Book Marketing: Branding Yourself As an Author

John Marion Francis, Romance Writer and Market Research Analyst, discusses his marketing plan:

For politicians and celebrities, Facebook is a gold mine for public consumption; it’s not so true for authors or up coming authors. Facebook is one of those tools you need to have on your internet radar. It helps more for when people google you aka search the net.

In comparison, I have more readers and fans from Myspace and AuthorsDen per month. Part of my marketing plan that for now all of my romance short stories are free and open to the public. All of them.

I’m a market research analyst specializing in consumer marketing and the first rule of marketing a unknown product is to “give it away first”. When I stepped out onto the public viewing stage of writing I knew going in that:

1 – Nobody knows who I am
2 – Nobody has read my work
3 – I don’t have anything published anywhere
4 – I don’t a following
5 – I don’t have an agent or publisher
6 – I don’t have a brand name


My plan and strategy requires two things:

1 – Branding

I researched how the Big Guns do it. I noticed that their name became their brand and that it is the Main Header on the book cover. Everything that they produced, newsletters, blogs, press releases, websites, web meta tags, etc. is branded. Branding aka Logo; is key to successful marketing of any product. Without it, no one will connect to your product. Seeing this, I created a Brand Name — John Marion Francis (my pen name).

Everything I produce (author website, weblinks, Blog Spots, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) bares my brand John Marion Francis. I always close with my branded signature ~Jonathan~. I also branded Romance Short Story Reading, Romance Short Story Store, Romance Online Reading, all of these domains I own.

My book covers (I create my own) follow the same design concept as the Big Guns (name branded at the top or bottom boldly). The key is to be consistant once you have settled on a brand name. Changing it constantly will put you at the back of the line every time and you’ll have to start all over again. Once people recognize and connect with your brand, then the product content is next.

2 – Product — My main product is Free Romance Short Stories

If you do not specialize then people will not find you among the masses. As in previous discussions in the Suspense/Thriller Writers group on Facebook, “Finding your voice”, “Character building”, “Backstory” to name a few, the message is clear: having a “unique” niche gives you the competitive edge. Mine is 1) – I’m a male romance author. 2) – All of my Romance Short Stories are free. My style is modern contemporary romance. My main characters are 95% woman-based. They deal with everyday romance issues in settings of “today’s modern woman”. I shape my characters and story based on everyday observations of people and the emails from my readers with their reviews and opinions of current stories. I always release Preview Chapters of all WIPs. Based on responses from my readers, I know which one to go with first and how to shape the story.

Another unique marketing approach is to let my readers “ghost write” part of a story aka Reader-to-Writer relationship building. I take story request from my readers and write their story for them. This thrills them to no end, so the marketing rule of one-to-many and many-to-one becomes viral marketing. They email and tell their friends “I’m in a story, come read my story!” and the page hit counter begins to zoom.


The main thrust of my marketing strategy is based on Free Romance Short Stories. Without giving away the farm, I can continue a direct connection to my readers while developing a customer base. When I complete my first novella and or book for public sale, I’ll already have a fan base to support the release.

Well, I’ve taken up a lot of time on this subject so I’ll stop here. I hope this insight works for you.

Twitter: How to Use It to Promote You and Your Books

John Marion Francis, Romance Writer and Market Research Analyst, explains how he uses Twitter as part of his book marketing plan:

Twitter, if you haven’t discovered by now, is another powerful marketing tool and a way to gain more readers. How many people visit and use Twitter? Over 5 million visitors in September 2008!

So what is Twitter? Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. That’s right; your post can only be 140 characters each. There is no limit to how many times you can post.

How does it work?

Updates (your twitter post) are displayed on your profile page and delivered to other Twitter users who have signed up to receive them aka Followers. You can restrict delivery to those in your circle (Followers) or make it Open to anyone on the Twitter network. Followers can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as TwitterFon (iPhone feed) and even Facebook!

So, is it worth the time?

Here are just a few of the giants that use it. Large Businesses such as Cisco Systems, Jet Blue, Sun Microsystems and Whole Foods Market use Twitter to provide product or service information.

