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Facing Common Author Challenges with a Positive Outlook

Oftentimes, authors focus on the work behind publishing and promoting your book. But what can be equally challenging is handling the emotions and anxiety that can creep into your mind once your book is finally out there.

I know this first hand. When my first book published 18 years ago, I was terrified. One night I had a dream that my book had so much global hate, that readers were chasing me down the street throwing my own book at me!

It was bad. But now, all these years later, I’m able to design book promotion services that really blow past these typical author insecurities to put the focus back where it belongs – on pinpointing and executing book promotion ideas that get books in hands.

What authors may not realize is that attitude has a lot to do with the overall success of your book. Challenges will inevitably crop up along the way, but having a plan on ways to tackle them is key to keeping up your momentum and not letting them defeat you.

Let’s take a look at some common challenges authors face and how to handle them with a positive outlook.

I got a bad review!

You know the feeling: you’re out there going gangbusters on your own book promotion when suddenly you’re hit in the face with a bad review. When this happens, it feels unfair and (often) like the person who wrote the review didn’t really read your book or understand its content. You want to fight back; you want to respond to the review. You want to tell them why and how they got it wrong. But here’s the thing, you really shouldn’t. Most of these bad reviews will happen on Amazon – not because Amazon is a hub for this sort of thing, but in almost every case, bloggers who do book reviews won’t take the time to write a review and slam the author. If they didn’t like your book, they’ll probably tell you why and ask whether you want the review posted or not. Bad reviews, even just one, are often hard to swallow and they can make you want to give up.

Here’s my advice: don’t. Not everyone is going to love your book – that’s just the reality. I remember my first bad review on Amazon and how I mentally argued with the person who posted it (even though I didn’t know them). It’s not worth your energy or your (book promotion) time.

Once you’ve had a chance to get some distance from the review, have another look at it and see if there’s anything you can learn from it. In almost every case there’s always something I can learn from a less-than-stellar review.

Everyone else is doing better than I am!

It often seems like everyone else is selling books like crazy while you’re over here struggling to sell just 10 copies of your book a month. The truth is, some authors kick book marketing butt and do very well, but in most cases not right out of the gate. Meaning that they’ve had some ramp up time to promote their book. Many times, their first book was a failure (or something close to that) but they took what they learned (as well as the bad mistakes they made) and changed up their book marketing going forward.

The lesson here is this: don’t make the same book promotion mistake twice. You won’t know it all coming out of the gate, but there’s always the opportunity to learn.

The other side to this is that, sadly, some people inflate their numbers. I’ve had clients who belong to various chats and such, and when you’re anonymous online, and no one is asking to see your actual sales figures, some people inflate what they’re actually doing. It’s a lot like the social media mindset: people generally don’t post pictures of their failures. So bear in mind that while some authors gain great success, sometimes their version of success is a bit too far from the truth.

I am terrible at book marketing!

No one is born with the knowledge of how to market a book. It’s something you have to learn and it’s always changing. No one is terrible at book marketing – that’s a broad statement. You may hate pitching bloggers or media, or writing pitches. Or maybe you hate social media. Find the things you aren’t good at and (if you can) outsource those.

The other side of this is the learning curve – because there is a learning curve for sure – especially when it comes to a project that’s so personal to you. And regardless of your genre, publishing a book (whether your first or your fiftieth) is always personal. So give yourself some space and time to learn the ropes, give yourself some time, and be realistic about the time you can commit. I’ll admit that when a book launches, things are exciting and everything seems to be firing at once. It’s a great time to hit the ground running, but it can also be a time when you lose momentum as nothing seems to be happening. Not everything in book marketing happens at once. In fact, most of it takes longer than you’d expect. Book promotion is a lot like gardening – you plant it, you tend to it, you water it, and then, weeks later it starts to sprout. Things take time and if you’re actively engaged in your own success, cut yourself some slack. Nobody is born famous, and no book is an instant success.

Maybe my book is bad!

There may be some truth to this, but going back to the prior point of things take time – maybe it’s not your book, but just the fact that your book hasn’t had enough time to grow legs and learn to walk. Have you spent a lot of time on your book promotion, or is your book too new to know whether you have or not?

The other side to this is that if your book is getting a bunch of bad reviews, or if bloggers are kicking your book back saying it’s full of typos, or if you’re getting negative feedback on your cover, then maybe there are pieces of your book that need fixing. The truth is, if you’ve done the work, and you’ve done your due diligence, your book probably isn’t bad, it just hasn’t found an audience yet.

Let me ask you this: if you’ve been struggling with this particular pitfall, it might be something not even related to a book quality issue, but how it’s positioned. For example, I worked with an author who positioned her book as a paranormal romance. I pushed it to that market and did all of our marketing around this particular industry. The thing was, it wasn’t *quite* up to snuff in terms of what paranormal romance readers wanted. The book was great, the cover was great, but the slight shift in genre (from paranormal romance to contemporary romance) made a huge difference. Sometimes fixes can be small, but have a major impact. So consider that before you throw in the book promotion towel.

No one cares about my book!

This statement couldn’t be truer. No one cares about your book – they only care what your book can do for them. See what I did there? The problem with most book promotion campaigns is that so often the book is pushed as the center point to the entire pitch, and it’s not. Consumers buy on emotion and this is true whether they are buying fiction or non-fiction. You have to speak to their emotional trigger. Are you entertaining them? Educating them? Enlightening them? The point being that indeed, no one cares about your book – they only care what your book can do for them. If it’s a “thrill ride” then that should perhaps be the lead-in to your pitch. If it is a surprising look at health and wellness, then that’s your lead in. The book plays a major role, but it should not be a pivotal point in your pitch. So keep in mind, if you feel like no one cares about your book, you’re probably right. But if you change your pitch, and change the focus, I bet you’ll find a lot of people care about that!

The work of publishing and promoting a book is really half the battle. Being able to keep negative thoughts at bay and work through any insecurities while keeping a positive attitude can do wonders for your book. By tackling these challenges head on and keeping the momentum going, good things will happen.


Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit