Marketing our Mysteries

by Jill Amadio

Marketing our mysteries is probably one of the least preferred tasks on our to-do list but it is crucial if we wish for success and sales. I truly dislike having to hawk my books and with so many different avenues than ever from which to choose, the effort becomes far more onerous than ever. But with writers’ conferences shut down and virtual meetings on the rise I found time to think about how to increase my book sales.

Five Guides

In isolation, I decided to buckle down and educate myself further about book promoti0on, buying five guides to add to the two I already own which are The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard Johnson, and Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny Sansevieri.  I must confess I barely cracked open either of them but added them to five new books from amazon:  The Tao of Book Publicity by Paula MarguliesHow I Sold 80,000 Books by Alinka  Rutkowska, Marketing Books on Amazon by Rob EagarBook Marketing…Reinvented by Bryan Heathman, and another by Penny updated in 2019., titled 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors. Naturally there are overlaps in all of these guidance books, some of them explained well with detail and others just glossed over. I offer my opinions herewith.

Five Minutes?

The 5-Minute book intrigues me the most. Five minutes? That’s just 30 minutes spread over a six-day week. Surely we can all handle that. Packed not only with advice on how to promote, Sansevieri includes a generous selection of web sites to contact after each point she makes. For example, to promote eBooks Penny presents dozens of free sites where you can list your book, as well as sites on Twitter worth notifying. She also  has several advice sections on how to use amazon’s author page, book page, reviews, how best to demystify amazon’s categories, key words, etc. if you self-publish with them. Her book offers the main benefits of Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, Goodreads, Facebook, Google Alerts, blogs, and other social media, as well as creating your own newsletter for visibility.


While on the subject of amazon, Bob Eagar’s guide focuses entirely on making the best use of the online global bookseller. He tells us how to find and understand their bestseller rankings, how to estimate your book sales, and why the rankings aid marketing efforts. Eagar also debunks a few myths about those rankings, as they change every hour of every day but at least give an idea of your sales, unlike traditional publishing houses. If there’s a spike upwards does it mean that your recent marketing campaign was effective? Or vice versa?  Your non-amazon publisher probably buys ads on the amazon site which means you can check your rankings without self-publishing with them. Is amazon advertising your book? You can find out from the site he cites in his book.

How to Sell 80,000 books

Moving on, I was eager to know how to sell 80,000 books. The author’s name alone fascinated me and I wondered who Rutkowska is. Turns out she is a bestselling USA Today and Wall Street Journal author and founder of Library Bub that connects indie authors with 10,000 libraries although you can find this list yourself online now.

A third of the book sets out interesting interviews with bestselling authors as to their promotional strategies, and Alinka shares how she sold those 80,000 books and more not only on amazon but also through online sites, bulk sales, foreign rights (there’s a service site for this), networking, and clubs. Happily, most of us are already skilled as panelists and speakers. She tells us something I never knew – that Apple is the second-largest book market player after amazon and publishes books, she says. Something also new to me, that Kobo is the second largest eBook retailer in Japan and has 3% of the market in the U.S. Is your YA plot linked to the ocean? If so, Alinka says we should contact the retail department of the cruise lines. They ordered hundreds of copies of her children’s books for their gift shops.

Selling the Sizzle

Heathman’s informal and friendly book includes branding and marketing formulas and understands the angst authors feel about the work that is necessary. He gets down quickly to the nitty-gritty of selling the sizzle, and like the other guides, talks about the various avenues available except that he adds how fortunate we are these days to have so many ways to promote our work and exactly how you approach Barnes and Noble through their CRM author signing schedule. I like his emphasis on reading local print media so you know what they are looking for regarding author interviews, and especially regarding radio. Don’t leave it up to organizations and clubs to publicize your event, get to work! However, his advice to create a daily series of social media posts sounds a bit daunting. I like Heathman’s list for getting quality book endorsements you can use for your back cover, press releases, and on your website and blog. Particularly useful is his 15 Week Book Marketing Checklist chart.

