How to Reflect on Your Year in Book Marketing

Although it’s kind of a cliche, 2020 has been an unprecedented year. 

While you might be glad to say goodbye to it, you shouldn’t lose the opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months, no matter how they’ve been for you.

To grow as indie authors and book marketers, we need a solid understanding of our successes and failures. Understanding them helps us make the most of the upcoming year and to achieve our maximum potential. 

If you’re ready to look back on your year as an indie author, these five questions provide a useful framework for reflection. 

What was your biggest book marketing success from the past year?

It’s smart to begin your process of reflection on a positive note. 

Just as the introduction to a piece of writing, or the first paragraph of a book, sets the tone for what’s to come, so does your first question. 

By focusing on your biggest book marketing success, you prime yourself to feel positive and excited. You permit yourself to get inspired and approach the exercise from a place of confidence. 

So, when you look back at your successes related to writing and book marketing in 2020, what stands out?

If you had a largely successful year, you might have a long list of possibilities. Write them all down so you don’t lose any.

When it comes down to it, your biggest book marketing success of 2020 is whatever you decide it to be. Because it’s your definition of success that matters most. Not what other people think, or what conventional success looks like.

Take as long as you need to figure this first question out. Once you have your answer, write it out boldly and clearly. 

Now that you have started the exercise on an empowering note, it’s time to dig deeper into the past year.

What was the most useful thing related to writing or marketing you learned in the past year?

Hopefully, you made a conscious effort to learn and grow as a book marketer and indie author in 2020.

Acquiring the right knowledge might have been something formal for you, or something you did on a more casual basis. Anything from taking a full course through to regularly reading your favorite blogs is valid.

If you’re not used to reflecting on the things you’ve learned, they can be easy to overlook. 

Just in case you feel a little stumped by this question, here are some prompts to get your reflection train rolling:

  1. Did you take any courses related to writing or book marketing in 2020? How would you sum up their contents if someone asked?
  2. What was the best podcast you listened to during the past year? Is there a particular episode that stands out? Why did it make a particular impression on you?
  3. Which books related to the science and craft of book marketing would you be most likely to give as a gift?
  4. Did you follow any video content creators in 2020? What did you learn from them?
  5. What did you find yourself sharing or liking on social media related to book marketing? 

By taking the time to evaluate the new things you learned over the past year, you help to ensure the golden nuggets don’t get lost in the middle of the information we all receive daily. 

After you’ve figured out the most valuable thing you learned, jot down all the ways you applied it. What kind of results did you get?

Finally, think about ways you could deepen that knowledge in the year ahead. Could you study the same topic on a more advanced level? Could you apply it to a new context? Or is it enough to consistently put it into practice?

Don’t leave your wisdom behind. Carry it with you and use it well in the year ahead. 

How did your successes and failures from the past year compare to your expectations?

The reality of what takes place during a year is often a lot different from what we expect. That applies to any year on record, but especially 2020!

If you wrote down your goals and expectations for 2020 before the year started, take a look at them now. If you didn’t, try and think back to the start of the year and what your mindset was at the time. 

Did you have specific, written goals for your writing and book marketing projects in 2020? If so, did you meet them? Did you end up switching goals as the year went on? Try and reflect on how you prioritized and the motivation you felt in different areas.

By taking some time to ponder this question, you gain insight into how you actually behave VS how you expect yourself to. Often, they are very different.

You can use this information to set better goals more aligned with who you are for the year ahead.

Let’s consider one quick example. Imagine before the start of the year that you decided to write and market several books, but ended up choosing to focus on one or two. This might suggest that you value quality over quantity, and you can use that principle when determining what you want to achieve in the year ahead. 

Did you balance your writing responsibilities with proper self-care and wellness?

Although it’s become too commercialized and privileged for a lot of people, the concept of self-care shouldn’t be overlooked.

Mental health troubles are nothing new, but the pressure of the pandemic has made prioritizing wellness and mindset more important than ever. 

Often, the type of mind that produces great writing is also susceptible to depression, rumination, and other negative ways of thinking.

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live up to a certain level of success. This can be made worse by the world we live in where it’s easy to compare ourselves to others on social media. 

If you feel like self-care was something you neglected over the past 12 months, here are some ways to bring it back into focus in 2021. 

  1. Take care of the basics. When you’re in the middle of a writing or marketing project, it’s easy to indulge in unhealthy habits like not sleeping enough or surviving on coffee. Give yourself permission to handle your basic needs and remind yourself they will lead to better writing. 
  2. Set manageable goals. Writing at a consistent pace you can stick to is far better for your productivity and wellbeing than binge writing inconsistently. 
  3. Avoid comparison. While it’s fine to be inspired by others, remember that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. Judge yourself by your progress, not by comparing yourself to other writers. 
  4. Give back. One of the best ways to help yourself is by helping others. This can be as involved as mentoring another writer or as simple as leaving a constructive review. 
  5. Journal. As a writer, you might well find it easier than most people to start a journaling practice. Doing so has the double benefit of improving your wellness as well as tracking your writing progress. 

If you can take the self-care and wellness lessons you learned in 2020 and put them to use in the following twelve months, you will be creating a valuable positive from a tough set of circumstances. 

What are you most excited about for the year ahead?

Just as the first question in this exercise helped you to feel good about the process of reflection, the final question is intended to help you feel energized about the year ahead. 

As important as it is to reflect, it’s also essential to look forward.

No matter how good or bad 2020 was for you, 2021 can be a blank slate. You can pursue new goals and learn new lessons. 

The key here is to focus on what excites you. Excitement is powerful and motivational. 

You might already have some exciting and inspirational goals for 2021. If not, consider brainstorming around these areas:

  1. New releases. Can you plan to self-publish a new book in 2021? If so, what would be the schedule you need to follow to make that happen?
  2. Learning. What do you feel most curious or excited about learning? 
  3. Craft. Which area of your writing craft do you want to polish the most?
  4. Contribution. How can you give back to the writer and indie author community in the year ahead?
  5. Adventure. How can you have an adventurous spirit in 2021? Could you write something brand new, or step outside your comfort zone in some other way?

