Ebook Success: Rule #8, Market & Promote

Welcome! Today is the last day of this series. We're covering Rule #8: Market & Promote.

Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All

In a few weeks, I'll publish Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All, the ebook that will be a compilation of this series on SlingWords and many more blog posts about this subject posted on this blog and my old blog that I've terminated. (Just call me The Terminator.) Then you can have all the information in one place.

In the meantime, here's my book list for those of you who are new to the blog. If you've seen it before, just scroll down.

Just One Look

Still The One

JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES

The Trouble With Love

Romeo and Judy Anne

Written Wisdom

Parts Of This Series Previously Published

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4

Ebook Success: Working With Cover Artists (addendum published the next day)

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1, Keywords

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 2, Categories

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 3, Bio & Book Description

Ebook Success: Rule #5, Price

Ebook Success: Rule #6 & 7, Your Sample; Your Book

Joan's Golden Rules

Here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

I haven't written everything I have to say on any one of these rules because each post would be so long--even broken into parts as I tried to do. I'll elaborate in the book I'm bringing out since I can more easily break that into chapters.

Rule #8: Customize Marketing and Promotion

First, let's get on the same page when it comes to understanding some underlying basics about promoting your work/yourself. Here are 5 elements you need to know: public relations, promotion, publicity, marketing, and branding.

By know, I mean you need to know the true definitions--not what you may think these words/phrases mean. I blogged about this a while back in 3 Ps of Internet Marketing. I'll be quoting from that blog for part of this article.

Publicity, promotion, and public relations are often incorrectly used as if they were interchangeable. They're not. Promotion is built upon the foundation of publicity and public relations.

Do you know the difference between publicity and public relations? If you are an author with a book to sell, then you darn well need to know the difference because then you’ll know how to drive traffic to your book and to your website. Traffic is what you want because the bigger the traffic, as in number of visitors, the better your chance for sales success.


Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject whether that subject is a book, an author, a website, or whatever. Publicists, that would be you if you wear all the hats in your Indie Author business, try to create news rather than sit around waiting for opportunities to present themselves.

Publicity in large part means free advertising. Publicity is gaining free exposure by using the services of others. For example, those who write articles for article content sites do so because they get a byline and have the opportunity to include their own URL in the article. They may be writing for free, but they hope to gain exposure for their own website and their name (their brand) in the byline. They also get a chance to post a bio which will increase the name recognition factor. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif(I've blogged about the benefits of contributing to article content sites.)

Publicity is getting your book mentioned as one of the 5 Great Indie Romance Books. That's what I discovered this morning when Amy Edelman of IndieReader was kind enough to notify me that JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES was one of those 5 books.

I did nothing to make that happen. As I said, publicity is in large part free. I'm making the most of it by talking about it here, telling friends about it, posting it on lists, etc. That's publicity. I'm also giving back publicity to Amy Edelman and to Romantic Love Books by publishing their links here.

If you comment on my blog, I just about always repeat your "name" and comment back to you. I'm offering you publicity twice: once when your name shows up and once again when I repeat your name. According to marketing professionals, a name must be seen at least 9 times by someone in order for that name to be remembered. I'm trying to do my part to help you with that.

When an opportunity presents itself, always take advantage of free publicity, and always pay it back to the person who gave you the opp.

Public Relations

Public relations is promoting a product, i.e. your book, your name, or your brand in order to create favorable reactions or positive impressions on the minds of the public.

You can do this with an effective website. (When I say website, I mean either a domain website or a blog. Blogs are websites though most differentiate between the two.)An effective website is one that pulls in visitors and directs their attention to areas you want them to view.

You can ask any online marketing pro, and they’ll all tell you that the answer to pulling in visitors to a website is content. You must have something interesting on your website that visitors need to know or want to read--preferably both.

The least successful websites and blogs are those that authors view as a promotion vehicle for their books. You know the ones I mean. There's nothing but pictures of the authors' book covers, and all the content is about me, me, me. Readers aren't interested in that. They can see your book covers on Amazon.

However, if you show a cover and talk about how the book came into being or tell a funny story about writing a particular scene or something interesting that is entertaining, then readers will be interested.

Radio Station WII FM

When you're thinking about websites, you have to always remember that visitors are tuned to their favorite radio station: WII FM (What's In It For Me). So make sure your content always answers that question.


Remember, promotion is built upon the foundation of publicity and public relations. Promotion itself is one of four elements of marketing: product, price, promotion, place. A Wikipedia definition is that it is "the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer's purchasing decision."

Ah, that's right. You have publicity like my book JANE being listed as one of 5 Great Romance Books. I'm taking that publicity and using the element of public relations and promoting that book in hopes of influencing the opinions of romance readers in the audience to buy that book. That's the end result you want to achieve by promotion: influencing someone's purchasing decision.

Two Types of Promotion

Briefly, I'll touch on the 2 types of promotion: above the line promotion and below the line promotion.

For most Indie Authors, above the line promotion is out of reach. That's promotion in mass media like TV, radio, print periodicals, internet, mobile phones, etc. We just don't have pockets deep enough to do this.

Below the line promotion is our gig because that covers all other promotion, and we can manage some of that. A lot of below the line promotion is subtle where the consumer might not really be aware that any promotion is occurring. These still include big ticket items that usually only big dogs get: product placement, direct mail, sponsorship, merchandising, trade shows, etc.

