Showing posts with label book marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book marketing. Show all posts

Getting Your Book on Newsletter Lists


Contributed by Margot Conor

Whichever way you publish, your sales will depend on your ability to market your book. Traditional publishers will do some promotions but how much they do will depend on who you are, and how much they believe in your product.

But let’s face it, no one else cares as much as you do about your book, so it will be largely up to you to market it. It's your marketing strategy that determines how much money you can expect to make from your book.

Statistically, 80 % of readers get their next read from written word media. It is the #1-way readers find their favorite books. If you don’t know what that specifically refers to… it’s newsletters.

These newsletters are directly from authors or newsletters from organizations that promote books. Most authors today know how important it is to grow their audience through a newsletter.

Getting your book titles seen by readers, outside of your personal contacts, will be a big boost for your sales.

Here are a few ways to take advantage of these phenomenal opportunities, gain exposure to thousands of subscribers who read company newsletters, and pick up new followers for your creative works:


Goodreads platform has over 125 million members, it is likely the biggest database of books on the planet. I did’nt find how many subscribers they have for their newsletter. But there are other ways to utilize their site to get more visibility by using their Lists.

Here are the methods for using Goodreads to promote your book:

-The “Similar To” algorithm: connects books on similar topics, and gives you a selection to choose from. Find user lists which have books similar to yours. Use genre, theme, and other specifics. Add your title to those lists. Spread this out over time. don’t do it all in one day. Also, join as a reader and compile your own lists, and of course, add your own books to them.

-The “Listopia” Feature: a more general genre search offers Featured Lists.
These include: Best books ever, Best books of the 21st century, Best books of the decade, Best books of a specific year, Best books of a specific month and year. Users choose and rank them.

-By Book Title: Chose a title that you use as a comp for your book, (something comparable by genre, mood, style, theme). Use this feature to “look for Lists with this book title.” It gives you access to how other readers listed the book you like (your comp), and what books they feel are similar.

Add your book to the lists of comparable book titles. If those readers liked your comp, they should like your book too. Books rise on the list to the top as readers vote for them.

Even if you are a fledgling author with no book published, I recommend joining GoodReads as a reader and starting your list of books you love. If you have a book or multiple books published, begin adding those titles to various featured lists, as outlined above, to gain more visibility.

The survey information below is gleaned from Written Word Media. I include it in this article because it corroborates my point that these companies have thousands of dedicated users that welcome the information shared in their newsletters. You can benefit from that as well.

You’ve probably been told if you can offer a free book, it will get you a lot of readers. Although it is a hard choice to make. After all the time and money you put into creating your book, offering it for free, seems counterproductive. Some authors use a Novella, while others who are perhaps more prolific, bite the bullet and use their first book, or the first in a series, for promotion.

Freebboksy’s site notes 519K readers. But a more recent poll by Written Word Media says they have nearly 700K newsletter readers. Which means they are growing fast!

Seventy-five percent of subscribers use the Freebooksy newsletter to find their next read.

Here is a step-by-step process of how to get your book promoted on this site:

Bargain Booksy:

If you can’t make yourself give your book away, this might work for you. It is a site that sells discounted books.

Bargain Booksy Review is a promotional book-deal site that will share your book to several mailing lists they maintain. You pay a fee to have your book reviewed and promoted to one of their niche-specific mailing lists. They have 400K newsletter readers.
More than 70% of their subscribers use the Bargain Booksy newsletter to find their next book.

To help bring even more attention to your Booksy Profile, you can use their Boost option to increase your exposure.

The basic options are very affordable, Bargain Booksy Features range in price from $25-$240. Prices vary depending on your book's genre and promotion type. For more detailed information go to this link:

Red Feather Romance:
This service has 176K newsletter readers and they read more than10 books per month. More than 80 % of their subscribers use the Red Feather newsletter to find their books.

It will cost you a little to promote your book on this site, but it’s pretty reasonable.