Above all else, take a moment to breathe. You made it through 2020!

2021 is an entirely blank slate. The world needs writers like you more than ever before. You have something special to contribute.

Now is the time to make it happen. I wish you every success in the year ahead. 


Mythbusting For Savvy Book Marketers

Let’s face it – the world of book marketing is packed full of myths, half-truths, and out and out lies.

Why are things this way?

Not everyone is trying to intentionally mislead you. Although, sadly, some are. Instead, people often report things they’ve heard elsewhere but haven’t tested, state old information that no longer works, or simply believe something to be the case when it isn’t.

Book marketing is time-consuming and potentially costly. And that’s when it’s done the right way! Following some myth is equivalent to setting fire to your money and watching it burn. 

So what should you believe?

Here are the myth and the truth for several common book marketing misconceptions. 

Myth – Writers should focus on writing

There seems to be this myth that marketing is some kind of trashy or commercial pastime that is frankly beneath writers who shouldn’t engage in it at all.

People who hold that viewpoint seem to think that writers should focus entirely on writing. Marketing should be left to a publisher. 

This viewpoint is a huge part of the reason that a lot of authors out and out reject self-publishing entirely. They don’t want to learn marketing whatsoever. They mistakenly believe that if they spend enough time writing a traditional publisher will notice them and do all their marketing for them.

News flash – these people are wrong!

Truth – It’s not enough to be a great writer

While there might be something appealing about the notion of writers being allowed to focus on writing only, it is so far from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that even traditionally-published authors are required to give input into the marketing of their book and carry out a lot of the legwork. Even at the stage of submitting a book proposal, authors are required to break down what kind of platform and following they already have, as well as ideas on how to market their book. 

If you want to succeed as an indie author or even as a traditional author, you need to learn how to market. Try not to learn everything at once. Instead, learn a certain amount of knowledge on a few areas, such as marketing on Amazon’s publishing platform, and then take action.

Myth – Book marketing has to be expensive

A lot of authors just don’t market their books due to the fear that doing so would cost them money. Money that they don’t necessarily have to invest.

Maybe this fear stems from the word marketing and the big business connotations it has for some people.

Thankfully, we have the truth you need to know about this viewpoint.

Truth – There are plenty of free marketing methods 

The reality of marketing is it doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

There are plenty of low-cost options that produce great results. Amazon Advertising, for example, is very easy to get started with and eventually scale up, reinvesting your profits into further ads.

Free marketing methods are also a very effective option for authors. Often, authors end up overlooking a lot of ways to market their books that are directly in their control and cost nothing at all. Choosing careful keywords, picking the right categories, and learning how to write an engaging book description are potent marketing tools that cost absolutely nothing.

Myth – Writers barely recoup costs even with marketing

The myth of the starving artist never seems to die. 

A lot of people have the viewpoint that authors, especially self-published authors, can’t possibly be making any money. Some folks feel that, even with book marketing, authors probably struggle to break even let alone turn a profit. 

As you can probably imagine, this viewpoint is very far from the truth indeed.

Truth – You can make a healthy and sustained profit

Self-publishing is by no means a get rich quick scheme. Not every author is destined to become filthy rich from their work. Some authors won’t even put in enough work to generate any revenue. None of that can be denied. 

What can, and should, be denied, is the notion that authors simply don’t make money as a result of their marketing efforts.

Both free and paid marketing can not only sell healthy amounts of copies of a book itself, but it can also produce revenue for authors from sources other than books. Books can be used as a funnel to sell everything from coaching to courses.  

Don’t let the doubters put you off. If you put in the work, the time, and have the proven processes that have worked for others, you can achieve a lot of financial success through publishing. Countless authors have left lucrative careers to publish full time

Mythbusters – Action steps

Congratulations! We’ve looked behind the curtain and found the truth about these three pesky book marketing myths.

So, what should you do with the truth you now know?

Here are three quick ideas to get started with:

  1. Given that it’s not enough to be a great writer, what kind of marketing do you want to learn the most? Make a plan for a few things you want to learn, and research your options for learning them, such as through blog posts, books, and videos.
  2. Now that you know free book marketing can be powerful and successful, try and brainstorm as many free ways to market your next book as you can. Once you have a big list, try and narrow it down to 3-5 techniques. Commit to learning as much about these as possible and taking massive action to implement them. 
  3. Think about ways that you can use your books to sell more than just extra copies. Brainstorm ideas such as coaching programs you can offer or courses you could create. Try and find at least one promising idea you feel excited about to move forward with.

There you have it! The truth behind the myth. The real deal facts about book marketing.

What have you learned? How will you use it?

Oh yeah, one last thing. If you ever hear someone spouting these myths again – be sure to set them straight!


4 Principles for Impactful Book Marketing

Are you the type of author who writes to make a major impact on people’s lives and the wider world?

If your deepest motivation for writing is to have an impact, you need to think about marketing your book in a particular way. 

Typically, book marketing is geared towards authors who want to focus on revenue and other conventional measures of success. But, if your deepest desire is to make a difference, you might want to approach things differently. 

Here are four principles for book marketers looking to make the deepest impact on the world. 

Know who you want to reach

Sometimes, when we write books intending to help people, we end up trying to help too many types of people at the same time. While this comes from a compassionate motivation, if you end up trying to help everyone, you run the risk of helping no-one.

Instead, it’s wise to have a clear idea of the type of person who will benefit most from reading your book.

This is an essential first step for marketing a book that has the best chance of making a real impact. Knowing who you want to help is the foundation for every other marketing decision you make. 

