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

Marketing Your Book: Author Public Speaking Tips

Fear2I’m going to reveal something about me that few people know: I used to stutter horribly as a child.

My stomach would tighten and my pulse would race every time I started a word that I could barely finish. Oftentimes, the other person would finish the word for me and I don’t understand why but that caused me even more embarrassment.

I hated speaking so much that I barely spoke in class and instead buried myself in my books. I read voraciously and as often as possible because in my mind, I never once stuttered while reading silently.

But I couldn’t escape the times when a teacher would call on me. Part of my problem was that I could never anticipate which word was going to cause me to fumble my syllables.

As I grew older, I got better at this. My mind would race ahead and delete the word that I was about to say before I used it and replace it with another.


I stopped stuttering by the time I was in high school, but I never lost what I call the stutterer’s mind. That is the ability to see the entire sentence I am about to utter and quickly replace the unspeakable word with another.

The sad aspect to all of this is that most of my life I was never able to express myself by using the words I preferred to use. I would always substitute troublesome words with weak replacements that didn’t reflect my true feelings.

Fortunately, I no longer stutter and I no longer have the stutterer’s mind. About 10 years ago, I suddenly was able to enunciate every word I wanted to use and it’s been a huge relief.

My Journey from Stuttering to Public Speaking 

Given my history, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to speak in public. However, I held positions that required me to do this. So I would write my speech, memorize it, and hope for the best.

I was always nervous and grateful when my speech concluded. However, I realize now that despite the kudos I have received for my public speaking ability, I never used to connect with members of the audience. I always saw them as a sea of intimidating faces instead of individuals who might be interested in what I had to say and who wanted to hear anecdotal information – stories – that could help them remember the message of my talk.

Author Public Speaking Series

Last Thursday, I took part in a webinar on public speaking for authors with Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, MFT, communications trainer and author of Fire and Water, and Howard VanEs.

We spend oodles of hours writing our books, revising our words, working with editors and designers, until we can finally publish what we’ve written. Great, our book is out in the world but who is going to know about it unless we get out and start to market it?

That’s why public speaking for authors is so important. Whether you want to share your thoughts with book groups, answer reporters’ questions, or read to a packed house at your local bookstore, you need to feel comfortable about speaking in front of groups.

I’m not saying that you don’t need to use social media; that’s a given. I’m just saying that there will be times when you’ll need to leave the virtual world behind, temporarily, and give your readers a chance to meet you.

Author Public Speaking Tips

Throughout the course of the webinar, Betsy offered a number of tips.

  1. Public speaking is a learnable skill. Don’t feel as though you need to be gifted in this area. Everyone can learn techniques that will help to calm their nerves.
  2. Nerves and anxiety are underrated and should never keep you from doing something you really want to do, which is market your book. Some nervousness can even improve your performance.
  3. Have a one-on-one conversation with everyone in the room. Don’t think of the audience members as a crowd. Look at them one at a time and talk to them as though you just met them at a party.
  4. Remember why people come to author events. They want to meet the person behind the pages and they want to hear the back story to the published story.
  5. Be honest with your listeners. If you are five minutes into your talk and your throat feels parched, breathe, then take a sip of water, and tell the audience you’re feeling nervous. They’ll get it.

Betsy ended the webinar with a quote from Maya Angelou, one that just happens to be my favorite: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget you made them feel.”

Maya AngelouThe next time you speak to a book group or at a bookstore, don’t think about what you would like the audience members to know by the end of your talk. Instead, focus on how you want them to feel.

Note: If you’re interested, Betsy and Howard will be offering a four-week, online course on public speaking for authors September 19 through October 11. The workshop will include tips for reducing anxiety and improving engagement with an audience, creating an elevator speech, and handling tough questions.


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 Chapterthe San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 


The Importance of Storytelling in Marketing Your Book and other Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFriday is roundup day and I read some insightful posts this past week on the wonders and hesitations around marketing your book and other topics that I think you will benefit from and enjoy. Here they are:

71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book – Written for Your Writer Platform by Kimberley Grabas, this post discusses the most powerful way for marketing your book: word of mouth recommendation. Sound easy? Read this post.

The Horrors of Self-PromotionSean Beaudoin starts this post about marketing your book with:  “I HATE Facebook. I hate Twitter. I spend a lot of time on both. At least a solid hour a day. I also maintain a website, have a Tumblr, an Instagram account, a tour website, a tour page, and a YouTube channel. Since I don’t feel comfortable posting much about my personal life, almost the entirety of my time online is spent promoting one of my books. I usually do it somewhat obliquely, using random jokes to deliver the requisite dose of self-serving self-deprecation. But there is no doubt that in every instance, like a Jehovah’s Witness or shady mortgage financier, I am blatantly hawking some aspect of what I have chosen to view as a career.” To see where he takes this story, read his post. It’s great.

What Good Memoir Can Teach You About Good Copywriting – This post is written by Jeff Goins for Copyblogger:  “What does David Sedaris know about writing that most of us don’t? What can Anne Lamott do that your traditional copywriter can’t? How about entertain and engage an audience, then lead them to action? How about telling stories that captivate and convert readers into advocates? Wait a second …. Are we talking about memoir writing — or copywriting? Exactly. After recently finishing writing a memoir, I realized how much copywriting had prepared me for writing narrative nonfiction. Turns out, the two have more in common than I thought.”

Giving a Voice to Your Brand – This is an in-depth look at the importance of storytelling when you blog by Gianluca Fiorelli. As a writer you are your brand and this post provides tips on marketing your book that you will enjoy as authors: “Those who had not heard of storytelling cast the first stone. And those who are not thinking of it, or maybe have already begun to speak in-house or with their customers that it is necessary to give a voice to their brands, cast the second.”

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 Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapterthe San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.