They have 130K readers and on average their readers spend $25 per month on books. Seventy-five percent say they love the NewInBooks newsletter.

There’s a fee to get mentioned in their newsletter, it’s part of their Book Launch promo stack. Cost to the author: $299 to $499. But they have a lot of engaged subscribers, so this is not a bad way to advertise.  

According to surveys, a little less than half of modern readers are Kindle Unlimited subscribers. This means having an e-book option is important.

Wishing you all success on your writing journey!

Please copy and paste URLs for the sites you'd like to check out that aren't hyperlinked.


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page:

Marketing Your New Book on a Budget

 Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Within one week, a couple of years ago, I self-published a nonfiction book on writing for children, How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book, and had a traditionally published picture book released, The Case of the Plastic Rings – The Adventures of Planetman.

Dealing with one book being published is tough enough; two is a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re ghostwriting another story, or two, or three at the same time.

The first purpose of this article is to emphasize how important it is to market your book. If you don’t, you won’t get any sales, and just as bad, no one will read the story you worked so hard on.

The other purpose is to explain the strategies I used, am using, and will use to promote my books.


1.    Your Website’s Book Page
As soon as my books were available for sale, I added them to my Books page on my website.

I also included links to the sales pages.

I linked to the Amazon sales page for How to Write a Children's Fiction Book . And I linked to the publisher’s sales page for the traditionally published book.

To find out why I rarely link my books to their Amazon sales pages, you might read this:
Amazon, Your Book, And Third-Party Sellers

It’s important to note that you can and should do pre-publication promotion.

Let people know you have a book coming out. Give tidbits about the book to whet the reader’s appetite. If you have an email list (which you should), send a promotional email about your upcoming new book.

I didn’t do this at the time, as everything happened too fast, and I had too much on my plate.

2.    Video / Book Trailer
I created a video for my nonfiction book and for Walking Through Walls.

I have a paid subscription with Powtoons – that’s how I make my videos. You can add music or a voice-over.

They also have a free plan that gives you up to 60 seconds for your video.

I also intend to create a video (book trailer) for each of my children’s picture books.

3.    Author Interview
My publisher for the picture book did an author interview with me.

You can check it out here:
Interview with Karen Cioffi – The Case of the Plastic Rings

I promoted the interview through my social networks.

You can also ask peers or others with a ‘relevant to your book genre’ website if they’d be willing to do an interview with you.

4.    Book Reviews
Reviews help sell books.

I asked around for peers and others who would review my books and post their reviews to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads (or at least one of them).

For this, you’ll need to send a PDF of the book or a print copy if the reviewer requests it.

You can also find people who review books online. It’s important to make sure they’re reputable.

It’s also a good idea to ask the reviewer if you can post the review on your website.

Again, reviews help sell books.

5.    A Press Release
I didn’t have the time to do this step, but writing a press release for each of your new books is important, and asking fellow authors if they’ll put it up on their sites.

You should also post it to a press release distribution service.

There are free press release sites where you can upload the release to.

6. A Book Website
I had thought about creating a separate website for The Case of the Plastic Rings and the other three books in the series once they’re revised and re-published. But I decided against it.

While I have separate sites for my other two children’s fiction books, Walking Through Walls and Day’s End Lullaby, adding individual and detailed pages for each of my books to my ‘writing for children’ website will work better.

Keeping everything in one spot (on one website) has its advantages. You can see what I mean with my Books Page.

7.    Social Media
As soon as the books were available for sale, I posted about them to my social media accounts.

Currently, I’m using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

And I regularly promote them through my social media networks.

8.    Encourage Affiliate Marketing
A writer friend has an affiliate account with Amazon and was happy to promote my books.

If a friend or peer has an affiliate account with Amazon, they have more incentive to help you by promoting your book on their site.

They get a small payment for every book sold from their Amazon affiliate link. It’s not much, but it can add up if you do volume.