Anything else you can think of is below the line, and Indie Authors usually can accomplish only very minor promotions compared to what professional marketers and clients with big bucks can do.

I think the answer is to not sweat it. Be aware of what's out there, and do what is in the realm of your power. That's usually writing the best damn book you can. Remember, all the high-priced promotion in the world won't make a bad book a success.


As stated above, all this goes into what marketing is. Easy definition: It's everything you do to get your book (product or service) in front of potential customers.


Branding was a word created about fifteen years ago by marketers. There's a lot of confusion about what it means. I like to think of it as your product's personality. It's you = what? Margaret Mitchell =sweeping Civil War saga. If she wrote in today's world, that would be her brand.

I am a writer. Romance novels are my product. The personality of my books? Sexy and funny with a chick lit attitude. I brand my books that way, and I brand me, as the author, as a romance author of funny, sexy books with a sassy (chick lit) attitude.

What Does This Have To Do With You

I think you need an understanding of the basic elements of marketing so that you'll see why all your Facebook updates and Tweets probably don't result in the sale of very many books. You can have 20,000 followers, but I bet that doesn't result in more than a few sales unless maybe you're Nora Roberts.

This also explains why ads you purchase that may get 15,000 pageviews result in no appreciable increase in sales.

Many people who first publish an ebook are told to hang out on the Kindleboards and Amazon reader discussion forums, and Goodreads, etc. Good luck with that. Most of those venues do not allow self-promotion and will tar and feather you if you are so foolhardy as to say you wrote a book.

In a way, I can't blame them because readers aren't there to listen to a few thousand authors chant a chorus of "buy my wonderful book."

The only reason, as I see it, to go to these websites is because you like hanging out with other writers on the Kindleboards--maybe you'll learn something from them. Or you like hanging out with readers because you too love reading.

What's An Indie Author To Do

1. Customize your efforts as much as possible. Waht works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

2. If you've got a website, use it intelligently. That's about the best medium for promotion I know.

3. If you want to pay for advertising, check out the venue with other authors you know to see if they have had any quantitative results from advertising there.

4. Don't get so caught up in social media that you lose track of the writing.

5. Don't mistake being busy with promoting on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. as being effective with promotions.

6. Pay it backwards and forwards any time someone shines a spotlight on you.

7. Think outside the box and see if you can come up with something that's organic to you and your books, and that's a joy to do, not a chore.

8. Don't obsess about reviews. Some think that good reviews will sell scads of books. Reviews seem to mean something only to authors and the readers who post them. Seventy-five 5-star reviews won't sell your book any more than no reviews will hinder its sale.

9. Focus on what you can control.

10. Work hard on writing the next book and making it the best it can be. Unless you're Margaret Mitchell, careers are not built on just one book.

11. Learn more about the process of marketing with every book you write.

12. Take a deep breath and realize that you're either in this for the long haul or you should get out now because it won't ever get easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Coming Soon

Thanks for joining me. This concludes my series Ebook Success. In a couple of weeks, I'll publish the ebook containing all these blog posts plus a lot more including advice from successful ebook authors. I'll continue to blog about ebooks and continue to give tips, tricks of the trade, and advice because I like sharing; I like helping others.

Like I've said, that's just the way I'm made. I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success, and I hope I can help you avoid my mistakes and maybe help shortcut the process for you. I want you to achieve your own brand of success and have fun doing it.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!) or making a donation by clicking the button below or, perhaps subscribe, for only $.99 per month to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.


  1. Wow, Joan.

    Excellent post. Excellent series.

    Can't wait for the eBook to come out!!!

    Thanks so much.

  2. Joan, Going indie has been a great experience for me, thanks in large part to the tips and advice you have generously shared.

  3. Nancy Morse said... Thanks, Nancy, that's very kind of you. I sure hope it helps everyone because we're hovering on the edge of a new age for authors. A better age we all hope.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  4. This publishing revolution has been a wonderful thing for me, Joan.

    However, authors who want to be successful will have to learn a few new skill sets. Some have expressed disappointment that they don't make much from their publishers, but when told about indie publishing, say, "I don't want to deal with the cover and getting someone to edit."

    But every job has aspects you're not crazy about. That's just life.

    I'm thrilled with my indie publishing experience, and I think it's wonderful of you to pay it forward.

  5. Nina Cordoba said... Well said, Nina, and, btw, thanks. I'm reading your book Don't Make Me Make You Brownies and loving it!

    Look for a review next week--I hope. I'm fudging on every obligation until I get my WIP finished. Getting way too many emails from readers who want to know when it will be available! Nice problem to have. Not complaining--just wish I could write faster! Too many challenges this summer.

    Best wishes,

  6. Great series, Joan. I, too, am looking forward to getting your ebook. A pity you can't clone yourself. (That's what I keep telling my poor hubby, who works minimum 7 hours a day on my ebooks! He's even too busy to update my website, which he built and has maintained since 1998.)

    I know being mother-of-the-bride takes a lot of time and energy. So happy for Adina.

  7. Thanks for the excellent series, Joan. I'll definitely be buying the book, and will recommend it to a number of people I have in mind.

  8. Rae Renzi... You're welcome. Glad I can help.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves