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The Magic Formula for Marketing Your Books

The most popular posts here at Someday Box are my deep dive into story structure called Your Story in 12 Sentences.

We love lists. We love step-by-step instructions. We love knowing exactly the right moment to do precisely the right thing so it all comes out right.

formulas2 + 2 = 4, every single time.

Mix the right amounts of flour, sugar, egg, milk, and whatnot and put it in the oven at this temperature for that long, and it’s a cake, every single time. (Okay, maybe not every single time, but almost.)

Authors are people, and as people, we want checklists and step-by-step instructions, too.

Especially for marketing.

  • What time of day should I tweet?
  • What’s the single best way to host a book launch in real life? On Facebook?
  • How often should I blog?
  • Should I use Smashwords or iBooks or Nook?

The Good News

Marketing is easy, in theory: tell people who love books like yours that you’ve written one.

The Bad News

I don’t know who those people are. Neither do you.

Unless you have a newsletter. But only if they signed up without bribery or compulsion. Give them something free in exchange for signing up, and you’ve polluted the data sample with freebie-seekers.

A newsletter list of people who signed up because they care is the Golden Ticket, the brass ring, the Holy Grail.

So here’s the one-step magical formula for marketing your books: tell your newsletter list about it.

The Merely Interesting News

Building your newsletter is either

  • a rigorous scientific process, or
  • the organic result of making personal connections with people.

If you like the former approach, follow Jon Morrow. Read Copyblogger religiously. Sign up for Tim Grahl’s classes.

If you wish you didn’t have to spend so much time marketing, you hate marketing, why do you have to sell yourself for pity’s sake what’s with all the marketing I just want to write, the latter approach may be what you want.

It’s slower. It’s not guaranteed to get you anywhere. (NB: neither is the first option.)

But it’s easy, and it won’t interfere with your writing, or anything else in your life. You’re probably already spending more time on social media than is required.

The List

Everything you do to market yourself (yourself, not your books) leads folks to your newsletter. Here’s how it works:

  1. They sign up for your newsletter because
  2. they like what they read at your blog because
  3. you answered their question generously after
  4. they liked your Facebook page because
  5. they read your Twitter feed about
  6. your comment at someone else’s blog.

Swap in any social media platforms (Pinterest, LinkedIn, Ello) because mostly, it doesn’t matter. Go where your people are. Or, be where you already are, and connect with your people who are also there. 7 billion people on the planet. Finding people is not hard. Narrowing your focus is hard.

Want to spend your time writing instead of marketing?

It’s a one-item list:

  1. Make good use of a newsletter.


Want to see a newsletter done right? Read Craig “Longmire” Johnson’s. Smart, funny, just plain good writing. And oh, by the way, book coming out, new stuff in the store if you wanna look.

3 thoughts on “The Magic Formula for Marketing Your Books

  1. This really resonates and I love the 6 to 1 countdown. How many times have I tried to explain it to newbies starting at one! I should start at 6 and work my way backwards – thank you!

    BTW, I landed here from your newsletter so I can attest that it works! *wink*

  2. Working backward from the outcome can be a powerful teaching tool. Also strong for writing. I read somewhere that P. G. Wodehouse would write the pinnacle scene of his Jeeves and Wooster books, and then build a story that led up to the preposterous events he’d envisioned.

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