You might have written the book with a clear reader in mind. But what about if you didn’t? It’s still worth taking the time to explore this question. Think about these ideas if you’re not sure how to start:

  1. Problems. What problem, or problems, does your book solve? For example, does it teach a specific skill? Does it offer resources for a specific situation? Often, the best way to find the ideal reader for your book is to focus intently on the problem it solves.
  1. Relatability. Thinking about the type of person who would relate most to your book is another valuable area of exploration. What kind of background do you have as an author, and  how does it comes across in your writing? Are you writing books for a particular age group? What tone and style of language do you use, and who would relate to it the most? Relatability is one of the best ways to discover who you can impact the most.
  1. Uniqueness. What makes your book different from other books out there? Maybe it covers something not found in other books, or is written for an underserved demographic, or takes a new angle on an old problem? When you know what’s different about your book, you are more able to consider who the difference will benefit the most. 

After you know the type of reader you feel your book would help the most, you can align every other decision with this information. 

Understand the impact you want to make 

As well as knowing exactly who you want to help by marketing your book, you should stop and consider the type of impact you want to have. 

Think about the experience you want people to walk away with after reading your work. 

If you’re not sure about the type of impact your book could have, here is some food for thought.

  • Entertainment. Entertainment is a valuable aim for fiction authors and nonfiction writers alike. Providing joy through fiction is a great way to impact the world, while nonfiction books are a lot more likely to be absorbed if they are also an exciting read.
  • Inspiration. The ability to inspire other people is one of the most precious things about a book. Do you want to offer a book that provides people with a sense of inspiration and motivation in their personal life, based on your own journey? Or do you want to inspire people to care about and take action on a social cause?
  • Information. Books are an invaluable place to find deep information that goes beyond the surface-level content a lot of people consume on a day to day basis. Finding a way to offer the best and most helpful information on a topic is one way to make your book as impactful as possible. 

It’s exciting to find the type of impact you want your book to have. There are so many different ways to benefit the world through your book. What type of change do you want to make?

Find the best marketing channels

After you know the type of reader you want to impact, and how you want to help them, it’s time to think about how to reach them.

Every relevant reader you can reach is another life you have a chance of changing

So how can you find the most relevant ways to get your book in front of the people it can help the most?

First, it’s important to realize you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think about books that are similar in some way to your own. Where are their authors going to promote them? If you follow authors within your genre or niche, you can easily see where they are promoting their books. Could you follow in their footsteps?

Second, think about how you can align the impact you want your book to have with the marketing channels you choose. For example, let’s say the major impact you want to have is inspiring the people who read your book. Are there inspirational blogs you could appear on? Is the tone of your marketing material inspirational itself, so that it is more likely to appeal to the right reader?

Finally, don’t be afraid to do things differently and go with your gut feeling. While it’s sensible to invest your time into proven marketing methods and channels, you can combine this with a certain amount of activity that is simply whatever appeals to you. It’s important to retain a sense of fun and possibility so that marketing doesn’t become something boring that you dread. 

Learning the most effective ways to reach your intended readers involves trial and error and is a growth process. If it ever becomes too overwhelming or frustrating, try and stay focused on the big picture. 

All your effort will be worth it when your book makes a real difference in someone’s life. 

Measure the difference your book makes 

It can be easy to lose sight of your original aims in the aftermath of a book launch. You can get caught up in the number of reviews you managed to get, download numbers on various days, and other metrics that might not be directly aligned with impact.

Before you next launch a book that you hope will have a major impact, stop and think about how exactly you will measure that impact.

For example, if you release a work of fiction that you want to bring joy to people’s lives and offer escapism, you might want to look out for certain language in the feedback you receive and the reviews you get. If you offer a book based on your life, are people taking the key lessons from it? This allows you to understand exactly how your book is being received, so you can make sure this is aligned with your intention.

You should also feel free to measure whatever is most meaningful to you. Let’s say your intended impact was to inform people about a social issue close to your heart. The number of people who downloaded and shared a free chapter of your work might be a more meaningful measure of this than the total revenue it produced. 

When it comes to measuring your impact, choose your measurements carefully. Make sure that you are focusing on the things that most directly indicate your book is having the impact you hoped for. 


7 Quick-Fire Fiction Marketing Tips

Do you feel overwhelmed when you think about marketing fiction?

If you do, that’s totally understandable. It can feel like there’s a neverending amount of information to take in and process. On top of that, it’s difficult to know exactly what will move the needle for your book in particular.

To help make fiction marketing just a little more digestible, we’ve gathered seven quick and easy tips for you to understand and take action on. 

If you’re ready to cut to the chase and check out seven ideas that work, read on!

It’s never too early to think about book marketing

One of the pitfalls of publishing a fiction book is getting too wrapped up in the creative process of your story and leaving your marketing plan to the last minute. 

Although it might seem a bit strange at first, the best time to start thinking about marketing your book is before you even finish writing it

That’s because marketing fiction fundamentally involves understanding what your ideal readers want and figuring out how to give it to them. 

If you stop and think about reader expectations before you start writing your book, you might find some of your creative decisions are made with marketing in mind.

Just to be clear, this isn’t advocating for compromising your artistic integrity or creative vision to please readers.

Instead, it’s about finding a natural fit between what your readers want to read and what you want to write.

Understand the fundamentals of marketing

Before you drill down into the specific tactics and ideas you will use to get your fiction book in front of the right readers, it’s worth taking a step back.

Having a strategic, big-picture view of marketing as a whole is a good idea before you get too stuck into the details.

Some useful fundamentals to focus on include understanding your readers, understanding your competition, considering the price point that will make sense for your book, and having an idea of how your activities fit into your broader objectives.

Thankfully, there are plenty of superb free resources online to learn marketing in a format and level of depth that suits your needs. 

Look for inspiration within your genre

While there are core fundamentals that apply to most genres of fiction marketing, it’s worth taking the time to see what’s going on in your genre in particular.

For example, if you are writing science fiction, check out how some of the books you admire are being promoted. What kind of visuals are they using? What kind of language? Which places are they being promoted in?

This is especially important if you are writing in a new genre for the first time. If you’ve previously written fiction for adults but are now focusing on children’s books, you might need to take some time to see how the two styles are marketed differently. 

Make notes and save examples of genre-specific fiction marketing you find inspirational. Consider if they could work well for your book if you put your own unique spin on them. 

