Book Sales Getting Musty?

Marketing is a big scary, challenging world to the newly published writer, and sometimes even to the multi-published author! Thanks to Carolyn for sharing her tips with us today.

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter 

In the world of publishing as in life, persistence counts. Of course, there is no way to keep a book at the top of the charts forever, but if you keep reviving it, you might hold a classic in your hands. Or your marketing efforts for one book may propel your next one to greater heights.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen authors who measure their success by book sales give up on their book (and sometimes on writing) just about the time their careers are about ready to take off. I tell my students and clients to fight the it’s-too-late-urge.

Publicity is like the little waves you make when you toss pebbles into a lake. The waves travel, travel, travel and eventually come back to you. If you stop lobbing little stones, you lose momentum. It’s never too late and it’s never too early to promote. Rearrange your thinking. Marketing isn’t about a single book. It’s about building a career. And new books can build on the momentum created by an earlier book, if you keep the faith. Review the marketing ideas in this book, rearrange your schedule and priorities a bit, and keep at it.

Here are a few keep-at-it ideas from the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter:

  • Run a contest on your Web site, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors for 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’ Web sites
  • Post your flier, brochure, or business card on bulletin boards everywhere: In grocery stores, coffee shops, Laundromats, car washes, and bookstores.
  • Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Publicizing them is easy and free. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. The organization you are helping will pitch in by promoting your class. The network you build with them and your students is invaluable. Use this experience in your media kit to show you have teaching and presentation skills.
  • Slip automailers into each book you sell or give away for publicity. Automailers are envelopes that are pre-stamped, ready to go. Your auto mailer asks the recipient to recommend your book to someone else. Your mailer includes a brief synopsis of your book, a picture of the cover of your book, your book’s ISBN, ordering information, a couple of your most powerful blurbs, and a space for the reader to add her handwritten, personal recommendation. Make it clear in the directions that the reader should fill out the form, address the envelope, and mail it to a friend. You may offer a free gift for helping out, but don’t make getting the freebie too tough. Proof-of-purchase type schemes discourage your audience from participating.
  • 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 you’ve been building.
  • While you’re working on the suggestion above, put on your thinking cap. What directories have you neglected to incorporate into your contact list? Have you joined any new groups since your book was published? Did you ask your grown children for lists of their friends? Did you include lists of old classmates?
  • Though it may be a bit more expensive than some ideas in this book, learn more about Google’s AdWords and AdSense and Facebook’s ad program. Many authors of niche nonfiction or fiction that can be identified with often-searched-for keywords find this advertising program effective.
  • Check out ad programs like Amazon’s Vine review service. You agree to provide a certain number of books to Amazon and pay them a fee for the service. Amazon arranges the reviews for you. It’s expensive, but it gets your book exposed to Amazon’s select cadre of reviewers who not only write reviews for your Amazon sales page but also may start (or restart!) a buzz about your book.
  • Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) have begun to age from disuse. Start posting them (with permission from the reviewer) on Web sites that allow you to do so. Check the guidelines for my free review service blog at TheNewBookReview.
  • Connect and reconnect. Start reading blogs and newsletters you once subscribed to again. Subscribe to a new one. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book.=
  • Record a playful message about your book on your answering machine.
  • 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 fee.
  • Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. He puts a coupon for your book in his shipments; you do the same for him in yours.
  • 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. For help with the application process from beginning to end, contact Daniel Hall at Speakers Cruise Free.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for nearly a decade. Her marketing plan for the 2nd in the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success  won the New Millennium Award for Marketing. She just issued the second edition (New! Expanded! Updated! And already an award-winner!) of The Frugal Book Promoter. Learn more about her at

What’s Your Excuse for Not Selling Books?


Reprinted with permission from Patricia Fry, article appearing in Francine Silverman’s Book Promotion Newsletter.

By Patricia Fry

I’m sorry, but sometimes I get exasperated with authors who make excuses for not promoting their books.

Some of them are known for their aggressive marketing tactics. There are also those who had every intention, BEFORE they finished their book, of presenting a major and ongoing marketing campaign. And then, when opportunities arise to promote their books, they have nothing but excuses as to why they can’t/won’t participate. Wanna hear some of them?

• I don’t have any copies of my book right now. This one still has my head spinning. You should always have copies of your book to sell. How long does it take to get copies from your print-on-demand company or your publisher? Ten days? Two weeks? What were you thinking about when you looked at your box of books and it was getting low? Why didn’t you order books then—before you ran out?

• I had a bad experience last time I did that activity. Well, what makes you think the same thing will happen again—that the same people will be there, that the stars will line up in exactly the same way?

And what can you do to change what happened last time?

• I don’t sell many books when I go there. How many do you sell when you stay home?

• I don’t like crowds. Then, perhaps, you should have hypnosis to get over this phobia or look into another business—like being a mortician.

• I’ll go out and speak only if they pay my expenses. And you have earned your speaking credentials how?

• I don’t like to get up in front of groups. If your book is particularly conducive to live presentations and if you want to sell copies of your book, you’d better find ways to get comfortable with public speaking.

• I don’t want to bother people on my email list with notices about my book award, new Kindle book, upcoming speaking engagement, etc. Helllooooo, your address book should be made up of your readers—your audience—and they should be interested in an occasional notification from you.

