Marketing Strategies

This is the first of several posts in a series I’m going to call “marketing for life” where I’m talking about strategies I’ve found that can help small press and indie authors create long-term sales impact.

Marketing for Life: an introduction

There are whole blogs and books about marketing your books, but in practice, from what I can see, not a lot of authors are using long-term practices. Many authors are acting like bots, posting short “here’s my book, buy it” posts and then they disappear. Or worse, they reappear only to post exactly the same thing a day or a week later in a completely unrelated thread or group. These author-bots seldom post anything meaningful except to hawk how their book is one you must read — whether it’s relevant to the topic of the original post, thread, group or community.

Then these same authors lament they aren’t selling but a few copies.

Why do I think I have anything to say?

In 2018, while it’s not “quit my job” level of income, I made, on average, twice the sales of most other authors in my social networks. I am still making substantial monthly royalties on novels that are a decade old.

I’m the first to tell you that I don’t like marketing as much as I like writing. I’m always looking for ways to maximize impact from a single action, so that I don’t have to spend all my time at it. I am always seeking ways to build reader-author connections that last for a long time: links that won’t expire and creating tweets, advertisements, and posts that will show up when someone is searching for the kinds of books I write or the topics I explore in my writing.

I’m not talking about being the expert everyone goes to, but rather, a name that is familiar, a friend to accompany the would-be reader.

Why do I feel it necessary to speak up?

As a reader-author on many writing, publishing, and book groups, I am constantly annoyed by “trade links” or “buy my book” posts that are nothing more than a picture, and link. Even the blurbs are uninformative: “my book which I wrote.”

I don’t click those links, and I don’t know many readers who would. I did a little query of my connections online. Would-be book buyers want to know:

  • “What’s it about?”Would-be book buyers want a real summary. They’re looking for KEY words that match or pique their interests!
  • “Is it written well?”What have others who have read it have to say about it.
  • “What formats can be bought?”This is a combination of “where can I buy it?” and “is it a book, audiobook, and/or ebook?”
Give would-be book buyers these things and your clicked links AND sales will increase.
No longer vaguely ask “buy my book” anymore; in your post explain its genre and summarize the story. For non-fiction, provide the reason you wrote it.
To answer is it written well, use a quote from a review. Don’t have any reviews yet? Ask your beta readers, or your editor for a quotable comment. Or get a review by sending a free ARC to a reputable reviewer of that type of book. Do your research and DO NOT PAY FOR REVIEWS.
Advertisements and short posts can do all these things. To reach readers, create visuals, static ads or short videos, but provide this information and you’re on your way to better click-through and sales.

Marketing Example

This ad for We Three incorporates things readers said they need before they’ll click a link:

1) actual book dialogue

2) summary of the plot question

3) 5 star review (Amazon) quote

4) something relevant about author

5) age/content notes

6) universal buy link.

NOTE: This advertisement contains words that are meaningful to the ideal reader-buyer of MY book. Not every book is for every reader. The “ideal reader” you fixed in your head while writing your book is the same one you should market to, not “everyone.”

There’s also a research-based connection between intentionally thinking about a specific reader type and success in sales. When you’re talking to the right audience in the right tone, you sound far more connected and friendly. Readers actually do want to be friends with writers; they think we’re kind of amazing. So, smile and listen, and ENGAGE. Just like you do with friends.

Think about marketing as building really good friendships with the same “rules.” Everyone knows it would be rude to walk up to a friend every single day, slap down a “buy my book” business card, then walk away. Not ever asking them how they are? Not asking them what they’ve been up to lately? Just talking all about you. 

“Like my book/page/tweet and I’ll like yours” posts are just as bad. This is exactly like trading business cards at a conference. For a day. Nothing more. Most “business cards” end up in the trash, people, because they’re just scraps of paper.

Image result for be memorable image

Spend the energy to create a singularly memorable experience that connects you and your reader.

Make a good impression. Build relationships. Engage in conversation. Being a real person and not mimicking a bot will help you create longer term relationships with readers and in the long-run help you continually sell more books. Because people will remember how you made them feel.

See you next time,

PS – Follow my blog for more posts on this topic. Next, I’ll elaborate on how to do your own market research to gather the information that will be best for reaching YOUR specific book audience.


Some topical reads I ingested before writing include:
Belew, Shannon. Art of Social Selling, The. 2018. audiobook.

Buelow, Beth L. Introvert Entrepreneur, The. 2015. book, also podcasts at http://

Sansevieri, Penny. “18 Rock Solid Book Marketing Strategies for 2018”. Author Marketing Experts. December 18, 2017. blog post.

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