Category Archives: Marketing Your Book

Dairenna Von Ravenstone graphic for

Self Publishing Is Hard | Marketing is Harder

Self Publishing is hard. There are no two ways about it. I think we have all felt the frustration of self publishing a work of genius, only to find that no one buys it. Readers don't know it's there unless we can find an efficient marketing strategy! Writers, even when they've been traditionally published, have to get their hands dirty with marketing.

Enjoy today's guest rant by Dairenna Von Ravenstone - you may find yourself, as I did, nodding in agreement all the way through it!

Self Publishing is Hard

by Dairenna VonRavenstone

Dairenna Von Ravenstone graphic for self publishing is hardAs an unsuccessful self-published author it’s been a rough three years. I haven’t come close to breaking even in what I spent to publish my first novel. I have over 500 followers on twitter, about the same on Facebook but I don’t know what to do with them. Saying self-publishing is hard is an understatement. It’s like trying to make a door through a brick wall with a spoon, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Don’t get me wrong: there are a ton of guides, other indie authors who are willing to help out and lots of things you can do to get yourself noticed. BUT if you don’t have a plan, the will, the time, the determination or the “blood, sweat and tears” then you won’t make it. Plain and simple: if you can’t take the responsibility to work your butt off to promote your work then you won’t be a success.

This came to head about a month ago. An indie author I followed started ranting about how he was going to quit writing if his new book didn’t reach 50 sales in two months. At first I felt the same. I was all “Yeah, you tell them!” Then I read his prior tweets and realized that it wasn’t the fault of the “broken industry” (yeah, that’s what he called the self-publishing industry): it was his fault.


“He spent his money on companies that were scamming him.”

He didn’t do his research in finding an editor and when he did find one he expected that editor to edit an 80K manuscript for under $500 and do a stellar job. He didn’t promote properly. His cover art sucked and he blamed his fans for not telling him. He spent his money on companies that were scamming him. He didn’t do his research in any aspect of self-publishing. He simply wrote a novel that he knew wouldn’t sell (his words) and when it didn’t sell: complained.

Then I got angry. How could this guy sit there and blame the industry for his lack of research? I got mad enough that I wrote an angry blog post (thankfully didn’t publish it), tried to comment on his blog (you have to register to comment then it doesn’t even work: WTF?), and ranted to my IRL friends and some friends online.

It’s not the industry's fault that he didn’t do the proper research before getting into the industry. He’s got no one to blame but himself. Please don’t read this wrong: I’m not trying to bash him in the slightest. But his issue of not selling after two years hits home.

On Not Being a Marketer

Because just like him I’ve got no one to blame but myself for not breaking even in three years. It’s not the problem of the authors who tried to help me. It’s not the fact that I didn’t get good guidance from “how to” books and it’s not the fault of the books themselves. It’s not the fault of the company I did go through (three actually) to sell my books. It’s my fault, mine, all mine (insert maniacal laughter here).

There’s something liberating in saying that. There’s also something really depressing about it. But through this experience I did learn something: I am not a promoter, marketer or whatever you want to call it. I am simply a writer. I’m one of the few who cannot change hats to promoter and get my stuff out there. I understand the concepts; don’t get me wrong, but actually putting them into practice? Nope. It just doesn’t click.

“I have to go the route of traditional publishing”

And you know what? I’m okay with that. I know now that I have to go the route of traditional publishing (or hire a promoter) in order to sell my stuff. It doesn’t bother me that I’m not selling. It doesn’t bother me that people aren’t commenting on my blog or re-tweeting me or whatever. I’m just going to sit here and write because frankly, that’s what I do best.

So, what should you the reader, take out of this word vomit? Simply this: don’t try to do things you aren’t meant to do because if you do you’ll make yourself really, really depressed. Also, don’t be afraid to admit that even after trying hard for X amount of years that you really can’t do something. And, once you admit to not being able to do something: ask for help, or, well, hire help if you can. Because, really: it’s useless to keep whacking at a brick wall with a spoon. You’re just going to bend the spoon. In short: go get a demolition team if you need it.

