Books Lingering on Bookshelves? Try These 18 Book Marketing Tips

10-3-16-18-book-marketing-tipsDo you want to sell more books? Every author does. I know that I do.

The truth is, we can never sell enough books, right? It would always be great to be able to sell another 1,000 books, or 100,000 more, or maybe even 250,000 more. Or even 100 more.

Indie writers regularly contact me wanting to know how they can maximize sales of their books. Some of them dream of the day when their writing can support them – a lofty goal.

If you look at the great success stories of today’s indie authors, they support their careers with writing nonfiction or teaching courses. Look at thriller author Joanna Penn as an example. She has sold almost 500,000 books around the world and in five different languages.

She’s also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and was voted one of The Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals in 2013. Also, she has a successful podcast, The Creative Penn.

For all her success, her additional endeavors — courses, nonfiction books, speaker fees — also support her business. The same is true for novelists Mark Dawson and Nick Stephenson.

My point is that to make a living on your writing is possible yet a difficult goal to attain.

Some think that social media in and of itself will sell all the books they want to sell. (Mistake.) Others think reading gigs or guest blogging opportunities will do it.

The hard truth is that there isn’t an easy answer. If there were one, I would share it here. Honestly.

And there isn’t a pill that will suddenly make you a capable marketer. The truth? It takes a lot of work to make it in the publishing business.

But, hey, please don’t let me discourage you. That isn’t the point of this post. What I’m trying to say — perhaps not so eloquently as I’d hoped — is that to sell books as an indie author you need a comprehensive plan.

Ready to roll up your sleeves? Keep reading then.

To sell books as an indie author you need a comprehensive planClick To Tweet

So You Want to Be an Indie Author?

Maybe being an indie author is one of the toughest jobs in today’s market, especially if you hope to make it a full-time career. (On the other hand, teaching sounds a lot harder but for the sake of this post, let’s say that being an indie author is the toughest.)

After you undergo the grueling process of writing a book and paying for editors and designers, your have to put on a new hat, that of marketer.

If anyone thinks that writing a book is tough – and a lot of people do – marketing a book is just as hard.

An 18-Point Checklist of Book Marketing Tips

Book marketing requires a multi-prong strategy that consists of the following:

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Book Marketing Tips from Industry Experts

Book Marketing TipsWhat book marketing tips do you follow religiously? Are you having success?

If you struggle with book marketing, don’t feel alone in your struggle. A lot of authors wish they could be selling more books.

If you have a beautiful author website, you regularly update your blog, and you’re fairly active on social media, you’re probably wondering: What gives?

I decided to contact some expert book marketers to glean their advice and this is what you’ll read below is their best advice.

Book Marketing Tips from Industry Experts

Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn was the first to reply when I asked her for her thoughts and this is what she said. Note: She was in a hurry and only had time for this succinct pearl of wisdom.

Book marketing tip from Joanna Penn


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Social Media for Authors Podcast: Book Marketing Tips for Indie Authors

Book Marketing Tips for Indie AuthorsYou’re reading the text version of the Social Media for Authors Podcast, Episode 22, written and copyrighted by Frances Caballo. This episode focuses on book marketing tips and social media.

[smart_track_player url=”″ title=”Book Marketing Tips for Indie Authors” artist=”Frances Caballo” image=”×80.jpg” color=”d8570b” social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” social_linkedin=”true” ]

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

Too often, we wait until after we’ve written a book to start our marketing.

Not good.

Book marketing starts as soon as you put pen to paper or fingertip to the keyboard.

Book marketing starts as soon as you put pen to paper via @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet

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Listen, Subscribe & Review Social Media for Authors Podcast

2-6-15 Indie Author Marketing Strategies

Plus 5 Book Marketing Tips

You’ve been awesome so far. Within the first four days of asking for reviews I received five — the number I needed to get into directories.

As wonderful as that is, to get the visibility I need for this podcast I need additional subscribers and reviews.

So anyone who subscribes, reviews and send me a screenshot of their review will still receive a free eBook of your choice — as long as it’s one that I’ve written.

Marketing the podcast has been thrilling and exhausting. It’s like launching a book.

I’ve learned a few lessons that I think can be applied to your book marketing techniques and I want to share them with you.

How to Market Your Podcast (or Books)

  1. Design your image right away. For me that meant the very first task was to create the Social Media for Authors Podcast logo. For you, as soon as you’ve firmed up your book title, have a cover designed (and let your readers vote on various versions) and start referring to your new book. Discuss challenges, obstacles, and successes.
  2. Podcasting is another form of content marketing. So create the best episodes (chapters) that you can.
  3. Ask your audience for advice. In my case, I devised a survey. You can ask for suggestions for venues or names of characters in your next book.
  4. Grow your email list.Click To Tweet. This is so important. Social media helps you cultivate relationships with your readers but email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your readers.
  5. Create a podcast page on your website. You’ll want to create a web page for each of your books. If you look at my Books Page, you’ll see a summary of each book and the option to read more about each book.

Friday Roundup

This week’s roundup focuses on book marketing techniques. I hope you enjoy these posts — I did!

7 Types Of Book Launch Events You Can Use To Gain Best Seller Status For Your Book by Shelley Hitz: If you have a book that’s being published soon, you’ll want to take advantage of all that a book launch can offer! In this video, I describe seven types of book launch events with resources for you to consider:

5 Steps to Building Your Most Successful Marketing Campaign Yet by Indies Unlimited: As an indie author, you cannot succeed without a marketing campaign.

At its core, marketing is nothing more than telling a story. Indies UnlimitedClick To TweetIt’s just applied in a different context. Here are the 5 steps you already use to captivate your readers that you can use to build your most successful campaign yet. If you have a book that’s being published soon, you’ll want to take advantage of all that a book launch can offer!

