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Novel Marketing

Updated 3 days ago

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Learn the innovative book promotion secrets of bestselling authors.

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Learn the innovative book promotion secrets of bestselling authors.

iTunes Ratings

121 Ratings
Average Ratings

Fantastic Resource

By rmerrick64 - Jan 07 2020
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I began listening to the Novel Marketing podcast last summer while painting my porch furniture. Now I’m hooked! As a novelist with a small press, and now a soon-to-be self-published novelist, it has wooed me as I wade through all the “coulds” and “shoulds” of marketing to land on the right ways for ME! Thanks Thomas and Jim (I miss you, Jim!) for all the help and encouragement, and Thomas for being the marketing guru in my life!

Best podcast for novelists!

By Mferg1230 - May 18 2019
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What else can I say? Informative, efficient, entertaining. The only podcast I listen to!

iTunes Ratings

121 Ratings
Average Ratings

Fantastic Resource

By rmerrick64 - Jan 07 2020
Read more
I began listening to the Novel Marketing podcast last summer while painting my porch furniture. Now I’m hooked! As a novelist with a small press, and now a soon-to-be self-published novelist, it has wooed me as I wade through all the “coulds” and “shoulds” of marketing to land on the right ways for ME! Thanks Thomas and Jim (I miss you, Jim!) for all the help and encouragement, and Thomas for being the marketing guru in my life!

Best podcast for novelists!

By Mferg1230 - May 18 2019
Read more
What else can I say? Informative, efficient, entertaining. The only podcast I listen to!
Cover image of Novel Marketing

Novel Marketing

Latest release on Jan 20, 2020

Read more

Learn the innovative book promotion secrets of bestselling authors.

Rank #1: 177 How to Grow Your Email List With Ryan Zee

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How to Grow Your Email List With Special Guest Ryan Zee

The post 177 How to Grow Your Email List With Ryan Zee appeared first on Author Media.

Feb 18 2019



Rank #2: 151 – How to Write to Market With Chris Fox

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In this episode, we talk about how to write to market with Chris Fox an incredibly successful indie author of both fiction and nonfiction.

The post 151 – How to Write to Market With Chris Fox appeared first on Author Media.

Aug 21 2018



Rank #3: 206 How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years

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How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years

The post 206 How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 16 2019



Rank #4: 138 – GDPR for American Authors?

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Links: Did Thanos Kill Me? The Creative Funding Show Iubenda (Affiliate link) Let’s talk about GDPR: First off, we are not lawyers. Questions: What is GDPR? General Data Protection Regulation Why do authors need to care about it? Isn’t it just European companies that need to worry about this? The law “applies” to Americans companies. Can […]

The post 138 – GDPR for American Authors? appeared first on Author Media.

May 22 2018



Rank #5: 152 – How to Write 5000 Words an Hour with Chris Fox

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Writing more books helps you make more money. But most authors write slow! Today we talk with Chris Fox about how to write faster and better.

The post 152 – How to Write 5000 Words an Hour with Chris Fox appeared first on Author Media.

Aug 28 2018



Rank #6: 210 Bookstagramming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes

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Bookstagraming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes

The post 210 Bookstagramming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 14 2019



Rank #7: 181 How to Sell More Books using Bookmarks and Business Cards

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How to Sell More Books using Author Business Cards and Bookmarks

The post 181 How to Sell More Books using Bookmarks and Business Cards appeared first on Author Media.

Mar 18 2019



Rank #8: 167 How to Use Facebook To Promote Your Book

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In this episode we are going to talk about the right way to use Facebook to sell more books! Last week we talked about why Facebook is overrated for book marketing, but we didn’t say it’s completely useless, so today we’re going to talk about the ways Facebook CAN work for you to promote your […]

The post 167 How to Use Facebook To Promote Your Book appeared first on Author Media.

Dec 11 2018



Rank #9: 140 How to Develop Multiple Streams of Money from Your Writing Career with Joanna Penn

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In this episode, we share an episode of the Creative Funding Show where Thomas talks with Joanna Penn about the multiple ways you can make money from your writing career that you might have never considered. 

The post 140 How to Develop Multiple Streams of Money from Your Writing Career with Joanna Penn appeared first on Author Media.

Jun 05 2018



Rank #10: 110 – 11 Ways Proven to Draw Readers to Your Novel’s Website

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In this podcast episode, we tell you what will thrill your readers on your author website and make them want to come back.

The post 110 – 11 Ways Proven to Draw Readers to Your Novel’s Website appeared first on Author Media.

Nov 08 2017



Rank #11: 201 Book Marketing 101: How to Price Your Ebook

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Book Marketing 101: How to Price Your Ebook

The post 201 Book Marketing 101: How to Price Your Ebook appeared first on Author Media.

Aug 12 2019



Rank #12: 161 How to Get 10,000 Readers and then Keep Them Happy

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How to Get 10,000 Readers and then Keep Them Happy

The post 161 How to Get 10,000 Readers and then Keep Them Happy appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 30 2018



Rank #13: 150 – A Blueprint on How to Launch Your Book

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In this episode, we talk about a new course we've released that will help you launch your book in a way that will rocket it to success.

The post 150 – A Blueprint on How to Launch Your Book appeared first on Author Media.

Aug 13 2018



Rank #14: 121 – Email Marketing for Humans with Bryan Cohen

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Email Marketing is the #1 tool for driving book sales. In this episode we talk with Bryan Cohan about how to craft the kinds of emails that readers want to see.

The post 121 – Email Marketing for Humans with Bryan Cohen appeared first on Author Media.

Jan 23 2018



Rank #15: 130 – Myths Authors Believe  

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In this episode, we are going to talk about a few of the myths and lies writers are prone to believe which can derail us or send us in wrong directions or keep us from going in the direction we should be headed.  

The post 130 – Myths Authors Believe   appeared first on Author Media.

Mar 27 2018



Rank #16: 207 Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

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Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

The post 207 Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 23 2019



Rank #17: 202 How to Create a Landing Page

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How to Create a Landing Page

The post 202 How to Create a Landing Page appeared first on Author Media.

Aug 19 2019



Rank #18: Episode 100 LIVE Extravaganza

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Q Evelyn Williamson is going to kick us off with three questions. She says, “I’m working on my first novel and would like to know how much money I need once I publish … to promote my book. Also, she’ like to know what kinds of things are acceptable expenses to write off. Are books […]

The post Episode 100 LIVE Extravaganza appeared first on Author Media.

Jul 21 2017



Rank #19: 170 Your Best Year Yet With Susan May Warren

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Your Best Year Yet With Susan May Warren

The post 170 Your Best Year Yet With Susan May Warren appeared first on Author Media.

Jan 01 2019



Rank #20: 193 How to Create Powerful Ads for Authors Who Hate Math! with Chris Fox

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How to Create Powerful Ads for Authors Who Hate Math! with Chris Fox

The post 193 How to Create Powerful Ads for Authors Who Hate Math! with Chris Fox appeared first on Author Media.

Jun 17 2019



How Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith Grew Her Email List by 23k Using a Reader Quiz

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The million-dollar question is this: how do I get people to join my email list?

I recently interviewed Saundra Dalton-Smith who shared one extremely effective strategy. Saundra is a physician and author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, and Restore Your Sanity (affiliate link).

Saundra grew her email list from 2,000 to more than 25,000 subscribers.


She created a quiz for people to take at

In our interview, Dr. Saunda Dalton-Smith shared how she did it and how you can too.

The Story Behind

Dr. Saunda Dalton-Smith: I wanted a way for people to be able to determine which of the seven types of rest they were deficient in. I wanted them to do the same self-analysis I walk my patients through in my office. A quiz seemed to be the quickest way to do that. Plus, it was automated.

There are many different quiz platforms out there, but I happened upon a WordPress plugin called Quiz and Survey Master that worked with my blog. It was simple to use, so I jumped on it to figure it out and see what would happen.

Thomas Umstattd Jr.: Did the questions for the quiz come from questions you ask in your practice? Or from somewhere else?

Saundra: They came from actual questions I ask
in my practice as an internal medicine physician. Typically, a patient
comes in saying they’re tired. They suspect something’s wrong with their
thyroid or adrenal glands, and they want me to help me figure out what’s wrong.

I was spending a lot of time trying to determine why people are
so tired all the time. Some of them were getting more than adequate sleep, so I
knew it wasn’t the number of hours they were sleeping.

In my research, I discovered there are seven types of rest. People might not be deficient in physical rest, but they may have a deficiency of rest in another area. After I explained this to my patients, the question became, “How do I know which one I’m deficient in?”

The quiz questions came from thinking about each of the types of rest and how someone would feel if they were deficient in that area. The quiz allows people to grade themselves on where they’re at. I don’t ask “Are you deficient in physical rest?” I ask questions related to someone’s physical symptoms. I’ll ask if they have experienced increased neck and back pain or whether they’ve had more headaches or infections than their coworkers.

Some patients will report a chronic sinus infection, but nobody
else in the office or family seems to be getting it. I ask the questions and
let people rate how well certain symptoms apply to them. The plugin scores their
responses and reveals a deficiency in physical, mental, social, sensory, spiritual,
emotional, or creative rest. At the end of the quiz, the person has a
relatively accurate assessment of where they need more rest.

Thomas: I can verify the results. I took the quiz right before this interview, and I scored the lowest in physical rest. Since we have a newborn at home, that makes perfect sense. Your quiz did a good job teasing that out.

How To Create A Quiz Readers Want to Take

Thomas: The principle here is that you focused on the felt symptoms of your reader when you compiled the questions. Formulating questions based on their pain points forces you to boil things down to the core pain your reader’s experience.

Fiction writers probably aren’t writing about rest, but they
are hopefully helping their readers address some pain in their life. Maybe it’s
emotional pain. Maybe it’s work-related pain, or social pain. The clearer you can
articulate the pain your book is treating, the easier it is to put together a

Saundra: When you think about it, you’ve already written fifty thousand plus words about the pain or problem. You’ve spent a lot of time researching the topic and getting it together for the book. For me, the quiz was written while I was writing the book.

Within the book, under each type of rest I addressed, I asked some of the same questions. They weren’t always worded the same way, though. For example, there’s a quick checklist under physical rest so people can ask themselves, “Does this describe me?”

In the book, before they start the entire discussion on the seven types of rest, I say, “Stop right there. Go take the quiz. Then come back, and let’s keep going.”

I want even the people who’ve already bought the book to do the quiz. I don’t want them just to be a reader of the book. I want them to be part of my community.

Thomas: That’s a great opportunity to get the e-mail addresses of people who read your book. This is a real challenge for a lot of authors. They don’t know who their readers are because they’re not the author’s customers. They’re Amazon’s customers.

Authors have no way of telling their readers about book number two in the series when they don’t have a way of communicating with them directly.

If you have a quiz integrated with the book, and the book is
far more useful when you take the accompanying quiz, then you have a great way
of building your email list.

The ultimate example of this is the
(affiliate link) books, which is a personality
assessment. Books in that genre lead the way with this strategy. The book is
almost useless without taking the quiz. It provides a huge collection of reader
emails which is incredibly valuable.

I love how you have integrated your quiz with the book. It’s not merely a way of introducing yourself to strangers, but it’s also how you deepen your relationship with the readers who happened to see your book on a shelf at Barnes Noble.

They don’t know you well, but they’re reading the book and they take the quiz to join your email list. Suddenly you’re getting to know them a lot better.

How to Make Your Quiz Easy to Share

Saundra: Every time I do an interview, I give the URL Once you come up with a quick way to direct them, they’ll find your quiz easily. The actual URL is humongous, and no one would ever get all those letters right. But was a simple way to redirect the page back to my website and not have to do a lot of legwork on my end.

Thomas: That’s a great solution. Someone might be wondering if it’s expensive to buy another domain. No. It’s not. It’s $12 a year, and it’s totally worth it.

I recommend doing this not just for a quiz but for any landing page you want to mention verbally in a conversation, radio or podcast interview. 

I recommend authors buy the domain for each of their book titles so they can say, “Go to” That URL redirects to a page on your website all about that book.

If you want to see this at work, just go to It will magically take you to a page on with all the information about my book Courtship in Crisis.

There are a lot of domain sites that will do the redirecting for you. does it for about $12, but there are others like

I recommend avoiding GoDaddy because they’re the worst. They’re the most well-known because they buy Super Bowl commercials, but they’re not the best option for anything.

How to Connect Your Quiz With Your Email Strategy

Saundra: When I wrote my book proposal, I knew I was going to do the quiz. The book released in December, but I released the quiz aa few months before. I tested it with my launch team. They made sure I didn’t have spelling mistakes and that everything worked.

We wanted to make sure the results email came back to them in a timely fashion. After that, we put it on Facebook and gave the launch team permission to release it to their friends to build some interest in the book.

I have an email campaign attached to it, so once you take the quiz, you automatically get a couple of emails with additional teaching related to practicing rest.

Thomas: Excellent.
Sometimes that’s called a drip sequence or an onboarding campaign. Who do you
use as your email provider?

Saundra: I use Mail Chimp. I started with them because their
service was free for up to 2,000 subscribers. At the time, I barely had that
many, so it wasn’t costing me much.

Thomas: How did
you go from that small initial launch to having over 75,000 people taking the

Saundra: It was
the media. Every time I did any media interviews, they would ask how people
could connect with me. I did not want to send them to my main website. There’s
so much busyness going on there that people don’t know what to click.
Therefore, they don’t click anything and end up leaving the page. I wanted to
send them to one spot where they had only one decision to make: to take the
quiz or not.

Whenever I did an interview, I would give the URL I also started putting it in my bio. Whether I was speaking on a
stage or on a screen, I would always say it. I included it at the end of every
guest post I wrote. I put it everywhere I was given access.

I learned quickly that it was going to take forever for me
to build my platform with just the people I knew. I
needed to utilize the platforms of people who were inviting me into their
space. I didn’t want to just tell them about the book. I wanted some of their
people to become my people. The only way to do that was to offer them something
they were willing to give their email for.

Thomas: That’s a
great way of using a lead magnet (also called a reader magnet) to amplify your PR.
A lot of people who do radio or TV and only get their name mentioned. If their
name is something like, I don’t know, Thomas Umstattd Jr., no one will ever
find that websites because no one can spell your name.

Beyond it being hard to spell, there’s also no strong reason
for why they ought to visit the website.  “Go to my website and find out more about me,”
is not a compelling reason for people to visit. They’re already listening to your
interview and they may not want to find out more about you.

However, if you offer a free tip sheet or a free quiz about
what we’re talking about, then suddenly people want to take the quiz and they
head to your website.

Make the Quiz All About the Reader

Thomas: Your quiz is completely focused on the reader.
It doesn’t even have your picture on it. You have a little flower and a “take
the quiz” button. Then it’s a bunch of questions about the visitor.

Saundra: I
debated about putting my face out there. I wondered if I should include all the
sidebar stuff on my website. I decided not to because some people come into
that space from radio. They’re only familiar with my voice. Others might be
coming to the website from a TV show where they saw me. But I didn’t want
people to get distracted by other things on the website and start wandering
off. I wanted their single focus to be, “I want to know why I’m tired all the
time.” I wanted the whole experience to be about getting to the bottom of their
fatigue. It’s like a virtual doctor’s appointment with me.

Thomas: The quiz takes some commitment. This is no five-question
quiz. There are around 70 questions, so people are invested by the time they’ve
answered 20 of them.

Saundra: That’s why I start off with the instruction to allow five to ten minutes. I also tell them, they’re worth the investment of time. I want people to get deep into the process of slowing down. It’s almost psychological. We’re so busy. We want everything quick and microwaved. The whole topic of the book is centered on slowing this thing down. I wanted to convince the reader they’re worth it. You are worth these minutes of self-discovery.

Thomas: It’s integrated with your brand. A visually busy page would conflict with the idea of rest, simplicity, and taking a deep breath.

What results did you see from having a bigger e-mail list?

Saundra: When I
started, I wasn’t thinking about how one book could turn into other things. I hadn’t
thought about creating products or courses. As I’ve begun to think about those
things, the list has opened those opportunities.

When I was wondering whether anybody would be interested in
a 90-day course, I asked 25,000 people and immediately got feedback. I can send
them a survey to find out what they need to go deeper into their rest walk.
It’s also become a great way to generate extra income.

When I decide I want to do coaching, I’ll let them know I’ve got room for 10 people who’d like to do some one-on-one coaching for the next three months. I don’t have to go on Facebook or Instagram.

I don’t have to pay a bunch of money for ads to find a bunch of strangers who don’t know anything about me. These are people who have chosen to come to my online community, who have said rest is something they’re concerned about and interested in. It’s easy to market to them.

Thomas: As I’ve said before, it’s a lot easier
to turn fame into fortune than it is to turn fortune into fame. Once you’re
famous, there are a lot of ways you can make money. But you can’t buy your way
into being famous.

I love how you’re building a business around this. It
started as a book. Books can be lucrative if you sell a million copies. But
ultimately few people make money, especially in traditional publishing, on
their books.

For every author who makes all their income selling books with royalties, there are five or ten like you who have a more complex income stream with different ways people pay them money. People will pay for a book, but they’ll also pay for coaching or a course from you. Some would attend your live event to hear you speak in person. There are many ways you can make money from your knowledge.

How to Promote Your Survey Without Spending Money on Ads

Thomas: How do you spread the news about your quiz?

Saundra: It has spread by word of mouth. For the most part, I reference it when I’m doing interviews with the media.  I spend more of my time trying to secure media placement because I find that to be effective.

Thomas: I’ve been
saying for years that social media is the least effective form of marketing. The
time authors spend on social media could be spent on getting on podcasts and
radio. Your results will be so much better, and I have a course that
can help you with that

There’s this concept in economics called opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of doing a thing is forgoing your next best alternative. For example, by choosing to watch one more episode on Netflix, I’m choosing not to sleep.

That’s the opportunity cost of staying up later. In the same way, when you choose to do social media, the opportunity cost is PR. Securing PR opportunities is scarier and harder, but it’s far more effective.

I don’t know anyone who has, in the last five or six years, used
social media to grow their list from 2,000 to 25,000 emails without spending a
ton of money. You could do it via social media if you’re willing to spend $10,000
to $15,000 dollars on Facebook ads. But, Saundra, you haven’t spent $10,000 on
ads, have you?

Saundra: No. The most I’ve spent on this whole process was probably the money I spent trying to get a decent microphone and camera for podcasts and media placements.

That was the investment.

I used to think, “If I write a great book, everybody should want to read it. It will hit a bestseller list. I’ll get a great publisher, and they’ll get all my publicity and media lined up for me.”

Well, they may get a couple, but they’ve got so many authors
behind you who are releasing books that the publisher is spread thin on who
they pitch to where.

If you pitch yourself, you can pitch all day long if you want it to. You can contact as many outlets as you’d like. There’s no limit. I pitched myself to Daystar Television, and they said yes to three shows instead of one.  

You don’t
have to be famous to pitch yourself to the big shows. You just have to be
willing to hear “no” and not let it destroy you or make you feel like you’re
not worthy. Sometimes you need to tweak the pitch because the topic you put out
is not what they’re looking for at this time.

Thomas: The most common way authors need to tweak
their pitch is by explaining how their topic is beneficial for the listener,
and not how it’s beneficial for the author.

People want to hear about how their lives can be better, which I think is one of the reasons why you’ve been able to get so much PR. You’re not exactly pitching your story, you’re helping listeners have more energy, feel better about themselves, get rested, and be optimistic people right now.

You’re telling them they’ll have a better life if they get more rest. Who doesn’t want that?

Anyone can make their message more beneficial for their
reader, regardless of their topic.

Saundra: Absolutely, and it works. One surprise that came from this process was that I started teaching classes on how to be your own publicist. Many of my friends were asking who my publicist was. And I said, “I don’t have a publicist. I’m my own publicist.”  

I ended up going to writers’ conferences and teaching an
online course about how to be your own publicist.  People think you must lay down a $5,000 retainer
in hopes of a publicist getting you on a show or two. That’s not the reality.

If you can answer someone’s questions, if you can help someone solve a problem, if you can help someone get closer to a dream or aspiration, if you can take something complicated and break it down so it’s simple for the rest of the world, you are a perfect guest for podcasts, radio, and TV.

Thomas: There are so many podcasts out there. We created The Podcast
Host Directory
where we’ve compiled a searchable database
with the email addresses of over 100,000 podcast hosts on every topic you can

That’s the wonderful thing about podcasting. There are specific topics and broad topics. For a topic like rest, you could go on a bunch of different kinds of podcasts.

Right now, you’re on an author podcast. But you could be on a parenting podcast tomorrow. You could be on a business podcast. Some topics are more flexible than others. Not every author will be a good candidate for every podcast, but you may be surprised if you’re willing to think outside the box.

Saundra: Absolutely, think outside the box. Some of the podcasts I’ve been on have been podcasts that didn’t align with my spirituality in the least. My book is published by FaithWords, which is a Christian branch of Hachette. You wouldn’t think a Buddhist podcast would want to have me on. But they were open to a conversation, and I was open to sharing with them.

There are so many ways of sharing when you’re pitching. Sometimes it’s helpful in the pitch, and even in the subject line, to say you know who their audience is. If I’m pitching a podcast to small-business leaders I’ll say, “Let’s talk about rest for small-business owners,” or “Let’s talk about rest for moms.”

Whatever the topic or audience is, you can tweak it so the host knows you’re acquainted with the kind of audience they speak to. If they think you understand their audience, they’re going to be more willing to invite you to speak to their audience.

Thomas: Preach! I get so many pitches where people tell me they want to come on my podcast, but they’ve obviously never listened and have no concept of who we are. They’re blasting the same pitch to podcast after podcast. That is not the right approach. You must tailor your pitch for the podcast, your topic, and the interview.

Try to list tangible benefits that will improve people’s lives. You can tweak which benefits you present to different audiences.

If you have 20 benefits, only three or four will be applicable to any specific podcast. Pick the three or four that are applicable to the podcast and present only those three in your pitch.

Quiz Mistakes to Avoid

Thomas: What have been the best and worst aspects of having your own online quiz?

Saundra: I can tell you what the worst aspect was. When I did the live TV show with Daystar I obviously mentioned during the show. What I didn’t realize is that there was an update to the quiz plugin that had just processed.

The update caused the results to be sent to only half the
people. It was an international show and a lot of people hit the site at once.
Whenever someone’s results didn’t go through, the program sent me an email saying
the results didn’t process. So, I got the results, but the person didn’t get them
on their end.

We had to manually email 150 quiz results in one day. And I thought, “Oh my goodness. We can never have this happen again!” It was a lot of work to manually deliver each person’s results to their corresponding address. Plus, they were waiting on their results.

That was a nightmare.

Have your system set to update in the middle of the night, but not during regular hours when people are awake.

The Benefit of a Quiz

The biggest benefit of the quiz has been how people have used it to better themselves. I love it when someone takes the quiz and joins my list. They get the newsletter. They listen to the podcast. They get engaged with my community.

Then I get an email from them saying, “I heard you on someone’s podcast, and thought I’d check out this quiz. I can’t tell you how great I feel or how much better my marriage is because I’m using some of the techniques about relationships and social risks.”

Sometimes they’ll say, “I’m loving my job more because I’m not exhausted every day.” That has been the best part.  The quiz effects life change.

Thomas: Sometimes we have to see how sick we are before we’re willing to do something about it.

The quiz gives somebody a tangible score, which rationally shouldn’t matter. We should already know how tired we are. But somehow, seeing that you scored low prompts you to do something about it.

