Be A Successful Author: 3 Book Marketing Strategies That Actually Work

    Do You Want To Be a Successful Author?

    You oozed blood from your pores to write your book.

    You banged it out in the tradition of Tolstoy or Hemingway, typing away in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when everyone was sleeping. You fueled yourself with caffeine and junk food. In fact, you can’t remember your last full night of sleep.

    You paid your dues, put in the time, and now you have a finished book. Time to enjoy the afterglow.

    As you lounge on your bed with your book cuddled next to you like a satisfied lover, you know the morning is eventually going to come, and with it the task of marketing your book.

    As a writer, you’ve only met Level One satisfaction. And if you thought that experience was mind-blowing, just wait until people start buying and reviewing your book.

    Here are 3 ways you can market your book and be a successful author. These strategies can mean the difference between being having just a handful of book sales, and being a successful author with thousands of books sold.

    Court a variety of suitors

    Make it easy for all kinds of people to see how your book will benefit them.

    It isn’t that people are stupid, or can’t get it on their own.

    But people are bombarded with advertising messages every single day, and they need to know quickly how something will work for them. If you can’t state this quickly and effectively, they will move on to the next thing.

    Our own sweet cuddle of a book, Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers, is about taking a very practical and action-oriented approach to raising the money you need to fund your big dream. It is based on our 2-year experience of saving, selling, and earning the cash we needed to fund our open-ended trip around the world.

    A regular plot line would have us marketing our book to long-term travelers (or those thinking about it) or perhaps personal finance sites.

    Instead, we scripted a series of twists and turns, introducing our book to everyone from early retirees to people affected by job layoffs to kitchen table entrepreneurs needing startup cash to people who simply wanted to see how we marketed our self-published book.

    We had a specific message for each niche, a way that our book could solve their problems. We did all the hard work for them, connecting the dots as to how this book could help them achieve what they wanted.

    The takeaway for you: Don’t take just the obvious route in marketing your book because you’ll have a lot more competition that way. Go the road less traveled for more sales.

    Next step: Sign up for HARO, the free daily email with queries from journalists, bloggers, and media outlets looking for sources. Your book may tie in with a current event, upcoming holiday, or breaking news, and this is your chance to get some great publicity in an unconventional way.

    Let others sing your praises

    The most effective way you can sell your books is by not actually selling them yourself.

    Word of mouth and social proof are far more powerful than anything you can say about your own book.

    People assume you will say nice things about your own work even if it is crap, right? But to have someone else say it? Well, that’s going to get their attention.

    Because we initially sold our book through our website, we had an email list of buyers from whom we actively solicited feedback. Their reviews and quotes were used on our website, newsletter and in our email signatures to tell potential buyers what others were saying.

    When we moved our eBook to Amazon Kindle, we asked people to share their comments as official Amazon reviews.

    This is how powerful those reviews can be:

    One day over breakfast at a guesthouse in Thailand, we were talking to another guest about what we do for a living. He immediately whipped out his iPhone and looked up our books online. His first comment? “Wow, you guys have some great reviews.” His next move? Buying one eBook right there in front of us to read on his Kindle app for the iPhone.

    He was interested in our story enough to look up the book while we were chatting, but even a face-to-face chat with us wasn’t as powerful as seeing those 5-star reviews.

    The takeaway for you: Don’t discount the power of social proof.

    Next step: Actively ask for reviews of your book. Reach out to specific buyers, peers, colleagues, savvy friends who represent your target market, and even review services.

    Put together a list of sample tweets and Facebook updates your peers and buyers can use to promote your book. Give them an ad graphic if they have a blog and want to sign up as an Amazon affiliate. You’d be surprised at how effective this can be. People buy books their friends and colleagues are reading.

    Spiff up your image

    Your reputation is enhanced by the company you keep.

    Sure, your reviews are going to help solidify your standing, but you can take it one step further by reaching out to the influential people in your space.

    By this, I mean submitting guest post to other blogs but also inviting those people to write and contribute to your blog. This may mean full guest posts, or it may mean asking several experts for an answer to a question relating to your book’s subject and putting it all together in a post you write.

    It may even mean asking someone with an opposing view to go toe-to-toe on an issue.

    Either way, by showing that you know and interact with experts, you are adding to your credibility. The bonus is that these experts are likely to promote your posts – and by extension, your book – to their audiences as well.

    The takeaway for you: Show you are an authority by the quality company you keep.

    Next step: Go out on a limb and use your blog and other outlets to comment on current events and topics related to your subject. Engage with other experts or celebrities in your field to start lively discussions.

    You have to position yourself as an authority and become comfortable sharing your opinion if you want to be seen as a resource. If you only nod your head or repeat what everyone is saying, you will remain a supporting character in the story instead of the hero.

