This article originally appeared on Medium. Reprinted with permission.

By Bree Weber

If you google ‘how to launch a book’ or ‘how to boost your book sales’ you’ll find a plethora of resources suggesting everything from growing an email list to getting early reviews to creating a street team.

This is all wrong.

Before you can jump into pricing strategies or social media giveaways, you need to map out a complete business plan for your book. Let’s face it, as an indie author you are a business owner. A business plan is the tool you use to understand how your book fits into the market, how it stands out from other books like it, and how best to share your book with interested readers.

As you start to write on each subject, you may find connections you previously missed, or opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. Your answers here will help guide you during every book launch to keep you and your team accountable to your goals. So, let’s get started!

1. Summary

I recommend writing this section last as you’re effectively summarizing the entire business plan. This section should answer the question “why is your book going to succeed?”.

2. Brand Overview

Let’s first start with your brand’s history, sort of like a resume for you and your book(s). Write out (as objectively as possible) a history of your career as a writer.

  • What genre(s) do you write in?
  • Why are you qualified to write on these topics?
  • What past awards have you received?
  • How have past publications performed?
  • Have you hit any key milestones like a bestseller list?

If you’re a debut author, you can include any obstacles you’ve overcome to start writing, finish writing this book and/or start the publishing process.

3. Market Analysis

Market Overview

Here you can detail the size and characteristics of your market as well as the sector and current trends. A great indicator of this is your genre and sub-genre. Take a look online at these categories to get an idea of how many books are already out there.

Relevant Market Size

Now that you know the overview of your genre, you can drill down into it.

  • Are you in a niche genre? Think of specific keywords that might transcend your genre, but readers are actively seeking out such as ‘strong heroine’ or ‘coming of age’.
  • How open is your genre to new stories and new authors?
  • Do you already have a hold in this market? If so, how large is your market share?
  • How many readers would you have if every reader who reads in this genre read your book?
  • What annual revenue could you expect with 100% of the market?

How to calculate:

[the number of readers who might be interested in purchasing your book each year] x [the amount these readers might be willing to spend, annually, on your books]

4. Customer Analysis

Target Customer

Although you’re actually identifying an entire customer base, try to visualize just one person. Describe how your ideal reader fits into the world. Start with demographics:

  • Is your ideal customer male or female?
  • How old is she?
  • Where does she live?
  • What does she do for work?
  • Is she married?
  • What’s her educational background?

Take it another step further to map out an emotional side to your ideal customer:

  • Who is she buying for? Herself, a child, someone else?
  • How does she feel about her job?
  • How does she spend her weekends and holidays?
  • Is she on social media, blogs or other online communities?
  • What problems is she battling in life right now?

Give your ideal customer a name, a background and a personality. Get to know your ideal customer!

Customer Needs

Take what you’ve written down about your target customers to connect your book to their answers. How does your book meet their needs?

If you’re a non-fiction writer, most likely your book helps your ideal customer to solve a problem. Think back to your ideal customer, and be specific about the problem and the solution.

Does your memoir help young adults struggling with body image find the inspiration they need through your personal story to get help? Or perhaps you have a business strategy book that helps solopreneurs manage and scale their local business into an international franchises by incorporating techniques you’ve used with Fortune 500 companies around the world.

If you’re a fiction writer, you might be thinking “my book doesn’t solve problems” or even that “fiction is just entertainment”. Don’t discredit yourself. Fiction is an account of the human condition; in fiction we find insights, inspiration and often pieces of ourselves.

With this framework of fiction in mind, consider what anxieties or complexities your story reveals in your reader. What will your reader learn about herself or her world from your story? This answer is the door to your customer’s needs.

5. Competitive Analysis

Direct Competitors

Direct competitors are the books that fill the exact same customer needs as your book, which is why it is so important to clearly identify your target customers and their needs. Outline the strengths and weaknesses of your direct competitors.

Indirect Competitors

These are the products and services that fill the exact same customer need as your book, but may not be books at all. This could be TV, magazines, etc. Outline the strengths and weaknesses of your indirect competitors.

Competitive Advantages

Now that you have a strong understanding of your competitors — both indirect and indirect — you can list out why your book competes with both. What is special about your book? Why should your ideal customer buy it instead?

6. Marketing Plan

So many authors get hung up on their book’s marketing plan because they haven’t completed the market, customer and competitive analysis. How can you market effectively if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, what else they are considering and how your book competes?


Since you’ve already researched your competitors, you should have a good idea of the how books and other services are currently priced. So now you can decide on your pricing model:

  • Freemium
  • High-low pricing
  • Pay what you want
  • Premium pricing

Consider how your selected pricing model(s) meets the needs of your customer.

Promotions Plan

Now that you’ve gotten to know your ideal customer, you already know where she hangs out offline and online. Keep this in mind when listing out your strategies to attract new customers.

  • Do you plan to get involved with a community on social media?
  • Are you steadily building an email list?
  • Are you using paid advertising? Where?
  • Will you do local events and bookshop signings?

Distribution Plan

As indie authors, it’s never been easier to publish and distribute a book. Although there are many options, not all will be right for your book, and it may differ from book to book. Think about your target customers:

  • Do they like to buy direct via author websites?
  • Do they love 2-day shipping from large online stores?
  • Are they bookstore browsers in need of a small local shop?

If you’re going to be using wholesalers, distributors or other partners to sell your book, list them out here. Find out the costs — whether financial, time, or otherwise — associated with working with them and write down the benefits that make that cost worthwhile.

