December 5, 2011

Marketing – A Waste of Money or A Chance to Sell Books?

Marketing – A Waste of Money or A Chance to Sell Books?
by Nina Pierce

Unfortunately successful writers have discovered that writing books isn’t the only thing they have to become good at if they want their books to sell well. With publishers spending less time and resources on marketing, it’s now up to the author to do their own.

There are many ways and places to market yourself. In reality, it’s not about your debut novel or most recent release— it’s about you and developing your readership. There are some authors who swear by building a brand. In this day and age, with so many authors writing in so many different genres, I’m not sure the benefits or disadvantages of marketing yourself as a brand. So I’m going to leave that topic for another time. I’m simply going to touch on the basic ways for an author to market.

* Internet Website – The first place an author needs to establish themselves is in their own corner of the world wide web. An easy-to-navigate website helps readers find you and your books. Your website should set a mood for your readers. Don’t complicate it with music or fun tricks, those things may annoy and drive readers away.

Blog – This type of promotion isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the time to blog on a regular basis (at least once a week) and promote that blog to invite people to read your posts, then this may not be for you. Group blogs are popping up all over the internet as authors are looking to save time, but still have a blogging presence. Groups of authors with similar interests blog once or twice a month without the pressure of a dedicated blog. The advantages of blogging are the permanent sidebar topics with links to your books, trailers and reviews. It also gives readers a chance to learn more about you through your posts. The disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to post and promote the blog.

Social Media – This encompasses Yahoo loops, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Googler+, Wattpad or any form of media that allows you to interact with others on the internet. The purpose of these sites is to give people the opportunity to build a community. It is NOT for continually posting me, me, me updates that will turn prospective readers away. Though some of that is expected, it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of your updates. Remember, you’re building relationships. Of course the disadvantage again is the time suck some of these sites require to keep up with your followers.

* Paper Products – Offers all kinds of paper products, (including bookmarks, business cards and cover flats), magnets, bookbags, pens, sticky notes and other miscellaneous products. With a high resolution copy of your book cover (available through your publisher’s art department), it is easy to upload designs and create promotional items. I highly recommend getting an email from a friend with “free” product offers (the cost of your items is in the shipping). There are also designs to choose from for creating author-specific products. This site is inexpensive and shipping times are reasonable. (The 21-day delivery often arrives within in 8-10 days.) – Provides the same services as above. As with any print product you need high resolution jpgs to create and order products. – This site offers all kinds of products, but with the benefit of having a design staff who will create unique bookmarks, flyers or brochures.

Chapter Samplers – These small books can be made using several different computer programs or can be ordered from the above companies. Readers often comment that this is one of the few paper products they really enjoy receiving. Not only does it give potential readers a sample of your current book, but a feeling for your voice as well.

In general paper products placed in goodie bags or on promo tables tend to get recycled. It doesn’t mean you should never have these items, but be judicious with what you donate to convention bags.

* Promo Items
Things that readers can put their hands on are often expensive. Whether it’s lip balm, chip clips, pens, foot files, combs, hand lotions, mirrors, pen drives or anything in between, the advantage is that they don’t usually get recycled before readers leave conventions. Your name, tagline and website addie go home with them. The disadvantage is not only the cost in the item, but the additional cost of shipping to conventions you’re not attending.

NOTE – Conventions and reader get-togethers often advertise for promo materials for their goodie bags. It’s an excellent way to get your name out there and book buying is all about name recognition.

* Advertisements
Ad space is available on review sites, newsletters and popular blogs for your cover or banner. Prices are usually reasonable. Many authors swear by these ads.

* Contests and Big Ticket Items
Many authors enjoy running contests. But you should be leery of the contest-bunnies who have no intention of buying books, but will enter every author contest coming and going. There are sometimes opportunities to jump into contests run by some of the bigger review sites which offer ereaders or multiple prize packages. The advantage of that is the cost to participate is usually very reasonable ($10 or $15) and with multiple authors there is a lot of promotion across different venues.

This list only scratches the surface of the marketing opportunities available to authors. It’s a juggling act to balance your income to your expenditures for marketing. Just know that there is no right answer. What might work for one author won’t necessarily work for another. Try different things until you figure out what works for you.

Award-winning author Nina Pierce is an admitted promo queen. She’s tried nearly everything at least once, and most things, two or three times. She spends convention season sending out materials in hopes that new readers will discover her books. You can check out her newest books at or follow her on her social media sites facebook  and twitter

You can thank Nina for these tips by stopping by and picking up a copy of her book, Charm Her! It's on sale right now -- only $.99 on Kindle. Here's the link:


  1. I'm excited to have you on my blog, Nina. I've visited yours many times, and always enjoy your posts. This one is excellent!

  2. Thanks, Kayelle. The marketing part of publishing is so time consuming. Hopefully, I'll save an author some time.

    And thanks for having me!


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