Marketing ideas for self-publishers: 7 tips

Marketing can be a confusing and complicated journey, especially for a first-time novelist. Reading up on the subject after publishing my first novel, “Rebels of the 512,” I discovered a free webinar hosted by Author Learning Center and led by indie author Steve Piacente.

I was interested in learning more about Piacente’s experience marketing his own first book, after reading an excerpt from his forthcoming prequel, “Bootlicker.” Piacente has been dubbed one of the “50 Great Writers You Should be Reading” by The Authors Show, so what I really wanted to know was how does an unknown author connect with his or her audience?

Piacente has a lot of great ideas, which he presented in a talk entitled “7 Messaging Strategies for Authors,” a two-part series. Here are the seven take-away messages I got out of these talks:

1.      Reviews are key. Work your networks to get friends, family and co-workers to read your book and offer their comments. Give away digital copies, or use Scribd to allow people to read sample chapters online without any additional software requirements. Make it as easy as possible for people to read and respond to your work.
2.      Marketing your book requires as much creativity as writing it! Be sure to give your readers good reasons to read your books by making your marketing as personal and genuine as possible. Blogging is a great medium for readers to get to know you and your book, so make sure your blog posts work to subtly sell your work without going overboard on the “Buy Now!” buttons.
3.      Let your bio and photo help tell your story. If your book is a serious nonfiction title, convey this with a professional, polished author photo and a bio that highlights the skills and strengths that make you the right expert to instruct your readers. If your book is a lighthearted fictional title, make sure your photo and bio match the mood.
4.      Have fun with your marketing. Know someone going on an overseas trip? Ask if they’ll take a copy or two of your book with them and drop it off in a well-trafficked café or public spot. Include a note that lets the reader know where your “message in a bottle” came from, and invite them to share their comments or reviews on your website.
5.      Whenever possible, eye contact or a real-life handshake trumps cyber selling. Meet your readers face to face at book shows, book clubs, signings, readings and other real-life events. Even if you don’t make the sale face to face, be ready with a take-away item such as a bookmark or postcard that will remind them to buy a copy later.
6.      Social media is a great way to connect with readers on at least four major platforms. Use Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads and YouTube to connect with fans, and post regularly (at least once a week). Remember to keep your interactions professional, but focus on having discussions and contributing worthwhile information rather than just hawking your books.
7.      Measure your results! While sales are one way to decide whether your strategies are working, there’s also the number of followers you’ve got on your social media platforms, the quality or level of interactions you have with your fans, and the number of people that show up at your signings or readings.

Keep these all on an upward trajectory and you’re golden.

Interested in learning more? Steve has two more videos on the ALC website: “Self Publishing Pros and Cons” and “Self Publishing Advice.” He also blogs about indie publishing at his website,

Are you a self-published ebook writer? Tell us your techniques for getting noticed and making sales.

Laura Roberts is the author of “Rebels of the 512”, the best novel you’ll ever read about pirates, ninjas and evil politicians in Austin, Texas. Read about ninja weapons from A to Z or buy a copy of the book on her blog,


PWA’s May 2012 guest blog guest editor is Sandra Kleinsasser.