7. Operations Plan

Strategic Calendaring
This is where you’ll want to map out the day to day logistics for every aspect of your book:

  • Writing
  • Editorial
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Publication
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations

You’ll want to consider what kind of editing you need, how long will production take, when you need a final cover design file, when you’ll be receiving and proofing print copies, what promotional content you’ll post on social media, etc.

If you’ve built a support team to help you manage your book’s success, you’ll want to write out who is covering what, when you’ll need to give approvals, and deadlines that you need to meet for your team.

List out your future goals, and be S.M.A.R.T about it. And by SMART, I mean specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Include all the details of what you want to achieve, who is involved, where this will happen, when you’d like to achieve it, which obstacles you’ll need to overcome, and why this is beneficial to your author brand or book.

8. Management Team

Although the term ‘indie author’ refers to an independent author, the most successful writers are rarely doing it alone. Take some time to think about your own strengths, and recognize your weaknesses.

Identify where you need help and who to bring in. It might be an assistant, a consultant or a company. Then continually review where there might be gaps in experience or qualifications, especially as your author brand and book sales grow.

For those authors who really just want to focus on the writing, but appreciate the freedom indie publishing provides, you may want to consider creating a ‘board of advisors’ for your to manage and execute all of the goals in this plan.

9. Financial Plan

Revenue Model

List out how your book makes (or will make) money.

If your primary author revenue is book sales, this will likely be a super short section. Be sure to consider different formats i.e. print, digital, audio, etc as well as series, box sets, collections, etc.

If you’re using a book as a platform for other services, or a stepping stone towards other products, itemize your revenue streams as it relates back to your author brand.

Financial Highlights

No need to pull out income statements or balance sheets (yet), but you’ll want to outline a basic summary of your current and projected financial situation:
  • Annual revenue or how much you’re earning from book sales
  • Major book-related expenses such as advertising, distribution, etc.
  • Projected net income (revenue — expenses) for this year and next

With these answers in hand, you’ll be able to increase your sales, grow your audience, and create new ways to connect with your readers. This will also serve as your compass keeping you accountable to your goals, helping you avoid mistakes and reminding you to keep your ideal customer in mind at every decision.

Bree Weber is a book designer and publishing consultant who loves Oxford commas.

In London, Bree studied for her MA in Publishing Culture, while working for several large publishing houses, including Penguin and MacMillan. This is also where her latte addiction first flourished.

Post-Europe, Bree contributed to NYC boutique presses and literary agencies as a digital marketeer and publishing consultant, until deciding the road was the place for her.

Now, as a digital nomad and founder of The Book Octopus, Bree uses her traditional publishing experience to help indie authors produce, publish and promote their books.

If you want to connect with Bree you can reach out to her on Twitter at 
@thebookoctopus and on www.thebookoctopus.com.

If you have published a science fiction or fantasy novel, you'll need to promote it on social media. I know the thought of engaging in yet more social media makes you cringe, but like it or not social media is here to stay. And you may, in fact, be pleasantly surprised at how effective it can be.

Here are some social media platforms that can help you promote your book for free. Although they allow promotion, most of these platforms are not strictly promotional. Their main purpose is to host discussion groups, book clubs, and writing critique groups.

In addition to the ever-present necessity of promoting your work, I would encourage you to take advantage of these non-promotional functions for two reasons: 1) As a writer, it's essential to participate in discussions about your craft and genre, and 2) You may make some valuable contacts with other authors in the course of those discussions. (I did.)

Facebook Groups

Facebook is a huge social media platform, which means it can produce dramatic results. First, set up a page for your book. (This is a must.) Then join writers' groups. The largest and most active writers' groups are listed here: 43 Facebook Groups for Authors. There are also several active Facebook groups geared specifically to science fiction and fantasy writers. These are:

Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers in America. (Closed group) This is for writers who focus their work mainly on science fiction and fantasy. The site is for writers to post small pieces of their work to get others' opinions on them, to offer or request advice about the art, craft, and business of writing, and to exchange interests concerning science fiction and fantasy writing with like-minded individuals.

Cyberpunk Science Fiction & Culture (Closed group) Group dedicated to all things related to cyberpunk: culture, literature, music, film, technology, games, fashion, lifestyle, etc.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors. This group is open for anyone who loves the genres of science fiction and fantasy. They welcome readers, writers, viewers and all lovers of the genres.

Science Fiction. (Closed group) For all those interested in science fiction and fantasy adventure reading.

Space Opera. Space opera is a sub-genre of science fiction dealing with stories of epic adventure and conflict on a grand scale. If you are a fan of authors like Poul Anderson, Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, E.E. Smith, David Drake, Neal Asher, John C. Wright, Iain M. Banks, Walter Jon Williams, Dan Simmons, Jack Vance, David Weber, Vernor Vinge, Stephen Baxter, Larry Niven, or Louis McMaster Bujold, this group is for you. Authors can promote their books through special promotion threads.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Fans. This is a virtual book club of fans of science fiction and fantasy.

SciFi,Horror,Endoftheworld,Truestory.,other,Books,Screen,Music,Writers. This group is for authors, novelists, screenwriters, and bloggers to share their pages and/or published work.


We PROMOTE Fantasy/Sci-Fi Writers/Authors - "If you need help promoting your work, my Sci-Fi/Fantasy Team can advertise your book in our active Facebook fantasy & sci-fi page with 117,000+ Likes, Twitter page with 20,000 Followers, and feature it in Fantascize.com. We can also help you reach thousands of readers through book reviews, author interviews, book trailers, and any other type of advertisment/promotion you may need. For more details, Email my team at fantasynscifi@gmail.com or me personally at berserkxxo@yahoo.com if you're interested."

SciFi and Fantasy Book Club (15669 members) - This is mainly a discussion group, but there is also a folder for authors to promote their books. Make sure to read the rules before posting. 

SciFi and Fantasy eBook Club (3538 members) - Self-promotion is allowed in the Authors' forum for active members.

Dystopia Land (2047 members) provides a folder where authors can post releases, giveaways, free books, and short stories.  

Twitter Hashtags

#PNR (Paranormal Romance)
#ScifiRTG or #SFRTG (Sci-fi Retweet Group)
#IFNRTG (Indie Fantasy Re-tweet Group)

General marketing:

#IARTG (Indie Author Re-tweet Group)
#YA (Young Adult)
#BYNR (Be your next read)


Google + communities are an ideal platform for book promotion. These communities are lively, and posting is effortless. (All you need to do is post a URL and a brief intro.) Before you start joining Google+ communities make sure you have set up an attractive profile on Google. It's easy to do, and I guarantee people will be visiting. (My profile has gotten over 5 million views.) You can also set up a page for your book. Don't forget to read the rules of the groups before posting!

Speculative Fiction Writers - This Community is a place where all writers of science fiction and fantasy, from brand new to published authors, can come together to share trials and triumphs in developing new worlds, human and nonhuman characters, and stories large and small. (No promos)

Science Fiction Writers - Any and all discussion related to science, fiction, or any intersection of the two is welcome. This community does not allow self-promotion, but feel free to post book reviews and announce the release of your latest work.
Science Fiction - Authors, please feel free to post information and links for your books, blogs or other promotions, but please be sure to do it into the correct category and be sure to limit your self-promotional posts to once per week.

Fantasy Writers - All active members who post and comment on writing-related topics are welcome to promo their work on Saturdays.


Reddit is underutilized for promotional purposes, probably because the site actively discourages self-promotion and ads. Nevertheless, several authors have been "discovered" on Reddit, and have developed sizable fan bases, usually through r/books and its subreddits. (The trick to Reddit is knowing which sub-reddit is appropriate for your topic.)

r/books. This is a very active community dedicated to the world of books. There are no direct promotions allowed on this page, but they do have a “new releases” section where you can promote your book. You are allowed to promote your own writing in "new releases" as long as you follow these two rules:
  1. The books being discussed must have been published within the last three months OR are being published this month.
  2. No direct sales links.

All the sci-fi related subreddits have been collated into a Big list of SF-Related Subreddits. There are too many subreddits to list here, but if you take a quick look at the Big List you will find many in the "writing" section that will be useful. (Also make sure to check the genres list.) There are two sub-reddits that are particularly active, and which allow some self-promotion. (Please read the rules before promoting your work!)

r/scifi (238,420 readers) Saturdays “self-promo Saturdays,” so log in on Saturday to promote your book. If you look at the side bar you'll find numerous subreddits, and within those even more sub-subreddits. 

r/sciencefiction (34,189 readers) This reddit is for fans and creators of science fiction and related media in any form. 


Pinterest is a great tool for sharing information. You can set up a board for your own publications and include photos of your book covers, signing events, and anything else related to your writing. You can also set up a group board devoted to related science fiction or fantasy topics, such as self-published science fiction or your favorite classic science fiction books, and allow others to share their titles. You can join established boards as well. (This is a great way to get followers.) Here are some group science fiction and fantasy boards that welcome new pinners:

SciFi Books – Community Board

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books

Bookaholics Anonymous

Indie Authors and Self Published

! Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books

For more detailed information about how you can make best use of Pinterest see:  How to Use Pinterest to Build an Audience (For Writers)

Pinterest was conceived as a kind of virtual bulletin board - a place to store all those neat images you run across when you are looking for something else on the net.

Pinterest is also a great tool for storing blog posts, websites, and all those useful articles you read online and then can never find again.

Surprisingly, it's only relatively recently that people have begun to use Pinterest as a marketing tool. (When I started using Pinterest, there were no ads!)

To be honest, while Pinterest has great potential, it's not as easy to use as Facebook or Twitter. As a form of social media, it's a little awkward, and there is much less likelihood of something going "viral." However, Pinterest has certain advantages shared by no other form of social media.
  • It's easier to find information on a page of images than on a timeline
  • Pins can be arranged thematically. This makes it easier to group specific types of information
  • Images are memorable. An image that is interesting is more likely to catch a reader's attention than text
  • Pinterest is highly addictive. Users re-pin images like mad, and they tend to stay on Pinterest longer, as well as visit it more frequently

How to use Pinterest

1. Set up your profile. Your full profile will appear on your home page, so design it carefully. First, upload an attractive, colorful image. (Square is best, as it will end up as a circle.) You can provide your location, your website (a must!), and a short bio. The bio is very important. Make sure you mention your publications, genre, and anything else potential readers might be interested in. For contact information include your Twitter handle.

