Book Marketing for Dummies

So yeah, if you read the title and immediately clicked on the link to read this post, you’ve come to the right place. You’re obviously slightly desperate and probably equally clueless, which is why you thought, “Book marketing for dummies? Sign me up!”. The idea for this post came about due to a text message from my cousin and fellow writer Inilya Spencer. She’s a new author and wanted to know if I had any advice regarding marketing. I was all, ummmmmm…nope.

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Then I thought about it for a few days and realized that I have learned a thing or two about book marketing over the last year. I’ve mastered the art of ballin’ on a budget.


Start a Blog or Website– To me this seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many authors are out in these streets without a web presence. As in, you go to Google them and all that pulls up is their Amazon book page. For real? Let me check my calendar real quick; yep, it’s 2015. As a legitimate author, you must have  web presence. Whether it’s a blog or website is up to you. But if a reader cares enough to seek you out, you should care enough to make it easy for you to be found. Plus, that blog or website creates a one stop shop for said reader to find all of your books in one place. Winning.

Join Goodreads–This is seriously the single best thing you can do for yourself as an author. In case you live under a rock, and are not privy to Goodreads, it’s a social network similar to Facebook dedicated solely to people who love books! I’ll admit that I slept on Goodreads for a while because I didn’t want the headache of managing another social media platform. I was stupid, but you don’t have to be. Even if your book is nothing but an idea at this point, you should still get on Goodreads quick and in a hurry. Once you’re there, join as many groups within your genre as possible and interact with them. You can use Goodreads to solicit book reviews from readers who actually have an interest in your genre, promote giveaways, drive traffic to your blog, and create ad campaigns, which we’ll talk more about later. Goodreads is so important that I’ll wait while you go there now. Seriously. (Add this to your shelf while you’re there.)

Work Your Social Media Jelly– Again, this seems pretty obvious, but you should have a few social media platforms that you’re comfortable using and are actively engaged in. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever. Pick your poison and promote yourself. Notice I said promote yourself, not your books. Social media is meant to be, well, social. As in readers follow you in an effort to get to know you, not just your books. Engage regularly. Post about random thoughts, family events, cute bunnies, that delicious burger you made or whatever. If you’re doing it right, it should be fun. If you’re doing it wrong, it becomes a chore and you get blocked for being a spammer. I’ve stalked the pros and I’ve noticed that most of them only post about their books when they have a new release or event coming up. Keep it classy and keep it moving.

Postcard Anyone?–As you can see in the text message pic above, I love a good postcard or bookmark. These are oldie’s but goodies in the marketing game. They’re an inexpensive way to promote your book. Get some great ones designed with your basic information and pass them out like candy. I carry a stack in my purse. You can give them away at the hair salon, grocery store, book store, library, gym or wherever. They’re like over sized business cards that you should never leave home without.

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Ad Campaigns–This is one marketing strategy that’s going to cost you a little more than time. Ad campaigns are targeted ads that run for a specific period of time on a particular platform. You pay-per-click on your ad. The good thing about these types of campaigns are that you get to choose your budget, the length of time the ad will run and your target demographics. Some platforms that offer per click ads are Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve only run one ad campaign and I used Goodreads. So far I like it. Using a $25.00 budget I designed an ad that will only be shown to readers that previously rated books by similar authors in my genre at 3 stars and up. This is an awesome feature. I write in Christian Fiction and I listed about 20 other authors in that genre. It’s great that I know my ad is being seen by people who are fans of the genre and who also take the time to rate books they read.

Put Your Book on Sale–Fluctuating the price of your book is a great way to draw attention to it. Make it 99 cents for a period of time and hashtag the mess out of it on Twitter and other platforms. Contact promotional book sites to have them list it during your sales period. List it under the Kindle Count Down Deals.  If you’re only selling your book on Amazon, you can also enroll it in the KDP Select for maximum exposure.  One of the best tried and true strategies is to offer one of your older books for free to help boost the sales of your newer books.

Show Up and Show Out–One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a super popular author who said that new authors should focus on becoming well-known where they live. She admonished authors to keep their efforts local because it’s cheaper, easier and just makes good business sense. Go to every local book related event you hear about. Call up local bookstores and ask them to order copies of your books. Contact your local libraries and offer to host a reading or donate copies of your books. Join local book clubs.  Look for opportunities to showcase your books through speaking engagements and community events. Get out there and strut your literary stuff!

The American Way– Last, but certainly not least, you can always pay someone to market for you. I’m in cahoots with my blogger friend Quanie Miller who has just started her own business which assists writers with all things publishing related. You can pay someone to do the leg work for you and do what we all would rather be doing anyway: write!


I hope this helped get the wheels turning for those of you who don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to marketing. With a lot of effort and patience, you can sell your books. Once I stepped up my marketing game, I’ve watched that little graph on my sales report steadily climb over the last month. As long as I’m selling at least one book a day, I count it a success.

