Episode 19: Marketers & Coffee: Mistakes Authors and Ourselves Have Made

mark dawson mistakes authors make


Our topic for today is talking about some of the mistakes authors, as well as ourselves, have made. These are mistakes to not only learn from, but to avoid if you’re just starting to think about self publishing.

Even for established authors, it’s useful to look at past mistakes, learn from them and push forward. That also applies to comparing your mistakes to others successes on social media, which presents a false representation of the struggle of authors.

One such struggle is figuring out what to spend money on as an author, and among the most important elements to consider is the cover. Look at other covers in your book’ genre to see what your readers would most likely respond to. Two tips for planning a cover are do not create the cover yourself, and test the book cover.

“I'm always very honest when people ask me for my opinion on those kinds of things because it is the most important thing before the writing itself. If you sell a book with a bad cover, it doesn't matter how good the writing is. You could have a Pulitzer-quality story, but if people don't engage with the cover enough to open the book, to download a sample, to start reading, the quality of the writing is completely irrelevant.” — Mark Dawson

Another struggle authors face is getting reviews. Don’t just assume they’re going to come in; you have to be proactive about it (and not by gaming the system). This means you have to actually ask your readers and followers for those reviews. But if you don’t ask, you’re not going to get the reviews to add to your sales page.

A mistake a lot of authors make, which we’ll touch on in an upcoming episode, is to put off starting your email list. Having an email list makes it possible to form relationships with your readers and keep them updated with your latest news and releases. And there are plenty of email list services to get you started.

While some may say advertising is a waste of money and time, authors like Mark have found success by learning how advertising works and advises his clients to look into popular advertising sites like Facebook ads, AMS ads, and Book Bub.

If you have suggestions for future episodes of Marketing & Coffee, comment below or visit the Contact page.

mark dawson mistakes authors have madeBio of the Author in the Case Study:

Mark Dawson is the author of several fiction and non-fiction titles, and has worked as a lawyer and in the London film industry.

He is currently writing three series of books, including the John Milton books, which have made the USA Today and Audible bestseller lists. He currently lives in Wiltshire, U.K,  with his wife and two children.

Resources Referred to in this Episode:


  1. Josh Scandlen on April 4, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    love the podcast, Dave! Thanks for doing that, man.Just wondering, you both seemed to be big on Mailerlite as opposed to Mail chimp.I’m JUST starting to build out some landing pages to capture emails. Any reasons for the preference?Thanks sir!

    • Dave Chesson on April 5, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks – that means a lot. MailerLite allows you to create autoresponders while under the free trial. Where as MailChimp doesn’t. Also, MailChimp`s prices later when your list is bigger, is a LOT more than others.

  2. Arun Sarathy on March 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Hands down – investing in book covers is vital to book`s success.Also agree that the real work begins after the book is published, however it also pays in advance to research our audience, test it as best as we can, before we start writing, especially if writing books is our main source of income – I love Pat Flynn`s (from Smart passive income) testing methods in this case in his book Will it fly.I am a big fan and proponent of a/b testing and found great results with them. Have used FB ads as well but it did not do great value-add for me – may be because I am still a newbie there.Great podcast, Dave! Keep it coming.

    • Dave Chesson on March 9, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks Arun!

  3. Matia Quintana on March 7, 2018 at 12:38 am

    Would love to hear from Kristine Kathryn Rusch or David Gaughran

    • Dave Chesson on March 7, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Good call – I agree!

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Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.


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