Work out your marketing budget

Crunching the numbers of your fiction marketing budget might be far less fun than writing a novel, but it’s something you can’t afford to ignore. 

Unlike some other publishing costs, marketing costs can fluctuate wildly. It’s possible to market a book effectively for free, but it’s also possible to spend thousands. You need to know which approach is viable for you.

The budget you devise depends on many factors, including the activities you will be carrying out yourself VS those you will be outsourcing to others.

When you are getting your budget down in black and white, always ask yourself if any intended marketing expenditure is likely to be recouped through extra sales. 

Avoid throwing money at vanity activities which might seem glamorous or give you an ego boost but are unlikely to further your fundamental aims for your book. 

Make a timeline for your intended activities 

You might be blessed with the type of mind that is equally suited to creative pursuits like fiction writing and logical activities like budgeting and planning. However, many authors are not in that position!

Marketing can soon become overwhelming and hard to keep track of if you don’t plan it out properly. 

It’s worth getting a very clear written or visual timeline for your intended marketing plan. Know exactly which activities need to happen by which date. Understand if there is the potential for delays at any stage of the process, and what you will do should any delays occur. 

Some writers prefer to have this timeline laid out physically, such as on a large whiteboard they can keep an eye on. Others prefer a digital solution, like Google Calendar or a project planning app like Trello.

No matter which option you choose, make sure you have a written timeline so that your marketing plan happens according to schedule. 

Study up on any important tactics you don’t fully understand 

While it’s impossible to become an expert in every area of book marketing, it’s worth having a solid grasp of the tactics that you will most often use to promote your fiction.

When it comes to learning an aspect of fiction marketing, you have plenty of options. There are a lot of quality blog posts out there that allow you to learn almost any aspect of fiction marketing for free. You also have the option of investing in paid courses, either to learn a specific skill in particular or self-publishing in general

As wonderful as it is to acquire new fiction marketing knowledge, you need to strike a careful balance between learning and taking action. There’s always something new you could be learning, but it’s often a better use of your time to put into practice what you’ve already learned. 

Track and assess your results 

There’s a famous marketing quote that says “half the money I spend on advertising works, the only problem is I don’t know which half.” 

That may have been true in the old days, but with digital marketing, it’s easier than ever before to track results and determine which activities are moving you closer to your objectives. 

For example, if you’re advertising on Facebook to get downloads of a free fiction chapter, how many downloads are you getting? Does the number make sense for what you’re spending?

Similarly, if you’re using book promotion sites to encourage people to download a free copy of your book, which sites are producing the best results? If you’re designing custom visual content for your book, which is performing the best?

When you track your activities and outcomes and know what works and what doesn’t, you put yourself in a position where you know exactly which activities to scale up or down in the future. 


How to Use the Rest of 2020 for Better Book Marketing

What a crazy year 2020 has been.

On the one hand, it seems to have flown by. 

It seems like just yesterday we were on the verge of celebrating an entirely new decade, full of possibility and promise.

On the other hand, this is the year everything changed.

The pandemic has affected countless lives, and we don’t even know when things will get back to normal, or if they even will.

In times of such turmoil, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and the things that motivate you. 

Perhaps you feel like you haven’t made the most of the year. However, there’s still a whole quarter of it to go.

If you want to dedicate the final part of 2020 to becoming a better book marketer, here is a clear method to help you move forward. 

Assess your current self-publishing strengths and weaknesses

It’s impossible to make a plan to be a better book marketer without first knowing where you are at.

Self-publishing has so many elements and aspects to it. There are inevitably some areas where you have more knowledge, strength, and skill than others.

You might wish to strengthen the things you are good at even further, or you might wish to brush up on your weaknesses. That’s entirely down to you. However, to carry out either approach, you first need to stop and consider the way things stand.

So how do you go about doing that?

Start by listing out all the elements of self-publishing that make a difference to the success of your books.

This could include writing, your understanding of book covers, book launches, building an author platform, paid advertising – whatever it is that is needed to achieve your author goals.

Then, when you have a long list, make detailed notes under each large category. How do you currently feel about each one? How much experience do you have? What’s worked well for you in each area, and where have you had failures?

The key is to be brutally honest with yourself. Carry out this exercise at a time when you feel unrushed, comfortable, and able to focus

Only by determining where your strengths and weaknesses currently are can you figure out how to move forward. 

Find the 80/20 of your personal improvement 

After you’ve assessed the current state of your self-publishing knowledge, you can determine the areas that are most suitable for improvement.

You might find it helpful to take a Pareto, or 80/20, approach to doing this. 

In case you’re not familiar with the Pareto principle, it stems from an economist who discovered that 80% of wealth typically stems from 20% of the people.

This basic principle was then shown to be true in other areas. For example, companies will typically derive around 80% of their revenue from around 20% of their sources.

The numbers aren’t exact, but the basic principle is solid. In a nutshell, a small minority of what we do produces the most significant impact.

Keep this principle in mind when you are thinking about areas to improve during the rest of 2020.

Once you have your full list of self-publishing elements, as described in the above step, think about which ones will make the largest impact on your author goals if you improve them.

For example, let’s say you feel you’re around an 8/10 when it comes to writing books quickly. Would moving up to a 9/10 make that much fo a difference, or would the improvement be marginal?

However, if you’re only a 2/10 when it comes to building an author platform, getting stronger in this area is likely to have a significant impact.

After you’ve figured out where you want to improve, consider the best way to improve.

For example, you might find investing in a paid self-publishing program is worthwhile, or you might be able to get what you need from podcasts and blog posts.

Match your marketing approach to your retail platform 

One of the key principles of strategic marketing is that marketing shouldn’t exist as an isolated activity that is carried out separately from activities such as sales. 

Back in the day, companies tended to take what is known as a silo approach, where different aspects of their operation were carried out without coordination between them.

This is as much of a mistake for book marketers as it is any other type of business.

Sometimes, it’s easy to carry out book marketing activities in isolation, without thinking about their wider strategic purpose or how they fit into your wider plan,

Let’s just look at one brief example.

