This Ultimate Book Marketing Strategy is Surprisingly Simple

This Ultimate Book Marketing Strategy is Surprisingly Simple

I finally got my fourth quarter report for 2017, which means I know where I stand for the year (my book released in March, but technically, it was listed in December, which meant it was available for pre-order).

In the fourth quarter, I sold 58 books — 54 copies of my novel, and a surprising four copies of the prequel novella, even though I put no marketing into it and it states clearly in the teaser copy you can get it for free through my email list.

Go figure. But a good lesson in the power of Amazon’s recommendation engine — that’s 7.4% of my online sales.

This still isn’t breaking any records, but it brings my 2016 sales total to 404 — a fair amount over the average novel sales for a year of 250.

At a major publisher, this number would be distressing. But for a debut novel, with a small press? I’m not bragging yet, but I’ll take it.

It’s also given me a small taste of what is possible with cross-promotion when you have multiple books out, and I’m hungry for more.

The second full novel in my series is scheduled to release in August.

New year, new ventures

As I started planning for a new year of promotion, I’m looking to explore some new tactics to build my audience and sell more books. In particular, an author friend and I have been musing over starting a podcast together.

Do I know anything about podcasts? No I do not. Maybe this should bother me, but it doesn’t. Not at all.

If I’ve learned anything in this last year of becoming a published author, it’s that authors are not just authors…but all that other stuff? You learn it as you go.

Case in point: As I kid I was so shy I could barely look an adult or a kid I didn’t know in the eye.

Even as an adult, I’ve always hated being in the spotlight. But as an author, well, you suck it up, because your book needs you.

Recently I wrangled my dad into helping me out at an event, and at the last minute, they realized they were missing a panelist for one of their events of the day. I jumped in and took it. When I stepped off stage, my dad asked, “Where did that shy little girl go?” Still here. I’ve just learned a lot from taking other presenting opportunities this year, when I got them.

This attitude of “meh” has gotten me through many other things this year, too. Here’s how you can use it, too.

You’re not John Snow

And you do not know nothing. A lot of the foundational skills of writing and storytelling are a good foundation to build from for the rest of this stuff. If nothing else, your readers are coming to you for your voice, and that is one thing you are an expert in.

So acknowledge what you already know.

Google that sucker

This is the information age, after all. And authors like to write about their experiences more than anyone.

So find another author who’s already done what you’re about to do, and read up.

Sample the smorgasbord

A little this, a little that. Try out a wide variety of what’s already out there, with a particular eye toward other authors in your genre.

This will help you get a feel for what’s expected, and where you can add something fresh.


The best way to learn is to do. So stop waiting to be an expert first. Just accept that you won’t be perfect, and forge ahead.

Then, painful as it may be, go back and study it so you can be a little bit less un-perfect for the next time. Hug that learning curve tight.

If your current book marketing strategy isn’t working, you’re not alone.

Discover the REAL reason your current promotional strategy isn’t working and fix it in 3 easy steps with this free training on How to Market Your Book Effectively from Self-Publishing School!

Just get started

When you’re an author, learning on the job is just part of the gig.

The industry is shifting faster than anyone can keep up with, so the only way to keep pace is to constantly be looking ahead.

So try new things! Go after what sounds fun. Otherwise, what’s the point? And definitely never, ever be too afraid to try. Just get started.

What new tactic are you trying out?

Filed Under: Marketing


  • How can you successfully learn the industry and the market?

  • Yashi Singh says:

    that’s a encouraging to Indie authors like me who are on our own when it comes to marketing our book.

  • Hello,

    this marketing strategy is very simple & easy to implement.

    Thanks for sharing

  • Danny May says:

    So… you’re simple marketing strategy is “try everything and learn as you go?” (I kept reading for a strategy and got to the end and thought I missed it. Was that it?)

  • Ben Fleming says:

    thank you Emily for your open appraisal of the indie author world. Having just released my first fantasy novel, it’s a whole new world I am now stepping into with the marketing – unfortunately neither swords nor magic can help me here!

  • David says:

    Thanks for tips and all the positive / uplifting vibes in this article Emily. Much appreciated! I think your book sale totals are fab btw, not to be frowned upon at all!
    Good luck with your books.

  • Megan says:

    Can’t get over the basic fact of, assuming sales were either over Kindle @ $3.99 or that your share of hard/paperbacks was about the same, a year’s income from your completed novel is about $1,500. Yikes.

  • Colin says:

    Really like your appraisal of the debut novel situation, Emily- and going forward. There are so many varying routes. My romantic thriller novel, kicked in on a Kindle site, five months after publication. It can be difficult to gauge what is working, in the way of promotional advertising. Independent booksellers are worth contacting with news about your novels, even though they may not purchase. It’s not just about a book launch, but more that you continue with investigating avenues. Topic specific may lead to contacting online, training companies or perhaps fashion magazines, where genre appropriate. Facebook offers possibilities. Yes, independents are not overly keen! My latest novel is science fiction, but as an author you aim to take readers with you on the journey. Attract new genre specific reader audience, as well. Libraries are distinctly more author friendly than independent booksellers. Understandably these shops want large discounts from main stream publishers with one hundred titles+ in their catalogues. A few publications by one author can be a hard sell!

  • Emily. Thanks for your honest feedback about marketing and what you need to do. I just released my own book in November, and it’s been a learning curve throughout. I agree, it’s necessary to take whatever opportunities come up. But, at the same time, I’m trying to be realistic about what’s possible for me. Slow and steady works for me, otherwise I’m overwhelmed about what I haven’t accomplished yet. I’m just trying to find the right balance of marketing and working on my next book.

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