April 4th, 2016

Common Sense Marketing

We interrupt the normally scheduled blog for important news!

The WITS Annual ‘Write Up a Storm’ is this Wednesday! Join us from 4 am – 10 pm PST for hourly writing sprints, inspiration, and the knowledge that you’re not writing alone! Come hang with fellow writers and write up a storm!

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On to today’s blog:

BUY MYBook!!!!!!!

I just stepped down off ‘Mistress Duty’ here at WITS (we all take turns), and one of the last things I do is go through the WITS mailbox to clean it out for the next person. I wanted to rant, but instead, thought I’d use the stats to illustrate how to target your market, rather than spamming the Universe.

Of 124 emails:

3 were relevant

70 –  were just plain spam (wow, if I wanted nude pics or to date a married woman, I now know where to go)

7 –  wanted to advertise with us – we do NOT take advertisements; anything you see on WITS is because we’ve used it, and we believe in it.

39 –  were people wanting us to pimp/read/review their book. Really? Have you READ our blog? We don’t do any of that!

5 – were companies wanting us to buy their writing-related product. Um. We’re not a person.


Which means that, in spite of the maturity and professionalism of many indie authors, some people need help.


  • Don’t use a shotgun (or frag grenade). Take the time to check out the sites where you’re asking for reviews. You may think that it doesn’t hurt to just hit ‘include all’, but it does. Those authors/books are going to stick in my mind, and I’ll make a point of NOT buying/reading/recommending them. Because they’re unprofessional, which means they haven’t taken time to learn, so their books will probably be dreck. Now maybe those were sent by marketing firms that authors hired. But it’s still your job, as the person who’s name is on the cover, to know what’s going on. I know it’s time consuming to research, but is your goal to sell books and build buzz in a positive, or negative way?
  • Once you DO find review sites, follow their rules: you’re paying nothing (you’re NOT paying for reviews, right?), so they’re doing you a favor. If you’re asking for a favor, you’re polite, right? I’ve run into many review sites that won’t take self-pubbed books. A believe the reason is all the newbie, read-my-book clumsiness.
  • We’re all excited for everyone to read our book. But sending DM’s, IM’s, and messages to all your followers will not only irritate them. At best, it’ll lose you followers. At worst, it’ll get you banned from Social Media sites. Your marketing should lead readers to your water – not waterboard them.
  • Gaming the system. Paying for reviews or trying the latest scheme to game the Amazon lists won’t work. And even if they did, is that how you define your success?

How to find your readers:

Writer Unboxed just did a great blog on this (you can read it HERE). What author writes books like yours? Follow their followers. Let those readers get to know you. Let THEM find YOU. I know, it takes time, effort and patience, none of which authors have to spare. Do it anyway. Do you agree to go out with the smarmy, stalker dude? Your readers won’t, either.

Target your readers. Keywords, ‘also bought’, and Metadata help. Educate yourself on how to do this. Follow indie marketing blogs, even if you’re not indie – there’s a wealth of tips that will help. The best one I’ve found so far is Digital Book World.

Don’t sell milk until you have a cow. You want to build anticipation for your release. Cover reveals are great for this. But if you’re doing giveaways, and tons of posts months before your book comes out, you’re not only wasting your time and money, you’re wearing out potential readers before they can do what you want them to – buy your book!


Beware. As in any new frontier, there are carpetbaggers, trying to make money off the uneducated.

  • Don’t pay for reviews.
  • Be careful with ‘free’. If you’re prolific, and have a series, making the first one perma-free can help. Hook your reader on your voice, and they’ll buy the rest. But be careful not to drink the Koolaid – I’ve seen authors squeeing on Social Media as their free book rises on the ‘free bestseller list’ (oxymoron alert). First, the reader took your book for free. That doesn’t mean they’ll read it, or like it, or leave you a review. And you did get in this gig to make money, right?
  • Shelf-life. Even the best of ideas for marketing only work for a short time. Once everyone starts doing it, there’s no advantage. But that doesn’t mean you should jump in blindly, either.
  • Keep your common sense engaged. Like your mom said, If it sounds too good to be true, it is. And spam is as spam does.

Be proud of your work. Put in the time. Be patient. You know I’m the quote queen, so I’ll leave you with one:



WITS readers, I’ve only touched the surface of this subject. What tips can you give us? Have any  blogs or sites to help us?


A bit about Laura’s latest release – Days Made of Glass:Amazon Cover

Harlie Cooper raised her sister, Angel, even before their mother died. When their guardian is killed in a fire, rather than be separated by Social Services, they run. Life in off the grid in L.A. isn’t easy, but worse, there’s something wrong with Angel.