9.    Using PayPal’s Buy Buttons
If you’re self-publishing your book on Amazon, in addition to selling through them, you can use PayPal Buy Buttons on your website.

That’s what I did.

You can see how it works here:

Why did I do this?

In case you didn’t read the article above about Amazon and 3rd-party sellers, the gist of it is that Amazon allows 3rd-party sellers to sell your book.

My nonfiction book had just come out and 3rd-party sellers were already selling it through Amazon. I set the paperback price at $14.95, but it was being sold for $14.95 to $25. It’s crazy.

These 3rd-party sellers do the same thing with traditionally published books which is why I usually link to the publisher’s selling page rather than Amazon’s.

There’s no way to know where those 3rd-party sellers are getting the books from – they may be bootlegged. This means the author and publisher don’t get the money they should from the sale.

Another reason to sell from your own website is that you’ll make more money. If you’ve distributed your book through IngramSpark, there are a lot of fees taken from your book sales for paperback and hardcover books.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your own book marketing journey.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, and coach with clients worldwide.


FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN Self-Guided Course and Mentoring Program

WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS (self-publishing help for children’s authors).

You can check out Karen’s books at:


The Writing Juggling Act


By Karen Cioffi

Writing a story is time consuming… at least to write a good story.

I’m sure there are writers who sit down and write a story in a day, but I’m talking about doing it right.

This is especially true of writing for children.

It’s so important to know the rules. Know what the standard industry guidelines are and adhere to them.

There’s a lot that goes into writing. And if you want it to be publishing and marketing worthy, again, you want to do it right.

But what happens when you finish your manuscript. You revised it, edited, and proofed it, and possibly even had a professional writer look at it.

Your manuscript, your baby, is ready to fly.

You enter the traditional submitting phase. You’ve done your research and have found literary agents and book publishers in your genre. The submitting process is in full gear.

This process can easily take longer than the writing process, but you need to persevere.

In the meantime…

Should you just sit around and wait for a bite from an agent or publisher?

Should you sit around and gather dust on your keyboard?

Absolutely not!

You need to move onto another story as soon as you start the submitting process on your first book. Once book two is being submitted, it’s onto book three, and so on.

This goes even more so for articles.

According to writing coach Suzanne Lieurance you should have around 12 articles out circulating to magazine editors.

This is how you get work.

It’s the writing juggling act.

Keep the stories or articles moving.

Once you finish one story, get started on the next.

Another aspect of the writing juggling act: Book Marketing.

While you do need to keep writing those stories and getting them published, you also need to work on marketing you and your writing.

Marketing is a part of every author’s writing life, if you expect to sell your books.

-The first step of marketing is to create a quality book.
-The next step is to submit your work – this is pitching your work.
-If you’re self-publishing, you will need to publish it and distribute it so it’s available for sale.

Once the book finds a home, it’s about creating visibility. If people don’t know it exists, you won’t sell it.

The marketing and visibility process is ongoing.

If you’re wondering if having to promote your books is a must, even major publishers expect their authors to have an online author platform. They also expect the author to be able to help sell their books through that platform.

And, small publishers expect you to do all the marketing.

Marketing is that important.

So, what are the basics of an author online platform?

-The first step is to have a website and keep it current.

-Next is to post to social media to bring awareness about you, your books, articles, or services.

This will take up any spare writing time you may have.

So, if you’re a writer, there is no such thing as downtime. It’s all about the writing juggling act.

This article was first published at:


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter, editor, and coach with clients worldwide.

Karen also offers DIY How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book and
Writers on the Move Press (Self-publishing help for children's authors.)


Your Writer's Toolbox & A+ Content


One of the most rewarding experiences of
my writing career was to see how much
this little girl enjoyed
Tall Boots

By Linda Wilson @LinWilsonauthor

As you go about marketing your books, try to envision A+ content on your Amazon author page, and what it could do for your sales. What is A+ content? Visit the sales page of any of your favorites books, scroll down a smidge, and you might see an attractive, very large display of a bold title, with perhaps quotes from reviews, photos, and choice illustrations from the book. If the first book you search doesn’t have A+ content, keep looking. A+ content is getting more and more popular. You will find it, and when you do, watch out. You might get hooked!

A company I’ve been working with for years now, 100 Covers, acquainted me with A+ content in an email. 100 Covers can produce content that dazzles. I know, because the company created stunning A+ content for my book, Tall Boots. Go to the page, scroll down, and you will see how our joint efforts turned out:

Good Fortune Fell on My Doorstep

The photos of the young reader and permission to use her photos virtually fell in my lap. I had sent the book to one of my relatives. She shared it with her friend and her friend sent me a photo of her daughter reading the book because she enjoyed it so much. I asked for her permission to use the photo and she sent me more photos! Out of all my experiences with my readers, my connection with my relative and this family has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

The rep and artists at 100 Covers did the rest. They took the title from the cover and interior illustrations, and voilĂ , the finished product was ready to post--almost. 

Creation of A+ Content is Free and Doable Yourself

Amazon offers creation of A+ content at no charge. Videos can be included in your content. Here is a summary of how it works, courtesy of Google:

How to create Amazon A+ Content

1. In seller central, hover over Advertising > A+ Content Manager.

2. Click 'Start creating A+ content'. ...

3. Add content name and language. ...

4. Then, click 'Add Module'.

5. Choose your modules. ...

6. Apply to your ASIN(s).

7. Review and submit for approval.

Whether you’re creating A+ content yourself or having a company create it for you, you will find templates in which you need to fit your content. It wasn’t difficult for me to navigate the template I chose. The templates are specific, and when I went to post my Tall Boots content, I found that word counts were specific and short. My blurbs were too long. To get it right, I simply needed to edit the blurbs I had written to be much shorter than I had first intended.

Once you’re finished, Amazon reviews your content before allowing it to be published. My content was not accepted at first. Amazon made it clear why, so there was no guess work involved. They asked me to remove one short sentence because it sounded like a sales pitch. I didn’t agree. I thought the sentence only encouraged readers to follow the character’s example in the story, to discover courage they already possess to reach their goals. But I had no problem deleting the sentence. Once I did that, Amazon accepted the content and posted it soon after.

My picture book, A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift, is next in line. The A+ content for it is being created now, as I write, by 100 Covers.

I may never know if A+ content helps my book sales, but like everything else in writing for children, it’s fun, and best of all, it’s free!

My latest picture book, Cradle in the Wild
is now available:

Linda Wilson writes stories for young children. Visit Linda at Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter. 

 Find Linda’s books at  Amazon Author Page.

 Connect with   Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram  

3 Tips to Powerful Social Media Marketing


 By Karen Cioffi

As an author, it’s important to promote your books.

So how do you go about doing this?

Well, one of the first steps, aside from creating an author website, is to use social media to bring your book to the world.

But, it’s important to use social media effectively.

Some social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, have optimization features for shared blog posts. It’s similar to how you’d optimize the blog posts on your website.

Here is a list of 3 social network features to be aware of (and take advantage of):

1. The post title.

Along with creating a keyword effective and powerful blog post title, you should try to keep the characters to 40.

Search engines only pick up the first 60 characters of the titles.

What does this mean for you?

Use those characters carefully. According to webinars by Marketing Experiments, make your title a complete thought. Along with this, be sure to include your keyword.

Just as important, you should make the title ‘WIIFM’ (what’s in it for me) effective. To do this, think of the benefit the reader will want.

If you’re a fitness writer, your title might be:

Lose 7 Pounds in Just 7 Days

Notice the title is a complete thought, it has the WIIFM (look your best), it’s keyword effective, and it’s under 30 characters.

2. Create a brief, but powerful description.

Along with the post title, you’ll be able to add a description of the article.

Most social networks allow for this additional search engine optimization. Absolutely take advantage of it.

See the example below. You have plenty of room to show your reader what the article is about. And don’t forget that search engines use descriptions to further categorize content.

So, how would you write a description for the article “Are You Overthinking Your Story?”

Here’s what I wrote:

(1) When writing for children, some new authors have difficulty realizing when the story is at the publishing or submitting stage. They may overthink the storyline, the characters, or even the sentences.

Another description might be:

(2) Knowing when your story is done can be tricky. How can you avoid overthinking it?

Either of these two descriptions is fine. The first though, gives more information, but its’ a bit long.

In (1) above, there are 169 characters, and I have several keywords. Along with this, the description is clear and to the point.

In (2) above, there are only 74 characters, but it’s not as informative as the first. On the flip side, it poses a question that may motivate the reader to click on the link.

So, you can see that they both have the potential to grab the reader and help the search engines find and categorize the content.

3. Use hashtags where applicable.

Most social networks allow you to use hashtags to let users find your topic.

Hashtags are a powerful marketing feature.

So, what exactly do hashtags do?

They’re basically keywords or tags that are relevant to your article’s topic. They help the social engines on the network you’re posting to identify and categorize your content.

Hashtags also allow other users to quickly find posts that are relevant to the topic they’re looking for.

Hashtags work. Hashtags are powerful. You should use hashtags where applicable.

Summing it up.

There are lots of other social media publishing optimization strategies, but these are the top three in my opinion. They help boost engagement and help the search engines find, categorize, and share your content.



Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, as well as a children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move, and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Karen’s children’s books include Walking Through Walls and The Case of the Stranded Bear. She also has a DIY book, How to Write Children’s Fiction Books. You can check them out at:

If you need help with your children’s story, visit:  



How to Get a Wealth of Social Media Content

SEO for Authors – Keywords and Descriptions

A Marketing Story to Inspire Authors to Renewed Efforts


Carolyn Howard-Johnson Shares Sell Sheet Secrets


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
multi award-winning author
of the HowToDoItFrugally Series
of books for writer

[Excerpted and abbreviated from a chapter on preparing review copies in my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, third in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series for writers.]
Over the years as I worked with clients, I realized that too many authors don’t know about sell sheet and many more undervalue the opportunities they afford. Sell sheets are generally thought of as fliers that get inserted into their free review copies, otherwise known as ARCs. They are printed with a very short pitch (otherwise known as a logline), the book’s metadata, a bio of the author that relates well to the theme or topic of the book, and maybe even a few blurbs (endorsements) the publisher or author has already collected. They act as a one-page website at-the-ready for reviewers.
When reviewers prefer e-books, few publishers or authors are savvy enough to send a sell sheet as an attachment with it or, better, rework the e-copy into the very front of the e-book itself. A few of the big publishers do that with a special ARC edition of their paperbacks, too.
Are you still wondering why they are so important? A great sell sheet helps the reviewer write the review easily and quickly. But more importantly, it can serve as a kind of guide for them by highlighting the points the publisher (traditional or self-publisher) feels most important. The reviewer is not obligated to follow these subtle suggestions, but they usually incorporate at least a portion of it in their reviews. It also helps the reviewer avoid making mistakes within the review itself.
Sell sheets can also be inserted into books used for other marketing purposes. Books sent to bookstore buyers, TV directors, schedulers, feature editors, librarians and more. When appropriate, publishers might add a subtle suggestion that reviews and blurbs are always appreciated or add a Post-it note to that effect. These marketing wonders may be called “sell sheets,” but they are beyond selling. They are useful, professional, and even courteous because they make it easier for recipients to do their work.
Ideally sell sheets should be printed in color on glossy paper, 8 ½ x 11, and may be printed on both sides.  Here is what they should include.
•    A book cover image.
•    A headshot of the author.
•    Include book and author awards. You're trying to convince people of the quality of the book and expertise of the author.
•    Know your audience and let the sell sheet reader know who that is. No book is for "everyone."
•    Include the BISAC subject heading in your metadata. You'll find them at These are the headings that bookstores and librarians use so you might as well do what you can to make their jobs easier when you are selling them on featuring your workshop or having a signing for you, too.
•    Your metadata includes:
        -Your ISBN, both 10 and 13.
        -The book's binding type (perfect, wire, comb, sewn)/
        -How the book might be purchased. (paperback, hardback, jacket, e-book).
        -The book’s dimensions.
        -The book’s page count.
        -When pertinent, include name of the illustrator, their awards, and short bio.
        -Don’t forget the retail price for both US, Canada, and others that may be pertinent.
    Let people know what the book includes:
            *Bibilography (My publisher is an avid fan of bibliographies for his nonfiction books because that are a mark of professional publishing.)
•    Include review quotes and endorsements, most important and credible first.
•    Include a short author biography. Keep it focused on the author's pertinent platform rather than how many children she has, unless the book is about raising children.
•    Include complete distributor information. That, by the way, is not Ingram, though that info should be there, too. If you don't have a distributor, do your research fast and try to get one that offers a sales force as well as distribution.
•    Include the publisher and how to order directly from them.
•    Mention the author’s speaking ability and the subjects they are qualified to speak on.
You can see that one side sheet will probably not accommodate all the required information. Use both sides. E-mail me at and I will send you a copy of a two-sided professionally produced sell sheet.
Hint: You can use sell sheets as fliers at fairs, when you speak and more. When you send out ARCs, you might choose to include the most basic info on a label applied to the inside of the front cover. That way, if the sell sheet gets separated from the book, the recipient is sure to have all the information she or he needs.
Don't forget to include a way you can be reached by e-mail. You DO want to be reached, don't you?


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won
multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter  (third edition) and The Frugal Editor (second edition). They garnered awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
The author loves to travel. She has visited ninety-one countries before her passion was so rudely interrupted by Covid. She studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her website is

Your Author Platform - Is It Ever Too Soon to Start?


 By Karen Cioffi

Newbies to the writing arena have many questions about creating an author platform. And, the most puzzling one is whether they need a website before they have a book published or in contract.

In fact, I’ve recently been questioned twice about whether a newbie with NO book on the publishing horizon should bother to start working on a platform and more specifically on an author website.

Both individuals felt it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

It’s important to know that this, though, is far from the case.

Creating a website at the get-go is putting the horse before the cart. It’s one of the forces that will pull you forward and help you establish your online platform, your presence and visibility.

So, the answer to the title question is NO.

It’s never too soon to begin your author platform or your author website if:

- you want to be a writer or an author
- you intend to submit manuscripts to agents and/or publishers
- you intend to self-publish a book

The time to get your online platform started is RIGHT NOW. And the foundation of your platform is a website.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends

When one author mentioned she was writing a children’s middle grade book and didn’t have a website, I responded that it was a mistake. I told her websites are an essential part of an author’s online platform.

Her reply caught me by surprise. She was advised by a well-known and respected institute for children’s writing that she should wait until she received a book contract before creating a website.

If this were 10 or 15 years ago that advice would make sense. But, today, agents and publishers want to know what the potential new author’s platform is beforehand.

The size or lack-of-size of an online platform can make or break a contract.

The powers-that-be expect you to have a website in place and be involved in social networks before you even submit a manuscript. They expect you to be a big part of the marketing involved in selling the book.

Jane Friedman, Media Studies instructor at the University of Virginia and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, advises that authors must cultivate a relationship with readers every day of your life. And she advises that you start TODAY.

Why do you need to start your online platform TODAY?

In a single word, the answer to that question is TIME. Establishing an online platform takes time.

It takes time to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It takes time to develop a relationship with your readers. It takes time to develop trust. And it takes time to broaden your reach and acquire followers/connections.

