Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

You’ve written a book or two. Sales are slim to none. You know that you need to market, but HOW? It all seems so complicated. Indie author marketing can be a huge challenge, but it needn’t be.

When I coach writers in book marketing, I ask: “what’s fun for you?” because book marketing begins with your mindset.

Here’s a secret. I spent much of my writing career despising marketing. Looking back, that was quite a trick, because I’m a copywriter. I could market anything, but hated marketing my writing, or my writing business. And by “hating” I mean in a visceral sense. The idea made me nauseous.

Finally, I decided that I was being silly: if I could market for others, I could do it for myself. Since I had to do it, I asked myself: what’s fun for you? Fun for me turned out to be blogging.

Your mileage will of course vary, but if you can work out what you like — and could perhaps love, you’re well on the way to becoming a true indie author…

If you understand how book marketing works.

Assuming that a fairy godmother isn’t about to smack you silly with her magic wand anytime soon, and turn you into an instant bestselling author, you need to understand book marketing essentials. If you’re not aware of the WHY of tools like blogging/ social media and advertising, you can’t use them creatively.

(There’s no shame in that, by the way, some global publishers haven’t a clue either.)

Start with this foundation: indie authors wear two hats — author, and publisher.

Two hats: author and publisher — publishing must be profitable

You’re comfortable wearing your author hat. Toss that hat aside for a moment, and put on your publisher hat.

Hat on? OK. 🙂

A publisher’s goal is the same as that of any other business: turn a profit. No profit, no business. So, as a publisher, how do you turn a profit? You’ve got a book, or a bunch of books (a bunch is better)… your sole aim is to sell those suckers.

You can market and sell your books in any way you choose. However, remember FUN. If marketing your books isn’t a giggle, you won’t do it. So keep thinking about the fun angle. There are so many ways of marketing books that you’re sure to find something you like to do.

Let’s explore some essentials to help you to develop a “profits” indie publisher mindset.

1. Time and money: you need both for profitable publishing

Everyone wants instant success. That’s fine. I want that too. However, I’m realistic, and know that Murphy’s Law applies. Everything takes longer than you expect, and things will go wrong.

To counteract this, make a commitment to yourself: whatever it takes. You can’t be half-hearted about your publishing venture. Expect it to take time to make money.

Then expect that you’ll invest the money you make from your book sales back into your business: you’ll get better covers, will buy advertising, will improve your website — whatever it takes.

2. Hook buyers: buyers buy because of an EMOTION

Humans are emotional creatures, and readers read to experience emotions.

From our free Write More, Write Well writing class:

Each and every fictional genre has an emotional key — emotions readers want to feel while reading that kind of fiction.

If you can zero in on the emotions that readers want, AND can tap those emotions in your fiction, you’ll write stories that readers will love.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: it’s essential that you read widely in the genre in which you’re writing. You MUST understand what emotions readers want when they read your genre.

For example, in any type of romance fiction, the HEA (Happily Ever After) is pretty much non-negotiable — if your romance doesn’t end in a HEA, you’d better be able to generate those emotions in other ways, otherwise readers will avoid your stories, and you’ve wasted time writing them.

If you’re getting few sales, and readers aren’t connecting with your fiction (or nonfiction), consider emotion. Start looking for your own emotional reactions to what you read too — you’ll begin to understand why books become bestsellers.

Bestselling authors are regularly trashed by literary critics who whine about the poor writing. (Dan Brown springs to mind.) When you check out bestselling books, you’ll see what the critics don’t see: the bestsellers connect with readers on an emotional level.

3. Visibility and discoverability: get discovered

With millions of books available, it’s hard to get your books in front of readers. If you want readers to find your books you need to do marketing and advertising. Every little bit counts.

Consider that perhaps you’re overlooking the simplest forms of marketing, such as the possibilities of marketing in your own books, in the front matter and back matter:

Advertise (subtly) in your front matter

Be aware that Amazon shows the first 10% of your ebook via its Look Inside feature. Keep the essential material in your front matter short. Remember your copyright info, of course.