2. Get followers. Like any other form of social media, you can get followers on Pinterest. There are several ways to go about this:
  • Include a Pinterest follow button on your blog posts
  • Add a profile widget to your blog. This also leads visitors to your Pinterest page. But it is more comprehensive than the follow button because it’s bigger and can display up to 30 of your latest pins. (I have gotten significantly more followers from the widget than from the button.)
  • Make sure to include your Pinterest link to all your other social accounts
  • Follow. Received wisdom is to follow 200 boards, then wait to see who follows you back and drop anyone who doesn't respond. The way you find boards to follow is by typing keywords into the search bar. Follow any boards that share your interests. (There are numerous writing boards. )
3. Use keywords. According to Bibliocrunch, the number one priority for using Pinterest is to have a “search mindset.” This means utilizing keywords in the descriptions of your boards and pins so that people searching for similar pins and boards can discover you. Fortunately, finding keywords is very easy. Type a general search term into the search bar, for example, Romance. The screen will refresh to give you popular categories under Romance. If you click on Books, more sub-categories will appear below the search bar,  — Contemporary, Paranormal, Historical, Worth Reading, and so on. Each time you click on a sub-category, increasingly specific terms will appear. Those are your keywords. Use them to hone your descriptions the same way you honed your search.

You can also broaden your audience by using the Keyword Tool. This allows you to search for the most popular keywords on Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Bing. An added feature of this tool is that it allows you to search by country and language.

4. Set up collaborative boards. Pinterest allows pinners to set up boards that allow many contributors. Some of these boards have hundreds of thousands of followers. (To find collaborative boards, go to Pin Groupie, a site that allows you to search collaborative boards by topic, number of followers, and number of pinners.) Increasing the number of pinners will increase your visibility. You can invite collaborators by email address or name. (Click the Invite button on the upper right to view your options.) You will have to follow one another to collaborate on a board.

If you want to join an established board, some collaborative boards provide contact information in the description. Check Pin Groupie for collaborative boards in your category to see which ones accept new pinners. (You can search for "writers," "writing," "authors" for general boards, or search your genre for more specific ones.)

5. Choose your images wisely. Pinterest is a visual medium. So, spend some time finding a captivating image for your pin. (See 43 Sites Where You Can Get Fabulous Free Photos for some great free sources.) The optimum image size is 600 x 800. It will resize down to 192 x 256, but will be restored to its full size when it is clicked. (If you are using Blogger, set your image size to large.)

Infographics have a great deal of success on Pinterest, as do images that also contain written information. Images that are informative as well as eye-catching will warrant more than a quick glance, and drive more traffic to your blog, story, or article.

Helpful articles:

All About Boards - Basic information about Pinterest boards.

12 Ways to Get More Pinterest Followers

How To Use Pinterest’s Group Boards To Get More Exposure For Your Business

How To Viral Market Pinterest

Publishing a book is a big accomplishment, so why not throw a party? After all, you hold a party to celebrate your birth, and, frankly, writing your book took more effort. (Your mother probably has a different perspective on your birth. Just FYI.)

Basically, a book launch party is a book signing/reading with the added benefit of being fun - and newsworthy. A book launch party is an ideal opportunity for promotion, so don't waste it! The release of a book, especially a book by a local author, is considered news, which means you can get press coverage. It is also a great way to meet your fans, make new ones, and to connect with people who share your interests.

Tips on making your launch party a success

1) Plan ahead. Like all events, a launch party requires planning. Where will you hold it? Who will you invite? How will you advertise it? All of these considerations require planning at least three months prior to the release of your book.

2) Pick an appropriate venue. Bookstores are great places to hold launch parties, but there may be more appropriate venues, depending on what you've written. For example, if you've written a book for children, you may want to hold your launch in a children's museum. Libraries can also serve as good places for a launch party, particularly in larger cities. Consider a restaurant if you've written a cookbook, or a recreational supply store if you've written about the great outdoors. (One of the advantages to holding a launch party in a store is that they may be willing to carry your book.) Make sure to contact your venue several months in advance.

3) Advertise. Once you've picked a date and a location, contact local media. Ideally, you should send a press release. You can also call the appropriate editor (e.g. local news). Don't forget to list the event in your local media (newspapers, TV, radio). Do this well in advance. News media have submission deadlines that are often two months or more in advance of an event.

4) Invite friends and family to spread the word. Facebook is your friend. Tell everyone on all your social media about the party - even if they live in Zanzibar. (Assuming you don't.) Getting the word out is important, because it creates buzz.

5) Send invitations. This is a party! Send invitations to everyone you know, and to a lot of people you don't. Anyone who you think might be interested should be invited - that includes other local authors, publishers, and people who are involved in professions related to your topic. Invite local educators if your book is for children; invite health care professionals if you've written about health (or illness); invite local coaches or athletes if you've written about sports. A party is the perfect way for people of like mind to mingle. They will have a good time talking to one another, and you will make some contacts.

6) Prepare an EVENT. If the venue allows food, make sure you have something tasty for people to eat. And don't forget the music. If you've written a children's book, have some activities planned for children. Part of the event is your reading, so make sure there are chairs for people to sit on.

7) Dress to impress. On this occasion you are the belle (or beau) of the ball. Wear something memorable, and in keeping with your genre. (If you've written a thriller, sure, go for black. Otherwise, something that makes you look authoritative and/or friendly.) Anything that makes you stand out in a crowd will do. You will be photographed!!

8) Don't forget your books! If you are reading in a bookstore, they will prepare a display. But in non-traditional venues you may have to make your own. Make sure you have plenty of books on hand. It doesn't hurt to think about how you are going to sign them before you actually pick up your pen. (Enjoy! is good for fiction.)

9) Piggy-back. If there is another large event being planned, it may be worthwhile to approach them with the idea of combining forces. This will help you cut costs and save a lot of work.