Dairenna is the author of The Tale of the Twins available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Do you have a similar self publishing experience? Let us know in the comments below - and please share with your friends using the handy buttons provided!

Video Book Trailer | SEO for Authors

How fun to make a video trailer for my book, The Reiki Circle. Apparently, this has been all the thing for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for authors' sites and book marketing since 2001, but most [pullquote]self published authors don't have the time, inclination or professional expertise to set about making a film-like 30 second video for their books[/pullquote]. There are quite a few on Youtube of varying quality - you can see examples here and here.

If you clicked on those links, you'll see they are quite a contrast: one is beautifully done as a film-type trailer, while the other is simply slides. Which do you prefer?

Making a Book Trailer for Improved SEO for Authors and Booksales

I love the idea of doing a book trailer. However, the thousands of pounds - or dollars, if that's your currency - required for a professional video, directed by someone famous, is really out of my league.

So I chose the free option: - they have various templates that you just slip your words and pictures into. The result is rather charming, I thought. Cheezy, certainly, but charming.

So, why make a video trailer for the printed word?

Apparently, there are several reasons:

  • You can put a video on your author page on Amazon. If nothing else, it cheers the page up a bit!
  • You can use a video to drive traffic to your book!
  • A video paints a thousand words ... if you're too shy to talk about your book, you can send people to the video - and from there to your bookseller.
  • You can have fun with it!

I had fun with mine - and it gave me a few ideas about future efforts. But right now, if someone asks what I do, I can point them in the direction of this video.

What do you think? Too cheezy? Just right? In the middle somewhere? Are you planning a video book trailer for your own book - or seen one that made you buy the book?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, leaving a link to your blog - and with your friends, too, using the sharing buttons provided!

Jeb Harrison marketing and publishing photo

Marketing and Publishing Your Book the Modern Way – Free of Literary Agents and Publishers

Today's guest post in the series How to be an Author is a highly amusing and engaging take on the experience of marketing and publishing a book, tracking down a literary agent - only to find that the book was picked up by a publisher who specifically didn't want to deal with one!

Enjoy this post - and share it with your friends, using the many buttons scattered around at the side and end of the article.

What a Difference a Decade Makes in Marketing and Publishing!

by Jeb Harrison

Jeb Harrison marketing and publishing photoI first started shopping around for a literary agent in about 2001 which, given the lightspeed changes in publishing since then, could have been a century ago. I did what Writer's Market and Publisher's Marketplace told me to do, and though I have killed an entire forest by printing and mailing a thousand query letters, (almost every agent at the time claimed to represent literary fiction), the first ten pages of the manuscript, the first three chapters, the synopsis, five chapters, the first 50 pages, the first and last chapter, the bio and manuscripts for two novels over the past thirteen years, and now have an entire office wallpapered in rejection letters, I did finally get published. (As the wise and wizened in our profession tell us, it only takes one "yes".) The irony of my story is that, in the end, my publisher picked up Hack (novel #1) partially because I did not have an agent perched on my shoulder like a turkey buzzard sharpening it's beak for the industry-standard 15% of the advance. And that's just one of the differences between 2001 and 2010.

Literary Agents

My first agent, the certified paranoid schizophrenic of many wigs with a different name for each, one of which is Melanie Mills, is a novel in and of herself. I should have known that a literary agency in the city with most mini putt-putt courses on the planet, Myrtle Beach, would lead to trouble. And it did, but that's another story - bizarre enough to be published by the Huffington Post which you can read here. My second agent ran me through two years of revisions, submitted the manuscript in 2004 to six mid-sized imprints, got rejected and promptly left the publishing business to go run the family funeral home in Maine.

My dream of finding my literary equivalent of my guardian angel having fizzled, I hung up the search for a couple of years and wrote a couple more novels. When I took up the fight again, I found that what was already a pretty risk-averse bunch had already started ignoring anything that didn't look and smell like something that was already on the top-ten bestseller list. Just when I was getting ready to sign with another agent, a small, independent publisher came along and said "we'll publish it if you want". They actually felt that I could get a much better deal - an advance against royalties, marketing support etc. given the accessibility and appeal of the story, but facing the choice between rolling the dice with another agent and actually getting the novel into print both real and virtual, I jumped on the latter without so much as a second thought.