Use that 10% to subtly advertise your ebook. Anyone reading via Look Inside hasn’t bought your book, so spend a little time thinking what you could show up front, to encourage your reader to buy.

4. Make “free” work for you: get creative

Check any authors’ forum, and authors complain about all the free ebooks which are available, and demand that authors be paid… Well… There are so many things wrong with that mindset, that I don’t know where to start.

Remember that you’re in the business of publishing, and that while “free” is useful as part of your marketing mix, it cannot be your entire marketing strategy. No business can be successful if it competes solely on price.

If you’re using “free”, and only “free” as a self-publisher, you need to rethink how and when you offer readers free ebooks. We’ve talked about using “free” before. Free is a part of pricing your products. It’s not marketing. Think about your marketing mix, which is: product, price, promotion, and place.

In Pricing Kindle Ebooks: Free, Cheap, or Expensive? we said:

Consider YOUR situation. It will be different from other authors. Make a list of what you want. (And please write the list, don’t try to keep it in your head.) It’s essential to assess where you are, because unless you know, you’ll have doubts, and will change your pricing at whim.

Read that article, and then consider developing a simple marketing strategy; it starts with your product. Then get creative, and come up with some creative ideas for your marketing.

5. Make friends and influence people: word of mouth counts

Authors want to write their books. We don’t want to be bothered with things which take us away from our words. However, as indie authors, we don’t have a choice. We need to put on our publishing hat, and market our books.

The more people who know you, or know of you, the more attention your books attract. You need to get onto people’s radar, in any way you can.

Consider these ideas:

  • Partnering with other authors in anthologies, and book bundles;
  • Writing guest posts on large blogs — or smaller ones too;
  • Collaborating with other authors on promotions…

You’re a publisher: think long term for profits

As an indie author, you’re your own publisher. You’re running a business. Your business must be profitable. You can make it happen. Think longterm. What could you do today, to make your business profitable in a year?

For an indie author, marketing is essential. You can develop an amazing business. Create some goals, and make plans to achieve them, today. Start by asking yourself how you can make it fun.

Need more? Check out our 15-minutes-a-day book marketing strategy.

How To Make Writing Easier: Free Writing Classes

How To Make Writing Easier: Free Writing Classes

Want to make writing easier? Even if you love writing, writing can be a challenge. On bad days, the temptation is to write “tomorrow”. Before you know it, a week’s passed, and you haven’t written a word.

We’re offering free writing classes to make writing easier.

By “writing” we mean anything and everything: fiction, nonfiction, social media content, advertising… For example, I know many writers suffer when they try to write marketing content to promote their books. As you’ll discover, with the right processes, it truly is easy.

In Write More: Free Writing Classes Coming Next Week we said:

Free writing classes, with free reference material, to make writing easier

We’ll work with the writing programs which we’re no longer selling. You’ll download them completely for free, and each week, in the ezine, and here, we’ll create some exercises to help you to get to grips with the material.

In essence: free writing classes, so you can build your skills, make more income, and be a much happier writer.

Consider this. If you learn and USE just one new strategy a week, for  three months, that would make 12 new strategies. Do you think that those 12 would increase your opportunities? I know that they would.

Our first strategy is discovering yourself — how to put yourself into your writing, and write more, more easily. We’ll do that using Authentic Writing: Develop Your Writer’s Voice, And Sell as our reference text.

Your writing will improve too

You don’t need to slave over your writing to write well — discover that you can increase your writing speed, and the quality of your writing too.

You’ll need to subscribe

The free writing classes are for members of our writing groups. You can join here if you’re not already subscribed.

It doesn’t matter what you’re writing; you’ll learn processes and strategies which make writing much easier.

Join us — your receive your first lesson next Tuesday.

Wondering how much time to budget for the classes?

Your free writing class is simple, practical, and powerful. If you have 20 minutes a day over three days, you’re golden.

Eager to get started? Join here.