Imagine you want to market your books on Pinterest. You’ve heard this approach can work well for authors, so you take the time to set up a Pinterest account and start creating content for it.

However, why are you doing this? Are you aiming to drive traffic from Pinterest to your author sales page on Amazon? Or perhaps you want to get people to check out your author blog and sign up for your mailing list?

The bottom line is that any marketing activity you take the time to improve should ultimately be conducive to selling more books.

For example, if you sell your books on Amazon, you should figure out the highest impact activities to sell more copies there. These could include learning Amazon Advertising, mastering attractive book descriptions, or figuring out best practice guidelines for Amazon Author Central. 

Authors have different approaches when it comes to selling books. Some go narrow, some go wide. Some sell only in the USA while others sell internationally.

Whatever your sales situation happens to be, make sure your marketing activities are in full alignment with it. 

Set ambitious, measurable goals 

If you’ve been working through the process shown in this article so far, you will have assessed your current self-publishing prowess, figured out the highest areas of impact to pursue, and ensured your chosen book marketing activities are in full alignment with your chosen approach to book sales.

The final step is to take everything you’ve done so far and translate it to tangible, measurable goals to pursue for the rest of the year, and even beyond that.

Without a measurable goal, you’ll end up finding that things slip by. Activities that would make a huge difference to your life end up becoming ‘shoulds’ rather than ‘musts’. 

Also, it’s important to avoid the mistake of setting vague goals that don’t move the needle. If a goal isn’t measurable, you have no idea if you’re achieving it or not. A vague book marketing goal would be the equivalent of aiming to lose weight without actually having a target weight in mind.

So how can you set meaningful, measurable goals?

Here are five examples for you to consider.

  1. Become a speaker. Both fiction and nonfiction authors can sell more copies and grow their author profiles by speaking at relevant events. If this is a goal you have, make it measurable by committing to researching a specific number of events by a certain date, and reaching out to them by another.
  1. Sell more copies. Every author wants to sell more copies, but this is a vague aim on its own. Instead, make it quantifiable. Start with the end in mind and work backward from there to figure out how many extra copies you need to sell each month to hit your eventual aim.
  1. Grow your author mailing list. Author mailing lists are one of the most important assets you can build. If you want to grow yours, figure out a concrete percentage you wish to increase your subscribers by, and then spread this target out over a period of time so you can ensure you’re on track.
  1. Become more proliferate. For many indie authors, having a large number of books is the key to enjoying a respectable income. Try and get ambitious about your next book projects. Try and carry out every step of the process faster, from outlining your book to writing it. 
  1. Try a new style of writing. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch up the type of book you write. Just look at Stephen King and his pen name Richard Bachman, or J.K Rowling and her Robert Galbraith pseudonym for proof. If this is a goal of yours, set a deadline for it. Make a methodical plan to assess new types of writing, and then set yourself a deadline for getting momentum going, such as by outlining a book in a style you’ve never attempted before. 

No matter how you’re feeling about 2020 so far, it’s not too late to turn it around. 

There’s still a significant amount of time for you to identify and make progress in any area of book marketing you think will help you succeed.

I wish you every success for the upcoming months. May you use them wisely. 


4 Essential Elements of Book Marketing

Is there no end to the things you need to learn to be a successful indie author?

Writing itself is something none of us ever master, and that’s just the very tip of the iceberg!

To succeed without the backing of a big book publisher requires a lot from indie authors. Even the most successful out there are still learning and growing all the time. 

Regardless of if you’re just starting in the self-publishing world, or if you have a few books under your belt, book marketing isn’t something you can afford to ignore.

Too many authors have been held back from the success they deserve by failing to market their books properly

If you’re not sure where to start, consider these essential elements of marketing your indie books.

Start With The End in Mind

Too many authors see book marketing as a set of unrelated activities that need to be carried out.

In fact, book marketing is a holistic, integrated process.

The first key to marketing your book properly is to start with the end in mind.

This is a concept taken from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, but it applies to book marketing all the same.

Before you start making a list of ways you will promote your book, stop, and try and see the bigger picture.

Do you want to sell a certain amount of copies? Do you want to add a particular number of readers to your author mailing list? Do you want to achieve bestseller status?

Whatever your end goal happens to be, there will be a series of steps you need to carry out to get there. Only by starting with a clearly defined aim can you then work backward and figure out how to get there. 

Without an end goal, your book marketing efforts will be unfocused and ineffective. 

You can’t measure success without an aim. 

Make sure to start clearly with your ultimate book marketing goal in mind before going any further. 

Copyright, Registration, and Other Formalities

While we’ve just covered why the big picture overview is essential to have in book marketing, it’s also vital to take a more granular, zoomed-in view of things.

If you don’t try and account for every practical task you will carry out as part of your book marketing efforts, you run the risk of overlooking something crucial. 

Some of the practical steps you need to schedule in your book marketing plan include.

  • Copyright. Don’t run the risk of having your work stolen. Make sure you not only copyright your work but create a legally valid copyright page to place within your book.
  • Uploading. When will you upload your book to the places it will be sold? What are the technical requirements to do this? Do you have all the files you need in the correct formats and sizes?
  • Promotion sites. Will you submit your book to promotion sites? What is the lead time you will need to do this? Will you need to have any fees ready? Are there prerequisites your book will need to achieve before it can be promoted?
  • Sales tracking. How will you measure your sales as they come in? Do you have target numbers you are aiming to hit for particular days? Will you take remedial action if your targets aren’t being met?
  • Paid advertising. Are you running paid promotion for your book? What will your daily budget be? What’s your plan for scaling spend up and down? How often will you tweak your creative, and what will be your criteria for doing so?
  • Social media promotion. Which social media platforms will you promote your book on? Will you use automated software to make this easier? Do you have all the graphics and copy you need to ensure social media promotion runs smoothly?

These are just a few examples of the types of activities you need to plan for. Your book promotion campaign in particular will likely look a lot different. 

Only by starting with the end in mind and considering everything it will take to get there can you come up with your own list of marketing activities. 

