tribe to help promote you. Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life advanced by congregations he contacted. Robert Kiyosaki pushed Rich Dad, Poor Dad with help from multi-level marketing contacts. 

8. NOT DESIGNING YOUR BOOK TO FACILITATE FOLLOW-UPS: Make it easy to know how to reach you. Solicit email addresses from fans. Much money from books comes from follow-up activities, like speeches.

9. NOT HAVING A TEAM: Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor single-handedly. Others help with ideas and actions, serve as “multipliers.” 

10. PERFECTIONISM: Promising nine items, Harrison delivered one more: the French say, “the best is the enemy of the good.” Nothing man-made is perfect, and if you wait to reach perfection, you will not publish. 


Harrison’s company, Bradley Communications, presents an extended marketing course for a limited enrollment; you can get more information about it if you contact their site right away at http://yourquantumleap.com.