The quiz triggers action, which brings the life transformation and makes people hungry for your book.

How to Craft a Quiz to Promote a Novel

Many writers are working on novels. Maybe you can’t create a
quiz around symptoms of a problem and how to get better. But there are quiz
types you could explore.

I’ve seen novelists offer a personality quiz where readers
find out which character they are most like. It’s a way of getting people
who’ve read your first book onto your email lists so you can tell them about your
second book. It’s less of a launch strategy with fiction.

With nonfiction, you can release the quiz ahead of time and
get all the emails from the quiz to help with your book launch.

Do you have any final tips?

Saundra: Get the word out to as many places as you can. It’s only going to benefit you because if they don’t get to the quiz page, then they won’t end up on your list.

Put it in your bio, whether that be on the screen or stage. Have it read in your bio when you’re being introduced. Use it at every media event. You’ll get to the point where it rolls off your tongue organically, and it doesn’t sound like you’re trying to drive people to the site.

I’ve said it so many times that when I when it gets to that part of the interview I say, “If you’d like to know which of the seven types of rest you’re deficient in, you can visit” I’ve said it so many times it’s embedded in my brain. You won’t have to fear sharing it because you’ll know it’s going to help someone.

Thomas: That is awesome. You can always tell someone who’s professionally trained in doing interviews by how well they incorporate their website into the interview.

You can take the quiz yourself at

Learn about Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith and her book Sacred Rest at her website,



How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest

Podcast guesting gives you:

  • a high-credibility way to reach new audiences
  • the influence of a podcast without the work of starting your own
  • access to influencers you couldn’t reach any other way

You don’t need to hire a PR firm for $3000 to schedule your podcast interviews. You just need to know the secrets of pitching podcasts yourself. And, once you start nailing interviews, podcasters will start reaching out to you to invite you on their shows.

With this course, you will learn how to become a sought-after podcast guest who has access to thought leaders and readers alike.

If you are ready to get your book the attention it deserves, this course is for you.

 Patrons save 50% on the cost of the course.

Featured Patron

Kate Harvie author of Believe It and Behave It: How to Restart, Reset, and Reframe Your Life (Affiliate Link)    Learn how to kick your inner shame and hatred to the curb. Whatever your personal setback, Kate will help you find new opportunities to make yourself better and stronger than ever before.

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just share this episode with one person you think would find it helpful. 

The post How Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith Grew Her Email List by 23k Using a Reader Quiz appeared first on Author Media.

Jan 20 2020



How to Create Urgency to Buy Your Book

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What do these phrases have in common?

  • Limited-time offer!
  • Closeout sale.
  • Inventory liquidation.

In two or three words we learn there is an impending date
when something will no longer be available.

  • The store will close.
  • The inventory will disappear.
  • The offer will expire.

Customers hurry to purchase so they don’t miss out.

Marketing psychologists call this a “social trigger.” Social triggers are powerful techniques used to influence customers.

In the examples above, marketers create a sense of urgency. Customers feel their time is running out. They worry about losing out, missing out, or spending more than necessary. Getting rid of that feeling becomes a high priority, and it moves them into action.

Why Urgency Works

Why is urgency so powerful? Because most people will only act with an urgent deadline. 

In education, students are moved to study
because of an impending date on the calendar labeled “Exam.” Students attend study
groups and review sessions for two days prior to the test date, but rarely
before then.

In matters of personal health, people are more
likely to modify diet and exercise when they have a reunion or wedding coming
up. On the other hand, people are often unmotivated to improve their habits
until their doctor lays out a few statistics regarding mortality.

For most of us, there has to be “blood in the
water” to move us from a state of apathy into action. 

Urgency is why deadlines are so motivating for writers. We are so desperate for urgency that indie authors, who generally don’t have concrete due dates, create self-imposed deadlines to make themselves finish. 

So, if a reader can put off buying your book until tomorrow, they will never buy your book.

If a reader can put off reading your book until tomorrow, they will never read your book.

Since “tomorrow” never comes, authors must
create a sense of urgency for customers and readers to move them from thinking
about your book to purchasing it.

How to Create Urgency for a Book

Here are seven ways to create urgency.

Method #1 Launch Window

Create a bonus that is
only available for a limited time. 

When Michael Hyatt released his book Platform (affiliate link), he created a bonus bundle worth hundreds of dollars. He partnered with other authors and businesses who had products related to building a platform and digitally packaged them together. Anyone who purchased his book in the first two weeks of launch received that valuable bundle for free.  

With your book launch
date in view, you can create bonuses or prizes to giveaway to early buyers.

Prizes can include:

  • Short stories
  • Guides
  • Tip Sheets
  • Courses
  • Discount Coupons
  • A piece of music that goes along with the book.

You don’t have to create all the prizes yourself. Partner with other authors to create compelling bundles. But make sure your bonuses are actually valuable to your readers. Bonuses need not be expensive, but they must have a high perceived value for your reader.

Printable bookmarks,
screensavers, or lock screen images are easy to create and distribute, but they
rarely provide a high enough value for readers to purchase today rather than

Anything that is
valuable to your reader and inexpensive to distribute would make a great launch
window bonus.

Method #2 Limited First Edition Print Run 

People love the idea of
owning a “First Edition” book. Consider printing a specific number of first-edition
hardback copies of your book. Limited quantities create urgency forcing readers
to race against each other to get copies of the first edition before it sells

I did this by accident when
I published my book. There was a glitch in the spacing on the spine when I placed
the order for my Kickstarter backers and launch party. Instead of despairing
over the imperfection, I presented those as “rare flawed versions.”

You don’t have to have flawed copies to create this kind of urgency. With some purposeful planning, you can create a limited-edition hardback version of your book that will have your biggest fans hollering, “Shut up and take my money!”

Method #3 First Buyers
Get a Bonus

Providing bonuses for
first buyers is like Method 1. But instead of limiting the time it’s available,
you limit the total number of winners.

For example, you could
email your list and say, “The first 100 people to email me their amazon
receipts will receive the bonus bundle.”

This kind of urgency
protects you if the bonus is expensive. You don’t want to bankrupt yourself
giving away and shipping 10,000 free shirts to everyone who purchased your book
on release day. It also creates the sense that when those prizes are gone,
they’re gone.

Method #4 Free Pulsing
& Price Pulsing

Price pulsing is a way
of reducing the price of your book for a limited time.

Since you can price pulse at any time, this tactic has the advantage of working for older books. If your backlist is deep and you want to increase sales on an early book, reduce the price on that title for a limited time.

Announce the time frame, honor the price reduction, and be sure to raise the price when the time frame is expired. We have an entire episode on price pulsing called “ How Free Pulsing Can Help You Sell More Books with Jamie Foley.”

Price pulsing during a book’s launch period is risky, but when it works, it works well. This is how James L. Rubart became a bestselling author.

Jim’s publisher free-pulsed his book (offered his book for free for a limited time) soon after it launched. It triggered a firestorm of buzz about that book. People who read the free book loved it so much they told their friends. Those friends then paid full price, and that title sold a lot of paid copies.

Method #5 Collective

Collective action works
well if you have a large following who loves you or who wants you to succeed
for political reasons.

Authors with large
followings may rally their readers around a single goal. For example, an author
may email readers to say, “If everyone buys in the first week, we can hit the
bestseller list!” 

This is how Ron Paul’s Political Manifesto (affiliate link) hit number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. Ron Paul was not a popular political candidate, but his passionate followers, who believed in his cause, encouraged each other to buy his book within a specific week so it would be listed as a bestseller. 

If you don’t yet have a
passionate following, this tactic is difficult to employ. It is also risky if
you rally the troops and then fail to hit the bestseller list. 

Method #6 Reverse Coupon

When you offer a reverse coupon, you warn readers that the price will increase at a specific time in the future. If you launch your ebook at $2.99, you would include a warning that the price will jump to $5.99 in two weeks. This creates the urgency to act now. 

Reverse coupons give the
consumer a sense that they might miss out. Internet marketers have dubbed this
FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” No one wants to feel like the schmuck who
unnecessarily spent more than the next guy.

Reverse coupons have the
added benefit of reducing the number of people who complain about the price
increase. If you give people enough notice, they have nothing to complain about
when the reverse coupon expires.

Method #7 Live Events

Host a live event, either online or in-person,
for people who have already purchased the book. Customers can present their
receipt as their ticket to the event, or they can purchase your book at the
door. A live event acts as a deadline for people to buy your book.

You may also want to host a live event for people
who have finished the book. For the novelist, this might mean
hosting a “Spoiler Discussion.” Readers will be motivated to find out what the
spoiler is, form an opinion about it, and participate in the discussion.

The nonfiction author might offer a Q & A
webinar for people who have read the book. It allows the most invested readers
to ask follow-up questions. An opportunity to ask specific questions nurtures
the reader-author relationship and builds trust.

More Ways to Create Urgency

This is not a comprehensive list!

What good and bad examples of urgency have you observed?

What ideas have these seven methods prompted?

Share your ideas and examples in the Novel
Marketing Facebook Group


The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is one of the most important things we do as authors. Persuasion is not only part of the selling process for fiction it is also at the heart of good nonfiction writing.

Yet, persuasion is hard to do well and easy to botch. In this video course, I break down the science of how to help your readers to truly change their minds for good. This is one of my most popular and enduring talks.

This course is ideal for:

  • Bloggers wanting to make a difference in the world.
  • Non-Fiction Writers wanting to change minds.
  • Authors wanting help persuading people to buy their book.

This course sells for $49 but through the end of February, patrons of the podcast get it for free. After that, patrons can buy it for 50% off. See how I am using urgency there? 

Speaking of patrons…

Featured Patron

Benjamin Ellefson author of The Land without Color

What If You Were Transported to a Land Without Color? And the Only One Who Could Restore it Was You?                   

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser


I have been learning a new kind of marketing lately. Marketing to toddlers. 

This is the ultimate challenge, and one many of you have already mastered. What you may not realize is how many lessons apply to grown-ups too.  

We want to feed my 15-month-old daughter protein, especially for dinner so she won’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. We already have a newborn crying for food at 3am, a toddler doing it as well is too much. 

If Mercy had her way, she would eat nothing but sweet fruit and pizza. We don’t want to feed her pizza all the time, so what I did was cut up some meat for her in pizza shapes and called it “meat pizza”

This is meat that she had previously refused to try. But now that it was “meat pizza” she was curious. She tried it, and what would you know, she liked it!

A lot of book readers are like my daughter. They only want the familiar. They want to read the authors they already read in the genres they already read in. 

We can’t change them, but we can work within those limitations. This is why radically new book covers are so risky. A good book cover communicates “this book is like the books you already like.” Just like called meat “meat pizza is like saying “this food is like the other kinds of food you already like.”

Now this only works if the substance of your book matches the packaging. My branding of meat as “meat pizza” would have backfired if the food tasted bad.

So a question for you to ponder. Which successful author are you most like? You need a clear answer to this question. If your answer is “I’m unlike any successful author” readers will tighten their lips and turn away their heads from you, like a petulant toddler, regardless of how good your book is. 

The post How to Create Urgency to Buy Your Book appeared first on Author Media.

Jan 13 2020



222 How to Optimize Your Amazon Listing with Bryan Cohen

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  • What is an Amazon book page and is it really that important?
  • How did you get started with Amazon book page optimization? Talk me through it.
  • What are the most important elements of an Amazon page?
    • How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis
  • What challenges do authors face when trying to optimize their Amazon pages?
  • What mistakes do authors make with their pages?
  • Let’s talk about Amazon SEO. How do you optimize your page to rank for certain terms?
  • What is your biggest page optimization failure, and what did you learn from it?
  • What do you wish you had known when you started selling books as an indie author?
  • What final tips and encouragement do you have?



The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is one of the most important things we do as authors. Persuasion is not only part of the selling process for fiction it is also at the heart of good nonfiction writing.

