The #1 Mistake That Holds Writers Back From Getting Their Book(s) Selling (#3)

Posted by in Prose on Fire

There’s this funny little acronym that is getting repeated across the internet to unsuspecting authors. It’s being billed as “advice” and at times even being billed as “good advice.”

The acronym is WIBBOW, and it stands for “Would I Be Better Off Writing?” And while started with good intentions, there are some writers who have taken it to the extreme.

Unfortunately, what started off as a simple reminder to authors that their first and foremost job is writing, has now started a movement of writers who believe that the ONLY thing they can do for their career is write their next book.

Now, in some cases, this is probably the best use of their time. But a number of authors use this little acronym, WIBBOW, as an excuse to ignore marketing completely while they are writing their first book.

Some also use it as an excuse to ignore marketing completely for the first six months to two years after their book is already on the market.

And some even use it as an excuse to ignore marketing completely until they have 5 books available, which can easily take them 3-5 years!

So let’s unpack this phenomenon a little while I also give you some straight up facts (and tough love) about selling a book:

Fact #1: You can’t sell your book without having an audience

We all understand that we need a readership to sell our books. What fewer authors understand is how long it genuinely takes to build an audience.

Successful entrepreneur Neil Patel is one of the foremost marketing experts online and is responsible for driving major traffic to some of the top websites in the world, including sites like Yahoo!, Microsoft, Techcrunch, and the I Can Haz Cheezeburger network.

The guy knows his stuff. But even though he is a world-class marketer, he still estimates that it takes 1.5 to 2 years to build a brand new website from scratch!

If it takes a world-class marketer at least 18 months to build a new audience, how long do you think it could take you?

Too many authors are stuck in the waiting game when it comes to building an audience for their book. They say things like:

  • “I need to have X books done before I get my website up”
  • “Who would want to join an email list for a book that isn’t even available?” (Answer: plenty of people)
  • “I’m too overwhelmed with writing to worry about the marketing stuff”
  • “I want to let the work speak for itself”
  • “Once I establish myself with several books, I’ll get visibility in Amazon’s store”

Here’s what happens: the author spends three years “getting ready” to market and is still at square one when she starts. So then it takes another three years to get to where she’s going, when she could be done already!

Do you really want to be just getting started with building your audience three years from now, when you could be doing it right now in very little time and with an easy-to-follow marketing plan? (Am I the only one who thinks putting off building an audience sounds crazy?)

Fact #2: Writing a book is NOT a marketing strategy

The reason WIBBOW came about is because at the beginning of the self-publishing revolution, hundreds and thousands of writers entered the market with a single title and simply promoted that one book like crazy, hoping it would bring them a full-time income.

Of course, that didn’t work either.

Veteran writers tapped those authors on the shoulders and explained that in order to build a career as a writer, one needed an entire body of work—not just one book that they tweeted about five times a day. “Oh, and also, the marketing you’re doing is annoying!”

Those same veteran writers then also said (well-meaning, again), “The best way to market your last book is to write your next one!”

In other words, they laid out a simple strategy that the best way to market your available books is to write more books.

And newbie authors took that to mean that writing more books was the best marketing strategy, because there is certainly some truth to it. In fact, many of the most successful self-published authors today got there in part because they had a huge catalog of books for readers to buy.


Writing books does not equal marketing books. Period.

While it’s true that having multiple books is an element of building an audience, it is simply not the whole story—not even close!

To see the truth in this, all you have to do is look at all the hundreds and thousands of authors who have 20+ books available and who still aren’t selling. (If you are in search of these stories, check out the Kindleboards at Some of the authors in The Writer’s Cafe share their stories and struggles with following the “write more books” strategy.)

The reason they aren’t selling is because writing a book is simply not a marketing strategy in and of itself.

The authors who are doing well because they’ve written a number of books are ALSO promoting those books like crazy behind the scenes. They have active social media, a steady advertising schedule, a huge email list, friends who are NYT bestsellers, and killer storytelling skills!

So don’t be fooled into the “write more books” marketing strategy, because it simply does not match the reality of what successful authors are actually doing to get all those sales.

Fact #3: You can write a book AND market a book—at the same time

I was talking to one of my author friends about the idea that she didn’t have to choose between writing her next book and marketing her debut book—she could actually do both at the same time.

Her face practically lit up at the idea. “I can write a book AND market a book at the same time. Duh!”

When we stopped laughing (probably about 5 minutes later), I told her how I’m able to do both at the same time.

Me: “I spend about 2-3 hours writing and get a respectable 5,000 new words. Then, I have the rest of the day to do whatever—work on my website, set up my email list, add new calls-to-action to my books…”

Her: “How much time do you spend on marketing, total?”

Me: “Because I focus on evergreen marketing, less than two hours a week.”

So yes, you can do both at the same time when you get an evergreen marketing plan for your book.

What is it evergreen marketing? I would define it as marketing that you put in place once but that continues to work for years and years to come.

Example: putting together a sample of your work (a free or $0.99 first book in a series, a short story, etc.) and distributing it once on as many platforms as possible.

One-time action, evergreen results.

Because an evergreen marketing plan does not have any time sensitive elements (there are no promotions, no advertising campaign, no contests, no scheduling), it can work for you no matter what your schedule looks like or how many hours you have per day to work on your book.

It also works (really well, I might add) when you have children, a job, and other life responsibilities that limit your time in front of the computer.

So how do you get started with evergreen marketing for your fiction book(s)?

I talk a lot about evergreen marketing in a special training I put together about sales funnels for fiction authors. In the training, I talk about the 10 stages of audience and and help you identify where you might be missing the mark with your audience.

It’s free! You can sign up here to get over an hour of audio and plus a 50-page guide that will help you come up with your sales funnel and/or identify gaps in your current sales funnel.

I’m not selling anything in the training, so don’t worry or stress about that.

When you sign up, I’ll also start sending you my free Prose on Fire column every Thursday as a resource to help you improve your fiction marketing. You can unsubscribe at any time!

Grab the free training here »

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin