Author Media presents Novel Marketing the longest-running book marketing podcast in the world. This is the show for writers who want to build their platform, sell more books, and change the world with writing worth talking about.
Whether you self publish or are with a traditional house, this podcast will make book promotion fun and easy. Thomas Umstattd Jr. interviews, publishers, indie authors and bestselling traditional authors about how to get published and sell more books.
The 10 Commandments of Book Marketing
Recently, I heard a publishing “guru” talk about his approach to writing and marketing books. He publishes dozens of books each year with nothing more than quick proofread, which he does himself. He then promotes them using various Amazon hacks.
This guy was breaking most of the book marketing commandments!
While cranking out lots of poor quality titles may bring in money in the short term, it won’t get you on the New York Times bestseller list and it won’t build an enduring author brand. I tend to work with bestselling authors or authors who want to be bestselling authors.
What does it take to become a bestselling author?
After working with New York Times bestselling authors for nearly a decade, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. For the first time, I have gathered my approach together into Ten Book Marketing Commandments.
This is my manifesto on publishing and book marketing.
Commandment #1 Love thy reader as you love thy book.
This is the greatest commandment and it is the first button on the shirt. If this lines up, all the other buttons line up. If this is wrong, you can’t fix it with the other commandments.
Books only matter when the words exist in a reader’s mind. If readers won’t crack open your book, it’s nothing more than dead trees and ink. Those trees gave their lives so your ideas could have a place on the page. You owe it to the trees to create a book that readers will want to read.
If you want readers to care about your book, you need to care about readers. Click to Tweet.
If you want to write a book readers want to read, you need to write the kind of book readers already want to read. Click to Tweet.
This means you must know what your readers are looking for.
Know Thy Reader
Pick at least one human and write for that human. If you can write for the one, you can write for the many. Choose a representative human who likes to read the kind of book you write. If you write for young adults, your representative reader should be a young adult.
Many authors call this representative human a “beta reader.”
Creating an imaginary reader persona or avatar is not enough. Imaginary friends always like what we write. When you ask them for feedback, you are only talking to yourself.
But when you ask a real beta reader for feedback, you are accessing another human brain.
Listen to Thy Reader
Now that you have at least one target reader identified, you want to ask that reader questions.
* Why do you read books?* What do you like about the books you read? * Who writes the books you like to read?* Where do you hang out online? * What are your pain points that my story or nonfiction book could help alleviate?
Learning to reach, serve, and thrill your representative reader is the key to learning how to thrill and serve millions of readers.
Serve thy Reader
With the above answers in hand, you should be able to figure out what kind of book your reader wants to read. Now, write that book.
How to Connect with Teen Readers: A Coaching Session With a Pre-Published YA Novelist
Kids these days! They read books and even write books, but how do you connect teenagers with your website and book?
I recently coached Amy Earls, an aspiring young adult speculative novelist, through some strategies for connecting with teens. We recorded our coaching call so that Novel Marketing listeners could join us.
Amy: As an aspiring author, I want to build my following, but I don’t have any teen followers right now. One problem is that teens don’t seem to be visiting websites.
I hear they’re on Instagram and possibly on Facebook. They’re definitely on TikTok, but if I want to grow a following of teen readers, how do I market my website for a teen audience?
How do I market my website for a teen audience?
Thomas: The first step is to start connecting with teens in real life. Real-life teens will teach you how to target the other teens.
More than any other demographic, teens hang out in tight clusters, and the behavior of one cluster will be very different from another cluster. Not all teens are on TikTok, for example. One group is into video gaming, while another is into hacking websites. Other groups are into clothes and boys. There are a million types of groups.
You need to target a specific group of teens. J.K. Rowling targeted twelve-year-old boys, and that target allowed her to reach everybody.
What is the specific teenager that you’re targeting with your writing?
Amy: First, they are readers. I know Goodreads is a place to find readers who are interested in a specific genre.