Yet, persuasion is hard to do well and easy to botch. In this video course, I break down the science of how to help your readers to truly change their minds for good. This is one of my most popular and enduring talks.

This course is ideal for:

  • Bloggers wanting to make a difference in the world.
  • Non-Fiction Writers wanting to change minds.
  • Authors wanting help persuading people to buy their book.

This course sells for $49 but through the end of February, patrons of the podcast get it for free

Featured Patron

Carrie Daws author of The Embers Series    A hurricane and a series of unexplained fires hits too close to home. What will it cost inspector Cassandra McCarthy to protect the citizens of Silver Heights? 

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just leave a review on Apple Podcasts or on

Personal Update

Baby #2 is here!

Thomas Gregory Umstattd, III was born December 29 and weighed 8 pounds 14 ounces. Both he and mom are doing well and at home. I have a photo in the show notes if you want to see. 

He was born on the 5th day of Christmas which is Five Golden Rings in the song. So, my nickname for him is Thomas Aurelius Gregarious the Third. Hopefully that is a long enough name to take him places, if this were ancient Rome that is. 

He wakes up every two hours right now so bear with me. Right now I have zombie brain. 

The post 222 How to Optimize Your Amazon Listing with Bryan Cohen appeared first on Author Media.

Jan 06 2020



New Years Productivity for Authors With Joanna Penn

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. Joanna is an accomplished novelist and a publishing mentor for writers. She also happens to be the most frequent guest on the Novel Marketing Podcast.

Her most recent book is Productivity for Authors: Find Time to Write, Organize Your Author Life and Decide What Really Matters (affiliate link), so we began by talking about priorities and productivity.

Just yesterday I was working in the office, and my daughter was standing on the other side of the baby gate in my doorway. She shot her hands straight up in the air which is her clear signal that she wants me to pick her up. She was staring at me with big beautiful eyes and beckoning me to pick her up, and I thought, “This email can wait!”

We all have many wonderful demands on our time, and Joanna gives us wisdom for managing our time in a productive way.

Why Productivity is Important

Thomas Umstattd Jr.: Joanna, why is productivity important for authors?

Joanna Penn: I’ve really struggled with productivity for a long time. I have been writing since 2006, and I’ve been publishing for over a decade. I’ve achieved a lot of stuff, but I have always struggled with this idea of productivity.

It finally clicked for me when I realized the question is “What
do you want to achieve?” Productivity is actually achieving that thing. So I
wrote this book about it.

I always got confused thinking productivity was ticking off
things from my to-do list. But so often my to-do list was around things I
didn’t necessarily want to achieve.

As writers, productivity is about writing, but more than
that, it’s about finishing books. You can be as creative as you like and write
lots of stuff, but productivity is what will help you get those words into the
world. You only have this finite amount of time in your life. What do you want
to achieve with that time, and what productive tasks are you going to do to
achieve those goals rather than just running around like a headless chicken ticking
things off your to-do list?

Thomas: That’s right, you can’t do everything. In the States, we had a series of commercials from this beer brand called Dos Equis. They had a character they called “the most interesting man in the world” who’d give advice through these little pithy sayings. In one of them, he looks at the camera and gives this advice on careers: “Find the one thing in the world you do not do well, and then don’t do that thing.”

It’s funny, but it’s really good advice because so often, we
want to do everything and we end up spending the largest amount of time on the
thing we don’t do well because we don’t do it well.

Joanna: Yes. This is really important for indie and
traditional authors in the present climate of publishing, because authors are
expected to do marketing. There are literally thousands of things you can do
for book marketing. You could spend all your time doing book marketing. And of
course, marketing is super important, and it’s something we all have to do.

Productivity is really considering what you want to achieve
with your time and then doing that and ruthlessly cutting out those other
things. You mentioned that email and your daughter. To be fair, the email can
wait. But my daughter is right there now. Maybe she’ll be asleep in a couple
hours, and you can do the email then.

So that actually is productive in that you are spending your
time on what you wanted to spend your time on. As busy people we need to ask
ourselves, “Did I get the best out of my time today?”

Thomas: I’m going to take an audio clip of
you saying that, and any time somebody complains that I didn’t email them back
fast enough, I’m just going to play it and say, I was holding my daughter!

Joanna: That’ll work until she’s a bit older!

Author Productivity Killers

Thomas: Productivity is important. In a lot of ways,
it’s about saying no or not being able to say no. But what are some other
things that keep authors from being productive?

Joanna: The first
thing everyone says is, “I don’t have the time.” Obviously, we all have to make
the time.

The second one is, “I don’t know what to do when I do have
the time,” and this is very much a problem for new writers. They’ll say, “I sat
down for three hours and nothing happened.”

There are processes you have to put in place so that you can
use your time effectively to achieve your goal.

Other people say, “I know that I have to do this thing. And
I did sit down, but I ended up on Twitter or making some Pinterest images
because that’s really important.” Or, maybe they ended up going down a YouTube
hole. They think, “This video is super important.” They’re spending too much
time on the peripheral matters of writing and publishing.

One of the most common questions I get after I’ve spoken at
a conference is, “What, if I did this and that and the other marketing thing?”

I always say, “Hold up. Where are you in terms of your
books?” I always like to know where people are on their journey.

And so often they’ll say, “Oh, I haven’t finished the first
draft yet. I just need to know what I have to do with publishing.”

And I’m like, okay, you need to just stop. Your time right
now should be spent on finishing that first draft. Don’t even worry about
publishing or marketing or making money with your writing until you finish the
first draft. Your priority should be finishing your book.

I’ll take it one step further. When people say, “I don’t
have the time to write,” or “I do the wrong thing,” sometimes there’s an
underlying reason for those statements.

For example, it’s not that you don’t have the time, it’s
that you are afraid of what’s going to happen if you do make the time, or
you’re just avoiding having a finished book.

This is why some people take years and years to write a book
because they just cannot get past this fear of being seen, being read, and
being judged.  It’s fear of failure. All
these mindset issues that you have to face will come into play regarding productivity.

We have to get honest and answer the question, “What is
stopping me from being productive?” What is the reason? And then go deeper and
ask yourself, “Why do I feel like that? Why is that the reason?” There can be
some quite different meaningful things here.

Thomas: If you’re telling yourself, “I can’t fail if I don’t finish,” or “I won’t release it until it’s perfect,” those internal messages are going to sabotage you from shipping anything. It will prevent you from sharing what you write with the world.

In some ways it makes you feel comfortable because you can
say, “I just need to do one more draft, and then I’ll think about sending it to
an agent or self-publishing it.”

But, it’s the difference between people who are thinking
about being self-employed or thinking about being an indie writer and people
who already are. When you think about being your own boss it’s great. But once
you get there, you realize you are your own employee too.

You’ll realize you’re a terrible employee when you just goofed off for 30 minutes on YouTube. You wouldn’t put up with that from your employee. But what do you do when your employee is you?

How to Make The Most of Your Writing Time

Thomas: How do you navigate that? How do you stay disciplined to make sure that those two hours you set aside for writing actually are spent in Scrivener or Microsoft Word and not somewhere else?

Joanna: This has to do with making the most of
your writing time.

First of all, I never do first-draft writing at the same place where I do podcast interviews.

The brain likes patterns. It recognizes things, and it likes routines. I’m a morning writer. Normally, I go to a particular desk in a in a café, and I’ll write my first draft after I get my black coffee. I put my noise-canceling headphones on. I have the Bose Quiet Comfort. They’re excellent. I listen to rain and thunderstorms, and I write.

There’s a myth that you must wait for the muse to arrive. But you don’t. You just start writing. If even if that sentence is, “Joe walks to the park. What does the park look like?” That’s your warmup.  

So one thing is a location. It might be a library. It might just be another chair in your house. It might be the car. John Grisham famously wrote A Time to Kill on a yellow legal pad in his car during his lunchtimes.

The second thing is, no multi-tasking. No other thing. You could turn off the Internet on your laptop or just go analog and take a notebook. But you’re always going to have your phone. So, you do have to commit to the process.

The other really important thing is timed writing. There are various methods like the Pomodoro Technique, which is like 20 minutes of writing then five minutes rest

I tend to do the length of a black coffee while it’s still
hot which is maybe 40 minutes. I will write for 40 minutes, and then I will go
to the toilet, get another coffee, and sit down again begin writing again. I’ll
be at the cafe for a couple of hours. I’m a time-block kind of writer. I’m at
the cafe between 7 and 9 a.m. That’s my writing block time.

Other people like to do different blocks throughout the day.
Maybe you can manage 20 minutes before your little girl gets up, or the baby
cries, or whatever. Then you can do another 20 minutes when they’re having a

You can find these times whenever you like. But the
important thing is during that time block, all you do is write. You just go for
it, and then you allow yourself the rest time or the five minutes of break.
That’s key. Whether it’s a toilet break or coffee break or a break to check social
media or news, the break is important.

The timing can work in two ways. You can time your writing,
but also time your break. If you’re going to have five minutes break, set your
timer so you don’t go down that YouTube rabbit hole or end up scrolling on
Instagram forever. In five minutes, you get your coffee, and if you have one
more minute left you can check another Instagram feed Then you have to start

That kind of lets the valve open a little bit so you don’t feel
like you’re missing out.

But you’re likely to
find you didn’t miss anything.

A lot of people tell me they need to be available by phone
at all times, so their kids are able to reach them. Or they tell me they can’t
shut the door to their office or go somewhere else.  

I tell them, you just have to say, “Look kids, for 20
minutes the door is shut. If you are actually dying or bleeding, then fair
enough, open the door.”

Obviously, you can’t leave the baby, but a lot of people’s
kids are at different ages, and they’re coming home and they’re able to do
things on their own.

I think that’s what the whole productivity thing is. You’re living your life, and you’re doing all the stuff you have to do. But if you value your writing, and if you value what you are producing as part of the importance of your life, then you have to make time for it.

Take Responsibility For How You Invest Your Time

Joanna: You have to stop saying it’s always somebody else’s fault. It’s always something else. You have to say, “No. This is important to me. I want to achieve this goal.” In order to do that you need to make half an hour a day for writing.

If you write half an hour a day at 500 words per half hour, it’s going to take something like four to eight months to write a full-length novel.

If you do that, you will achieve your goal. So many people
don’t seem to grasp the importance of this. Regular small amounts of regular
time writing will make a book. You don’t need to leave your job and go sit in a

Thomas: In fact,
you may find that leaving your job and sitting in a forest just doesn’t work. You’ll
probably find it’s hard to write because you take all those psychological
issues with you into the forest.

I like what you’re saying about taking responsibility and not blaming others. When you’re blaming others, you are powerless. But when you take responsibility, suddenly there are things you can do. And just being in that position is to know you can affect the situation. It’s is so empowering. It’s a little bit of a worldview shift, but it’s a very empowering

How to Say No

Joanna: Yes it
is. One other thing I want to say is that you’re going to have to say no to
things you actually want to do. Sometimes people think that they’re going to
find time to write by giving up something they hate. But probably they’ve
already given up something they hate.

Maybe you love Netflix and watch three hours in the evening.
Well. Sorry. You can only watch Netflix for one hour, and with those other two
hours you need to sort out your writing.

Maybe you volunteer at your church. Everyone would say
that’s a great thing. You’re a valuable member of the church community because
you volunteer. But maybe you have to say, “Look, I’ve been volunteering the
last couple of years. I just need six months off of volunteering, but in six
months, I will come back and carry on again.”

I have a friend who’s got three kids and she does everything
for the school all the time, but she doesn’t have time for her own work. I’ve
asked her, “Can you just give up one after-school activity and say that you
will do it again in six months?”

It is so hard. I think this is a very important mindset
shift, because all of these things you’ll feel you need to do because you’re a
good person, a good member of your community, a good father, a good husband, or
a good friend. But that’s what you have to sacrifice if you want to finish your
book. And this is tough love, really.