• I didn’t know it was up to me to promote my book and I didn’t know how hard it would be. It’s never too late to study the publishing industry, which is what you should have done before you even started writing the book.

Do you make excuses for why you cannot go out and speak, do book signings, sign up for book festivals and so forth? Are your excuses valid or are they just excuses designed to maintain your comfort zone? Think about this. And think about how many books you’ve sold in the last week, month, year. Do you see a correlation between your promotional activities (or lack of) and your book sales?


Considered “a maven when it comes to counseling authors in the art of publishing and selling their books” and “one of the most well-known writing gurus,”  Patricia Fry has been working with other freelance writers and authors for over two decades.

For additional tips, techniques, ideas and a swift kick in the pants that will surely increase your book sales, order your copy of Promote Your Book today. It is available at Amazon and most other online and downtown bookstores. Learn more about this book and the companion book (for those of you who are thinking about writing a book or in the process of writing a book), Publish Your Book. (Both books by Patricia Fry)


The Real Secret to Twitter

I’m featuring a guest post by Penny Sansevieri, one of the top marketing “gurus” of today.

by Penny C. Sansevieri

If you’ve ever been impressed by the number of followers someone has on Twitter, I have a newsflash for you: it doesn’t matter. The thing is, you can buy followers (no, I’m not kidding) sort of like buying mailing lists. How effective is buying followers? Well, let me ask you: How effective was the last mailing list you bought? Whatever your answer is I can guarantee you that buying Twitter followers will be far less effective. Why? Because social media does not favor automation, it favors engagement, interaction, and yes, being social.

You might be interested in knowing someone’s Twitter-reach or you might be trying to determine if your campaign is effective. Here are some key things to look at when measuring anyone’s Twitter-success:

1)      How active is the person on Twitter?

2)      How relevant to their market are their updates? For example did a mystery author just tell you she’s washing her cat?

3)      How much do they broadcast vs. communicate?

4)      How often are they retweeted?

5)      How many Twitter lists are they on?

One of the best ways to determine if your Twitter campaign is effective – or someone else’s – is by gauging how often they are retweeted. Retweeting is an important factor in Twitter, possibly the most significant means to determine an effective Twitter person from an ineffective one. In fact, Twitter popularity lists aren’t based on the amount of followers but rather on the amount of activity in a campaign. When I recently pulled up a list of the top 10 Twitter-ers in Southern California, I  found that many in the top 10 didn’t even break 10,000 followers.

How can you determine how active an account is? There are a few services that you might want to look into. The first is Retweet Rank ( This service shows you (by user) how much someone has been retweeted as well as their most popular retweeted posts.

Twitter Analyzer ( is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled. You can isolate a user or a particular Twitter-stream. Very useful site!

How can you increase your tweet-ability? Here are a few tips to help you grow your Twitter campaign:

1)      Know what your followers want: the first piece sounds simple but could take you the most amount of time. Candidly, it took me three months to finally get a handle on what my followers wanted and what seemed to rank high on the retweeting scale. If you don’t know what your followers want, try following popular people in your market and see what they are posting about. Use this as a guideline to help you dig deeper into what your market wants.

2)      Share useful advice: now that you’ve determined what your followers want to see on Twitter, make sure the information you are sharing is helpful. I know this sounds like an oxymoron. If you’ve determined what your followers want of course what you tweet on will be helpful, right? Wrong. Ask yourself what they need, not what you think they want. There is a big difference.

3)      Don’t overtweet: OK, full confession, I’ve been guilty of this from time to time but now I’ve found a good balance of between 4 and 5 posts a day. This may be a metric that works for you, but you’ll need to determine that on your own. How do you know? If people start unfollowing you the reason may because you are overtweeting.

4)      Balance broadcasting with communicating: this is a biggie for many of us. It’s important to use any social media tool like a telephone. You would never call someone and just blast them with information, right? You’ll give them something, wait for a response and then respond to their question and so a discussion ensues. Use social media as you would a telephone: communicate, don’t broadcast.

5)      Comment on current events that relate to your industry: becoming the go-to person for everything related to your industry is what most of us aspire to. Keeping apprised of what’s going on in your industry is important and then, sharing the highlights or most significant items with your followers will go a long way toward growing your popularity.

6)      Recommend helpful resources: much like current events, you want to offer helpful resources to your followers. This might not be appropriate to every market, but for the majority of us this works very well. Again, the more you can become a resource the more you will grow your popularity on Twitter or, for that matter, any social media site.

Many people hop onto Twitter thinking it’s a numbers game when it really isn’t. You can have a Twitter-tribe of millions and not gain the same kind of social media success that you would with only 1,000 followers. The wisdom of the crowd knows that it’s not always the size of the audience that matters but how engaged they are in you and your message. Find the balance that works for. You’ll be glad you did.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., teaches self-publishing and social media marketing as an adjunct professor at NYU and is the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity. To learn about her books or her promotional services, including The Virtual Author Tour™, visit To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Virtual Book Tour

This is the latest method of promoting a new book. With a Virtual Book Tour, you make “appearances” on other’s blogs, where you tell readers about you, your book, and other related topics. In learning more about marketing my book, which I hope will be published some time next year, I’ve been following Velda Brotherton’s book tour this week. Velda is a fellow Women Writing the West member. Check out her website and her tour schedule at

Published in: on July 22, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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