Ideas for Making Marketing Fun

Janet Syas Nitsick and I did a video, which I’ll share below.  I’ll also write down the main points beneath the video.

Typically, marketing has boiled down to things like announcing you have a book out, saying you have a review on your book, or sharing your book’s ranking on a retailer site.  But is all that really effective when you’re trying to appeal to readers of your particular genre?  While there’s nothing wrong with informing people about these things, today we want to discuss ways of thinking outside the box when marketing.

The main question to ask yourself is this: what is going to appeal to your ideal reader?  

Think of the kind of things that interest your readers.  This isn’t included in the video, but last weekend I took an online course, and an author mentioned sharing extra tidbits with his readers about research he did that links up to his books.  One example of this would be writing about a child growing up in an orphanage.  In a newsletter, you can then share the history of a real orphanage based off research.

That aside, I’ll go to the contents of the video where Janet and I share ideas on ways to market.

Book Launch Page (or a page on your website/blog like it)

  1.  Make sure you link to every store where the reader can find your book.  One of the main reasons people don’t know you have a book on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Smashwords is because authors are so busy focusing on Amazon that they neglect to share links to other retailers.  If you aren’t exclusive to Amazon, help yourself get traffic to other sites.
  2. On this page, you can also include a bonus video where you discuss something about the topic.  I find this especially useful if you’re doing nonfiction, but you could do a video to go with fiction, too.  For example, I have a book launch page for a book I did on writing.  If I were to do one for a fiction book where I featured a Mandan Indian in a historical western romance, I might include a video from when I went to Mandan, North Dakota and took a video of their tribe.  Even if you don’t use a video on a page like this, you can use pictures to give your potential readers something “extra” they won’t find in the book.
  3. You might want to also put endorsements on this page.  If you’re doing nonfiction and you can get someone with a well-known name who is an expert on your topic to endorse your book, it can go a long way.  Now, I mainly work with fiction, so for me, endorsements come from the characters in the book, and I find these can have entertainment value for the potential reader. (It’s especially good if you can add some humor to it, though not all books will lend themselves to humor.)   Here’s one Janet and I did together that we mentioned in the video.  If you write series where characters from one book can show up in another, you can use them in the endorsements, too.  I notice readers love revisiting old characters whenever possible, so this provided an extra treat.
  4. Having links to share this page can be useful, too, so potential readers can tweet it, pass it along on Facebook, etc.  The more word of mouth you can get, the better.
  5. Also, if you have a gift for making a fun and interesting bio, please do.  In nonfiction, you’ll want to point out what qualifies you to write the book.  In fiction, let your personality come out.

Blog Post Ideas

  1. Character resigns or they’re not happy with what you’re doing, and they’re not shy about voicing their opinion on the blog.  Let your characters have an attitude.  The angrier they are, the better.  The other day I was watching a video on You Tube about actors who hated their own movies, and I really enjoyed this “behind the scenes” look.  I like to think of these blog posts as DVD extras the reader can enjoy.  Since I promised an example of the blog post I did where I had a character resign, here’s the post if you want to check it out.
  2. Character plays the critic.  Have fun at your own expense.   You know those negative reviews you’ve gotten or the ugly email saying you suck and why?  Take this as fuel for your blog post.  Let one of your characters come onto your blog and voice the same complaints, but do a twist on it and make it funny.   I found as soon as I had the characters voice the same complaints my critics were saying, the complaints no longer bothered me.  So in a lot of ways, this technique is very therapeutic while making others laugh.  Honestly, I believe most people are drawn to others who aren’t afraid to admit they’re not perfect.  And this will make you seem more human to your reader.
  3. Audition for another author’s book.  (And get the author to respond if you can.)  Here’s an example of the one I did for Janet’s upcoming book.  This is all fun, of course, and I think it can help readers see us as real people when we take a chance by appearing in pictures or video as ourselves in some quirky or unusual way.  If there are bloopers, share them.  Bloopers are some of the funnest things to watch.  Here’s an example of the one where Janet and I were together (and yes, there really was a spider in the room.)  If you want to take it a step further, are your characters happy you spent time focusing on another author’s book?  Or might they feel betrayed?  What kind of video or blog post might that lead to?