Thomas: This is straight, real talk here with
Joanna Penn.

Joanna: It is! Because so often people need to give
up what they really enjoy if they want to finish their work. But you don’t have
to give it up forever. This is the important thing. It’s like time blocking
your year to write your book, and then you come back to your other
responsibilities. I know you have a lot of responsibilities, Thomas. How do you
think about that?

Thomas: Well,
this is something I’ve been going through recently. My former co-host  Jim and I went through a season of pruning. We
cut a bunch of things. That’s why Jim’s not doing the podcast anymore. He was
looking at his day, and he had more things in the day than he had time to do. He
had to cut something that he loved. He had to cut his role in Novel Marketing. He
still comes back from time to time, but he’s not here on a weekly basis.

I had to cut my plug-ins business. That was my baby!  When we came out with My Book Table it was the
only bookstore plugin available for WordPress. When I gave it away, it was the
number one plug-in. That was difficult to do. But the plugins represented a
psychological weight on me.

Thousands of people’s websites used our plugins, and if those people have questions and issues, I am responsible to answer and address. If there was some major flaw in the plugin that caused thousands of author websites to suddenly crash, they’d all be reaching out to us at the same time.

Just the possibility of that happening was a weight on my mind that I don’t have anymore.

It was very hard to do. In fact, the pruning was painful
because it was a lot of work to hand it over to somebody else or sell it to
somebody else. I did this in a lot of areas in my life, and it was painful. It
was saddening. I guess “grieving” is probably the better term. I was grieving
over the loss of these things.

But now, having gone through at least the first wave of
pruning, I have so much more creative energy. So much more energy, period. I
have more mental energy to do the things that I’m trying to do. While it was
hard, it was worth it.

If you would take a six-month break from volunteering, you
may find that when you do come back after having written that novel, you come
back more full. You’re recharged.  

There is a season for everything. There’s a season to sow
and a season to refrain from sowing and let the land rest.

Some people think they just have to keep hitting the tree with their dull axe harder and harder and that they’ve just got to work harder. But sometimes you’ve got to rest and sharpen the axe. When you go at it again the next morning, you have that rejuvenated strength.

Why Where Your Write Matters

Thomas: I want to go back to something you said earlier, Joanna. You talked about having a separate place for writing your rough drafts.

There was a season of my life when I lived in an apartment
that I shared with my sister.

My bedroom was also my office. Everything I wrote was in
this tiny, tiny bedroom. I learned how unhealthy that is and also how
unproductive that is.

Office designers have researched it. They say the best
office designs function more like a kindergarten classroom where different
activities happen in different areas. Being in a certain place can put your
mind in a certain place that makes that task easier.

Now, when I’m creating something from scratch—outlining a
course or a new speech—I’ll do it on the couch on paper. It’s the only analog
thing in my life that I do. It’s the only time I’ll touch a pen and paper. It’s
really the only work that I’ll do on the couch. And I have a separate space for

So when I heard you talking about how you have a special
coffee shop that you go to for rough drafts, and how you don’t do your writing
at the same desk that you do your marketing, I think that’s a really powerful

Joanna: Yes. Even if you have a tiny apartment, there
is always another place. I mean, for example, a library is free. Or if you are
in a one-room apartment, and you sit at a desk to do your marketing work, sit
on the floor and face the other direction. Do something to shift out of the
groove that you are in.  

Sometimes people get too precious about this. Maybe they
light a certain candle or have to have this particular thing going on. But
that’s not the way it’s going to go.

The point is that it is different from your other things. If you’re doing your accounting or your tax return, that’s not where you do your writing.  

The Best Productivity Tools for Authors

Thomas: We’re almost out of time and I want to get to a couple of practical things, so this will be like a lightning round.

Let’s talk about tools. What are some specific tools that
authors can use to become more productive this week?

Joanna: My tools chapter in the book is quite long,
because I have learned a lot of tools over the years.

I still write in Scrivener. I think it’s brilliant. But very importantly, I export out of Scrivener every day, and I email it to myself, and I save the file on Dropbox. I never want to hear again that people have lost their work, but I hear it all the time. So please back up your work.

The other two things I live with and look at all the time
every day is my calendar.

I use Google Calendar and people can book time with me using Calendly. Both are free, so it is brilliant for scheduling podcast interviews and anything else across different time zones.

The other thing is my to-do list. I use the Things app, which is Mac only. It doesn’t matter what you use, but you need to use something. If you think of something you have to do, put it on your list.

And what I love is to move things into other folders in my
to do list. They are things I thought were really important at the time. But
later I say, “Why did I want to do that?” and I just put it in my “later” list,
which I never look at again.

Thomas: Yes, some people call that the
“Someday Maybe” list. Just because it’s on your to-do list doesn’t mean you
have to do it.

Joanna: Exactly.

Thomas: The
easiest way to get something off your to-do list is to decide it’s no longer important.

Joanna: Those are some technological tools, but
another one I have right in front of me is a  Post-it note that lists the books I’m working

Every day I have to have creative time. So, for example, the
Post-it note says “narrate audiobook”—that’s this productivity book. The other item
on the Post-it is writing chapters for my new book Audio for Authors.

So, I have a few big projects that sit on a Post-it note. Instead of drowning in tiny little to-dos, I can always look up and see what my productive work is. It’s working towards creating those products and creating that intellectual property. These are my books.

When to Outsource to Save Time

Thomas: That’s excellent. Any final tips on productivity?

Joanna: If you’re a little further on in
your writing life another thing is outsourcing. This would be the other big
thing for me. Once you hit a certain stage in your creative life, paying people
to do other things is really important.

For example, I used to do my podcasts myself. I used to do all the audio stuff, all the transcripts, all the notes, and all the images. So, a podcast might take me eight hours in total. But then I got to a point where I was making better money, and I decided I needed some of that time back. I hired people to do that for me so I can have that time.

Obviously there are some things I’ll never outsource. I’m
not going to outsource this interview with you because it’s me and you.

I’m not going to outsource the writing of my books. I know some people hire ghostwriters, but that’s not me because I’m a writer.

It’s important to ask, “What is the thing that only I can do?” and “What are the things that I can outsource?” Once you do that, you free up so much time. At the moment, as we talk at the end of 2019, I work with about 11 different freelancers and pay lots of different people to do different things in order to free myself for the creative work I love doing.

Where to Learn More

Thomas: That’s awesome. We barely scratched the surface of your book. If readers are looking for something to help with a New Year’s resolution of doing more writing, I recommend they check out the book Productivity for Authors: Find Time to Write, Organize Your Life, and Decide What Really Matters. Joanna, where can people find out more about you?

Joanna: If you want the podcast. Come on over to The Creative Penn Podcast, which is all about writing, publishing, book marketing, and making a living with your writing. Of course, all my books are available everywhere.

And if you like audiobooks, I have narrated Productivity for Authors, and it’s available in all the usual places. If anyone has any questions, you can always tweet me @thecreativepenn.



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Dec 30 2019



The Enclave Files

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These episodes originally aired in 2014 and 2016.

The post The Enclave Files appeared first on Author Media.

Dec 23 2019



7 Things Santa Can Teach Authors About Book Marketing

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This episode originally aired in December 2013.

One of the most well-known imitated fictional characters in the world has a gift, especially for authors this year.

It turns out jolly old Saint Nicholas does a really good job at marketing, and he’s given us some principles from his centuries on the job.

As a marketer, what does Santa do that you can you copy and apply to your marketing?

Here are seven pro-tips, to authors, from Santa.

1. Santa persists.

Giving presents to the whole world is a tough job. It’s a lot of work, and the weather isn’t always agreeable.

As an author, one of the hardest things you’ll have to do is get up and write when you don’t feel like it. It’s very easy to fall prey to making excuses. And that’s one thing Santa doesn’t do. If he’s got a snowy day, he and Rudolph still get those presents delivered.

Seinfeld had a great story about persistence in writing. He writes a lot of his comic material that he uses on stage. One cold and rainy day when he didn’t feel like writing, he looked out the window and saw construction workers walking to their job site. It occurred to him that those guys probably didn’t want to do their job either, but they went to work and got the job done anyway. Seinfeld thought, “Why should I be any different?” And then he got to work.

One of the reasons Seinfeld is such an effective comic is because he writes a lot of material. When he’s trying to choose material for his next show, he has the liberty of choosing a few of the very best pieces from all he’s written.

When we started thinking of writing as our job we learn to persist.

2. Santa is easy to contact.

There are only two lines to Santa’s address, and everyone knows them.

Santa Claus
North Pole

Your email and web address should be just as easy to remember and use. Obscure email and web addresses such as does not tell a reader who you are. Even though it might be a clever address, it’s hard to remember.

In the prime real estate of your website, usually in the upper right-hand corner, provide a clear way for people to contact you. Make a list of all the platforms you use to communicate with your readers. Consider adding linked icons for the following:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Goodreads
  • Email

Some readers will come to your site looking for the word, “contact.” You’ll want to provide a “contact” page where people can easily send you a message.

And on every page of your website, provide a clear way for visitors to enter their email address to receive your newsletter or your featured reader magnet. Make yourself available to readers in as many places as possible.

Many authors are hesitant to give out their contact information on the internet because they are afraid “the boogeyman” will get their information. But before you withhold contact information from your readers out of fear of the boogeyman, remember this: if somebody wants to find you, it’s not very hard.

If you have a magazine subscription or a credit card, your information is publicly available for about two or three dollars to anyone who will buy it. That’s one of the ways magazines and credit card companies make money. Since the boogeyman already has your address, you might as well let your fans have it as well.

Santa is not afraid of providing his contact information.

People love Santa because they’re able to communicate with him easily. Folks can visit him at the mall. They can send him letters. Physical connection along with back-and-forth communication builds a relationship that lasts for generations.

3. Santa focuses on giving to others.

Santa visits millions of houses around the globe giving gifts to people. Can you imagine how differently Santa would be viewed if he visited all those houses looking for what he could take?

If that were Santa’s method, we’d call him the Grinch.

We love Santa because he’s a giver and not a taker.

This is a key element of your marketing.

  • How can you bless people with your marketing?
  • How can you bless people on Twitter or Facebook or with your email newsletter?
  • How can you give gifts to other people?

It’s a hard, cold reality for authors, but we must learn and remember that people don’t care about us. Your readers and fans care about what you can give them.

We’re all pretty selfish. But as an author with a story and message to share, you must be the first to transcend selfishness.

You’ve been put in this position to bless others. You’re inspiring people. You’re encouraging people. You’re making people laugh, and it’s a great privilege. Continue to do it.

Santa is a good role model for transcending selfishness.

4. Santa assembles a team.

To be an effective writer, realize you can’t do everything yourself.

A classic beginner mistake is to try to be your own printer, publisher, editor, webmaster, marketer, and writer. It doesn’t work.

No single person has all those skills.

Santa realizes this, and he has a family of elves who are making his gifts. He has Mrs. Claus preparing his food. He’s got a team of reindeer who transport him around the world.

Santa’s teammates make him successful.

An author needs a team too. Consider adding a few folks to your team.

  1. Book Mentor: You need someone who is further along the path who can field questions. A book mentor can kick you in the pants if necessary or give you a hug when you need it. At Novel Marketing, we try to provide answers, motivation and encouragement through articles and podcasts, but you need a real-life mentor as well.
  • Critique Group: Fellow readers and writers brave and kind enough to tell you the truth about your plot, characters, pacing and writing will be a great addition to your team.
  • Literary Agent: An agent will function as your advocate and representative and sometimes your translator in a foreign land called, publishing.
  • Professional Editor. You need a professional editor whether you’re self-published or traditionally published. If you’re traditionally published, the first person you’ll meet is your editor. Publishers know that no one writes a good book alone. People only write bad books that need to be professionally edited.
  • Publicist: If you can afford one, or if your publisher is paying for one, a publicist will assist you with media contacts, securing podcast interviews, and finding opportunities for you to write for print and online publications.
  • Webmaster: For all things technical and web related, a webmaster will save you time, headaches, and heartaches.
  • Communications or Social Media Assistant: This team member can keep abreast of the ongoing changes in email marketing and social media platforms while you write your next book.
  • Mastermind: Gather a group of people who can brainstorm with you. A mastermind group can help flesh out your ideas or come up with something you wouldn’t think of on your own. You might toss around ideas about your novel, your marketing, or your branding. A mastermind group can be a powerful part of your team.