Several 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns used Twitter as a publicity mechanism, including that of Democratic Party nominee and eventual winner Barack Obama.

Using Twitter To Market Your Book

Unlike other users that setup Twitter profiles like a “personal communication tool”, I setup my Twitter like a micro story blogger. I post my short stories in Tweet Post Packets (post). I only post one current ongoing short story at a time. This way the reader can read the story from beginning to end or keep up with the story post. I gain readers by them “Following” me. This is done when a Twitter user wants to keep track of my story post. They simply click on my profile and click “Follow”. Now every time I post a chapter, they automatically receive it.

I post full chapters at a time which could be about 10-20 post. This is important because the posts are delivered to them one after another (synchronized) which allows the Followers to read the entire chapter(s). Here is my Twitter link so you can see what I mean:

Think of Twitter like the new service and device that Amazon has called Kindle Kindle as some of you may know is an e-book service by Amazon coupled with its digital e-book reader called Kindle ($359.00).

The advantage of Twitter as a micro story blogger is that anyone can access it from any internet connection, iPhone, PDA, Blackberry, RSS, or SMS enabled phone for free. You can also put your website link in your main profile which is an active hotlink to your website as well as weblinks in your post. I put a link to the short story at the end to drive more readers to my website.

Well, I hope I answered most of your questions and gave you another potent tool to market yourself and your books! Feel free to contact me if you have questions.



Book Marketing: Writing Book Reviews

One way to get attention for your book is to review other authors’ books. The secret is not to treat them like competition, but to be honest and enthusiastic. Show your love of books and writing, and at the end, be sure to put a brief bio of yourself along with the names of your books. This last is not shameless promotion; it shows your authority, why you are the person best qualified to write the review. Once you’ve written the review, post it wherever and whenever you can — on your blog, on Amazon, on Gather, on book sites such as LibraryThing and GoodReads — and submitting them to ezines and review sites and publications.

Here is a checklist of topics to cover in the review (You do not need to cover all of them. They are meant simply as a guide.):

1. Give the basic book information. 

  • What is the title, the author’s name, where it can be purchased, ISBN number.

2. Write a few sentences about the plot. 

  • What is the story about?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What do they want?
  • Who will stop these character from attaining their desires, and why?
  • Are the characters believable?

3. Evaluate the book. 

  • What is the writer’s style: formal, informal, witty, charming?
  • Was the writing clear, original, concise, forceful, fluid?
  • Who are the intended readers?

4. If you wish, discuss the author’s use of story elements. 

  • How is the story introduced? What is the hook?
  • How are conflict, climax, and conclusion handled?
  • Is there a tone or an atmosphere, and how is it evoked?
  • What is the setting, and does it affect the story and characters?
  • Are the characters flat or three dimensional?
  • Does character development occur?
  • How effective is the dialogue?
  • Is there a subplot and if so, how is it related to the main plot?
  • What are the major themes? How are they revealed?

5. Tell how the book affected you. 

  • Did you like the book?
  • Did it keep your interest?
  • Could you relate to the characters?
  • Who was your favorite character?
  • What was your favorite part of the book?
  • What was your least favorite part?
  • Would you recommend this book? 

Books Don’t Sell Themselves

This article is posted courtesy of marketing consultant Sia McKye. McKye writes:

I need to stress to all authors that books don’t sell themselves.  If you’re tracking your sales on Amazon, you’re realizing that now. 

You’re published, and that’s a heady feeling, but now you need to be working just as hard on selling them—and yourself— as you did on the writing and editing.  You’re not done.  I realize that everyone has another life aside from your writing.  I also realize you want to use your spare time to continue writing. If you’re not putting any effort into promoting yourself, where is your market?  Your reader base?

A few questions to consider:  Do you have your websites up?  Are you blogging?  Are you utilizing many of the internet options that Pat Bertram has offered in her Book Marketing Floozy blog?  In other words, are you building an internet presence?  You also need to physically make yourself known as an author.  Are you contacting people locally?  Local bookstores, libraries, local author groups, newspapers, and radio to publicize yourself as an author and your book?  Locally, you have an ‘in’.  Use it.

