Marketing for Writers and Readers

At this week’s meeting for my local writing group, I presented on the topic of marketing for writers with a focus on readers. Here are my notes.

RARE – respect, authenticity, reciprocity, expertise – FROM THE READERS’ PERSPECTIVE

Why focus on marketing:

  • Short-range – sell books
  • Mid-range – get reviews
  • Long-range – build a fanbase to sell more books

Who to market to:

  • Family and friends
    • Pros: feel happy/obligated to buy your stuff
    • Cons: Amazon cracking down on reviews by people you know, not as believable because people think they’ll be positive no matter what
  • Other writers – very common
    • Pros: often reciprocity with reviews, sales, and promos
    • Cons: hard to jump from writers to readers with content, reciprocity expected even if you don’t like what they write/different genre
    • Pros: readers want to read good books
    • Cons: hard to find, already bombarded by tons of ads/spam

Where to market:

  • In person
    • Direct sales to family and friends
    • Book fairs and readings
  • Online
    • Social media
      • Followers – real vs numbers
      • Comments on other blogs (indirectly only)
      • Targeted ads
      • Who’s seeing these posts?
    • Website
    • Newsletters/mailing lists
      • Your own
      • Group’s

When to market:

  • Daily – buzz about your books on social media
    • 20% formula (only 20% of posts about your books)
    • 5-3-2 formula (5 should be content from others, 3 should be content from you, 2 should be personal status updates)
  • Pre-launch
    • Snippets
    • Cover reveal
    • Pre-orders
  • Sale
    • Acceptable to buzz more frequently

What to market:

  • Your books
    • Snippets/excerpts
    • Random facts/research relating to your books
    • Links to purchase
  • Yourself
    • Blog posts
    • Social media posts that show your personality
  • Other people’s stuff
    • Reciprocity principle
    • Set your own personal guidelines for what you’ll share

How to market:

  • Social media
    • Twitter – quick status updates, links
    • Facebook – longer posts
    • Pinterest – images related to your works
    • Other sites – Google+, Tsu, etc – who’s there??
  • Website
    • Central place to send people to
    • Include link in signatures and blog comments
    • Provide meaningful content for your target audience
  • Ads
    • Newsletters/mailing lists
      • BookBub, Ereader News Today, etc – how big is their reach vs price
    • Facebook
      • Who are you targeting?
      • Impressions vs sales
    • Goodreads, Amazon
      • Expensive
      • Check conversion rates
    • Giveaways
      • Rafflecopter
        • Multi-author vs one author
        • Cost of prizes related to how many people enter
      • Goodreads giveaway – lots add to TBR, but few reviews
    • Mailing list
      • Frequency
        • set number vs something to share
        • too often = annoying, too infrequently = forget who you are
      • Mailchimp
    • Book fairs
      • Very low RTI – cost vs books sold; publicity?
      • Iowa City Book Festival, Midwest Writing Center events
    • Swag
      • Bookmarks
      • Business cards
      • Trinkets/widgets related to your book
    • Free books
      • Pros – new readers, possibly more reviews, push you up in rankings for later
      • Cons – too many free books to read, don’t see a bump later, only one book out
      • Most common with series book #1, short stories


  • Consistent look
    • Same picture for everything
    • Same bio
    • Similar color schemes/layouts on covers and across online
  • Tagline
    • “Writing stories of love and betrayal, sacrifice and redemption”
    • “Adventure romance”
  • Similar genres/themes
    • Pen name

Role of reader

  • “Don’t be a dick.” – Will Wheaton
  • How is your content benefiting them?
    • Entertainment
    • Information
    • Free stuff
    • Not annoying
  • Engagement
    • Social media – conversation
    • Ask them what they want – survey/poll
    • #QOTD



  1. Never heard of the 5-3-2 formula until now, but it makes sense. I also didn’t think of book fairs until you mentioned them! Nice notes.

  2. It’s great to have all of this organized out like this. Very nice, thanks!

  3. Enjoyed reading through your notes!

    Personally I feel the only time an author’s book should pop up on their Twitter feed is for the initial release and any sales/giveaways. Otherwise, it just shouldn’t be there. I have a separate pen name (@AuthorJewellFriedman) which I use to write wattpad paranormal romance novels and as a promotional platform. If people like spammy tweets and Facebook posts, they can follow my pen name. Surprisingly, there’s a crowd that does. It’s not a high conversion rate, but it exists. BUT my main platform @AJFlowers86 (A.J. Flowers) is meant to be ME. It isn’t a promo platform. It is a place to showcase my thoughts, my likes and dislikes, my dreams and failures. People want to relate to a person, not an advertisement.

    So that’s my longwinded way of saying I agree with everything except for the “quick status updates” and “links” should appear on Twitter, or “long posts” on Facebook. Even if it’s talking about material inside the book, it’s still marketing and if I were a follower it would annoy me and I’d probably unfollow that person.

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