My tagline is Flyby Faith, so I’m writing specifically to Christian teens interested in growing their faith and finding their gifts. That’s a big part of my book. My characters have gifts they use for other people.
How specific should I get when defining my reader?
Thomas: Get as specific as possible. I recommend finding an actual teenager who is your representative reader. It’s easy for authors to create an imaginary friend who likes everything they’ve written. It’s harder to pick a human teenager.
Connect with a teen who’s not related to you. You’re targeting Christian teens, so get involved with your church’s youth group. Volunteering in the youth group will help you learn the lingo. Teenagers right now are growing up in a very different world. I know every generation says that, but it’s vastly different for them right now because of the pandemic and technology.
It’s hard enough for teenagers to communicate normally, but right now, they have to communicate in a world where they can’t see anyone’s face. They’re finding that communicating through a screen is preferable to face-to-face communication because they can control the screen.
That’s important to them because there’s enormous pressure to conform. They could be ostracized. Every generation has faced the possibility of ostracization, but it’s especially intense for today’s teens because they know they can get canceled by their community if they don’t follow social norms. So they strive to be careful with their words and appearance.
As you interact and listen to teens, you’ll learn where they hang out. Christian teens may hang out in different online places. Once you narrow down which table at the high school cafeteria you’re targeting,
How to Publish Your Book Independently
This article will cover the whole indie publishing process, from start to finish. Consider this Part 2 of last week’s, Part 1: 10 Decisions Every Indie Author Needs To Make.
Indie Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
There are three terms for publishing a book yourself:
* Vanity Publishing* Self-Publishing* Indie Publishing
These three terms describe the act of publishing a book yourself rather than publishing through a traditional publisher. The term someone uses reveals their degree of bias against the practice.
A person who is hostile to the idea of authors publishing their own books will call it “Vanity Publishing” or “Self-Publishing.” Proponents of the practice call it “Indie Publishing.”
I use the term “indie publishing,” and I have no dog in the fight. There are pros and cons to traditional and indie publishing, and I work with successful authors who make good money with both methods.
I am also convinced that both methods require the same amount of work for the author to succeed. However, some authors are better suited to one or the other.
To discover which method is best for you, you need to be fully aware of what the process requires. We’ve already talked about How to Get Published with a Traditional Publishing House.
So with that out of the way, let’t talk about the indie publishing process.
Step 1: Prep the Inside of the Book
Focus on the substance first.
Write & Edit the Book
The first step of indie publishing is to write and edit the book yourself. The writing should be as tight and compelling as you can make it before you share it.
Getting beta reader feedback on your book is key to getting more five-star reviews. Test your self-edited book on your beta readers so your story will be more likely to connect with your readers.
After you get feedback from your beta readers, work with your developmental editor to fix the problems beta readers pointed out. While beta readers are great at pointing out problems, they rarely suggest viable solutions.
Beta reader feedback often sounds like this:
“When I hit the brakes, my car squeaks. I think it needs an oil change so it doesn’t squeak so much.” Your developmental editor can determine the real issue, just like a mechanic who can clearly see the problem is with the brakes, not the oil.
A developmental edit is an edit of the ideas in a nonfiction work. For a novel, the developmental edit is an edit of the story. It is the big-picture edit.
Add the Utility Pages
Once you finish the developmental edit, it’s time to add the utility pages.
* Copyright Page: This page also includes the ISBN and other metadata. * Table of Contents: If your book is formatted correctly, you can do this with two clicks. Correct formatting means you have consistently use...
10 Decisions Every Indie Author Needs to Make
You’ve decided to self-publish your book. Congratulations! You’re about to begin an exciting journey.
Now there are nine more decisions to make before you’re published! Some of these decisions will affect the rest of your career, and you don’t want to make the wrong decision.
But never fear! This article will help you make good choices.
If you are trying to decide whether indie publishing is right for you, this is an episode that may be helpful. If you’re already planning to publish independently, you can’t afford to skip this post.