Traditional publishers expect their authors to spend at least two months prior to publication and two months after publication on book promotion.  I won’t kid you, it requires a lot of time.  You need to be organized and set aside blocks of time to do this. It also means stepping out of your comfort zone to do it.  Bottom line here is this is your business, your product that is debuting.  Your books/product will only be as good as the effort after the writing to get attention for you and your book.  Keep that in mind. 

Even if you get bookstores to carry your books, what separates you from all the other authors out there?  You need name recognition and a reader base.  You have to build that with well crafted stories and advertising yourself.

Different Ways to Market Your Book Online

These days it’s fairly common knowledge among publishers and people in the book business that authors need to do a lot of their own marketing if they want their book to be a success. Sadly, this simple fact is not known by most authors, who are just happy enough to finally see their book in print. After a couple of months, and hopefully some coaching and support from the publisher – the author wakes up and realizes that getting their book published was really only part of being a professional writer. Beyond writing, marketing one’s book is also a large component of an author’s job. 

So how does an author, someone who knows writing but not much – if anything – about marketing get started? An easy way is online. Most of the marketing ventures online are either free or cost very little. In fact, some authors have become so savvy at marketing online that they have rarely if ever ventured to market their books in more traditional outlets such as bookstores. Whether you want to concentrate all of your marketing efforts on the internet, or a combination of both, is up to you (the author), but the internet gives an author a great place to start. 

There are several ways to market one’s book online. If it is listed on Amazon, there are tricks and methods for getting your book to come up in particular search queries, or to get it paired with another better selling book. There are also ways to drive traffic to your book on Amazon. Beyond Amazon (the digital bookstore), there are many other ways to market your book online. Press releases, article marketing, search engine optimization, blogging, social networks, and book listing sites are just a few of the techniques available to authors – all for free or little money. 

So don’t be scared when you find out that your publisher is relying on you to do most of the marketing for your book. A great resource for beginning to figure out how the internet works – and to begin marketing your writing online – has been put together in a series of articles and websites to help. On the Marketing Your Writing Online page you will find links – and instructional paragraphs – to over 400 websites where you can begin marketing your book. By using the sites listed on the Marketing Your Writing Online page your book will be more easily found online. After you’ve spent some time marketing your book online, you can then judge based on the results whether you need to pursue other more traditional marketing arenas. Just a warning, many authors are finding that these techniques are all they really need to be successful in their book marketing endeavors. 


Peter N. Jones has published two books, had several chapters published in edited volumes, contributed over 50 entries to three different academic research encyclopedias, and has published over 30 articles in various academic and popular journals. Currently he is Director and Editor of the Bauu Institute and Press, located in Boulder, Colorado. He is also Editor of Indigenous People’s Issues Today, a publication of Bauu Press and Publisher of New Great Books and Author Interviews.

What Are You Doing to Promote Yourself? How Are You Creating Name Recognition?

This article was written by marketing consultant Sia McKye.

Your book is published, either by a traditional publisher, or a POD publisher, now what?  How do we build a reader base?  How do we get our name out there?  Even if you don’t have a book published yet, what can you do to get your name out there before hand? 

Promotion is a bit different than publicity.  Publicity is largely free.  Most of what I mention here is publicity.  Promotion/Marketing is something you usually have to put out money for-sometimes you will get some funds from your publisher for that, other times it’s out of your advance from the publisher.  Some authors pay a fees for certain industry website Ads, or a Bookseller’s list.  Taking an Ad out in Regional and National papers, or in a magazine.  Doing a tour of book signings. 

I have friends that have been published, both non-fiction and fiction.  Dr. Sy Garte, author of, Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet, made an interesting observation,  “I have gone through this with a non fiction book. Here is what I learned. Most [publishing] houses have a dozen or so books coming out at once. The publicity department is always overwhelmed. If you are a new author, they might not invest the same time as they do for an established author…don’t expect too much marketing investment for a first book, but try to push for as much as you can.” 