The little indie, Harper Davis, didn't pay advances, and one of the company executives handles all of the other agent-type jobs like negotiating movie deals and international rights etc. No agent needed or wanted. The product- paperback, hardback, Kindle, Nook etc. - looks as professional as anything from Simon and Schuster or any of the biggies. I only wish they would spring for an audiobook, as I believe that many boomers and pre-boomers do a lot of their reading in the car these days, and Hack would lend itself very well to an audio rendition.

Marketing and Publishing

Since I started shopping my work twelve or thirteen years ago, it appears the role of the traditional literary agent has become an anachronism. (Note that I speak for the literary fiction market only. I honestly can't say what's happening in the genre fiction space, or memoir and non-fiction.) That's not to say traditional agents don't exist. But instead of shopping a manuscript, they're shopping the author's published work; their second novel, or perhaps their third.

The Role of Social Media

Because the obstacle to publishing have virtually disappeared, the days of agents shopping manuscripts in hopes of 15% of an advance are all but gone. If an agent feels they have a hot prospect to sell to a publisher that is still paying advances, (which are fewer and fewer) the onus of proving the author's saleability is on them: How many copies did the self-published work sell? How were the reviews? How many "likes" do thay have on their Facebook page? How many followers on Twitter? In other words the agent may not be as concerned with the quality of the product as much as they are with the author having greased the skids to some degree already by the sweat of their own brow. In fact I have come across indie publishers, never mind the agents, who rate the author's willingness and ability to market their own work as important if not more important than the work itself.

Where does that leave the vast middle-earth of literary agents who are not lunching in Manhattan with publishing bluebloods? Since they are functionally salespeople who formerly made their bread from taking the piece of a publishing, movie, or international rights deal, they have had to become savvy in a much broader range of disciplines. Much of their success is dependent on their own ability to roll their sleeves up and market their authors, and in so doing come up with creative approaches to compensation. I imagine that these agents are looking for the breakthrough author who has the cross-media product, the looks, the platform, the connections, the "likes" and the legs to make a go of it.

The last thing any author wants is to get hit over the head with the continued pontifications of industry pundits pointing out, once again, that we aren't in Kansas anymore. And neither are the literary agents. In this exciting, new, and somewhat scary business environment, the idea of "writing a book" almost automatically includes marketing and publishing it too, just to get an agent interested. For the business-minded author and entrepreneur: Hey! What fun, right? For the bespectaled author who delights in nothing more than a good story well told, at least we can share our work via e-books, and, if we want to pony up a few bucks, a nice paperback as well. If that's satisfaction enough, we can consider ourselves lucky that the publishing industry ain't what it used to be!

How did you find Jeb's take on marketing and publishing your books? I admit to having seen an increasing number of blogs created for the express purpose of generating a readership for a not-yet-published book.

As always - share this blog with your friends and let us have your thoughts in the comments below.

Writing Career | Creating a Writing Career While Keeping a Roof Over Your Head and Food on the Table

Creating a Writing Career While Keeping a Roof Over Your Head

Being an Author while starving in an attic for your art may paint a romantic picture, but the reality is less than conducive to a continuing presence on this plane of existence! Reina Menasche here takes a humourous approach to tips for juggling day jobs and a successful writing career.

Working My butt off versus Lying in a Hammock—A Writer’s Tale (or Tail?)

by Reina Menasche

Reina Menasche Writing Career post how to be an author photoIt’s a tough choice, I know.

Hey, I’m American, and I’ve got that infamous work ethic syndrome: you know the one I’m talking about, right? Think American Dream. Think work hard and reap comforts and rewards. Think of my grandparents arriving at Ellis Island with a flood of other bone-weary yet hopeful immigrants, and then hunkering down in Brooklyn apartments and brownstones to do whatever it takes to create “The Dream.”