To give you two perspectives on these decisions, I interviewed Chautona Havig, an indie author who has written over 80 books and hosts the Because Fiction Podcast. She knows the indie publishing process inside and out, and she will help you avoid the pitfalls.
Decision #1: Book Size
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: The first decision you need to make is what size of book you want to publish.
The most common formats are 6 x 9 inches and 5.5 x 8.5 inches. The ideal length for a paperback book is 200-250 pages. If your book is too short, consider the 5.5 x 8.5 size. If it’s too long, consider going with the larger 6 x 9-inch size.
A 200-page book is the sweet spot where you tend to make the most money and have the happiest readers. For every additional page beyond the 200-page mark, the cost of your book increases. When you’re printing your book on-demand, which indie authors do, the cost of printing goes up faster than the cost of the book.
People expect to pay more for longer books, but they don’t expect to pay much more. The cost of printing a 450-page book is almost twice that of a 200-page book, but you can’t sell it for twice the price.
If you are writing a series, you are committing to this format size for the rest of the series. If you want your books to look good on the shelf, consider keeping the same format for all your books.
Chautona Havig: You may want to consider which size is more important to your reader. Some readers don’t like my 6 x 9 books, even though that’s the size I started with. Some hate it. Consider whether you want to make more money per book or sell more units.
Thomas Umstattd’s Recommendation:
Pick whichever size gets you closer to 200 pages. If your books tend to run long, consider the larger format. If your books tend to run short, consider the smaller format.
Decision #2: Print-on-Demand or Offset Printing?
Indie authors can choose offset printing, which is the same technology that traditional publishers use. You can print 5,000 copies of your book for $1-2 per book, depending on your printer.
Print-on-Demand (POD) costs $3-4 per copy, which makes offset printing sound like a good decision.
However, there are many hidden costs with offset printing, like warehousing, distribution, fulfillment, and shipping. The upfront cost of offset printing for 5,000 books at $3 per book will cost you $15,000 upfront. If you can’t sell 5,000 books, you may never recover your costs.
The upfront cost of print-on-demand is almost nothing.
Chautona: A friend of mine printed 3,
How to Get More 5-Star Reviews With Beta Readers, Editors, and Launch Teams
Many authors wrestle with the seemingly impossible conundrums of publishing.
* To get published, you need to have a history of being published. * To grow an email list, you need to have people to email. * To get good reviews, you need to have good reviews. It sounds like a catch-22.
But for every publishing conundrum, there is obviously a starting point, because authors still get published, build email lists and, yes, even get hundreds of five-star reviews.
Back in Episode 242, we talked about where negative reviews come from. While it’s good to eliminate the causes for negative reviews, you still need good reviews.
So how do you get more five-star reviews? You write a better book.
Who determines whether your book is better? Your readers. Your readers leave reviews, so your book must be a “good book,” according to them.
To ensure your book will be good according to your readers, you need to invite some of them to read it while you still have time to make changes. Incorporating reader feedback into your writing process will make your readers happy, and they will leave and leave great reviews, which will often generate more good reviews.
There are three allies to help you get more 5-star reviews:
* beta readers* editors* advanced readers & launch teams
Ally #1: Beta Readers
What are beta readers?
In the movie industry, filmmakers show early edits of the film to test audiences. Afterward, they survey the audience to see if the jokes were funny. They ask if the movie made sense and if the ending was satisfying. By the time a major motion picture is released, it has been tested on thousands of movie-loving viewers.
Beta readers are like a test audience for your book, but you don’t need thousands. You just need a handful. But they need to be readers, not industry professionals or other authors. Beta readers are the voice of the future readers of your book.
Why do authors need beta readers?
If you are writing for a target audience you don’t belong to, it’s especially important to test your book with beta readers. For example, if you are writing to teenagers, test your book on beta-reading teens before publishing your book. If you are writing a mystery and haven’t read at least a dozen mysteries in the last year, you need beta readers.
