6 Quick Marketing Tips for Authors

  1. photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/678538 by The Horton Group http://www.hortongroup.com/Start your marketing program the minute you decide to write a book. It can take a year or two to build a platform, your tribe of fans. Start now.
  2. Blog. Write three times a week: once about your content, once about the process of writing, publishing, etc., and once about yourself: something personal which, of course, should tie into the other two categories.
  3. Comment on other blogs. Go where your ideal prospective reader is, and make meaningful generous non-spammy non-selly comments. Give first. You have to make deposits in your trust account with others before you’re allowed to make withdrawals.
  4. Ideal prospective reader? Yeah, that. Write out, in exhaustive excruciating detail, a description of the person who is your most perfectest reader. Give them a name, gender, age, job, hobby. Know them well enough that if I asked you what flavor ice cream they want, you’ll know.
  5. When you write your marketing, write specifically and directly to that person, and that person only. Powerful pointed prose which your perfect reader will love. You’ll attract others just like her (yeah, mine is a woman.)
  6. Create outsiders by creating insiders. Writing for your perfect reader will annoy some people. Fine. Your insiders, your 1,000 true fans, can’t know they’re insiders unless they also see that there are outsiders. Your job in marketing is to get people off the fence. Inside or out, let them choose. But get them off the fence. Be polarizing. If your marketing doesn’t make some people unsubscribe from your newsletter, you’re not speaking clearly enough to the insiders.

11 thoughts on “6 Quick Marketing Tips for Authors

  1. Joel–I don’t get the (believe it or not…) “ideal prospective reader” part and who that could possibly be. If I’m not marketing the book yet but just writing a weekly blog, are you also suggesting I find that person and write TO him or her?

    Can you just email me privately on this? Thanks!!

  2. Yup.

    Well, no. not find. CREATE.

    Make them up.

    You need to know, clearly, exactly who your perfect reader is. Just as I know that my perfect publishing client is Eileen Thomasina Armstrong. I know she hates her middle name, and uses it to spite herself (we haven’t sorted that yet.)

    I know her so well that she reads my blog all the time, and parts of her show up in every client who has come to me ever since I made her up.

    And the more I keep her in mind, the more my clients are like her.

    On the home page here, that “Pathfinding Session” — that’s part of what it’s about. Knowing, in precise personal detail, who you’re writing for, so your blog can start attracting them now, today, while you’re still building the buzz.

  3. Great post Joel! I hadn’t thought about blogging three times in the three categories you mention (your content, the writing process and yourself), perhaps because the writing process is my content. But just last week I started contemplating the possibility of posting short descriptions of my experiences as I start my next book and flounder around clarifying the topic, figuring out what questions I’m trying to answer, etc. Reading this post from you at this particular time seems to be a message… If God sends me another boat and a helicopter, I’ll get onboard. 😉

  4. Oh, I think when the waters are swirling around your ankles and you really need another post, you’ll get on board.

    Nice to see you here!

  5. Very good ideas here! I think I need to make someone up — as you said, “the perfectest reader–though I have a few of them already reading my blog. Now my next issue is, Do I need a website, too?

  6. Oh, Christine . . . I think a kitten just died.

    Yes. Unless your goal is to sell your books from a little red wagon in the neighborhood, you need a website.

    Here are two fairly painless options (which both come with the ability to ask me endless questions.)

    1. A free blog/site at WordPress.com. Cool tools, and many nice themes to make it look good. Except, no selling. Connections, sharing, tiny amounts of fame, but no selling. But, a place to start absolutely free.

    2. My Ready Set Go Instant Blogging Package ($300). All described here:


    It’s your own site, so you can sell books directly, participate in affiliate programs which benefit your readers and earn you a couple pence, and doesn’t fight with millions of other users for traffic, as the free WordPress.com site would.

    Both are good options to start with. But anyone who has $300 to invest is much MUCH better off to start with the package. I say this, not because I’ll make a nickel, but because I have decades of computer and business experience and it’s what I recommend even if I wasn’t the one selling it.

    If you use Blogger or any of the other free blogging or website tools, you’ll lose access to one of your best tools: me. I don’t work with, for, or on those tools, and have no interest in learning any more about them than what I’ve already investigated.

    So, yeah. Short answer, yes. Yesterday, you need a website.

  7. I actually had a website set up by an acquaintance, WordPress freebie, Twenty Ten theme and I liked it right well. But he was hosting it kind of “piggy back” to his own site. So I had no support.

    My husband bought me a domain name (Chrstine Goodnough .ca) from 10Dollar.ca, a Canadian company, and I worked with that setup for a year. Then I decided I wanted a proper web host, so signed up with My Hosting. After a great deal of headache & misunderstanding I finally got set up and stayed with them for two years until the contract came up for renewal–and I didn’t. Now the site sits in cyberspace somewhere.

    I was planning to start it up again and go with 10 Dollar.ca as a host because my domain name is already registered with them. Also I liked dealing with them because their agents spoke clear English. When you’re hard of hearing and the agent’s first language obviously isn’t English (as I found with MyHosting) it can be a trial.

    (Bob was wondering if we could somehow set up a website together, as he wants to do some writing, too. Can two share a site and have it work okay?)

    I’m surprised to learn that you can’t sell books on a WP site or blog. I already have four blogs, so it would be handy to do ads on them if I could. (Mind you, I have no clue how to set that all up.)

    I started a Blogger blog, too, but that’s a lost cause as far a traffic is concerned. I’ve pretty much abandoned it. Don’t blame you for not wanting to go there. What host are you using, or have you developed your own host? What do you charge per year after the initial one?

  8. All my sites and client sites are hosted by Charlottezweb. Read why at my web dev blog:


    You two can share a website, as long as there’s a tie-in. Even if your books are totally different, it’s important the people know why two authors are sharing a website, so if you make it clear that you’re husband and wife, sharing a website because you’re both authors, that’s clear enough. State the obvious and it’ll work just fine, as long as the theme, the overall look and feel, matches both your writing styles.

    It’s WP.com specifically where you can’t sell. Obviously you can with WordPress, because this is a WordPress site and I sure sell stuff.

    If you want to make any of this happen, I’m delighted to answer all the geek questions. I’m good at it.

  9. This is exactly how I market my mystery, and how I’ll market all the rest of my mysteries. (I’m focusing much more on fiction than business books these days.)

    The principles I write about in this post and all over this blog are about how to connect with other people in order to find people who care about the same things you do.

    If you have a network of people who care about the same things you do, they’re the folks who’ll want your book.

    Do you have specific questions about how to apply any of this to fiction? I’m glad to expand and expound if it helps, because it will help everyone else who has the same question.

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