10) After the party. Make sure you take lots of photos (and videos) to post on your website. Tell the whole world about your successful launch!

The more time you spend in a store, the more likely it is you will buy something.

Seems like common sense, right? But retailers are just beginning to realize they can sell a lot more by slowing down shoppers, and giving them a "shopping experience."

Last October, the Wall Street Journal ran an article, The Slower You Shop, the More You Spend, in which they explored this new trend in shopping, dubbed (unsurprisingly) "slow shopping." (We can thank God for small favors - at least they didn't call it "slopping.") According to the WSJ, “slow shopping” is part of a “leisurely and enriching experience that’s not overtly focused on buying something.” It's also a great way to get shoppers to come back. People are inclined to repeat pleasant experiences.

Retail stores are employing all kinds of "experiences" designed to make shoppers hang around: Origins offers free mini-facials, Urban Outfitters hosts concerts and art events, and the Austin Whole Foods has been known hire roving mariachi bands. But one of the best ways to slow shoppers down is to get them to sit down and read.

To that end, some stores are adding libraries - comfy nooks where shoppers can sit down and leaf through a good book. New York's Club Monaco on Fifth Avenue features, among other things, a library where shoppers can read about the Flatiron district. 

How to get your book into retail store libraries

If you want to get your book into retail store libraries, the first thing to do is go slow shopping yourself. Scout out which stores might  be amenable to adding a comfy chair or two for shoppers to sit down and read. You may even discover that some stores in your area already have libraries.

If you think your book would be a good fit, and if the store is not national, contact the store's manager. If the store is a chain, contact the Chief Marketing Officer. Some of the CMOs named in the Wall Street Journal article are Michael Moore, the CMO for Lowes, John Nehas at Club Monaco, Oona McCullough at Urban Outfitters, and Pamela Hoffman at Origins.

If the retailer doesn't have a library, you may be able to help them start one. Make a list of some titles (yours included, of course), explain how they relate to the store's theme, and why shoppers would be interested in reading them. Mention the Wall Street Journal article, as well as other stores that are using slow shopping techniques to increase sales.

It works

Years ago, I knew a writer who wrote a humorous little book about back-seat driving. The book wasn't selling well, so he loaded a number of copies into his car, and drove to the regional headquarters of a national restaurant chain that featured an attractive gift shop. The CMO was impressed by the book (and also by the gumption of the writer), so he ordered copies for all the restaurants in the region.

Sometimes, that's all it takes. A little gumption, a good argument - and imagination. Don't let the idea that only bookstores can sell books hold you back. If you've written something outdoorsy, approach a camping store. Children's clothing outlets are great if you've written a children's book. And, of course, gaming and computer stores are perfect for speculative fiction.

At the risk of using an already over-used cliché -  "think outside the box."

Retail details

In general, retailers don't order large quantities. You can expect orders from a few books to a dozen. The amount of discount you offer depends on the size of the order. (Deep discounts should not be offered unless the retailer orders books in large quantities and pays up front.) Sometimes, retailers insist on consignment, which is fine if the store is local and you can pick up the books if they don't sell. In other circumstances, especially if you have to ship the books, the retailer should pay up front. Whether you decide to offer a returns policy is up to you.

Here are some helpful articles that will give you a greater understanding of how non-traditional marketing works:

Success for Your Book – in Non-Traditional Markets

10 Ideas for Nontraditional Book Placement

How is Trade Marketing Different from Non-bookstore Marketing?

Goodreads is one of the most powerful social networks for authors looking to connect with readers. At 30 million members, it is the world’s largest site for book recommendations, with readers adding 30,000 reviews to the site every day. What's more, those reviews get syndicated and appear on Google books, USA Today, the Los Angeles Public Library, WorldCat, Better World Books and other locations.

As an author, you are probably wondering how you can make use of this popular site.

1. First sign up for an account. This is easy. Just go to https://www.goodreads.com/ and enter your name, email address, and password. You can also sign up for an account with Facebook. Learn more HERE.

2. Second, open an author account. To do this, search for yourself and click on your published author name. The author name is listed below the title of your book in the search results. If you do not find your book in the database of published works, see who can join.
Clicking on your name takes you to your basic author profile page. This page has your name at the top and "author profile" to the right of your name. This page is part of their database of books and authors and is separate from your member profile page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click "Is this you? Let us know." to send a request to join the Author Program.

3. Set up your author profile. Your profile is very important. Anyone who is interested in reading your books (or reviews) will check you out, so make sure your photo is appealing and your bio informative. You can also add a link to your website, and videos.

4. Add your blog. As a Goodreads author, you can add your blog to the site. Your blog posts will automatically appear on your author profile when you publish them. Conversely, you can also simply write a blog on Goodreads.

5. Events. If you are doing a book signing, giving a talk, or presenting at a conference you can promote your event on Goodreads. Events appear on your profile.

6. Post reviews. Posting reviews is the best way to gain followers. People join Goodreads to share what they are reading and, based on those recommendations, find new books. As a writer, you have a unique advantage, not just because you understand the inner workings of composition, but because you can WRITE. Turn that talent to writing about what you are reading, especially books you have found most enjoyable. 

7. Ads. Goodreads offers paid ads. The click through rate is fairly low (.05%), but unlike Google Adwords, the people who frequent Goodreads are actually interested in buying books. The low cost of their ads combined with the huge number of readers make Goodreads an advertising platform that may be worthwhile. Learn more about Goodreads ads HERE.