Got ideas on making marketing fun that we didn’t think of?  Please share them below.  The more ideas we have, the better.

Guest Post: Marketing on a Budget by Kathryn Jones

Kathryn Jones contacted SPALs with an article about marketing on a budget. Since we believe in the freedom of each author to make their own decisions, we decided to post this guest post for those that may be interested. Please be aware that by posting this, we are in no way endorsing or ensuring the effectiveness of the process presented below.


Whether your book is not quite finished or has just begun to see the light of day, you’ve probably been thinking about marketing. Whether you’ve been published with a national publisher or have decided to go the road alone, you know that in order to sell your book you’ll have to tell others about it.

In a recent Verso survey it was estimated that 49.2% of people discover books from personal recommendations and only 11.8% of books are discovered from social networks. Does that mean that you should eliminate social networking efforts altogether?

I don’t think so. More than giving up on one marketing idea over another, I think it’s more important to balance your time to the degree readers discover books. That means that first and foremost, you must:

Talk your book up. Say I’m at the grocery store and waiting in line. What do I talk about? My book. I’ve just finished eating at a restaurant. I want to compliment the cooks on the meal I’ve had. I ask to talk to the manager. We discuss the great meal and then I thank the manager by handing him/her a postcard about my book. You get the idea.

If you’re excited about your book, others will be, too. And I’m not suggesting getting overbearing about it, just to mention it. If the person is interested, they will ask you questions, if not, so be it. There will be plenty of people out there that want to hear about your book.

Bookstore and staff recommendations are pretty high too, 30.8%, but not all self-published authors are able to get their book into a large store like Barnes & Noble (though they can usually get it in Barnes & Here’s what many do instead:

  • Place their book on consignment in an independent book store. Give the store 40% of the profits for every book they sell.
  • Be a part of a side-walk event, conference, or other endeavor that brings in large numbers of people interested in books.

Advertising makes up 24.4% of the pie, but it doesn’t have to cost you a cent. Try advertising your book through book blogs on others’ sites, interviews, YouTube, contests, free press release sites, and more. It’s amazing what is out there in free advertising, especially if you’re willing to do something in return.

Get your book in the library. This is a tough task, one I’m working on right now. But recently, through listening to others I have discovered some juicy tidbits.

  • Take your book in as a donation with some marketing material such as a press release and a list of reviews.
  • Have trusted friends and family call the library near you and ask for a copy of your book. I will be talking about my new book at a book group, and there are no books yet available within the library system; this has made it difficult for some readers of the group who rarely buy fiction. I’ve got to get working!

Blogs take up 12.1% of the pie, so it’s nice to have a blog/website. If you’re not sure how that looks the main idea is that you want to have a site that continually changes and updates, at least once a week. If not, folks may stop by once to see what you’ve got going, try again a second time, and when they see nothing has changed, stop coming back.

Book Reviews are also important. Readers will discover your book 18.9% of the time here. I have worked pretty heavily on book reviews; maybe more than I should have, but my goal was to have a minimum of 10 reviews on Amazon. I currently have 9.

In addition, online algorithms take up 16.0% and search engines, 21.6%. These two topics are important to your listing when people search for your book title or name online. You want to be high in ranking—either first or second at all times—and come up numerous times after that. The more you are seen the better.

When it comes to book marketing, the more you believe in yourself and the book you have written, the more others will get interested in what you have to offer. It is never enough to merely publish a book, you must get out there and spread the word.


Kathryn has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults.  She is the author of: “A River of Stones,” a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce published in 2002, and “Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones,” a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a “Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook,” was published in February of 2012.

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