Harlie walks in to find their apartment scattered with shattered and glass and Angel, a bloody rag doll in a corner. The doctor orders institutionalization in a state facility. Harlie’s not leaving her sister in that human warehouse. But something better takes money. Lots of it.

When a rep from the Pro Bull Riding Circuit suggests she train as a bullfighter, rescuing downed cowboys from their rampaging charges, she can’t let the fact that she’d be the first woman to attempt this stop her. Angel is depending on her.

It’s not just the danger and taking on a man’s career that challenges Harlie. She must learn to trust—her partner and herself, and learn to let go of what’s not hers to save.

A story of family and friendship, trust and truth.



33 comments to Common Sense Marketing

  • Thanks, Laura! Another great post as I continue the journey toward publishing my first novel. I appreciate your common sense style!

  • Content Marketing may be something of a buzz word, but I believe it works. If I follow a blog (like this one) and enjoy the free content, I’m more likely to buy the books mentioned in author bylines.

  • Excellent advice (as always). I think if you remember it’s the SOCIAL in social media that’s important, you can find people who like what you have to offer by showing them other things you’re about. You should be using social media to get people to your website, which is the sandbox you own.

  • “Your marketing should lead readers to your water – not waterboard them.”
    “Do you agree to go out with the smarmy, stalker dude? Your readers won’t, either.”
    A couple of the best-worded warnings about marketing I think I’ve read. 🙂

  • Holly Robinson

    Laura, can I just say how absolutely refreshing this post is? I love the whole concept of leading readers to you rather than trying to shoot them with an elephant gun (or whatever you said, which was far more clever). And it’s also great to remind everyone that this whole process takes time–and patience. Thank you.

  • Thanks for this post. I need a reminder that there is no secret formula, no magic trick that will take my books to the bestseller lists. Most of this is information I already knew, at least in part. But it’s important to hear that I am on the right track. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing, and try a few new things, I’ll eventually feel like marketing isn’t as hard as it feels like it is right now.

    • Oh Kristina, I know what you mean. You see those around you, doing tons, and thinking you’re not doing enough. Just remember, be yourself, and do what you enjoy – your personality and voice will shine through, and attract readers who will love your book!

  • Linda Lee

    Thanks, Laura! Pinned & shared. 🙂

  • Thanks for this. I published my book 4 months ago, and I’m looking for more sales. I don’t pay for reviews, except for providing a free review copy. (Technically, the FTC defines giving anything of value, including free books, as pay.) I’ve asked for reviews on Facebook sites, and gotten some success. Occasionally, I offer to trade reviews. I review their book, they review mine. I don’t receive any pay for my reviews, other than a free book. I have a Facebook page devoted to my book. I’m trying to figure out what else I can do that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

  • It’s a scary world out there for indie writers. I’m jumping in, fingers crossed that I don’t fall for any scams or insult potential readers. Thank you for the great advice.

  • As ever, great post, Laura! The best marketing is to write a great book, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one!

  • Orly Konig Lopez

    Great post, Laura. And not just for authors going the indie route. Traditionally published authors are doing A LOT of marketing. I’ll be the first to admit that there are a few authors who I’ve been turned off from because of their marketing tactics (and sadly, their books actually sounds pretty good).

  • Fae Rowen

    I’m glad you are such a great point person, Laura. I’m staying at your house for a week before my book launch! Sorry, that’s what you get for being so good at what you do. Great, easy to follow advice. (Love the opening poster!)

  • I HATE all that “buy my book” chatter. No one listens to it. I’ve got lists and filters everywhere tuning it out of my feeds. Why do I have to do so much blocking, hiding, ignoring, list making and alerting work, just to not be spammed by people who are supposed to be my pals?

    Justs saying…

  • First, when I read ‘Mistress Duty’ my mind went to the complete wrong place ;] Second, this is great advice and while I’ve yet to be published I’ll keep it in mind for when I am.

  • I’m hoping I’ll see a reblog button once I post this (that’s the way my WordPress account seems to work). I’ve wondered and wondered about all those ads I see constantly on Twitter and in my feeds. I just delete them. I’m much more likely to find good books through recommendations on Goodreads or in the “also bought” lists. I haven’t had any luck getting reviews after carefully requesting them on review sites, but I am learning to be patient. Thanks for the encouragement.
    BTW, I’ve been using Canva from time to time as well. A good find.

  • […] an encouraging message about book marketing from Writers in the Storm (couldn’t find a reblog button). Do you have ideas for “being yourself and having […]

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