Ninie Hammon’s Blog for Writers

One Simple, Easy Way to Promote a Book

Posted: November 4, 2014, 7:18PM
This is a SERIOUS piece of driftwood!



If you can manage to make it all the way to the end of this blog post, I have some GOOD NEWS for you. But first a bit of a review of Driftwood Marketing.

When I first started to study how to sell books, I was quickly trampled by the stampede of information coming at me like teenagers let out of a rock concert. I couldn’t make sense of any of it. Finally, in desperation—like a drowning woman clinging to a piece of driftwood—I figured out how to organize the subject matter into four parts: Product, Store, Promotion and Sales.

Driftwood Marketing is nothing more than a massively oversimplified way to look at promoting and selling books, which for most authors is scarier than a dude in a ski mask holding a bloody chain saw. I know whereof I speak. Whereof I Speak and I became buddies after I purchased the rights to all my novels from my traditional publisher last year and became an indie. I put aside my WIP in January, took my books off Amazon to do the necessary paint and fender work, and spent the first half of 2014 studying marketing. (I am privileged to write fulltime, so I’m talking about spending eight to ten hours a day, six days a week at the task.) Actually, I only intended for the process to take six weeks. But that became two months, then four. In the end, I didn’t re-load my novels on Amazon until June.

I fully intended to document my Driftwood Marketing progress for other newbies like me. I blogged about Product and Store this spring and promised there was more to come. But there wasn’t. I stopped blogging altogether. You see, the trouble with flying an airplane while you’re building it--and describing the process as you go along—is that there comes a point at which you become a one-armed paper-hanger. Ok, I mixed my metaphors, but that’s what happens to your frazzled synapses when you get overwhelmed. And my whelm was waaay waaay over.

It’s been four months now since I uploaded my books to Amazon and I finally have enough wallpaper stuck to the wall to chronicle this journey for others.

Driftwood Marketing Part IV: Promotion

My basic book marketing strategy was to re-launch every one of six previously published novels—plus the seventh unpublished one—at six-week intervals through 2014. Why a re-launch? Why all of them? Why six weeks apart? To make these crucial decisions and others along the way, I used the method of reasoning that’s been handed down from one generation to the next in my family since Ug turned to Ug-Ug and said, “Make it round and maybe it’ll roll.” It’s called Seemed Like The Thing To Do At The Time. Simply put: I couldn’t find any information that fit my situation so I made up strategy as I went along.

Launching the books meant I had to promote them. Promotion is the arruga horn you use to tell the world you’ve written a book and you’d sure like for somebody to buy a copy. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the various platforms you can use to do that: Facebook. Facebook Fan Page. Flickr. Klout. Digg. YouTube. Twitter. Google +. LinkedIn. Foursquare. Blogging. Blog tours. Guest blog posts. Tumblr. Goodreads. Pinterest. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

You can do podcasts. Speaking engagements. Book signings.

You can write press releases and mail out hundreds of ARC’s.

You can stand on a busy street corner wearing a sandwich board with your book cover on one side and “Will Write For Food” on the other.

And I am here to tell you that if you’re a newbie writer and this is your first book, you better get busy! You’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

That was a joke, people.

Clearly, you can’t promote your work on all those platforms. So which ones are the best? Given the time limitations of indie writers with day jobs, what are the most effective? Sorry to have to spring this on you, but I don’t have any idea. Neither does anybody else. And when it came time for me to pick which ones I’d use, I made a mildly radical decision. I decided to use NONE of them. Yup, none. I’m on Twitter and Facebook to be SOCIAL not to market. Blog tours…guest posting, podcasts…so much time. And I was already exhausted. So I decided to see if perhaps the most effective book promotion I could do was work I’d already done.

My reasoning was simple: if totally relying on all my previous effort was successful, I’d never have to do all the rest of that stuff. And if it wasn’t successful, well, all the rest of the stuff wasn’t going anywhere.

And here’s the good news I was telling you about: Maybe all the work you’ve already done is YOUR most effective marketing tool, too. What work was that…?

Did you hire a professional designer to create your book cover? Other than content, the cover of your book is the single most important promotional element you have. Let me say that another way in case you missed it. If you have anything less than a dazzling, professional-looking book cover, you can lean over right now and kiss your book career goodbye.

How's your book description? Does it sing? No, not just sing—is it the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on steroids?

How about a website, a presence online? Either have a dynamite one or skip it and don’t have one at all. A cheesy website does more harm than good. If you want to inspire the confidence required for Loyal Reader to plunk down serious change for a book written by somebody he’s never heard of, then you’d better look like such a professional writer he figures you must be famous and he just somehow missed your name.

And for Pete’s sake STOP referring to yourself as an “aspiring” author. Stop it! Right now. Readers don’t buy books from “aspiring” authors. Are you an author or not? Then look and act like one. No reader will accidentally mistake you for the real deal if your Twitter bio says you’re “up and coming.”

Links in the backs of your books to your other books—did you put them there? How about a request for reviews? I put this statement in the backs of all my books: “If you enjoyed this book, would you please take a moment to write a review of it so other readers can enjoy it, too? Just a couple of sentences. It would mean a lot to me.” Next to the sentence is a clickable link to my review page on Amazon. Five Days in May had seven reviews when I loaded it on Amazon in June. It has 371 now.

An email signup list? You can’t depend on Facebook or Twitter to be around forever. Remember MySpace? If your whole platform of readers is built on something you don’t own and over which you have no control, you are at the mercy of Mark Zuckerburg—who with one change could wipe out your career.

Did you work hard—hard—to put your books in the right categories—small enough so they can compete, large enough for sufficient exposure, a perfect fit for your book content? Did you work equally hard to come up with the absolutely, positively best keywords for your book, and did you figure out how to incorporate those words seamlessly into your book description so Amazon’s search bots will deliver your title to anyone who types those words into the search engine?

I did all those things. Every. Single. One. And others we talked about in previous blogs—and some we didn’t. Then loaded my books on Amazon and …

Along in here you’re probably hopping up and down like a little kid who needs to go to the bathroom. You want to know: DID IT WORK? Did my books sell without all the hoopla? Good question, and I’ll answer it in detail, with numbers and charts, in the next Driftwood Marketing post, Part IV: Sales.

Write on!


*Oh, by the way, when this great new website went live, the old website went dead. It's gone into cyberheaven. Unfortunately, the old website took all my previous subscribers with it to the grave. For some reason, the names and emails of all you wonderful people who subscribed to my blog in the past are GONE. So if you're interested in getting my blog posts, please do click where you're supposed to click and sign up again.




Terry Mengle November 4, 2014, 12:35AM

I will be going back to Amazon to write new reviews. Readers should know how much we appreciate your writing. As I said before, I'd read your grocery list or anything else you've written.

Reading your works makes one very grateful for a great and enjoyable read. You write as well, or better, than most authors I have read - and there have been many heavy hitters on my list of books read.

God bless you and keep writing.   Reply

Replies (1)

Virginia Sharples January 22, 2015, 5:30PM

Would you like to add me to your email list for your blog posts?
{What's a blog? What's a blog post?} No one has ever defined blog post when I can hear them. You are supposed to be born knowing this stuff.
However, since I enjoy your word craft, I'll gladly read your blog posts.
Don't leave the station without me. :o)
Ginny   Reply

Replies (1)

Jaques Cilliers January 25, 2015, 2:47AM

I love what you stand for and your take on marketing your books. I agree one hundred percent that a lot of time gets wasted on trying to make it on Facebook, Tweeting the heck out of Twitter, Posting boards on Pinterest, trying to get someone to show interest in your profile on LinkedIn, etc.

It requires and endless amount of time that could have been channeled elsewhere.

From a fellow write   Reply

Replies (1)

Malcolm Welshman February 1, 2015, 5:15AM

Hi. Love your dynamic approach. Full of fizz. I'm now like a guy full of Coke ( liquid not powder), my bottled up enthusiasm to spout about my books ready to explode on to a new party of people prepared to drink in my talents.
Malcolm    Reply

Replies (1)

Fr. James Hubbard March 7, 2015, 3:45PM

I read 'Sudan' in two sittings. I couldn't put it down. I have been interested in Sudan, reading about Sudan, inviting speakers about Sudan, hoping to visit Sudan over a period of years. I knew what was happening there from the newspapers and friends, but your book described what was happening there in ways that made it live for me as nothing else has. So powerful is your story that I tried to look up characters online. Sorry, but the story is so well-researched that it smells like journalism.

One of the powerful themes in 'Sudan' was the real-life experience of Christians and the church in South Sudan. In another book I am currently reading, I have found that the Dinka (Jieng) church has grown in some Anglican dioceses during the wars you were writing about from 9 churches to 400 and that was a couple of decades ago. Khartoum's determination to create an all-Muslim state has seriously backfired. Isdris' experiences with prayer and God were real, are real, and your willingness to write in such a counter-cultural fashion captures my respect and my delight.

I will continue reading your books.   Reply

Replies (1)

Janet McClintock April 26, 2015, 9:42AM

Don't underestimate Twitter. You followed me and I wondered who you were. I checked out your website, bought The Last Safe Place, and I am one of your newest fans. I write thrillers, and am Ms. Tension, but I stumble over creating suspense. Your book--not once during the opening scene did is say, "okay, okay, I got it". I was right there with Gabrielle clutching the sheets in white-knuckled fists-- has become a study guide for me in the creation of suspenseful situations.

Replies (1)

houda July 29, 2015, 10:27AM

thanks for the guide. i think the most important part of the process is to recognize yourself as an author a professional one, not a wannabe or an aspiring one. once this transition is done, every thing become clearer and all the ways become easier, otherwise the book is only a draft or an unfinished business. concerning the promotion of the book i guess is a matter of trying every way possible and see which one suit the author better and the book of course.    Reply

Replies (1)

Donald Knight Beman August 18, 2015, 12:58PM

Thank you: "I needed that," to remind me that it's my job to drop and pull up my pants, and not for anyone to do it for me, not even my wife! Donald...   Reply

Replies (1)

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"Oh, and about the 9 and the e beside my name. Say it fast, emphasis on the 9. That’s how you pronounce my first name -9e. (Think “rhymes with tiny and shiny, NOT with skinny and penny.”)

Suspense Author

I have soooo many stories I want to tell you, so many worlds I want you to see, so many people I want you to meet. People in trouble, most of them. Big trouble they didn't ask for but there it is. Ordinary folks like you and me who are forced by circumstances to fight for their lives. And then, smack in the middle of their everyday worlds they encounter the unexplainable. It's always the game-changer.

Welcome to my world. If you'd like to know more about me, I'm easy. Click on Meet Ninie and you'll see. My life isn't really an open book; it's more of a pamphlet, and you are cordially invited to read it. I'd love to interact with you on Twitter, Facebook Fan page, and Goodreads. Or come visit with me at 9e's Kitchen Table, a Facebook group where readers and I hang out. I think you'd like it.