Creating Tasks and Tracking

For any one of the book marketing activities listed above, you will need to further break it down into specific tasks.

One of the major keys to being a productive book marketer is making everything into the smallest steps possible.

When we small chunk our book marketing tasks, the impossible suddenly seems manageable. Also, it’s a lot easier to get started and build momentum if the first step is very small and achievable.

So how do you create small, manageable tasks for every stage of your book marketing project?

Make sure to base the small chunk tasks on reality, not your idea of how something will look. For example, if you’re small chunking the process of getting featured on book promotion sites, either go off your experience or ask an author who has that experience. Things rarely work in reality as we imagine them to. 

Once you’ve got a series of the smallest steps possible to get something done, consider the wider context. Which parts of your book marketing and design plan need to be carried out before others? Are there some later activities that depend upon earlier ones?

Finally, keep in mind the duration that each of the small chunks will take. Schedule them in, and be strict about allowing yourself some buffer room for if things go wrong.

Answer these four questions to make sure you’ve covered this properly:

  1. Have I come up with a full list of activities I need to realize my eventual book marketing goal?
  2. Have I broken each book marketing activity down into the smallest steps possible?
  3. Have I assigned a realistic amount of time for each of the small steps to be carried out?
  4. Have I determined the proper sequence to carry out my book marketing activities, and scheduled them accordingly?

When you can honestly answer yes to these four questions, you have a book marketing plan to be proud of. 

Measuring Results 

It’s important to make time to measure your book marketing results and reflect upon them.

Ideally, you should carry out this process of measurement in two phases.

First, measure your activities as you go. For example, if you’re running paid ads on a particular day, measure their impact on that day. If your book is featured on a book promotion site, note down the downloads you got on that day. Track everything.

Second, you want to measure the effectiveness of your campaign as a whole. Which activities produced the best results? What would you do more or less of next time? How will your initial results inform your ongoing book marketing efforts after the time of your launch has passed? Would you benefit from hiring a launch team next time, or will you continue as a solo marketer?

Like everything else in the indie publishing world, book marketing is very much a growth activity. It takes to get it write, just like the craft of writing itself.

It’s unlikely you’ll experience a flawless marketing campaign on your first try. 

Instead, see the learning process itself as valuable. As long as you’re becoming a better marketer with every book you release, you’re moving in the right direction. 


How to Feel Excited About Marketing Your Book

I think it’s a crying shame that many authors seem to carry out book marketing through gritted teeth.

It seems like book marketing has something of a bad rep in the author community. 

At best, many authors see promoting their work as a necessary evil that needs to be carried out. 

At worst, people see it as utterly soul-destroying, not to mention many other phrases that aren’t suitable to be written here!

What if I were to tell you that book marketing is something to feel excited about?

You’d see me as crazy, right? 

Well, I’m confident that if you give book marketing a fair trial, and come at it without preconceptions, it’s something you’ll find exciting and interesting.

Here are my main reasons why. 

Book Marketing Lets You Experiment

If you’re an author, you’re creative at heart. Someone who likes to create something new and do things differently. 

Rather than being the sterile activity it’s often presented as book marketing is the perfect chance to indulge your creativity.

While the creative choices you make for your book itself are fairly set in stone, your book marketing choices aren’t.

You get endless attempts at writing cool ad copy or coming up with some good creative visuals for your work. 

If a social media post promoting your book falls flat, you can simply delete it and try again. That’s not exactly easy when it comes to elements like your book cover!

Aside from the surface-level creativity, such as the copy you write and the visuals you choose, marketing your book allows you to tap into something deeper.

At its heart, marketing is something like applied psychology. The best marketers seek to understand people’s hopes and desires and effectively speak to them.

If you’re feeling down about marketing, try and focus on how it lets you be creative and experiment.

When you start to see marketing as a worthwhile, creative pursuit just like writing is, you’ll start to feel better about it. 

Promoting Your Book Can Lead to Great Things

Sometimes, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds when it’s time to promote your book.

Filling out your fiftieth book promotion site application form can feel tedious. That’s entirely understandable.

However, there isn’t a type of work on Earth that doesn’t have some element of routine and drudgery to it. That’s inevitable. 

What’s not inevitable is the way you frame the mundane elements of book marketing.

One effective reframe you should try is seeing marketing as a stepping stone that brings you closer to your eventual dreams as an author.

For example, to go back to those book promotion site forms, try and imagine the face of a reader who becomes a fan after finding your book. Isn’t that person worth trying to reach?

Or if you’re in the nonfiction space, think about giving an amazing Ted Talk as a result of your book. Doesn’t that make redrafting your book description that little bit more tolerable?

Often, focusing on the bigger picture makes the smaller, more tedious book marketing tasks a lot easier. 

Keep your eye on the eventual prize. Think of book marketing tasks as planting seeds. Amazing and beautiful things may grow from them. 

A Good Book Marketer is a Matchmaker

In some sections of the author community, book marketing is seen as antithetical to the creative craft of writing. 

Writers are seen as pure, artistic souls, while book marketers are seen as slick salesmen looking to make a quick buck.

In reality, that’s absolute nonsense. 

Book marketing is nothing more or less than trying to get books into the hands of the people who will love them the most.

Isn’t that something noble? Something worth doing well?

A good marketer is a matchmaker. They are trying to find the right match between reader and book. And that’s no small thing.

Think about a book you truly love. Hasn’t it added something special to your life? And the lives of many other people who have had the joy of reading it?

If you have any hangups about marketing your work, cast them aside.

There’s nothing noble about being a starving artist.

When you promote your book, you not only help it get the attention it deserves, but you stand to make people’s lives a lot more enjoyable in the process.

Try and hold onto that if you ever feel less than enthused about marketing your book. 

Marketing Campaigns Can Refill Your Writing Battery 

As much as we love and need to write regularly, we are human beings, not machines.

Everything in the natural world has its season. As writers, we can’t be expected to prioritize output every day.

Just as it’s important to write regularly, it can also be beneficial to have times where we don’t write. Book marketing campaigns can provide an ideal change of pace.