    A final note on marketing

    If you think writing and selling are two different skill sets (one highbrow, the other lowbrow), you are wrong.

    Writers who think it is beneath them to market their books are never going to see the kind of success they want.

    It takes the same type of skill to sell readers on buying your book as it does to “sell” your plot, characters, and theories within the book. Not getting this concept can mean the difference between selling 10 copies and 10,000 copies.

    Now get out there and market like hell! What strategies do you use to sell more books? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.


    About the Author:

    Betsy Talbot and her husband Warren write about creating the life you want from the life you already have at Married with Luggage. They sold everything they owned to travel the world in 2010 and they’re still going (the world is big!). Get a copy of their latest book, Getting Rid of It, in print or ebook.

    Image: Successful Author courtesy of

    About the author

      Betsy Talbot

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    • LKWatts says:


      Great blog and a great life you lead. I did a similar thing by travelling the world in my early twenties. The result of this is two published ebooks selling on Amazon. If you’d like to check them out yourself just visit my blog:

      Good luck in your future travels!

    • HI Betsy,

      Thank you for mentioning HARO to your readers– we appreciate the shout out!

      HARO’s Social Media Community Manager

    • Ferb says:

      Hi Betsy,

      Really love what you say, writing and selling are definitely is one and they are not 2 different skills like writing to help customers who are reading it to understand about the product. And if people who are not interested in writing but they have to sell. one of the important thing they have to be well at is communication which is also important.

      Thanks – Ferb

    • Great Post! Having published my first book at the end of 2011, this reminded me that I can even have more success with my sequel if I work just as hard as I did before. Thank you for posting many great tips and continuing to inspire writers to not give up and settle for the easy road but to push the envelope and shoot for greater excellence!

      • Hi, Leslie. A properly marketed sequel can revive the sales of your original book, too! We saw our first book gain readership with every subsequent book we published. When people like what they’ve read, they have a tendency to go back and find out if there are other books by the same author (I just downloaded 2 more books by an author I read and enjoyed over the weekend). Good luck!

    • RD Meyer says:

      On the “Spiff up your image” part, I only advise a note of caution – be careful with the amount of controversy you court. In today’s divided world, a stray political or religious comment can cost you half your potential audience. I say stay passionate and on target with regards to what your blog is about, but I wouldn’t stray too far into the ether or you may find yourself singing only to the choir.

      • Good points, RD. I think a pros/cons post on a topic in your field with someone who comes at it from a different angle can be powerful, but I would agree to shy away from starting fireworks just for the heck of it. You get traffic in the short-term from the voyeurs who like a good fight, but it doesn’t translate into credibility or sales. (or a good feeling about yourself afterward)

    • Great insight to what comes after “all” of the hard work! Very informative.

      • Tony, the trick is to make sure you realize there is work after the book is done! 🙂

    • Jocelyn says:

      I really loved this post! I would love to travel to many places, but more than that there are many other dreams that I have.

      It’s wonderful to come across people that have put their all into achieving their dreams because it makes it feel like mine aren’t as far fetched as I may think.

      Well written post and very informative- thank you!

      • Hi Jocelyn. I think dreams should seem a little far-fetched…or else they wouldn’t be dreams! But on a reality scale, I also think most people are far more capable of reaching their goals than they give themselves credit. So keep dreaming (and taking action)! 🙂

        • Jocelyn says:

          Thank you Betsy!

    • I market my book by talking about it with everyone I meet.
      Also I send e-mails to my friends other parties who might be interested in a book of some kind.

      • Hi, Richard. I do believe in telling everyone you know about your book, but eventually a fatigue will set in if you don’t expand your reach. Finding creative ways to market your book to new audiences is the key to always having fresh readers and willing buyers (plus it is mentally stimulating as a writer to see how your work can cross markets and appeal to a variety of different people). Good luck!

    • Wonderful post (and love your site – what you guys are doing!). Your encouragement about an author making peace with marketing and SALES (gasp) is spot on.

      • Hi, Mike. I think this is one of the hardest leaps for writers to make. It just seems like it should be *enough* to write the damn thing, huh? 🙂 But I’ve found a greater satisfaction in seeing the sales take off and people connect with what I’ve written, and that would not have happened if I didn’t market and sell. Good luck!

    • This is an excellent post. I really like your approach to “Let others sing your praises” by soliciting reviews from people who have already read it. I know I always check reviews before I buy something, so I need to make sure for my book, I get some good ones right away.

      • Hi, David. Another great strategy is to ask each person who tells/emails you a compliment if they’d mind sharing that on Amazon or Goodreads. Most people don’t even think of leaving a review, but especially if you parrot the phrase back to them in email and give them the link to add a review, you’ll see a big conversion. Make it ridiculously easy for them to help you out.

        Good luck!

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