Oh, and what a dream! House with white picket fence? Maybe. 2.2 children? As we all know, in those days 2.2 was a modest number. The IDEA was what really counted: that one could be, well, whatever kind of person one wanted—and have a crack at The Good Life.

If my grandparents had stayed in Europe they may not have survived the twentieth century. Instead they came here and bore fruit. They handed The Dream on a platter (not golden) to us kids and grandkids.

Work hard, strive high…Maybe that’s why I work three jobs and pursue my writing career, not to mention fulfilling all those sacred and personal female duties such as motherhood, housekeeper, dog groomer, general problem solver, etc.

During a recent book talk at a local library, a reader asked me, “How do you find the time to write?”

Good question.

I paused before answering. When do I find the time to write?

How to Find the Time to Write

Several times I have blogged on the subject of WHY write in the first place, so I won’t go there today. Let’s just assume that The American Dream, for me, means pursuing one’s heart’s work and believing in what can’t be seen yet…And let’s also assume that the non-writing jobs I have also represent works of the heart, which they do, though much, much different than the ongoing celebration of fiction.

So today, a week later, the question befuddles me. WHEN DO I FIND THE TIME TO WRITE?

I have always been a bit of an odd worker. The ethic is in me, kinda sorta. It’s just expressed in a style that’s peculiarly mine, as the swirls of my fingerprints are mine. In other words, the handicap of my pinball-machine-work-style has finally, finally turned into an asset.

I like to work in short productive bursts. And these bursts just happen to be interspersed with periods of contemplation, exercise, languor—or whatever. Someone I care about very much accused me of undergoing twelve-second productive frenzies followed by longer lapses of unproductive wall-staring.

Work Style

For most of my professional life, I have had to hide this “work style” from colleagues and bosses. I am not a marathon runner who chugs along all day unraveling one work thread at a time. I am a sprinter; AND a suspiciously idle-looking doorway hanger. When finished with a work burst, I need to change gears, grabbing another thread or merely staring at the thread dangling before me, working out a way to grab it.

My day job as a social worker requires me to move and talk and think and write and teach and counsel. These are bursts of productivity (though definitely extended longer than 12 seconds). What I have done—what I’ve learned to do—is use my “wall staring” periods to weave the next part of whatever tale I am spinning. My night / Saturday jobs as a university professor and faculty adviser require me to move and talk and think and write and teach and counsel. Then back to the wall. My current book SILENT BIRD is unspooling there. I can “pause” the film, but I need to get back to it pretty soon or may never find out the ending.

So, again, when do I find the time to write?

I don’t know.

I write in my head when I’m drifting off to sleep or if have insomnia.

I write on paper when I’m stuck in the molasses of waiting at a bank or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I write on computers when I’m resting between bursts of productivity on other stuff or when I’m bursting between bouts of wall-staring.

When my son was younger I wrote in the form of bedtime stories.

Sometimes I write late at night after grading papers. Sometimes I write INSTEAD of grading papers or in class while students are taking a test.

Occasionally I write while watching a movie because the movie has inspired a leap in a new direction. Often I’ll write on vacation, gritty with sand on a beach or sitting around drinking unneeded coffee.

Hate to admit it, but I also spend lumps of free time NOT writing just because I’m too tired or too lazy or too…sick of working. More confession: I love idle time. I adore it and crave it and savor it like gooey cake. Could be that an unknown percentage of the wall-staring IS idle time embedded into the busy-ness of life.

Thus, the hammock.

I’m on vacation right now in Ventura County, California, visiting some dear high school friends from Long Island, New York. And yes, I’m writing this blog. I may also edit my novel a bit. I’ve graded a few papers because I have to.

But this is VACATION; I don’t have to be productive. My work ethic has fallen into a coma. I am playing pool, drinking wine, and…yes, lounging in a hammock.

Beats working any day.

A writer finds the time to write - and as Reina indicates above, the time may come a few minutes at a time, in chunks around the busy-ness of everyday living!

Reina's book Twice Begun is available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.

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