When you dedicate a serious period of time to promoting your books, rather than writing them, you let your creative juices fill back up. 

You not only get a break from the pressure of meeting a certain word count each day, allowing you to eventually return to daily writing sessions with a new sense of vigor. You also get to see your book become tangible and experience success through your marketing efforts, whether carried out on your own or as part of a team.  

Seeing your book marketing activities bear fruit naturally increases your enthusiasm for writing another book, eventually leading to a virtuous cycle of book writing and promotion. 

Four Steps to Take 

Hopefully, you now see how marketing can be an exciting and creative activity in and of itself. 

If you’re feeling good about marketing at the moment, why not seize that feeling and translate it into action?

Here are four steps you can take relating to the information you’ve just learned:

  1. Brainstorm creative copy. Try and come up with five pieces of promotional copy for your book. Check out some book ads on Amazon or Facebook if you need inspiration.
  1. Dream big. Could you make your book marketing the start of something special? Research five events you could one day speak at, and brainstorm five other things you could offer through your book, such as access to a course or even just signing up to your mailing list. 
  1. Imagine your ideal reader. Take some time to think about your book’s perfect reader. Who are they? What do they do? What are their dreams and problems? Where could you reach such a person?
  1. Plan an example campaign. Have some fun with scheduling out an example marketing campaign for one of your books. How many days would you dedicate to each activity? What kind of planning would you need to do? 

Book marketing isn’t a necessary evil, or something indie authors should carry out through gritted teeth.

Far from it.

Instead, I hope you now see book marketing as the exciting, creative pastime it truly is. One which can lead you to amazing levels of success you might not have dared to dream about. 


5 Secrets to Success from a Self-Made Entrepreneur

People often ask me for tips and tricks on how to grow their business. I wish there were five secrets I could tell them that would magically turn their business into a raving success overnight–that’s something I’d love to write about. Unfortunately, a lot still comes down to hard work and doing the right things for a long time. 

However, there are some tips that’ll definitely help you over time. In this article well look at:

  • The benefits of asking ‘why’
  • How to fit exercise into your day
  • Why your business can grow without you

1. Keep a Business Mindset 

Mindset is an important tool for a successful businessperson. 

A great strategy that many business owners use to keep their mindset right is to concentrate on your ‘why’.

Why are you starting a business? 

Sure, owning a successful business will earn you a lot of money, but that’s not your why. Having a successful business will also give you some extra time. Again, that isn’t your why. 

Why do you want that extra money? Why do you want that extra time? 

The ‘five whys’ is a problem-solving tool that many use to get to the core of any issue. It’s pretty simple, you just ask why a problem happened, and then ask why that happened, and so on until you get to the crux of your problem–usually five times is enough to get a decent idea. 

  1. Why do you want to own a business? I want a business that can give me a flexible schedule.
  2. Why do you want a flexible schedule? So I can take time off when I need it during the day.
  3. Why do you want to take time off? So I can spend more time with my family.
  4. Why do you want to spend more time with your family? So I can play with my kids when they’re young and pick them up from school when they’re older.
  5. Why do you want to spend more time with your children? Because my parents had to work a lot to pay the bills and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. 

Do you see how different this is to just “wanting a flexible schedule”? Finding your why is a great mindset tool that’ll keep you focused on what’s important to you. 

2. Staying Focused 

There’s a lot of distraction as a business owner. If you’re not focused, you can fall down a side-path that takes six months of your time and leaves you with nothing but a missed opportunity. 

Think of how many budding entrepreneurs out there hop around from idea to idea, spending a few months on each but getting nowhere. 

Instead, you need to focus on what’s important for your business. Don’t worry if you make a bunch of beginners’ mistakes. They happen, and you eventually stop making them–that’s why they’re beginner mistakes. If all you do is constantly try a business idea for six months and then hop to another one, you’ll make those beginner mistakes every time you try something new.  

Instead, spend that time doing what’ll get meaningful results in your business. 

Focus is incredibly hard, and success is a slow process. But make sure you stick with it and keep an eye on what’s important. 

3. Stay Healthy

As a business owner, you need to be physically fit to have the mental clarity to make the best decisions. 

When it all comes down to it, physical health is because of three major factors.

  1. What you eat
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep

It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation with exercise. You know that keeping healthy is so important, but a business owner’s schedule doesn’t fit daily training or exercise too well. Heading to the gym during the day can take a few hours once you take in travel.

To compensate for this, many business owners have their own workout spaces at home. This is a brilliant strategy because you can fit smaller training sessions into your day when you have the chance–or have one lengthy session without travel. 

Or, you can go fully equipment-less and take on light activities like walking, meditation, and yoga. Whatever you do though, make sure you’re keeping active for a little bit every day. 

With food, eating healthy is a lot easier said than done, especially if you’re working from home– having your workspace that close to the fridge is just asking for trouble some days! 

To make eating healthier easier, you should try limiting the unhealthy food you buy at the supermarket. 

Finally, sleep is an often underlooked part of health. Your mind and body both need recovery from a busy day and sleep is how your body recovers. 

You should look to get a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. To make it easier on yourself, try these tips on getting better sleep.

  • Avoid using hand-held devices after 8 pm, or whatever time you choose
  • Make sure that your last activity before bed doesn’t involve a screen
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and waking time

4. Outsource When Necessary

Some of you may look to build a business that’ll eventually run without them. Others may want to be hands-on with their business every minute of every day. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

Regardless, your business won’t really start growing until you outsource aspects of it. For some that’ll be a hard thing to do. That means you’ll have to give up control on aspects of your business.

If you’re struggling to find things to outsource, I’d suggest reflecting on what you’re spending your time on and taking action from there. Start with the tool, Rescue Time, which sits in the background and keeps track of how much time you spend doing certain tasks. 

Don’t just track your time for a day. Look to do a week or two at the very least. Ideally, though, you’d want a month of data to look at. The more days you keep track of, the better your data will represent your work habits. 

