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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Indie Publishing: The Perks of Being A Boss

Like a bossEveryone wants to be a boss these days. Pop culture is inundated with phrases like “boss chick”, “all eyes on me”, “poppin’ bottles” and my personal favorite “like a boss”. You can use it to describe doing anything with excellence: I ate that whole piece of chicken (like a boss), I paid my taxes (like a boss), I sawed that bunion off (like a boss). You get my point. But when you decide to self publish, you really are a boss. And like I promised last week, I’m going to list the many benefits of independently publishing your books (like a boss). Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


 ********5 Perks to Indie Publishing********

You don’t have answer to anyone but yourself. Didn’t get those proofs approved yet? Feel like changing the cover on a book already in print? Changed your mind about the release date?  Want to release your book in three parts over the course of a year? No problem. There won’t be a marketing exec telling you that you’ve lost your mind. The only person you need to run it by is you. No one will reprimand you. There won’t be a big meeting or conference call where you’re treated like a temperamental writer with threats of re-negotiating your contract. Unless you decide to hold said meeting with yourself. Which is entirely your prerogative. #JudgementFreeZone

You have full creative control. You have the final say on everything from your typeset font to your cover design. Want to make a plot change that’s eons away from your original synopsis/proposal? Go for it. Feel like writing a sci-fi self-help historical romance? Who cares if it’s never been done. Do you, kid. There’s no team of experts stifling your creativity with marketing trends, focus group data, and comparative sales reports. But in all your creativity, don’t forget that you do want to eventually sell your book and keeping a specific fan base in mind is probably a good idea.

Full return on your investments. There’s no team to split the pot with. All profit belongs solely to you. Now, I’m speaking of money made after you’ve deducted the cost of an editor, cover designer, promotional material, etc. Because what you don’t want to produce is some certifiable junk. But once you’ve paid for that initial investment, every cent that comes in belongs to you. You don’t have to worry about paying back an advance from a publishing house if your sales don’t meet their projections.

The complete success or failure of your book is entirely in your hands. Some may view this as a negative, but you’ve got to have a boss mentality about it. I feel totally empowered this fact. No one is going to work harder for me than me. Whether I sell 10 or 10,000 copies of my book is entirely up to me. It’s all dependent upon how much time and effort I’m willing to put into marketing, promoting, and writing. The same is true of traditionally published authors. Publishing houses allot only so much for book promotion, and the less of a name you have for yourself in the industry, the less of a budget you get. So, no matter what, hustling is the name of the game. Suddenly I’m feeling all, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

The world is your office. Literally. You can work anywhere, at anytime, and do most of it in your pajamas. I love modern technology and the fact that I can network, market, promote, write, email, conference call and connect with business associates from anywhere in the world. Being an indie author (especially once you’ve hit your stride) means freedom from conventional schedules and constraints. You can handle your business and write anywhere. That sense of freedom and discovery is part of what keeps me going down this indie publishing road. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!


Tell me about your indie publishing perks below. Nothing is too small. Whether it’s getting to hang out and drink coffee at Starbucks all day, or the amazing tax write-offs for hosting parties to discuss your book, I want to hear about it!

**Bonus** Check out my take on signs that confirm you’re a writer. Lots of strange behaviors and quirkiness ahead! (Click here.)

 Photo credit: savvysmilinginlove / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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

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)

Feeling a Little Like Macklemore

Office Worker with Mountain of Paperwork
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So the other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook (the absolute definitive source for foot-in-mouth syndrome) and I came across an author avidly defending a tweet in which she compared self-published literature to the slush piles of major publishing houses. This author spewed out about 24 paragraphs on Facebook to explain away a mere 140 characters on Twitter. I’m not here to cast stones, so I won’t reveal her name or go into all the ways I both agree and disagree with her. I will say that I was a little offended. She let the air out of my tires, so to speak. She also got me thinking.

You see, I like to indulge in the fantasy of comparing my own budding self publishing efforts to that  of unsigned musicians. Don’t judge me. I like the idea of emerging as an underground artist having struggled to get my ‘demo’ into the hands of discriminating fans, most of whom obtained it at bass pulsating smoke filled clubs. Independent artists have ‘street cred’. They come up the hard way and they have a fan base that makes the industry labels take notice. Indie artists have more control over their work and the respect of their peers since they’re able to focus more on authenticity and less on commercialization. All that being said, the overall goal is to get signed. Because when you get signed, you have a money machine behind you that’s able to reach far more people than any unsigned artist ever could in clubs across the nation. The difference is that the independent artist doesn’t wait for the labels to give them permission to make music. They make the music, and put it out there to succeed or fail.  Then, if they’re lucky, the labels come to them.

I’m not a musician. Please don’t get that confused. I was just momentarily caught up in an analogy that went on a little longer than I anticipated. But, I’m a writer who’s new to the game. I believe I have something to say that other people need to hear. I believe that what I have to say is relevant whether a major publishing house agrees or not. Self-publishing is changing the publishing industry in ways that have authors, editors, agents and publishers up in arms. Writers now have the privilege of putting their work out there and letting readers decide if they want to see more. Writers also have the responsibility of producing quality work that makes readers ask for more. Publishing power has shifted. More of it belongs to writers, however the majority of it belongs to readers; and that’s exactly how it should be.

Macklemore said it best:

Money, stay on my craft and stick around for those pounds,
But I do that to pass the torch and put on for my town
 Trust me. On my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T s**t hustler,
Chasing dreams since I was fourteen with the four track bussing
Halfway cross that city with the backpack, fat cat, crushing

Labels out here,
Now they can’t tell me nothing
We give that to the people,
Spread it across the country

So let’s put our pens up like the ceiling can’t hold us.