Real life example:

One of my former clients created a website. She also created pages on two of the major social networks. She did all this way before she started to get her book written.

The results? She has thousands and thousands of followers on both social networks. I’m talking about over 30,000 followers at the time of writing this article.

You can be sure I added this information when writing the query letter for her.

Do you think this will make a difference in a publisher or agent’s view of this new author?

You bet it will.  

They’ll know she’s able and willing to help sell her books.

Since your website is the foundation of your author platform, it’s absolutely, positively necessary to get a website setup and optimized as soon as possible.

It’s from this focal point, your hub of information, that you will draw the attention of the search engines and readers. You may even catch the attention of a visiting editor, publisher, or literary agent.

Your website is also the place you will get readers to sign-up for your mailing list – further building your marketing reach. It’s the place you will begin a long-term writer-reader relationship.

Think of your author website as the launching pad of your book marketing platform.


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, a successful children’s ghostwriter with 300+ satisfied clients worldwide, and an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For children’s writing tips, or if you need help with your children’s story, click the link above.

You can check out Karen’s books at:


 The Lazy Way to Be a Great Writer

Positive Thinking and the Writer

How to Write Vivid Scenes 

Essentials for Managing a Writing Career


When I was on a panel at PALA (the Publisher Association of Los Angeles (an associate of Independent Book Publishers Association or IBPA), I was asked to give them the five most important tips to an independent writing career and this is an abbreviated rundown of what I told them:

1.    One of the most deleterious ideas—the one that has the most disastrous effect on the welfare of an author’s book—is that marketing is selling. Especially selling people something whether or not they want it (or can use it).This incorrect idea of what marketing is at its roots is unethical, destructive to creativity, and absolutely false. It is what marketing is not. Here’s what marketing is:

a.    It is having a passion for one’s own book, a passion coupled with a strong belief that it will help others—either a certain group of others or everyone. That it it is an authentic belief that the book will make their lives better. Help them. Entertain them.

b.    Marketing is the process of learning who those people are and showing them why it is right for them and helping them access it in the most convenient way for their needs.

c.    It is about caring and making it evident that this caring is  apparent through the campaigns and promotions the author does. Authors will be forgiven for that awful term selling if the reader can see—and feel—the caring. Both in the book and in the marketing campaign itself.

2.    Here’s my most inspirational tip:. You can now be in charge of your own writing career. That means you get to make your own decisions. Fortunately that also means you have the never-ending uphill learning curve to climb and I believe it’s fortunate because you will never get bored.

3.    There are no blanket rules—no undeniable, unforgiving, steel-clad rules in writing or publishing. But you must know the rules anyway. If you don’t,  and you put out a less than professional product (and it is apparent there is no good reason for having broken those rules), you have done yourself and all the other independent authors a disservice.

4.    Learn, learn, learn. One of the best ways to do that is to use the benefits offered by respected writers organizations. Use them to learn more but also use the benefits they offer to help you market. Both their paid services and the ones that come free with membership. Example: One that works well is renting one of their lists for a direct marketing campaign.
5.    Learn to fight what is left of Book Bigotry or Entrenched Publishing Rules without spending time trying to change others’ minds. People only change their minds when they’re in enough pain. Be confident in knowing that entrenched (read that traditional) marketing ideas aren’t the best way to sell books anyway. The best way to use your marketing budget and time is to find the ways you can reach the most people in the least time (and where you can make the greatest net profit)—and that isn’t by selling through bookstores. . .or in airports.

6.    Tips: Read, read, read, but read cautiously. Everyone on the Web isn’t an expert. Find experts with newsletters written by experts who will keep you up to date.
Examples: Amazon sends information about their new promotion opportunities to those who are already published. To get that information, you have to read their e-mails.  And read newsletters. My favorites are:

                           I.        Dan Poynter’s
                         II.        Hope C. Clark’s (Funds for Writers)
                       III.        Joan Stewart’s (The Publicity Hound)
                        IV.        My SharingwithWriters
                                    (Subscribe at
                          V.       And for speakers (one of the best ways to market), Tom Antion's letter for speakers

7.    Join organizations:
I love Independent Book Publishers Associations (IBPA), of course, but there are lots more targeted associations like memoir writers, journalists, the Military Writers Society of America, PEN. Remember they only work as well as you work them.