8. Giveaways. Historically, authors and publishers have been allowed to post giveaways on Goodreads for physical books only. But on May 3rd, Goodreads announced that it is testing a beta program for Kindle giveaways. (Learn more HERE.) Unlike the print giveaway program, which is free, Goodreads will charge a fee of $119 for Kindle giveaways. Publishers and authors will set the time period for the promotion, however, unlike print giveaways, Goodreads will select winners and see to it they receive their books. The limit for giveaway books - print or Kindle -  is 100.

Have you been approached by services that offer you 10, 000, 20,000 30,000 !!! Twitter followers for a nominal fee?

Don't do it.

Tens of thousands of followers might look good on your home page, but if those followers aren't reading your tweets, looking at your blog posts, and buying your books, they are just meaningless numbers. What you want is real followers, people who are interested in what you have to say, and in what you have written.

How do you get genuine followers?

First you have to find your ideal audience. There are several ways to go about this using three essential tools: Followers, Twitter Lists, and Hashtags.

1) Make a list of successful authors who are similar to you. Look at their "followers" list, and follow accounts that are active. (It helps if they have a significant number of followers - more than 2 digits. Avoid accounts that look like spam, or that don't appear relevant.) This may take a little time, because you will have to actually look at their accounts and see when they last tweeted. (Ideally they should be tweeting at least five times a week.) There is no point following people who don't tweet, because they will not tweet about you. It seems selfish, but the best use of twitter is not what you tweet, but how many people are willing to re-tweet. That's called marketing.

2) Reviewers are your audience, too. To find book reviewers, do a search on #review plus your genre. Ex. "fantasy review." This will produce a list of recent reviews. Click on the account and if the reviewer has tweeted consistently about reviews/books, follow and add them to your list of reviewers. (Note: If you search "reviewer" instead of "review" a list of promotion companies will pop up.) You can also look at the followers on popular review sites.

3) Don't follow blind. Before you follow people, read their recent tweets. If you are interested in their tweets, chances are they will be interested in yours.

4) Look at the Twitter lists of authors in your genre, as well as businesses that promote books, publicists, agents who represent your genre. Do they keep a list of publicists, promotion sites, reviewers? If an author who writes in your genre keeps a list of reviewers, odds are they will be interested in your book. (Make sure you mention how you found them in your query, or in your tweet to them.) If the list is public, and looks as if it will be useful, you can subscribe. Then do steps 1 and 2 above.

5) Expand your scope beyond writers. For example, if you write about politics -  political thrillers included - find people who have similar political views to yours. (Use hashtags to find them. Ex #progressive.) Chances are those people will be interested in what you are writing simply because you share the same point of view. If you write children's books, tweet about parenting, education, and other topics that interest people raising kids. Be engaged with the world.

6) Express yourself. If you feel strongly about something, don't be afraid to have an opinion. You want followers who believe in what you are willing to stand up for. Writers are leaders.

7) Tweet at least 5 times a day on different topics. Vary your tweets to include some with images, some that are an image only, some that are a comment, some that include a link (make sure to shorten it with bitly), and some personal news (your upcoming release, a new project you are working on, etc.) Check to see which tweets get the most responses on Twitter analytics. The tweets that are the most popular are an indication of what your audience likes to hear.

8) Use hashtags in your tweets. People who are on the lookout for topics, genres, free books on Kindle, and news events will search for them using hashtags. (If you aren't using hashtags, your tweet will get lost.) You can use those hashtags to find people who tweet on specific topics. Check out their home page, and if you like what they tweet, follow.

9) Don't be afraid to use Twitter to communicate directly with people - even if they are not your followers. I find that people who tweet me get my attention. Whether they are commenting on one of my tweets or offering something, I almost always respond, either by tweeting back, or by checking out the link they've sent me. Literary agents are more likely to respond to a tweet than to a query. To get the attention of readers and reviewers there is no better tool than direct communication via Twitter. (Don't DM - direct message. People resent DMs. Just mention them via their handle @personyouaretweetingto.)

10) Make sure your bio includes the information that is relevant to potential followers. For example, if you write sci-fi, include your genre so that sci-fi readers can find you.  Don't include the fact that you have three kids, unless you specifically want Moms to follow you. Include what you tweet about and a personal closer that will get attention (e.g. something witty, funny, cute, dark - anything with a punch). Ex: "Author of scifi novels & short stories. Tweets about astronomy & Indie publishing. Building a time machine in my basement on weekends." Always include where you live on your profile, your website, and a head shot. (No eggs!)
Finding your ideal audience will take time and patience, but if you devote 15 minutes a day you can build a significant following within a few weeks. Two thousand active and engaged followers are worth more than 10,000 followers who exist in name only.

Related posts:

225 Hashtags for Writers

Platform, Shmatform: Social Media - How Numbers Lie

Twitter: How to Build a Following - for Writers

If you have the money to spare, and are building a marketing plan modeled after what a large publishing house would do, you will have to include paid review and promotional services. As an Indie author, you'll need to do your research first to discover which venues are worth the money. But if you choose wisely, and coordinate a paid campaign with a virtual book tour, you can see an immediate return for your expenditure.

You can use a couple of different strategies to promote your book, depending on whether you've placed it on multiple platforms or are using KDP Select. If you've gone the first route, and have print copies available, it may be worth it to pay for a Kirkus review. Kirkus is expensive, but it is the fastest way to reach a lot of crucial markets at once.