A ‘How-To’ Guide

The how-to book promotion guide I have taken a special liking to is The Tao of Publicity. Margulies directs it to beginners trying to figure out how to publicize one’s books but even those skilled at it can learn something from her pages. Like the other guides mentioned above except for Penny’s lengthier tomes, the Tao is around 145 pages but is crammed with tips, ideas, website content advice, timing your launch, Q and A questions for the media to ask, the pros and cons of a blog tour, why limiting social media sites can be a better way initially to build relationships with readers, and many other issues.  Ever heard of dashboards Hootsuite, Threadsy, and Tweetdeck to post information about your books? And make sure you take into consideration America’s different time zones.

After reading all seven guides I found something in each one that was individual enough to make a note of, writing down the page numbers. However, I am now too exhausted to figure them out.

 If you care to share, which promotional ideas bring you the most reward?  

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Author: Jackie Houchin

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

21 thoughts on “Marketing our Mysteries”

  1. I don’t know what the 5-Minute Book is about, but I can condone using small chunks of your day (or doing small pieces of tasks) to achieve your big goals.

    It’s a similar thought to the Atomic Habits book, where small tasks, done consistently, can yield huge results, especially when compared to taking the intense route where we probably abandon our plans about one month in.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stuart. Your idea of using 5 minutes throughout the day instead of one fell swoop is a good one although when writers get into a theme/issue/writing they often can’t stop!.


  2. What a smörgåsbord of ideas. I will refer to it when I am ready to get back into the fray we writers go through when hawking our work. Thanks, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gayle, your workshops far exceed my expertise on just about every aspect of the author business, so I appreciate your comment.


  3. I loved this. Thank you! (Unfortunately, my reading list just got longer.) One tip on posting to social media that I learned from another author: She used the same background to post quotes of fierce women, since those are the characters she features in her books. She put them all together at the beginning of the year and scheduled them. Done! (Except for time-sensitive events) She’s on Instagram if you want to check her out. Kim Taylor Blakemore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great idea, thanks. A photo of St. Ives, Cornwall, my hometown, springs instantly to mind or, better, a scene from the opera, Tosca, the name of my amateur sleuth.


  4. Jill I, too, am exhausted just reading all that! But what great research you did on our behalf – thank you! The 5-Minute ideas seem do-able. As Jackie Vick says – our reading-lists just got longer. But this is something with a really positive result. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Researching for 16 ghosted biographies over the years has helped me fine-tune how best to do it, and I know that you have done so, too, with your wonderful Hollywood mystery.


  5. Wow, Jill, what a wealth of reference material! I hate “promoting,” and now I no longer have the excuse of where to get ideas from! It’s a matter of getting the body and mind moving in that directions. Thanks so much for all the great reference material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Madeline. If/when you read the books do not return them to your bookshelves. Place them on the floor at the side of your desk so that you must trip over them to sit down, and thus remind yourself to follow their advice!


  6. Jill, great suggestions for promoting our books during these trying times. Everyone seems to agree that when it comes to promotion, a little can go a long way. Taking those baby steps, five minutes out of our endless days, sounds a lot less daunting than most promotional plans. Thanks for the references.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miko, you are welcome. It is handy, too, that we can order books online, saving time and effort finding them. I particularly appreciate the advice on websites with its 10-point checkup in the 5-minute book.


    1. Jackie, many thanks for reblogging and handling my posts. I figure that saves me more than five minutes that I can devote to promotion!


  7. Jill, thank you for this thoughtful, informative post! You gave us a wealth of information, and, like many authors, I feel helpless when it comes to book promotion. I’m going to order those books, too! Great post!!


  8. Bonnie,
    Thanks for the comment. The good news is, I now own the books. The bad news is, having to read them! Just kidding. With indie authors forced to self-promote it is great to have so much advice available in these books.


  9. Thanks so much, Jill. With all the writing and marketing books out there, it can be paralyzing to choose just a few. And successful marketing/promo is a moving target! You’ve made it easier and I’ve picked a couple of your suggestions to order. Thanks also for reminding me about Unsplash. And Jackie, I checked KTB’s Instagram and like her strong women quotes.


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