5. Santa focuses on one thing.

Many authors don’t like this advice of focusing on one thing. Authors, and especially novelists, are creative people. They come up with zillions of ideas to implement, and such a lack of focus is not the path to success.

John Grisham is a prolific novelist, and he has a huge following of readers who love his legal thrillers. Because he’s so well-loved, his publisher allowed him to publish A Painted House which, as a historical mystery, deviated from his brand. A Painted House did not sell nearly as well as his other novels because it was not what his readers had come to expect from him.

Focus on one thing and deliver it to your readers in an excellent way.

Of course, it’s possible to do more than one thing with your life. For example, Benjamin Franklin was a bestselling author, publisher, diplomat, and politician. He was a scientist and an inventor. But a close look at his life reveals he did one thing at a time.

When he was an author, he devoted himself to writing books. When he was a publisher, he only published. When he retired from his publishing business, he focused on science. Focus led to his success.

Santa is successful because he’s focused. Santa doesn’t deliver valentines in February. On July 4th, Santa is nowhere to be seen. But in December, he is on stage, fully present, and thinking about just one thing.

6. Santa works hard.

Making and delivering gifts for the children of the world is a lot of hard work.

And this is the dirty little secret of writing: it’s hard work. You’ve got to sit down and write or edit every single day. Everyone will promise you shortcuts. They’ll beg you to buy their guide on how to write the world’s best novel in a weekend. They might say self-publishing isn’t as much work, but it just isn’t true.

Writing is hard work. Do the work. Work hard. Be diligent. There is no secret formula or magic bullet to success. The term “overnight success” is a misnomer.

We tend to think that people like the Rolling Stones, Richard Branson, and Kelly Clarkson were just discovered and became instant celebrities.

Not true.

All of them busted their tails and were rejected over and over.

Authors who are willing to put their heads down to do the work are the ones who succeed. If you’re looking for shortcuts and searching for the least amount of work that will yield good results, you won’t succeed.

That mindset will sabotage all your efforts.

7. Santa enjoys the journey.

Santa is known as a jolly fellow. You always see him with a smile, twinkling eyes, and merry dimples. Santa loves his job even though some of it is drudgery.

It’s’ a delight for him to talk with the first child at the mall. But after hearing the heart’s desires of 1,000 children, Santa is a little exhausted.

The first toy he makes is a fun and creative endeavor. But after he’s assembled a thousand toy cars, it’s a bit monotonous.

The key to becoming a successful author is to enjoy the journey. If you’re always looking for the next thrill, just enduring your current stage, you’re going to be miserable your whole life.

Once you get an agent, you’ll pine for a publisher. Once you’re published, you ache for bestseller status. If you become a bestseller, you’ll long for a movie deal with a good movie company. And if you find yourself at the top, you’re likely to want to do it all again to prove to the world it wasn’t a fluke the first time around.

But if you can enjoy the journey—the writing, editing, pitching to agents and editors, marketing, and selling—then you’ll be happy and more successful. That attitude will provide the strength, energy, focus, and passion needed to do well in every phase.

To become a bestselling author, you must be faithful in the little things. You must learn to write well, edit carefully, pitch ideas in a clever way, and create good proposals. Ultimately, your faithful little investments will yield a great return

Santa realizes the journey is it’s not about him. It’s about the kids. He focuses on the people he serves. He enjoys being Santa because he knows is more blessed to give than receive.

As you look toward the next year, grab a pen or a keyboard, and in the spirit Christmas, do as Santa does.

The post 7 Things Santa Can Teach Authors About Book Marketing appeared first on Author Media.

Dec 16 2019



Marketing 101: How Readers Make Buying Decisions at Physical Bookstores

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How do readers decide to buy books?

How can you influence them to choose yours?

You may not realize it, but your communication with your reader begins long before they ever read your book’s stunning first line.

Marketing is the method by which you can influence a potential reader to take the next step toward purchasing your book.

If you understand marketing fundamentals, you will understand why certain tactics work, or why they may not work for you. Your marketing will be far more effective, and your readers will thank you for making their decisions easy.

Now, some authors think the fundamentals of marketing don’t apply to their book or their situation. But the longer I work with authors, the more I observe how important these fundamentals are.

As we examine the book-buyer’s journey, we will use the term “customer” because you, the author, haven’t yet earned them as a reader. If we influence the customer in the right ways, they’ll finally become a reader at the end of the journey.

In this article, we’ll only examine the in-person customer journey that takes place in a physical bookstore, but the steps for the online journey are similar.  

1. The customer decides to visit the bookstore.

The harsh author reality is  half of Americans never visit brick-and-mortar bookstores. From the start, authors must realize we’re only talking to the kind of people who read books.

But the folks who do read, visit two types of bookstores.

Destination Bookstores. Barnes and Noble is a destination store because people drive there specifically to buy a book.

Interruption Bookstores. These are bookstores at the airport, grocery store, or the spinner rack near the register at the pharmacy. These are book sales locations that “interrupt” normal activities.

Knowing the distinctives of these  bookstore types gives us important clues about the customer, because different bookstores attract different readers.

Three Types of Destination Bookstores and their Readers

Big Box Bookstores

Customers who shop big box bookstores are general readers. One customer might shop for their next great read not knowing exactly what it might be. Another customer may be on a mission to buy a specific book. A third type of customer might stop in for a five-dollar cup of coffee and browse the shelves as they sip.

Amazon Bookstore.

That’s right, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores utilize a fascinating approach to provide customers exactly what they want..  

Used Book Bookstores

These stores attract budget readers. Customers are conscious of the cost of books because they tend to buy so many.  

Three Types of Interruption Bookstores

Airport Bookstores

Airport bookstores appeal mostly to wealthy readers.

There’s a high correlation between a person’s wealth and how frequently they fly. People who earn a six-figure household income travel a lot and they fly a lot. They’re constantly in airports for work and for pleasure.

If you’re writing a business book, an airport bookstore is key. Business leaders travel and generally have influence. If a traveling CEO buys your book in an airport bookstore and likes it, she’s likely to make it required reading for all her managers. One sale in an airport can turn into a dozen sales online.

Wal-Mart Book Aisle

Wal-Marts sell a lot of books. They target a different kind of customer than airport bookstores. Interestingly, Wal-Mart does not share sales data with NPD Group. Only the publishers of the books that Wal-Mart stocks know how many copies Wal-Mart sells. I suspect that if Wal-Mart shared their data, different books would be on the bestseller list, because the kinds of people who shop at Wal-Mart are different from the kinds of people who shop at airport bookstores, which do report sales.

Grocery Store Bookstores

Grocery store book spinners target infrequent readers who don’t buy a lot of books. They may buy one or two books a year, but when they purchase, they typically buy the most popular, best-selling books. If it’s not a bestseller, it’s probably a specific nonfiction book addressing their specific problem.

Authors and publishers must be conscious and intentional about which stores they reach out to because different stores target different kinds of readers.

2. The customer chooses a shelf or section to browse.

If your book is placed on a shelf where it doesn’t belong, your book will appear before the wrong kind of customer, and it will fail.

Shelving your book in the correct place is a conscious, strategic decision. Often minor tweaks to the book can shift where it is placed. For example, the age of the protagonist may determine whether your book is eligible to be placed in the young adult section.

The key is to assign a genre or micro-genre to your book that will attract the right kind of reader and ensure it is placed on the shelf where that reader shops.

That’s why the shelving instructions on the back of the book are so important.

One of the most common mistakes indie authors make with their physical books is to neglect shelving instructions above the barcode on the back of the book. Most of the time it’s left out because indie authors don’t know to do it. If they haven’t listened to our episode about book covers, they don’t know about shelving instructions.

Traditional publishers always include shelving instructions. They’re vitally important because they tell the young employee taking books out of the box where to place the book.

This marketing fundamental is aptly called “Placement.” It’s one of the five P’s of marketing which we cover in episode 61.

3. The customer chooses a title

On the chosen shelf, the books are either face-out or spine-out. Amazon bookstores display all books with their covers facing the customer. At used bookstores, all books are displayed with only the spine facing the customer. At most bookstores, it’s a mix. 

An author must earn face-out status by selling lots of books. For example, books by Stephen King are placed face-out. You’ll also notice on their covers, the largest font is reserved for their names. The actual book title is in smaller type than their name. As such, they’ve earned the moniker, “Big Name Authors”, and their newest releases are displayed with the cover face-out.

A book may also earn face-out status when the author is famous for something besides their writing. For example, when Michelle Obama’s book released, it was face-out at the front of the bookstores. Mrs. Obama already had a level of celebrity by virtue of being the wife of a United States President.

Most books are displayed with only the spine facing the customer. If you’re not a celebrity, you’ll have to fight it out in the trenches with the other spine-out books where the only thing the customer sees is your title.

Your book will rise or fall based on the title of your book.

There are some strategies for getting your book’s spine to stand out. One company has built a million-dollar empire publishing books that aren’t designed to be shelved face-out. The bright yellow spine of the “Dummies” books pop off the shelf. Their iconic color and titles promise to help readers learn a new skill by using language anyone (or any dummy) can understand. Thus, we have titles like, Computers for Dummies and Auto Repair for Dummies.

Another strategy to help a book stand out on the shelf is for the bookstore staff to place a review underneath the book. In an Amazon bookstore it’s an algorithmically generated review.

But for independent bookstores, a staff person will write reviews of the books they’ve read. Many times they are taped to the actual shelf, and these reviews are very powerful. It’s potentially even better than being face-out. If you’re curious on how to persuade bookstore staff to write and display a review of your book and recommend it, check out episode 195, “How to Work with Bookstores.”

If your book hasn’t yet been reviewed or doesn’t sport an iconic spine, the customer will take their next step on the buying journey based on the title and subtitle of your book. (In episode 172, we discuss how to test potential titles using the split-test method with Facebook ads. It’s an inexpensive way to gather data to help determine which title is best.)

4. The customer pulls your book off the shelf.

After pulling your spine-out book from the shelf, the customer instinctively looks at the front cover. Two to five seconds later, they will decide whether they want to learn more about your book. 

Customers view dozens of covers at a bookstore, but they’ll only buy a handful of books. 

Most covers are rejected most of the time, so having a good cover is key in successfully guiding your customer toward a purchase.

5. The customer evaluates the front cover.

In those few seconds, the reader—especially a fiction reader—is asking, “Does this book look like the kind of book I’ve enjoyed in the past?”

Readers aren’t looking for some revolutionary new cover. They’re looking for a safe bet. 

There’s a certain amount of psychological guilt people feel when they buy a book and then don’t read it. Because of the way they were raised or the education they obtained, they feel obligated to finish every book, even though they know they don’t finish most the books they buy. Because of this, they’re more careful buying books than they are buying other products.

If it does not look like the kind of book they’ve enjoyed in the past, there’s still a slight chance to win them over, because they’re also asking, “Is this the kind of book I might enjoy in the future?”

It’s hard to win the customer on this second question.

The best graphic designers at big traditional publishers occasionally pull this off. But just as often as they succeed, they fail. A book cover that sticks with the tropes and adheres to expected symbols, graphics, and type are far more likely to sell. If you’re writing a dragon book and the last ten bestselling dragon books all had a dragon on the cover, then don’t put a guy holding a sword on the cover. It’s not going to work. Put a dragon on the cover.