Dr. Garte’s book is non-fiction, and much of what he says is from his experience as a published author within that arena, but the information, from what I’m hearing from published fiction authors, is true for both fiction and non-fiction markets.  Bottom line here is that as a new author you will be spending a great deal of time doing both publicity and marketing for your book.  This will be almost full-time on your part for at least the month before and two to three months after release. The more contacts you have the better.  

Building a reader base, and getting name recognition is a must.  Blogging, industry website presence, personal author websites, and to a certain extent, social networks are a good start.  This is where an unpublished author can start building name recognition.  Do you have a book trailer?  Where can a reader see it?  On your personal website?  YouTube?  

Networking also includes, local libraries-get your books in the general area Public libraries.  This can be done by donation.  High School libraries are the same although some are extensions of the public library.  Look at your local newspapers can you ask for a review of your book.  Gina Robinson, author of Spy Candy, mentioned Book Reading Groups.  Getting the lists for those would be advantageous.  Ms. Robinson told me she also signed up on to promote her various book signings.  She’s also sent out hundreds of post cards listing Spy Candy’s release and for upcoming scheduled book signings, to every contact she can think of.  Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head, uses RWA conferences and functions to get her face and name known, she has entered numerous contests and done very well-in addition to her website and blog. 

Don’t discount friends and family in your networking.  Many of them are proud of your accomplishments and would be willing to pass out your bookmarks-which should have the cover picture, a blurb, author website address, and your publisher website.  An important piece of information to include is where readers’ can purchase your book.  Are you on Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble?  Bookmarks should be colorful to catch the eye.  If you get promotion books from your publisher, which most authors do, whether they are published traditionally or POD, send them out to your personal network to promote for you-especially, if they live in another part of the country. 

There are even small community papers that allow a person to write an article.  Authors should use their writing abilities here too.  Then there are the local radio stations that give free spots for community people and talk shows that will give locals some time for interviews and plugging of our books. Authors need to be aware of these venues. 

Local bookstores can be approached with books in hand and your bookmarks.  Are there other local authors in your area?  Could you approach a bookstore with the idea of a local author’s book signing?  Once we get our foot in the door, it will snowball. 

So what are you doing to get your name recognized?  What successes are you seeing?

Notes on Book Promotion

I was typing out a list of notes for book promotion to use for future articles, when I decided to go ahead and publish the notes. Perhaps they will give you some ideas.

1. Establish yourself as an expert in writing forums, but make sure you give “expert” advice. Too many people are giving writing tips when they should be taking them.

2. Go beyond writing groups to promote your books online. Look for blogs that deal with your topics and comment on them. Admittedly, it’s hard to find topics in novels, play every angle. And be cool — don’t push your book. That just gets you labled a comment spammer.

3. Decide who might be interested in your book. Find a unique angle in your story that might interest a targeted group of people. One woman used “women who loved football” as her hook.

4. Instead of a booksigning, have an event. Give a talk, address writing groups, bill your booksigning as a “coming-out” party.

5. Review other authors’ books and post the review in as many places as possible. After the review, include a brief bio or yourself, and include links to your work.

6. To see if you can set up a booksigning or event at Barnes and Noble, call to get the name of the events co-ordinator. Some Barnes and Nobles have group events for authors from independent publishers.

7. Have a cyber launch party for your book. Set up a group on Yahoo, Facebook, your blog, and invite all your connections. It helps to have a friend who will feed you questions if the party is slow.

8. Look beyond bookstores for your booksigning/event. Is your book regional? Perhaps the historic society or tourist shops would be interested. Does your character golf or fish? Check out golf shops and fishing shacks.

9. Carry your book with you. If someone asks to see your ID, show them your picture on the cover.

10. Do a literacy promotion like: “Kids who see their parents read are more likely to become readers. If you don’t know what to read, I have a book . . . ”

Okay, the tenth suggestion is a bit off-the-wall, but book promotion is about being creative and coming up with off-the-wall ideas. One of them might actually work.