By the way, you can get my cousin’s new release here! Can you tell I’m excited for her in this pic? Excuse the treadmill and random suitcase in the background. I guess we stay ready to go ’round my way.

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What kinds of marketing advice do you have to offer? Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us all about how you get down in the comments below!

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5 Truths Every New Indie Author Should Know

Although my first instinct is to pour my heart out about my sister’s illness, I’m going to resist using y’all as a form of therapy and actually talk about something I haven’t covered in a while: independent publishing. Here are 5 things every new independent publisher should know. I’m going to go ahead and warn you that it ain’t pretty! But I’ll follow up at a later date with some independent publishing positivity.


1. You will feel overwhelmed.– That’s an understatement. You’ll feel so discombobulated that you’ll question your sanity and then answer back with something like, “You passed crazy a long time ago.” There’s so much to be done and there’s no one else to do it. Hence the term “independent”. You’re it kid.

2. You’re a jack of all trades, master of none.– Well, let’s hope you’ve at least mastered the art of writing. But other than that, be prepared to become a business tax professional, an accountant, publicist, marketer, spokesperson, sales person, tech geek, secretary, and the list goes one. You’ll need to know a little bit about several roles in order to maintain some semblance of organization and control.

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3. You will be disappointed.– Overnight success shouldn’t even be a phrase because it just doesn’t happen. Building a brand and a readership takes time. And for an independently published author it usually takes even longer than most traditionally published authors. If you’re expecting to launch your book at the top of the Amazon bestseller list, then it better be because you’ve spent the last few years building a following that is engaged and ready to support your efforts. Otherwise, be prepared to watch that sales graph move like a little old guy climbing a hill. Using a walker. While stopping to smell the roses and shoot the breeze with every person he see’s. But as long as he’s steadily climbing that hill, things are going in the right direction.

4. More time in a day will be something you’d willingly trade blood, your two front teeth or your first born child for.– Seriously, no matter how organized you are, as an independent publisher your to-do list will always be longer than your completed list. There will always be something to add, something to remember, something to do. No matter how much sleep you sacrifice (and you will sacrifice sleep) there never seems to be enough time. Make your peace with it. I like saying this little mantra, “God has given me all the time I need to fulfill the destiny He has for me.” This is extremely helpful if you view your talent of writing as a calling.

5. Sleep will be something you remember fondly.– This is especially true if you have a 9-5 job in addition to running your publishing company. We’ve already established that time is a sneaky little commodity (some thief called Netflix comes and steals mine on the regular), and trading sleep for a few hours of business dealings and writing will probably happen more often than is healthy. There was actually a point in which I was so tired that I experienced a true life mirage. I…well I…I won’t get into all the details, but it happened. It was crazy weird and the mess freaked me all the way out. Let’s just say I’ve recommitted myself to getting the necessary Z’s.

**Bonus** People will randomly solicit you for services you can easily perform yourself.- I had one chick in-box me on Facebook offering a one day only ‘sale’ to advertise my book on her website. She claimed to have 2,500 followers specifically interested in my often overlooked genre of Christian fiction. But guess what? The access to her website was blocked, the ‘sale’ ended at midnight and there was a pre-requisite $49 set up fee. Oh and let’s not forget that I had to do all of it immediately or the ‘service’ would revert back to it’s original price of $319. I almost cussed! Child please.


This list is in no way meant to discourage a new author from pursuing independent publishing. It’s just me venting about some of the frustrations I’ve experienced since my first self publishing venture. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to occasionally pull my hair out. (I won’t do it. I’m waayyy too into my hair to do something like that!) Tell me about your indie publishing angst in the comments below!

P.S. For those of you that have been praying and believing with me for my sister Tiffany’s full recovery, I have good news. She’s talking! And soon, the feeding tube will be removed. Things are on an upward spiral and I couldn’t be more grateful. God is good!

Photo credit: Pablo Municio / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Hook’em From the Get-go

money-43The other day I read an interesting post from one of my favorite author bloggers, Quanie Miller,  about the paramount importance of the first three chapters of your manuscript.  Check that post out here. She offers some great tips for making those first three chapters pop. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve been studying publishing for any amount of time, you already know why the first three chapters of any book are important. For one, it’s what you send to agents and publishing houses when querying your work. Two, it’s the standard amount of time you have to hook a reader. Three, it’s one more way for you to get paid as an independent author. If you have any interest in self-publishing, then that last one should have made your ears perk up.

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you how you can rake in the cash by simply having a great hook. As an author, if you enroll your book in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) you’ll get royalties every time a reader makes it past 10 percent of your book! This means that if a reader borrows your book from the Kindle  Owners Lending Library, and they read about the first three chapters, you cash in. It’s a win-win situation.

I still need to explore KDP a little more to weigh in on the pros and cons (perhaps I’ll post about that another time), but for what it’s worth, I think it sounds like a great incentive for authors to allow their books to be a part of the KDP select  program. Some authors may turn their nose up, thinking that allowing their books in the KDP library might tap into their personal sales, but I think it provides awesome exposure. What are your thoughts?

For more information about KDP select click here

Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Why the Residual Stigma of Independent Publishing Needs to End

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Gutenberg-Press

Warning: this is a rant post. I rarely indulge in rants, but today I feel that it is totally necessary. Here are my personal thoughts on why the residual stigma of independent/self publishing needs to end. It’s a new day people.

The Stigma

Back in the olden days of publishing ( a whole ten years ago) independent publishing was often considered a last resort by most writers. Self publishing was a sort of consolation prize. Authors tirelessly queried agents and/or major publishing houses, and if they weren’t one of the chosen few, they either published through a vanity press or self publishing resource. The upside was that they got their work published! The downside was that more often than not, said work was not up to industry standards. And so began the stigma of self published books.  Readers are discerning, and back in the day, they quickly learned that purchasing a self published book was risky. At the time, self published might as well have been synonymous with low quality.

The Evolution

Well, I’m here to proclaim that it’s time for the stigma to stop! Independent publishing has evolved at a rapid pace. It is now the preferred form of publishing for many authors; even those that have previously published through one of the big five publishing houses. Many writers are no longer putting out sub par work, thanks in large part to the gigantic network of freelance editors, cover designers, and formatters. Lot’s of self published books can easily sit on the shelf next traditionally published books, and compete at the same level.

The Revolution

Thanks to the e-book revolution, independent writers are now able to reach a broad base of potential readers with little monetary investment. Previously, independent writers had to take a gamble on ordering and paying for X amount of books in the hopes of selling the majority of them. Now, an independent writer with a solid marketing plan can easily sell thousands of books. Independently published authors also avoid getting locked into disadvantageous publishing contracts. There’s no stress over meeting the demands of a contract and earning beyond their advance in order to see additional profit.

The Future

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Marketing Seminar

Self-published authors are so freaking phenomenal that they’re often courted by major publishing houses. That’s right. The much sought after big dogs of publishing are known to reach out to a successfully independently published author because they recognize the writer’s talent and readership. That’s a game changer y’all. Could there actually come a day when major publishing houses only consider working with authors that have previously self published? Along with a query letter and synopsis, will publishing houses also require an independently published author’s sales report? You might think I’m reaching, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it happened in the next five years or so. Remember that you heard it here first!

The Bottom Line

Independent publishers are mavericks. They’re the cowboys of our literary wild west; the intellectual gangsters of the publishing underworld. They’re entrepreneurs, risk takers and optimists. They’re writers that like having options and complete creative control. But most of all, they’re awesome. Anyone who thinks otherwise should probably go take a long walk off a short pier.

What’s your take on self-published books these days? 

Photo credit: Foter / Public Domain Mark 1.0

Photo credit: GetAmbITion / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Self Publishing Series, Step 5: Connect With Potential Readers

potential readersThe day has finally arrived. Your polished book is ready and available for readers to enjoy! Now what do you do? Why, you market of course! I strongly debated whether or not to even write a post about marketing simply because, to put it quite plainly, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing! The struggle is real. Then I reminded myself that this blog is not about me being an expert, but about creating a community of writers, both seasoned and new, coming together to share knowledge. It’s also about connecting with people who love reading. That’s when the light finally clicked on! Marketing for writers is simply a way to connect with current and potential readers. When I think of it that way, the rest is a piece of cake. I LOVE connecting with readers.

Fortunately, we’re operating in a time when it’s easier than ever to connect with fans. There are so many outlets available. Social media has completely changed the marketing game. Writers have the opportunity to connect with readers via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumbler, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Blogging, E-mail blasts, newsletters and the list could go on….and on. Which leads me to my next point.

Get ready to get on your grind. Marketing these days could easily become a round the clock job. For independently published authors it practically is. I’m not kidding.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more time marketing than actually writing. Balance is key. Social media is both a gift and a curse to the modern self published author. My advice is to pick your social media platforms carefully, then put in the time and effort required to build a following. I know that some authors believe that you should create a profile with every single available social media source, but I disagree.

If the point of marketing is to truly connect with potential readers, you can only do that if you’re dedicated to faithfully using that particular social platform. For example, what’s the point of creating an author page on Facebook if you rarely log in to it? I think that the best route is to dive right into a few select outlets and really seek to engage with your followers. Hopefully in the end, whatever source you choose will become less of a required chore and more of a joy as you build sincere relationships.

So that’s my two cents on marketing for now. Future posts to come on other marketing strategies and tips such as: creating a solid brand, soliciting book reviews, etc. As I navigate my way into successful marketing, I’ll take y’all with me! It would be a real shame if I ended this post without inviting you to connect with me via the social media outlet of your choice right over there——>>>>> Pick one, you know you want to 🙂

What marketing strategies have you used or are using? Tell me about them in the comments below!

 

Photo credit: WorldLitToday / Foter / CC BY-SA