Write Fiction And Make It Delicious: Ice The Cake

Write Fiction And Make It Delicious: Ice The Cake

You write fiction. You’re providing emotional experiences for your readers. If you do that well, your readers will find you and your fiction will sell. And sell.

I’m fond of telling my students that writing a novel’s a lot like baking a cake. You choose your ingredients, you mix them, and bake them. When you want to make your cake truly delicious you frost it — and not with icing you bought at the supermarket either.

OK, enough with the analogy, I’m getting hungry. 🙂

When you edit your fiction, ice the cake

What’s your fictional cake’s “icing”? It’s yummy bits of business, or even entire scenes which you add to your novel or novella just for the emotional charge these elements give to readers.

The specific elements of your icing depend on the genre in which you’re writing. Do some brainstorming about what readers expect from your genre.


  • Romance readers expect a Happily Ever After (HEA), a heroine with whom they can empathize, a hero with whom they could fall in love etc…
  • Mystery readers expect a mystery (of course), a crime, intriguing characters etc…

Beyond the common, expected elements, bestselling and loved novels in your genre have something extra. Go back to your favorite novels in your genre, and make a list of what you loved. Example: I’m on a Jill Mansell kick at the moment. What I love about her novels: laugh-out-loud moments, interesting occupations for her heroines, and a wide cast of characters.

To ice the cake of my current novel, I could include a couple of the elements I adore from Mansell’s novels. I could add a couple of characters to my novel, and could add some humor.

See how it’s done?

Try it yourself… what could you add to ice the cake of your current novel?

Let’s look at some tips to help you with the “icing”.

1. Write your novel first, ice it later

You need to bake your cake before you ice it. (Yes, I’m sticking with the analogy… :-))

So write the first draft of your novel. Then do a quick revision — DELETE. Delete is your friend, if you write fast — and you should. Finish the novel! (If you have trouble with finishing, put your butt in your chair, and write as fast as you can.)

2. Icing your novel’s cake: brainstorm

Next, brainstorm some ideas for your icing. You may decide that you need to add a character, or add humor, or use more settings.

Choose ONE, if you’re writing your first or second novel. If you’re not used to keeping a lot of novel-related stuff in your head, adding too many elements gets confusing.

3. Ice away: add sentences, scenes and characters

This is the tricky bit. You’ve written your novel. You don’t want to upset the novel’s balance, so ice judiciously. Not too much — you don’t want to end up with more icing than cake. 🙂

4. Edit your novel again: smooth on the icing

Start at the beginning, and edit, to ensure that the icing becomes part of your novel’s cake. You may need to do a lot of this, or just a little.

For example, if you’ve added more settings for your scenes, keep an eye on the timeline. Your characters will need travel time to move between the locations you’ve chosen.

If you’ve added humor, you’ll need to make adjustments in your characters, right throughout the novel. You can’t have a straitlaced character suddenly making humorous quips.

5. What if your icing is too much?

Sometimes the icing you’ve chosen doesn’t suit your novel. That’s 100% fine. Don’t sweat it. If you can see that it’s not working, stop. Choose another form of icing — you’ll find that once you start tinkering in this way, more ideas will occur to you. One or two of them will be perfect for your book.

That’s the beauty of icing your novel’s cake. Your novel becomes better, no matter how much or how little you do… and that’s your ultimate goal, right?

What to do next…

Reread your favorite novels. Highlight the prose you love, and ask yourself what emotional reaction you experienced. Make notes, to increase the likelihood that you will remember your reaction.

As we’ve said, when you write fiction, you’re providing emotional experiences for your readers. The more you think about your reactions to fiction, the more you’ll focus on writing emotionally-charged stories your readers will love. It happens naturally, so be relaxed about it. 🙂

Go ahead… put some icing on the cake of your novel. Have fun with it, and your readers will have fun too — and you’ll sell more novels.

Ideas? Thoughts?

Share them in the comments, or on social media.

I’d love to know your thoughts.

How to write fiction - and get readers
How to write fiction – and get readers