Anyway, unless you’re severely mismanaging your days, the tasks that you have to spend the most time doing will be what you excel at–they’re the core of your business. Look to outsource the tasks that you don’t spend a lot of time doing when you begin outsourcing. That will keep the core of your business stable while giving yourself more time throughout the day. 

Another strategy you can use while outsourcing is to outsource the tasks you aren’t strong in. Every business owner has parts of their business that they excel at, and others that they ‘get by’ in. Most of the time, those areas we struggle at or don’t enjoy doing are a great task to outsource. 

That way, you’ll have more time to do the tasks you love doing. 

Whatever you do though, just make sure you are responsible for the main offering from your business. That offering and how you do it is what sets you apart from your competition. 

5. Have a Vision

It’s important to have some mental image of what you’d like your business to look like down the track. A good way to do this is to write your ideal business down with a vision statement. 

Basically, you want to answer the question ‘where are we going?’

When writing your statement, make sure you try to do some of the following: 

  • Talk about business finances (to earn enough to be sustainable)
  • Discuss reputation
  • Mention service quality standards
  • Avoid jargon and hard-to-understand language
  • Make it short
  • Describe the ideal outcome for you and your business
  • Avoid numbers like “making a million dollars a year” etc…

If you want to see a mission statement in action, here’s one from a small tech startup called Microsoft… you may have heard of them. 

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Microsoft’s statement is easy to understand and you can see how it fits into what they do by supplying computer solutions to businesses and individuals. 

This can also apply when simply creating a niche website. Without a proper vision and focus, it’s easy to lose your way.

Final Thoughts

To run a successful business you’ll need to do the right things for a long time. If you stick to the tips in this post you’ll be on your way to running a successful business. 


Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash


4 Essential Articles You Need to be Writing to Start Making Money with Your Blog

When so many people are out there writing blogs, do you even stand a chance of monetizing yours?

The simple answer to that is yes. But it isn’t going to be easy. You can give yourself an advantage if you know what to write. 

Whether you’re starting your own blog or purchasing an existing blog from someone else, one of the best practices for monetizing blogs is through affiliate marketing. This is where you provide links within your articles to goods or services. In turn, these companies provide you a commission if the reader buys through your link.

Just remember, you should only affiliate with companies you actually believe are worth it. Your readers will see straight through you if you try to mess them around or recommend a product that doesn’t suit their needs or is downright scammy. 

Check out these 4 proven money-making article types…

1. The List of Resources Article

I bet if you look through any of your favorite blogs, you’re going to find a “list of resources” article or a variation of it. They may even be pinned to the main navigation menu. And there’s a simple explanation for that. 

It’s because they generate income. 

Often when readers are faced with finding a new product for a particular challenge, they’ll turn to their favorite bloggers. I personally have readers ask me about the best editing software, best online writing classes, and best keyword research tools. 

And because of this, I’ve created my list of resources that I actually recommend. It lays out my top choices based on several criteria. 

I have become an affiliate of most of these resources and I provide an easy way for readers to access the products. This way, I can honestly net affiliate sales through actual products I use and believe in.

2. “Best of” and “Top 10” Articles

When was the last time you searched specifically for a mediocre product? You know… when you wanted something that worked… but not too good. Oh! And you needed to be unsure of whether its value was really worth the money. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say never. 

I’d imagine you’d look for the best of whatever you needed or even a top 10 list for more options. That’s where the money will come in. An article like this is designed for readers in a lower stage of buying awareness. People who are looking to buy but are unsure of just what they want to purchase.

By providing them with a neat list of something like the best writers conferences, you may be able to accelerate their purchasing process in a way that results in an affiliate sale for you.

However, it’s not just “Best of” lists that reel in affiliate sales. Another variation of this is the “Cheapest of” article. There are people out there just searching for the best deal you can get. And in my experience, these articles actually generate more sales than the “Best of” or “Top 10” posts.

3. Product or Service Review Articles

With reviews, you’re connecting more with people who are closer to buying than in the previously mentioned articles. These buyers have a specific product in mind that they want to buy. 

They just may need someone else to affirm their decision. And that’s where you come in. Now, before you start reviewing everything under the sun, take a look at what you’re reviewing. Can you in good faith actually promote this product? Is it within your scope and is the product quality up to your standards? 

If the answer to either of those questions is ‘no’ you may want to consider a better option for review. Unless you plan on giving a bad review as a cautionary warning. 

Readers and potential buyers tend to have an innate ability to brush off what you’re selling as snake oil. They can sense it. So be honest with yourself and your readers and watch the sales roll in.  

4. Comparison Articles Between Two or More Products/Services

These types of articles may end up being your top sellers. They are specifically helpful for those in the end stages of buying decisions. It’s either this product or that one. And a well-written article can be all that’s needed for an affiliate sale.

Comparison articles also have a very unique position when it comes to SEO. Here… let me demonstrate what I mean.

Search TermAverage Monthly Volume of SearchersCompetitive Score (0-100 w/ Higher number being more difficult)
Mailchimp1.4M57 (Hard)
GetResponse30K28 (Hard)
Mailchimp vs GetResponse3502 (Easy)

This data was procured from Ahrefs.com–a great tool for SEO’ers.

Looking at the data, you can see the competitive scores for GetResponse and Mailchimp are hard to rank for–especially Mailchimp. Could you rank for it? Sure. Through an exhaustive amount of time and effort.

But look at the comparison keywords. It has a competitive score of only 2. That would make ranking for the keywords super easy. 

If you’d like to see an example of a versus article, take a look at Food Delivery Guru. This popular food blog reviews food delivery services and meal kits to help make your mealtimes easier. Food Delivery Guru has several articles comparing different services, but one of my favorites is their head to head review of Sun Basket and Green Chef. These two organic meal delivery services have a lot in common, and the writers do a nice job of pointing out the differences. 

Monetizing Your Blog Isn’t Impossible

Through the use of affiliate marketing, you can convert your blog into an online asset.

These 4 article types are written specifically for driving sales and providing honest information to the reader. Just remember to choose your affiliates carefully for your best chance of success.


Image from Unsplash by Micheile Henderson