Blogger Outreach by Adam Connell:*Note: This is a great post that applies nicely to book marketing. Have you ever emailed another blogger and struggled to get a response? Maybe you wanted to pitch a guest post idea or wanted to invite them to take part in an interview. Whatever the reason, the results are usually the same – silence. Imagine if you were able to not just get a response, you were able to get a positive response that enabled you to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with that blogger.

Don’t forget to head over to iTunes to listen, subscribe and Review the Social Media for Authors Podcast.


About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Book Marketing Tips for Fiction and Nonfiction Authors

Jean Shinoda bolen (3)On October 12th, the people behind the San Francisco Writers Conference (literary agents Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada) hosted the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference. There were an array of writers, agents, and publishing experts who shared their expertise and advice that day. In case you missed it, I’ve written a summary of the salient points. Although this conference was devoted to nonfiction writers, the information shared that day also applies to fiction.

Words of Inspiration

The day began with a keynote presentation by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and an internationally known author and speaker. I arrived late to the conference but was present when she shared these thoughts:

  • You can’t put all your energy into power and expect to get in touch with yourself.
  • When you take time to do the writing, it is its own reward. After you’ve done that, it’s up to you to take that child into the world. Be proud of that child. So many people apologize for their work.
  • If you love the work you do, then it’s enough.

Book Marketing Tips

Joel FriedlanderJoel Friedlander was one of the panelists and he shared insights on two topics, starting with self-publishing. He outlined the three pillars of marketing ourselves as authors.

  1. Have real content: In other words, anticipate your audience’s questions. Over time, this will build trust and authority in your readers. We live in a competitive environment – but if you add value – share your passion – you will make your content memorable.
  2. Social: We need to gather a readership, a community, which in turn will allow us to grow in new directions. Create engagement with your readers.
  3. Learn how to use keywords, the same words that your readers would type into a Google search bar to find someone like you. Seventy-three percent of people who search on Google never read beyond Page 1. Help people find you by using keywords and learning about search engine optimization.

 On the topic of discoverability, Joel shared these tips.

  1. Use keywords in your books’ titles and subtitles. This was new for me: the subtitle is the real “sweet spot” for SEO.
  2. Google Authorship: Let Google know that you’re an author and where your content is. This will also enhance your SEO.
  3. Amazon’s categories are equal to a bookstore’s shelves. Know which category your readers will search in order to find your books.
  4. Metadata: data is the stuff you wrote, the book ..metadata: is the information we attach to that (title, categories, author names  = metadata) optimizE the metadata on your book is important to discoverability of your book.
  5. Keywords, keywords and more keywords. He showed the example that had he chosen Publishing a Book vs. Publish Your Book, his sales would have been higher. Study keywords because they mean everything to the Indie author.
  6. Learn as much as you can about SEO.
  7. Get as many links to your blog and sales pages as you can. Social media is a great way to have authority sites link back to your website.
  8. In addition, create a network and include links to the websites of authors in your tribe.
  9. Develop your reach and grow your email list. Publishers are interested in these numbers.

Market Your Book with an Author Blog

Nina AmirNina Amir shared her seven reasons why every author should have a blog. She said that an author blog:

  1. Is an essential promotional tool. Basically, it is your toolkit.
  2. On your author website will give you everything you need to have a home in cyberspace. And it will offer a way to write about your book and connect with your readers.
  3. Will help you to create your author brand—how you want to be perceived.
  4. Helps authors promote their books.
  5. Helps you to build your mailing list. Be sure to create a subscription form for your readers. Your subscriber list will become a part of your marketing platform.
  6. Makes it easier to interact on social networks.
  7. A blog makes it possible to have a virtual book tour.

 So You Want to Get an Agent?

Andy Ross, former owner of Cody Books in Berkeley and now a literary agents, shared these tips on finding an agent.

  1. Find agents who are open to your idea. Go to
  2. Compose a query letter. Be transparent, don’t “babble” and don’t use the term “paradigm shift.” Above all else, be authentic.
  3. Once you find an agent, take his/her advice on writing your book proposal.
  4. Don’t say, “there’s no other book like this.” Instead, show that you have a new and important idea and that you have a marketing platform.

 He reminded the crowd that it’s very difficult to be traditionally published. Publishers aren’t taking the risks that they used to.

Michael LarsenWork Your Platform Every Day

Literary agent Michael Larsen offered sage words of advice.

  • Writing needs to be a labor of love. And you need to create books that readers will love.
  • Make sure your writing and publishing goals are in harmony.
  • The holy trinity is read, write and share. Take the time to become an expert in your field.
  • Read authors whom you admire.
  • Publishers buy most nonfiction from a proposal.
  • Editors and agents: you must motivate them to read another word.
  • Crowdsource your success.
  • Get all the help you need.
  • Develop a marketing platform.
  • You must be as visible as possible in as many ways.
  • Test market your book in as many ways as possible.
  • The key to promotion is sharing your passion for your book.
  • Promote your book three years before it comes out.
  • Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
  • Publishing is now dominated by five conglomerates.
  • Content is king.
  • Writing and publishing is a hybrid business.
  • Repurpose your work in as many fields and languages as possible.
  • Nurture your creativity.
  • Persevere. You need a five-year plan and you need to work it every day.
  • You need to make a long-term commitment to your writing and publishing goals.
  • Publishing is a numbers game. Publishers are looking for tens of thousands of connections. It all about visibility.
  • Be clear about where you want to go and you will get there!


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socialmediaforwritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media strategist, trainer, and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web