If you have decided to publish with Amazon's KDP Select, and want a good way to reach as many people as possible on your free days, there are several paid options open to you. Almost all of these are more effective than free services, though some are more pricey than others. (For a single book - not part of a series - you should stick to the cheaper options.)

No matter how you advertise, you will have to plan ahead of time to make sure reviewers are lined up before you begin a promotional campaign. It is always a good idea to coordinate your efforts, for example arranging talks at local libraries and bookstores, sending press releases announcing your upcoming release, and hitting every social media outlet and online reviewer so that your release makes a splash.

I've only listed below the services that authors have reported are the most effective for promoting their books. There are many, many more. For a full listing of paid sites see:

7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers

A word of caution: Be selective and research before you spend you money. Not every paid service is worth your hard-earned cash. If you are strapped, avoid paying for reviews altogether. There are plenty of reviewers who do not charge. Click on the link below for a list of nearly 300 reviewers who accept self-published books:

List of Online Reviewers Who Accept Self-Published Books

Related Post:

Free Publicity for Your KDP Select Free Days

Kirkus Indie

Cost: $425

Bottom Line: You can get a lot of bang for your buck with a positive review. But a negative review from Kirkus is the kiss of death, so unless the review is glowing keep it private.

What they offer: Kirkus is the most prestigious book review service in the industry, and one of the oldest. All books are read by professional reviewers, who give an unbiased review of 250–350 words. Reviews for Kirkus Indie can be kept private or published. Because their reviews are distributed to Google, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram, they reach librarians and major media reviewers (e.g. New York Times). Your review may also be selected to be featured in the Kirkus email newsletter, which is distributed to more than 50,000 industry professionals and consumers. The Kirkus website gets more than 1.5 million page views monthly

How to submit: You can request a review by clicking the Get Started link on the author services page. Provide as much information as possible about your book, choose whether you want to send Kirkus a printed (mailed) or digital (uploaded) submission, select either standard service (7-9 weeks) or express service (4-6 weeks) and pay for your review (standard service $425, express service $575). 

More information: Read an interview with Karen Schechner, Senior Indie Editor for Kirkus, about how self-publishers can best use their service here.

Net Galley 

Cost: $300 for one-week of availability. There’s also an indie special at $399 to $599 for a six-month listing.

Bottom Line: If you can afford it, Net Galley is worth the money. But make sure you have reviews lined up elsewhere well in advance. Net Galley does not guarantee reviews.

What they offer: Net Galley offers ebook ARCs to reviewers. They work with publishers in Australia, Canada, the UK and USA. The service is widely used by well-trafficked review sites.


Cost: $40 - $1600, depending on the book's category and price.

Bottom Line: BookBub is recommended if you are giving away books, or selling them at 99 cents, but only in their top four categories: Mystery, Romance, Historical Fiction, and Thrillers.

What they offer: BookBub sends a daily email alerting its members to free and discounted titles matching their interests as they become available on retailers like Amazon's Kindle store, Barnes & Noble's Nook store, Apple's iBookstore, and others. The service is free for readers. With more than one million members, BookBub is the largest of the ebook promotion services. BookBub posts all of their pricing and sales statistics on a convenient table.

How to submit: BookBub requires error-free manuscripts and professional covers. They will only feature full-length novels (150 pages minimum). Books must be free or discounted by at least 50% for a limited time only. Read their submission tips here.

More information: Lindsay Buroker describes a positive experience with BookBub here. Michael R. Hicks reports on what a surprise BookBub's feature did for his book sales here.

E-Reader News Today

Cost: $60 for a book priced below $2.99 or $150 for a book priced $2.99 and above. All payments are made through Paypal – no exceptions.

Bottom Line: The price is not cheap, but authors have reported good results, depending on the genre. The demographics of ENT show that the highest percentage of readers are women between 35 and 55. Attractive covers are a must.

What they offer: Your book will get sent out to over 475,000 Facebook fans and 150,000 email subscribers who are avid Kindle readers.

Kindle Nation Daily

Cost: $30 - $160. Accepts Paypal and credit cards.

Bottom Line: KND offers a wide variety of promotional services, which allows authors to customize. Best results are for free books.

What they offer: KND has a list of 170,000 readers. The site provides tracking tools, which is useful for measuring the success of your promotion. KND also posts monthly stats so you can check to see which genres perform the best.

The Fussy Librarian

Cost: $8 - $17, depending on the genre.

Bottom Line: The Fussy Librarian is for discerning readers, which is an advantage for those who have their books professionally edited. The price is reasonable, although the chances of getting a significant number of readers from a single email is remote.

What they offer: The Fussy Librarian sends 115,000 subscribers a daily email, which is where your ebook will be featured once. The number of subscribers in each genre varies - you can find the latest stats on the prices page on the right. Your book will be included in their searchable database for 30 days as part of your fee.

In order to be considered, your ebook must have:
  • 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating on Amazon OR 10 reviews and a 4.0 rating on Barnes and Noble, 11 to 19 reviews and a 4.0 rating, or 20 reviews and a 3.5 rating. If you have 10 reviews split between Amazon's various stores - like US and UK - your book is eligible.
  • A price of $5.99 or less.

More information on paid promotions:

Book Marketing Using Paid Advertising - A Study – Part 1: The Good News

Marketing Your Indie Book – A Rough Nautical Map In A Sea Of Advertising Options

Scroll down for an absolutely fabulous blog post by Rob Eager, which appeared on Tools of Change a couple of weeks ago. 