Nonfiction authors also need beta readers for all the same reasons. How will you know if your arguments are convincing if you don’t test them on beta readers?
What to look for in a beta reader.
Your beta reader should be a well-read fan of your genre. Your mom, who mostly reads cozy mysteries and only watched one Star Wars movie (though she doesn’t remember which one), is not a good beta reader for your space opera.
She might be a great cheerleader for you, but she is a bad choice as a beta reader because she is the wrong kind of reader. Her opinions about books and tropes won’t represent the readers you will be targeting. In fact, the more your cozy-mystery-reading mom likes your space opera book, the less your readers will like it, and that will lead to poor reviews.
A fellow author who writes space opera is also a poor choice as a beta reader. Even though she’s familiar with your genre, her feedback will be too prescriptive because she is an author.
The 2021 Book Launch Blueprint is Here!
The most important days of your book’s life are the first 30 days after release. During the 30 days, book stores will decide whether to keep your book on the shelves or not. If you have a strong launch, book stores won’t merely keep you on the shelves, they will order more copies. If you have a bad launch, even the books you thought you sold will be returned to the publisher, unsold. It is tragic and can sometimes kill a book or an author’s career. If your first book doesn’t sell well, book stores will be hesitant to stock any of your future books.
That’s why you need a comprehensive book launch strategy.
Why are book launches so important?
If you’re traditionally published, you’re expected to know how to launch a book and to play a significant role in your publisher’s marketing plan. If you approach your publisher with a strong plan, they are more likely to offer the reinforcements of a marketing budget and their own efforts. Formulating a solid book-marketing plan is a great way to convince your publisher that your book is worth their extra investment.
If you’re publishing as an indie, spreading the word about your book is 100% your responsibility. When you get a bunch of people talking about your book all at once, it generates a buzz. Consequently, even more people hear about your book and want to talk about it.
It’s hard to get people talking about your book that released two years ago, but everyone wants to hear about your brand new book. So don’t waste those precious first days!
To help you make the most of those first 30 days, we have opened registration for the 2021 Book Launch Blueprint. Registration closes Friday, April 9. The course starts on Monday, April 12, 2021.
Why is the Book Launch Blueprint so popular?
All class members work through each day of the Book Launch Blueprint together.
When soldiers march together, they travel farther and faster. When they arrive at their destination, they have more energy than if had they traveled alone. The same is true for authors learning how to launch their books. When you develop your book launch plans in the company of other authors, you are more likely to complete the course and follow the plan you create.
This is why registration closes on April 9, 2021. We want to make sure everyone is able to start together.
The Perfect Blend of Pre-Recorded Sessions and Live Q&A
Each morning, you will watch a pre-recorded video and view the homework. Later in the day, either Thomas Umstattd or James L. Rubart will host office hours to answer your questions live. By the end of the day, you will know the material and have a plan to apply it to your book.
Your Own Custom Blueprint
Each day, you’ll receive a downloadable handout that will help you build your own book launch blueprint. We provide the cooking classes and the pantry, and then we help you develop the perfect launch recipe for your book. We also answer the questions you have while you’re in the kitchen. The daily homework becomes fun because you get to tailor the strategies to your strengths and your book.
The course is fun!
Some students take the course again because they enjoyed it so much the first time. Speaking of which…
Customer ReviewsSee All
Thomas, host of the Novel Marketing podcast, highlights all aspects of books, authors and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!
Would have given 5 stars
I love this program. It’s very helpful and informative, but having misophonia, I can’t always listen when the mouth noises and constant swallowing get to be excessive. Running the audio through a noise gate will fix this. Otherwise, if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, definitely give this one a shot.
Show is a front for his Patreon scam
Signed up for access to podcast directory which is available for only $5 if you become a member. However, when checking out, it then says its $10 for a full month of access. So I bite the bullet at the last week of January. Beginning Feb Im denied access. No customer support despite emails, phone calls and social media contact. Beware!!