8.    Join listserves, sometimes called social network groups or forums. IBPA has a great one. Author U is one founded by Judith Briles. Here’s a tip: Learn which contributors are experienced and which aren’t before you take advice to heart.

Article reprint from 2015

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the second book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing.
The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated!
Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at and Carolyn-Howard-Johnson: Amazon Page.

Let's Focus on Building Writing Careers

It Isn't About Book Sales: It's About Career Building  By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the multi award-winning  flagship book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of
books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, Third Edition

In a writer's world sharing is sometimes as important as the creative aspect of building a book. The trouble is sharing—for many—translates into selling books. Of course, most of us want to do that, but we tend to lose sight of the fact that we will eventually sell a whole lot more books and, in doing so, share with a whole lot more people, if we concentrate on building our careers. Indeed, for some authors with nonfiction books based on their businesses and professions, the whole purpose of the book is to increase credibility and exposure for themselves and careers. For them, their book may be all about their careers, but in that journey they may neglect how important it is for that book to reflect their professionalism at all levels.

What many authors think of when they think of book sales is the kind of hardsell that most would rather eschew. When they decide to do it anyway because they know they should, they may skip learning something about marketing first and their efforts backfire on them. I have a motto: “Never say, ‘Buy my book.’” Keep reading for better ways to market your book and yourself.

Here's the surprise for most everyone but those who have already studied a bit about marketing. Marketing—marketing anything—isn't about selling. Marketing is about knowing your audience and doing stuff that will attract more of a similar demographic. Marketing a book is about finding the people who will benefit and appreciate what the author has to share and then letting those people know how they will benefit (or avoid problems) by reading it. Doing that requires a lot of writing along the way and that's what we do. There is real pleasure in seeing our marketing efforts succeed and seeing our careers build as we do more of it and learn more about it. Here are some ideas of giving-sharing kinds of marketing from the flagship book in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter. Each may be used as a part of a launch campaign or to nudge exposure for books that have been around a while.

§  Meet new readers by running a contest on your website, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors to share their books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.

Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.

Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ websites. Other authors tend to understand your need to build your career and to sell your books. You'll make long lasting friends doing it.

Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Students can become valued friends and fellow writers. Publicizing the classes is easy and free and helps build your author-name recognition. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. Use your teaching experience in your media kit to show you have presentation skills.

Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists—the ones I show you how to build in The Frugal Book Promoter—and to let personal friends share in your exciting publishing adventure.

Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) can be networking experiences. Read that word "networking" as "making friends who want to work with you." Check the submission guidelines for the free review service blog I started to help fellow authors extend the life of their favorite reviews. It's at There are several review-related opportunities in the tabs at the top of the home page.

Connect and reconnect. Subscribe to new blogs and newsletters to get new ideas, new opinions. Start reading the ones you once subscribed to again. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book. Offer to help them with guest articles and blogs. Enter their contests. Communicate on their forums.

When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a small fee.
Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. She puts a coupon for your book in her shipments; you do the same for her in yours.
Be sure your book’s Amazon buy page amplifies the effects of its logarithms and utilizes the benefits they offer through AuthorCentral (also called AuthorConnect).
Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. Do know, however, that you need a knockout platform including speaking credits.
I call reviews forever-reviews because they hang around forever on the web. And because they are forever useful on their own or repurposed as endorsements—yep, even when a book is aging. In fact, I think they are so important to your career that I wrote an entire book on how to get them, how to manage them on places like Amazon, and how to utilize them…well, forever. It is, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the second book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing. The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated! Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at and

Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...