Military science fiction generally has a spaceship or a space marine on the cover, because those are the images and symbols that work to sell books. 

We’ve discussed book covers on episodes 106 “Ten Things Every Book Cover Needs”; episode 107, “Book Cover Mistakes that Can Sabotage your Marketing”; and episode 199, “How to Create a Design Brief for your Cover.” Whether you’re indie or traditional, each episode will be helpful.

6. The customer flips to the back cover.

After deciding your book is indeed the kind of book they’ve enjoyed, or might enjoy in the future, the customer turns the book over. Although the structure of the back cover can vary, you’ll want to choose from the following components of back cover copy and lead with your strengths.


If you’re writing nonfiction and your bio is driving the credibility of the book, you’ll put your bio at the top so it’s the first thing your customer reads.


More often, the blurb is the very first thing the customer reads on the back. If you’re publishing independently, don’t be afraid to hire this out. Writing blurbs is difficult, but it’s so important because it also it shows up on your Amazon book page. If your blurb is weak, and often it is when you write it yourself, then it really torpedoes your sales.

We have several episodes aimed at improving your back cover copy: episode 111, “How to Write Bestselling Book Cover Copy, and episode 189, “How to Craft a Compelling Elevator Pitch for your Book.” An elevator pitch is different from a blurb, but a lot of the guiding principles are similar.


On the back, the customer will also see how much your book costs. Price is another of the five P’s of marketing (Episode 61). In Episode 201 we discuss “How to Price your E-book,” Be watching for an upcoming episode on pricing print books.


Authors often feature one or two of their very best endorsements on the back cover. This is a very effective component of your marketing if the endorsement is given by someone the reader or customer has already heard of.

The words the endorser writes about your book don’t matter as much as the celebrity of the endorser.


Your author photo, and your bio if it isn’t at the top, are also placed on the back cover for the customer’s consideration. Check out episode 79, “How to Write a Crazy Cool Author Bio”  and episode 98, “Seven Tips for Best Selling Author Portraits.” There are also articles on with instructions for finding and working with a photographer.

A surprising number of readers make book buying decisions based on the author’s photo. You owe it to yourself and your book to have a photo that puts you in your best light. And, here’s a bit of relief, it’s not about looking young and beautiful. It’s about having a quality photo that lends credence to your message and authority.

7.  The customer opens the book.

Curiosity has been building as they’ve walked through these steps, and finally the customer opens your book. This is the moment of truth where the quality of your writing matters.

If the customer has said “no” on any of the previous six steps, it doesn’t matter how good your writing is. If they don’t pull your book off the shelf, they’ll never read your writing.

This is why marketing is so important. Each marketing strategy assures that the customer will move toward opening your book, because they will never know if they like your writing if they never open your book.

Depending on the book and the reader, they may flip to different sections.

Fiction readers usually read the first page. More experienced readers may be suspicious of the first page and may flip to a random page in the middle where, presumably, a better, less curated sample of the author’s writing can be found.  A certain kind of rare reader will flip to the last page.

In order to coax your customer onward toward purchasing, the first page must be strong. Your first sentences sell the rest of the book, so you want to start your novel off with a bang. It doesn’t mean you have to drop a dead body in the opening scene, but there’s a reason all craft books put so much emphasis on this first page.

You need to write an amazing first page, and then you must write the rest of the book with the same kind of wow-factor you put into page one.  

For nonfiction, the quality of the craft is far less important, at least in terms of how good the writing is. Nonfiction customers first turn to the table of contents. So write compelling chapter titles.

Many authors believe the purpose of a chapter title is to describe the contents of the chapter. But the purpose of a chapter title is to sell the content of the chapter. If you only describe a chapter’s content, the reader won’t be interested.

Typesetting also plays an important role in nonfiction. Including visual elements such as call-out quotes, charts, or infographics make the book easier to skim and the customer can get the gist of your book quickly.

Unlike fiction readers, nonfiction readers may jump around in a book, skipping chapters they deem less applicable. Headings, bullets, and other visual elements help a reader find and remember information. Be warned though, if you’re publishing independently, these features will add to the cost of typesetting, but they may be worth it.

8. The customer makes a buying decision.

If the customer said “yes” throughout this process, hopefully they will go on to decide to buy your book. If you’ve grabbed them by the neck on the first page, if they already care about your character, you’ve hooked them. They want to know what happens next.

Customers can exit this journey at any point. Maybe the cover didn’t compel them. Maybe it looked boring or too stressful. Maybe the blurb wasn’t interesting. For any number of reasons, the customer can exit this journey early by saying “no” at any point.

But sometimes they leave the buying journey early because they’re absolutely dying to dig into your book. They’re ready to  shout, “Shut up and take my money!” Every author dreams of this happy ending to the customer’s journey.

This happens most often when the customer has already read the first two books in your series and they see book three is available. The reader knows you, they love your other books, and they are sold.  

In this situation, you don’t have to walk through all these steps. But if you’re just getting started,  you must walk customers through all of these steps while they’re deciding whether or not to take a risk on you.

9. The customer becomes your reader.

Deciding to buy a book is different than deciding to read a book. 

The average book buyer in America only starts about half the books they buy, and they only finish about half of the books they start. Of the books on their personal shelf, they’ve only finished 25% of those books.

The kind of reader they are determines how likely they are to finish your book. Somebody who reads 300 books in a year will complete 90% to 95% of the books they start.

On the other hand, the person who buys ten books in their lifetime may only finish one of those books because they’re not a big reader.

A short-sighted author might argue, “Well, I don’t care if they read my book. I just want them to buy my book because I want their money!”

But that is very misguided, because ultimately what makes a book a success is word of mouth. People love telling their friends, “You’ve got to read this book because I want to talk about it with you.”

The customer has walked through their buying journey. Since they finished and loved your book, they tell their friends, “Buy this book!”

Their friends walk straight to the section of the store where your book lives, pull your book off the shelf, and take it straight to the cashier because they’ve already made their buying decision based on a friend’s recommendation before they entered the bookstore.

It’s a long process, and it requires diligence on your part. Maybe the journey would be shorter or less complicated if people were forced to buy and read your book. But that’s what college textbooks are for. You’re not writing a textbook.

You want to write books readers love talking about. You want to write books that change people’s lives for the better and help solve their problems.

Understanding your customer’s buying journey helps you help them. If you spend the necessary time, effort, and sometimes money, clearly guiding the customer to your book, you’ve helped them even before they noticed, and even before they’ve cracked the spine.

And that makes you an author with a book worth talking about. 


5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

I crafted this plan with bestselling and award winning author James L Rubart to be a step by step guide through the first five years of your writing career. Learn each quarter what to do to succeed and avoid the mistakes that hijack the success of most authors. Learn more at

Featured Patron

Debra B. Diaz, author of Woman of Sin (Affiliate Link)

Alysia of Athens is sold into slavery during the turbulent reign of Tiberius Caesar. When she runs away, she finds herself in the battle-torn land of Palestine, where her life is forever changed.   

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

If you can’t afford to become a patron, but still want to help the show, you can! Just leave a review on Apple Podcasts. 

Personal Update

Baby #2 is almost here!  We will have some reruns and pre-recorded episodes over the next several weeks so I can spend time with my family. 

The post Marketing 101: How Readers Make Buying Decisions at Physical Bookstores appeared first on Author Media.

Dec 09 2019



217 Where to Find Mentorship for Your Publishing Career

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Do you ever feel alone in the writing journey? Or perhaps you are not sure what to do next. One thing every hero needs on the hero’s journey is a mentor. The journey of writing is no different. In this episode I am going to talk about 10 different places to find mentorship.

Why Mentorship is Important

  • Most authors feel like they are the exception, the chosen one, the one for whom writing will be easy and successful. 
  • A mentor is the person who sets you straight and teaches you that you still have a lot to learn.
  • It’s hard to read the label when you are standing inside the bottle.
  • Easy to make the same mistakes over and over.
  • Helps with blind spots.
  • There is a lot to learn to succeed. 

How to Tell If You’re Ready for Mentorship

  • Are you willing to suffer criticism to get better?
  • Ready to commit to implement the advice you get?
  • Every hero in every story thinks he is farther along than he really is. The mentor shows him that he still has a lot to learn.  

There is No Right or Wrong Answer

Most successful authors avail themselves of most of these mentorship avenues at one point or another. Depending on where you are in your journey, one of these avenues may be more helpful to you than others. 

Stop thinking about strategies in terms of right and wrong. It is better to think about it in terms of pros and cons. Advantages and disadvantages. 

#1: Books



  • Dated
  • Impersonal
  • No Accountability
  • No Encouragement 

Bottom Line: Access the minds of experts for only $10 per expert. Impersonal and requires a lot of self discipline. 

#2: Podcasts & Blogs


  • Free
  • Can learn just about anything
  • Expert advice
  • Cutting edge


  • Interaction Limited
  • Unfocused
  • No Accountability
  • No Encouragement 

Bottom Line: 

  • A free, timely and impersonal way up the learning curve.

#3: Writers Conferences 


  • In Person
  • Expert
  • Focused
  • Excellent Networking
  • One of the best ways to find an agent


  • Limited in time and scope
  • Drinking from a Firehose 
  • No Accountability
  • Expensive, Especially if you go to a lot.

Bottom Line: 

  • The default for most authors. An easy way to spend a lot of money without much to show for it education wise. But for networking, nothing beats a conference. 

#4 Online Courses

Online courses blend of pros and cons of podcasts, conferences, and books. 


  • Expert
  • Focused
  • The more you pay the more personal they tend to be
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Great value compared to conference.


  • Static
  • Impersonal (you are one of many)
  • Limited Accountability
  • Limited Encouragement 
  • Limited Focus

Bottom Line: 

  • One of the best ways to fill in knowledge gaps. If you take the cost of just one conference and spend it on courses you will advance up the learning curve much faster. 

#5 University Degree


  • A high credibility path if you want to pursue traditional literary fiction. 
  • Degreed instructors 
  • Useful if you want to teach in university yourself


  • Slow
  • Very Expensive. (Liberal Arts colleges now cost $25,000 to $50,000 a year not counting books, room and board). The days of being able to work your way through college on a minimum wage job are over. For grins check what your alma matter is now charging students to attend. I checked mine and it now costs over $40,000 a year. That is over $160,000 for a four year degree! 
  • Focus tends to be on non commercial writing
  • No one in the publishing world cares if you have a degree, they just care if you can write. 

Bottom Line: 

  • Rarely worth the investment anymore. University is not the bargain it once was. 
  • Don’t get school loans for a liberal arts degree! You may never pay it off. 

#6 VA Apprenticeships


  • Can make money!
  • Learn things authors don’t know to teach.
  • Learn advanced techniques
  • I am looking to hire a VA to help me with my podcasts! If you are interested, email me your resume. 


  • Hard to find.
  • Time consuming.
  • No accountability
  • Requires a big time commitment.
  • It’s a job. A lot of what you are doing is actual work. 

Bottom line: 

  • An unconventional way to learn for authors who are time rich and cash poor.

#7 1on1 Coaching


  • Personal
  • Ongoing
  • Focused
  • Accountability


  • Very Expensive (unless you compare it to University)
  • Good coaches are hard to find

Bottom Line: 

  • If you can afford it, this is one of the fastest ways up the learning curve. 

#8 Facebook Groups



  • Facebook is a time vortex.
  • Quality of advice is a mixed bag. I see a lot of bad advice shared in Facebook groups. Most of the marketing superstitions spread in Facebook groups.

Bottom Line: 

  • Better than nothing. The benefit really depends on the group. 
  • Be picky and look for smaller groups with credible oversight. 

#9 Critique Groups


  • Inexpensive
  • Personal
  • In person
  • Accountability


  • Inexpert Advice
  • Hard to find. You will most likely need to start one.
  • Tend to be craft focused

Bottom Line: 

  • A great way to improve your craft. Only as good as the other authors.
  • Beware of bozos!

