Marketing Tips for Authors

Image by Pedro Ribeiro Simões. Creative Commons License

This post contains marketing tips for authors and is written for the independent writers out there who, like me, are just getting their feet wet with self-pubbing a book. By now you know that just creating a new work of art out of thin air, magic, your soul, and time is simply not enough anymore. You now need to market yourself. And if your marketing your book after publication, it’s already too late. You’ve heard about “buzz,” “platform,” and “fans” before. But have you begun to apply this knowledge? I’m an indie author (and if you haven’t guessed, I write about zombies) and I’m trying to wrap my head around all this “other” stuff that you need to do.

Now, that makes it sound like a bit of a chore, but it really isn’t. Yes, it’s hard work, and takes a lot of research, effort, and time (and takes you away from your primary task: writing), but it’s worth it and, believe it or not, it’s fun! Fun learning about effective social media, fun meeting new people, and fun not just making new fans, but new friends.  Here’s some quick advice on indie author marketing tips.

Marketing Tips for Authors

Step One: Market before you finish the book

Many authors think of the process of taking a novel from inception to virtual bookshelf as a staged process, and that it’s linear in that we go from writing to editing to proofreading (back to editing x 10) to formatting to publishing then onto marketing. While clearly you can’t edit or format what hasn’t been written, you can start to market it. By spending a little time as you write letting people in on your writing process, you build interest. This should translate directly into readers on publication.

Step Two: Market to the right audience

If you write crime, you want to reach people who read crime. If you write romance, you want to reach romance readers. It’s hard to find out reading preferences, especially when you are trying to connect on social media. Twitter is great for finding people who list ‘reading’ as an interest on their profile, or use the #amreading hashtag, but it’s too broad. If you’ve written a crime novel, but sell it to a romance reader then chances are you’ll end up with very poor reviews.

The other major flaw for most authors is the circle of reciprocity. Authors following other authors, lit agents and editors. While many of them are also readers, the banter you exchange with fellow authors is a bit like shop talk. Readers don’t want to read it, and you will get unfollows. My advice here is that if you are going to engage with other authors, use a 2nd account, or stick to non-writing discussions.  The latter is probably wise, as even if you don’t actively seek out other authors they will probably find you. As we can’t poll users on their preferences, we need to try another tack – approaching those in the traditional demographic for your chosen genre. To stick with our crime example, that is usually those aged 40+, and tends towards women rather than men (Source – Penguin).

Step Three: Identify where you’ll be selling, and target their customers

Unless you are opting in to Amazon’s KDP select, and thus need to be exclusive to Amazon, you should be on as many sales channels as you can. (Here’s a post on when Select is useful.) Broadly these are:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes and Noble PubIt!
  • Kobo (Coming soon, but no fees)*
  • iBooks*
  • Google Books
  • WattPad
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Waterstones* (Via a ‘Content Aggregator Account’)
  • Your own website via cart system (e.g. Xuni)
  • POD – Createspace/Lightning Source etc
  • Phone apps – a niche, but a profitable one.
  • AudioBooks
  • or the many distributors such as Smashwords

Step Four: Many roads lead to London

The more roads, or in-links, you have to your site or product the better you’ll generally do. the exception here is again if you’ve targeted the wrong groups, all you’ll get is a high bounce rate, an increase in returns and a loss in your Amazon metric rankings (as they won’t buy, so your conversion rate will fall). You should be exploiting all the free social media opportunities you can:

  • A blog – or website
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • GoodReads
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Foursquare
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Flickr
  • Youtube
  • MySpace
  • Instagram

Step 5: Sell something worth selling, but don’t look like you’re selling it.

I’ve left this to last, as I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir – write a good book, format it well, get a good cover. Make sure you understand and use amazon metrics to your advantage.

Read more at the source at rachelabbottwriter.

Now that’s some excellent advice from a seasoned, successful independent author! What do you think of his ideas? Do you have ideas of your own as to marketing tips for authors like these? If so, please share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us in the comments section below! Thanks for reading and here’s to your success. See you on at least ONE best seller list!

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  1. Angelica Dawson says

    Great post, Carl. I’m behind already! I’ve finished writing, have the piece with an editor, but am only JUST marketing myself. I targeted Facebook, Twitter and my blog, but I’m not on Linked in, or four square or any of the others… I always wonder how many ‘readers’ I’m reaching, or is it just more writers. I’m sure it’s the latter. 

    • says

       Thanks for commenting, Angelica. Yeah, me too. I’ve heard you should “pick 3″ on the social media front because the list of options is too great for any one person to keep track and respond, etc. I’m on twitter, facebook, and goodreads. I’ve just started to explore pinterest (which isn’t on the above list). I’m on google+ but it’s done NOTHING. I’m not sure about linkedin. I have a “business” profile there, which has done nothing for me, too. Not sure whether a linkedin writer account would make any difference. As for your audience, yes, we want READERS not WRITERS. Writers are good for hanging out with and “shop talk” as the article suggests. But NOT for selling your books! For that, you need fans! :)

  2. Emily Hill says

    Nice work, Carl! Bravo!  

    What a pleasure to visit your website and read your affirmations of what Smart Cookies are doing to make headway in the NetSeller’s Market.  

    Wishing you All The Best!  
    Watching ;D

    A.V. Harrison Publishing

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