Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Post #7

It's the first Wednesday of the month again. Time for another IWSG post.

Today's post is a bit different. It's the one year anniversary of the IWSG, so how do writers celebrate an anniversary? They write a book! Today's post is my humble contribution to The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Awesome cover, don't you think?

Title: If Only I Had Known
Topic: Marketing
Bio: Jeff Chapman, author of Last Request: A Victorian Gothic and other tales ranging from fantasy to horror, muses about words and fiction at
Permission: I hereby give IWSG permission to use this post in The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

If only I had know more about marketing, I could have saved myself some time, effort, and money. I heard on the Sell More Books Show (a weekly podcast about book marketing) that most people don't read blogs. They scan them for headlines and bullet points. I tried to divide what I have to say into bullet points, but everything comes down to one point.
  • Put your book in front of people who are looking for it!
Remember that phrase. Every time you evaluate a marketing opportunity, consider it with that idea in mind. Does this marketing scheme address people who are looking for your book? If you can't answer yes, move on to something else.

Whether you like it or not, people tend to look for books by genre. (Some people know exactly what they're looking for. They use title or author in their search, but those aren't the people you're after.) Amazon's best seller lists and categories are broken down by genre. Email marketing lists are organized by genre. You need to identify the genre or genres in which your book fits and target people looking for that genre. Be honest with yourself when deciding on the genres. Readers who don't get what they expect, tend to feel cheated, and cheated readers write very negative reviews.

I've paid to have my books featured on websites a few times. For the most part, these efforts have been dismal failures, resulting in zero or very few sales. It could be that marketing on a website doesn't work that well. After some reflection and analysis, I realized the websites I tried primarily cater to romance readers. I wasn't putting my books in front of the right people. I guess I got the marketing result I deserved.

I've found two marketing strategies that work.
  1. Email Marketing: There are many services who will send the details of your book to subscribers interested in your book's genre. Some are very expensive, some very reasonable. Your results will likely vary based on the number of subscribers. Most of these services require your work to have a set number of positive reviews. They want to provide quality suggestions to their subscribers. So far, I've always made a profit on these sorts of email campaigns. The most important point is to pick the right genre so that you put your book in front of people who are looking for it.
  2. Drill Deep Into Amazon Categories: Don't simply list your book as Fiction or Adventure or some other top-level category. Amazon has hundreds of subcategories. Spend some time browsing them. Drill deep to see if your book reasonably fits into some lesser-populated categories. Readers who drill down into those categories are looking for something specific and your book might be just what they're looking for. Also, a few sales will likely put you onto a best seller list, which gives you more exposure. A few good reviews will get you onto the top rated list. If you want readers who are looking for your book to notice you, it's better to be swimming around in a small pond rather than the ocean.
Choose wisely and you'll find the readers who are looking for your book.


  1. You definitely have to know your audience. And be prepared to alter your targeting if your audience is a little different than what you expected. (I discovered this with my first book - it had a much larger female readership than I'd anticipated.)
    Great entry for the book, Jeff!

  2. Trying to figure out what your audience is can be tricky. You may think that your audience is just like you, but it rarely works out that way. Thanks for the post.

  3. I love this post. You're absolutely right about the newsletters, like Bookbub and others. Sadly, if you have no Paypal (not available in Egypt) and can't pay for anything, and your publisher won't, you don't have many options. I have a CP whose publisher paid for Bookbub. She made a lot of sales. Shortly, my book will go on sale, and I spent all of yesterday hunting for free newsletters. I ended up looking at about 75, 10 of which were truly free. And I've been getting Fussy Librarian newsletters for 6 months. NOW, they changed their rules and charge to list books. *sigh*

  4. This is great stuff, Jeff. Thanks. You're saving a lot of authors valuable time and effort.

  5. Great post! I've just read a fellow IWSG-er about amazon categories and placing it out of the popular heap so as to be more accessible. What do you think? Here's the link in case you're interested!


  6. Put your book in front of people who are looking for it! So obvious that most people miss it. And most authors don't plan their marketing until the book is released.

  7. Great tips! Finding the right audience sure can be a tricky business.

  8. I just now started looking into the deeper fantasy categories. I couldn't really think of what else to label mine, and then I saw there's a dark fantasy. Worth a try, since mine get pretty dark.

  9. Marketing -- not my best skill. I've been cudgeling my brain, trying to come up with a way to get word to potential readers, not just to fellow writers and editors. (On one social site, for instance, I'm always being marketed to by other writers, which can be annoying rather than enticing.)