#10 Mastermind Groups

Two kinds of Mastermind groups. Peer based and Expert based.


  • Inexpensive
  • Expert advice
  • Accountability
  • Community
  • Networking
  • Advanced (Eventually this is all you do.)


  • Hard to find
  • It is about give and take
  • Can be expensive. (Not uncommon for Mastermind Groups to cost $250/mo and up)

Bottom Line:

  • One of the best forms of mentorship, especially in the long run. 


I am starting two mastermind groups! One for unpublished authors and one for published authors. I am hosting the groups through patreon and each is limited to 10 writers, so I won’t be surprised if these sell out quickly.

We will meet monthly with online video. Each author will get a chance to pick my brain and learn from the other authors as well. We will also set realistic goals and then hold you accountable to accomplish them.

I am running these mastermind groups through Patreon as reward tiers. So go to our patreon page to sign up. We will have a link in the show notes.

The group for Published authors is $100/mo and the group for unpublished authors is $50/mo. 

If you are already a patron, all you have to do is change your patron level to get access to one of the mastermind groups.

I am anticipating that some of the patrons of the sold-out $5 will upgrade, so for those of you who have been waiting for a $5 spot to open up, this is your chance!

Learn more

Speaking of patrons…

Featured Patron

Eloise Whyte author of Soul Inspirationz

You’ll gain a new relationship with Jesus as you trust him to be your confidant, healer, and life-giving friend.                   

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.


Mercy’s superpower

Mercy’s First birthday

Consider having one of your characters do something out of character on purpose. Sometimes a little unpredictability can make for a better story. Just have a good reason for the change.


Transcript generated algorithmically by Sonix(Affiliate Link). 


Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener help line! 512-827-8377‬. You can also send us a high quality recording on

The post 217 Where to Find Mentorship for Your Publishing Career appeared first on Author Media.

Dec 02 2019



216 Literary Universe Marketing

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Today’s episode comes from a listener question. This question came from one of our patrons for the patrons only Q&A episode. In case you didn’t know, there is a bonus episode each month for patrons of the podcast. 

This month we talked about: 

  • pre-order pricing strategy
  • How to find the right category for your book
  • How best to get traffic to your blog
  • How to get more Amazon reviews.

And finally this question that was so good I wanted to devote a full episode to it. 

Listener Question from Garrett Hutson

Any special tips for marketing a companion novel to an existing series? Not a sequel, not a prequel, just shares a significant character with the books of an existing series (and same genre). The connection’s not enough to make it a volume in the existing series on Amazon or D2D, though. 

Great question!

What is a Literary Universe?

  • A literary universe is a way of connecting books without them being sequels or in the same series. 
  • It is what Marvel and Star Wars do with their cinematic universes. 
  • Extending the universe is a popular strategy right now and can be an effective one. 
  • It’s also time tested. Asimov and Heinlein (The grandfathers of SciFi) both did this back in the day.
  • Not just for Scifi and Fantasy. Authors are creating literary universes in in all kinds of genres. 

Pros of a Literary Universe 

  • Makes selling subsequent books easier.
  • Creates binge buyers. 
  • Allows you to explore side characters.  
  • Only have to worldbuild once.

Cons of a Literary Universe

  • Puts a lot of pressure on book #1. Most author’s first book is thier worst book. With a series or literary universe, that first book becomes your most important book from a marketing perspective. 
  • Can be creatively restricting. 
    • How does this book effect the other books?
    • Stuck in the same micro genre
  • A dud is riskier. 
  • More potential retcon issues. You have a lot to keep straight.

Literary Universe Writing Tips

  • Recruit continuity beta readers.
  • Create a way to stay organized to keep all the characters, locations, and plot lines straight. 
  • Experiment with different kinds of plots stories. Captain America Winter Soldier is a Spy Thriller. Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera. End Game Is a heist. 
  • Avoid time travel. It makes storytelling exponentially more complicated. 
  • Make the connection between the books meaningful. Connect them by more than just easter eggs. 
  • Write lots of short stories as connective tissue. This is helpful for world building. This is also helpful with marketing. 

Literary Universe Marketing Tips

  • Create a name for the literary universe that connects the names of the individual series and the individual novels. 
  • Create a landing page on your website for the literary universe that explain how the books connect and the recommended order to read them. You can do this with MyBookTable
  • Create a design hierarchy for the book covers. Each series needs to be connected, but there should be some design elements that connect the universe together. This could be as simple as a logo. It could also be a pen name.  
  • Let anticipation build, don’t rapid release. Be Disney Plus not Netflix. 
  • Price pulse book 1 ahead of each new launch. Episode 108.
  • Advanced: Create a wiki for your universe that your fans can edit. 
  • Recruit other authors to write in your literary universe, even if only for short stories.  
  • Backmatter is key. Each book should promote each other book in the universe in the back matter Episode 182.


Ultimate Crowdfunding Course

Learn how to use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise money for your book before your book comes out. This course has helped many authors successfully crowdfund their books and achieve the publishing dreams they didn’t think they could afford.

Featured Patron

Michael Jack Webb author of Infernal Gates       

Time is running out for Ethan Freeman an ex-Special Forces Ranger, to stop conspiracy to free The Destroyer and his horde of Fallen Angels.

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.


At Least Blood is Not Coming Out of My Eye story. 

  • Last week after recording the Patrons only episode, I came downstairs for dinner. 

I have really been struggling with discouragement. Trying to see this as a season for rest rather than a season where I can’t get much done.


Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener help line! 512-827-8377‬. You can also send us a high quality recording on

The post 216 Literary Universe Marketing appeared first on Author Media.

Nov 25 2019



215 Print On Demand vs Offset Printing for Indie Books

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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. 

Today we are answering a listener question.

I’m your host, the professor of book sales, Thomas Umstattd Jr., and today we are going to talk about indie printing specifically print on demand vs offset.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about paper. Paper prices are going up and Amazon is at fault. More and more paper companies are switching to making cardboard for amazon boxes and the result is that paper is getting more expensive for everyone. 

This episode comes from a listener question. If  you would like to ask a question you can all our listener helpline or upload an audio file on our website at

Listener question

Great question! Lets talk about print on demand and offset printing. 

Print on Demand Explained

  • Print on demand uses similar technology to an office laser printer to print books one at a time. Electric drums put toner on paper. 


  • Logistically easy for the author
  • Low Risk
  • Able to iterate and make changes. 
  • Inexpensive startup cost
  • Fast


  • Expensive on a per unit basis. 
  • Reduced printing options (Fancy paper, embossing, etc))
  • Only two companies to pick from Amazon KDP Print and Ingram Spark. Almost all others are just reselling those two. So if you are not getting bids from those two, and your bids seam high, that may be the reason. 

Offset Printing Explained

  • Offset printing uses metal plates to apply ink to the paper.
  • There are a lot of companies that do offset printing. Chances are there is a local one in your town near the main post office. 


  • Scales well. Use the same metal sheets over and over.
  • Cheap on a per unit basis.
  • Lots of flexibility on paper options and whatnot. 


  • Less Indie
  • Slow
  • Proofing is very important.
  • Logistically complex. You will need to hire Ingram or one of their competitors to help with distribution.

Digital Printing

  • Digital Printing sometimes called digital offset uses similar technology to POD to print short runs of books. If your small publisher is printing 500 copies of your books, this is likely what they are doing.
  • Is a hybrid in terms of pros and cons. Not as cheap as traditional offset.  
  • This is often offered by the same companies that do offset. 

Which to choose?

  • For adult fiction, print on demand is almost always the way to go. The money is in ebooks afterall. 
  • For nonfiction, it depends on the size of your in person platform. If you speak a lot, offset could work. If you have a smaller platform then no. The question is can you sell 2500 paper copies in the first year or two? That would mean speaking in front of at least 10k audience members assuming a 25% audience conversion rate. 
  • For children’s books, offset is much more common. Children expect the kind of features that offset printing provides. So if you want a whole in one of the pages for the toddler to put a finger through, you need to go offset. If you want to add scratch and sniff, offset. Etc. 

How to have your cake and eat it too: Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding allows you to gauge demand for a book before it comes out. It also gives you the capital you need to print offset reducing the financial risk. 


Ultimate Crowdfunding Course for Author Media

Learn how to use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise money for your book before your book comes out. This course has helped many authors successfully crowdfund their books and achieve the publishing dreams they didn’t think they could afford.

Featured Patron

Mary Demuth author of We Too Advocate Mary DeMuth unpacks the church’s response to sexual violence and provides a healthy framework for the church to become a haven of healing instead of an institution of judgment.                                               


One of the things I have enjoyed about being parent is Mercy sense of childlike wonder. She finds wonder in commonplace things. She currently loves tupperware and she carries it all over the house. She also LOVED the anti shoplifting cameras at Walmart. She loved seeing herself on the screen. 

Wonder is a powerful thing to work into your writing. As we get older we get more jaded and more cynical. And yet we never lose our desire to experience wonder. How can you illicit wonder in the scene you are writing? How can you do it with the ideas you present?


Transcript generated algorithmically by Sonix(Affiliate Link). 


Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener help line! 512-827-8377‬. You can also send us a high quality recording on

The post 215 Print On Demand vs Offset Printing for Indie Books appeared first on Author Media.

Nov 18 2019



214 How to Combine 2 Different Websites Without Losing Search Rankings

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In this episode we talk about the right and wrong ways to combine websites.

The post 214 How to Combine 2 Different Websites Without Losing Search Rankings appeared first on Author Media.

Nov 11 2019



213 Why Demographics are Mostly Useless And Why You Should Use Psychographics Instead

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In this episode we talk about why demographics are mostly useless and why you should use psychographics instead.

The post 213 Why Demographics are Mostly Useless And Why You Should Use Psychographics Instead appeared first on Author Media.

Nov 04 2019



212 How to Use Marketing Data To Sell More Books

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How to Use Marketing Data To Sell More Books

The post 212 How to Use Marketing Data To Sell More Books appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 28 2019



211 Public Speaking for the Introverted Writer with Joanna Penn

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Public Speaking for the Introverted Writer with Joanna Penn

The post 211 Public Speaking for the Introverted Writer with Joanna Penn appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 21 2019



210 Bookstagramming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes

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Bookstagraming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes

The post 210 Bookstagramming on Instagram With Nadine Brandes appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 14 2019



209 How to Get Booked for Guest Podcast Interviews Overview

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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.  I’m your host, Thomas Umstattd Jr., and today we are going to talk about guesting on podcasts.  90% […]

The post 209 How to Get Booked for Guest Podcast Interviews Overview appeared first on Author Media.

Oct 07 2019



208 How to Run a Podcast Tour (With Guest Mary DeMuth)

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How to Run a Podcast Tour

The post 208 How to Run a Podcast Tour (With Guest Mary DeMuth) appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 30 2019



207 Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

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Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars

The post 207 Where to Spend Your Marketing Dollars appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 23 2019



206 How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years

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How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years

The post 206 How to Go From 10 to 10,000 Readers in Five Years appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 16 2019



How to Pick a Social Network as an Author (Infographic)

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What really makes social networks different is not the features it is who uses them and what kind of authors thrive on that network.

The post How to Pick a Social Network as an Author (Infographic) appeared first on Author Media.

Sep 13 2019



iTunes Ratings

121 Ratings
Average Ratings

Fantastic Resource

By rmerrick64 - Jan 07 2020
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I began listening to the Novel Marketing podcast last summer while painting my porch furniture. Now I’m hooked! As a novelist with a small press, and now a soon-to-be self-published novelist, it has wooed me as I wade through all the “coulds” and “shoulds” of marketing to land on the right ways for ME! Thanks Thomas and Jim (I miss you, Jim!) for all the help and encouragement, and Thomas for being the marketing guru in my life!

Best podcast for novelists!

By Mferg1230 - May 18 2019
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What else can I say? Informative, efficient, entertaining. The only podcast I listen to!