The article struck a chord with me for two reasons. The first is that my stats teacher said exactly the same thing to us on the first day of classes. (I think they all do.)

The other is that my experience coincides with Rob's. For example, one of the newsletters I edit has 35,000 subscribers. Only 12.3% of them open the newsletter. Of those, roughly 1% actually read more than the first article. While I love telling people that over 100,000 people subscribe to the newsletters I assemble, it certainly doesn't mean I am reaching nearly that number.

The same is true of Facebook. With over 17,000 "likes" on the FB page I manage, how many of those people actually look at any given post? I am lucky if it is a tenth of that. And very few of those people click on the link to the main site.

And don't get me started on how many of those people actually purchase anything.

Does this mean you should stop posting on Facebook, tweeting, and so on? No. The numbers may ultimately be meaningless, but prospective agents are always impressed by four or five zeros after any integer.

Apparently, none of them has never taken a stats class.

Numbers never lie…unless you’re talking social media: Measuring results in our rush to be followed, liked, and shared

By Rob Eagar on TOC

Back in college, I took a class on statistics and never forgot the first lesson my professor taught us, which was, “Anyone can manipulate numbers to make them mean whatever they want.” I see this point magnified today by the mass adoption of Twitter and Fakebook, err – I mean Facebook. We’re at a period in time where numbers can mean so much and simultaneously mean so little.

The more people use social media, the bigger a desire to be followed, liked, and shared. We live in an age where online popularity has the ridiculous ability to control major business decisions or determine someone’s career. Yet, there’s never been a time when big numbers can be inflated so easily and deceptively. For example:

1. According to the New York Times, people can buy fake followers on Twitter for $18 per 1,000. I’ve also seen shady businesses on Ebay offer fake Facebook followers for a similar price range.

2. Facebook claims to offer an effective advertising medium, yet their average click-through rate is .0005 (5 in 10,000) In addition, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 4 out of 5 Facebook users have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site.

3. In addition, researchers at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute found that less than 1% of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engaged.

4. A guy claiming to have 50,000 Twitter followers bragged that he could use his influence to generate a bunch of sales for my new book. I put him to the test, let him send out his “tweets,” but never received a single order related to his audience. (For some time-wasting fun, check out http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ to help analyze how many legitimate Twitter followers someone actually has. 59% of Barack Obama’s followers are fake.)

5. According to ConstantContact, the average open rate for email newsletters is only around 19%. So, an author who claims to have 5,000 newsletter subscribers is probably reaching around 1,000 readers.

6. My own experience with the ShareThis WordPress plug-in for bloggers revealed that anyone can easily run up the share counter that’s displayed without actually sharing the information from a blog post with anyone. The counter may display “100” shares, but there’s no way to verify an actual number.

I’ve seen some bloggers (I don’t mean to bash, so they’ll remain nameless) promote an artificial number on their blog that combines all of their different social media followers and subscribers into one large number, which is designed to make you think their platform is bigger than it really is.

When the human ego merges with social media, there seems to be no limit to the level of nonsense that people will create. Numbers that are supposed to mean so much can actually mean very little.

As my statistics professor warned, be careful about putting too much faith in numbers. Just because someone displays 10,000 Twitter followers or Facebook friends doesn’t mean their sphere of influence is at that level. In an age where numbers are easily manipulated, we’re better off focusing on the only numbers that really matter, which is how many books sold, how many new readers added, and how many dollars deposited into the bank.

At last, I understand what an author brand is! It's Heinz! It's Dinty Moore! It's Walmart, Home Depot, McDonald's!

What do all these things have in common?

They are completely uniform, completely predictable, and completely marketable.

To create an author brand, just do what any of these other brands have done. Write a series (Dijon mustard, honey mustard, German mustard). Make sure each book provides the same reading experience (mustard). And churn your "products" out on a schedule (New this week! English mustard!). The combination of predictability and availability (more, more!) is what is known as "trust." And once readers develop "trust," you've got yourself a heap of consumer loyalty.

Frankly, I find the application of assembly-line consumerism to literature to be somewhat appalling. But that did not prevent me from reading the article below. (Or from reading every single one of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.) At least, I now know to avoid agents who talk about developing "author brands" for their clients.


The Strongest Brand In Publishing Is ...

By David Vinjamuri, Forbes, March 4, 2014

When comparing authors, publishers tend to focus on book sales.  But sales figures tell only part of the story.  Expensive advertising and a strong push for distribution and display at bookstores might yield strong initial sales but create lots of returns and low profitability.  An early and fortuitous movie deal might overexpose a book that doesn’t meet the promise of the movie.

A thousand other externalities make sales data inadequate to measure the strength of an author’s franchise.  To understand which authors are worth investing in, publishers need a better measure of an author’s value.

Brand, Not Platform

The metric often used to evaluate new or developing authors is platform – roughly defined as the social reach of the author though Facebook fans, Twitter followers, blog views and speaking engagements.  But according to Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group, which polls thousands of readers to determine their preferences and purchase behavior, platform is a misleading metric.

"We’ve seen celebrities with extremely high name recognition and very large platforms fail miserably in book sales.  Being famous or having millions of Twitter followers alone is not enough to build a strong franchise as an author."

Hildick-Smith points out that only about half of adults read books and just a fifth are regular book buyers.  So a celebrity with a large and dedicated following will not automatically become a bestselling author.

Read on to find out which author has the strongest "brand"  more...