Category Archives: Sales and Marketing

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). The term refers to the various techniques people can use to improve (optimize) their respective webpages’ standings on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Baidu.

As an author, the “webpages” you’re trying to promote online may be your online articles, blog posts, the e-commerce site where you sell your book(s), or even the home page of your website. It’s crucial to your success to improve each one’s SEO.

How Does it Work?

Think, for a minute, about when you use a search engine to find something. Where is the first place you look when the search results come up? The top and centre of the page? In addition, how many links are you willing to click through to find what you’re looking for? Maybe five or six at the most? Maybe your eye will scan down that first page for something interesting; or, if you have the time, maybe you’ll dig a little deeper and look through the second or third page to see what comes up there. This is what SEO is all about. Statistically, most people will stay on the first page, and that is why it’s crucial to make sure you and your book appear on that first page for as many of the major keywords that are associated with your topic matter as possible. Regular and consistent online writing (blogging) is one way to help you achieve this level of SEO.

Find Keywords

The first thing you will want to do is find specific keywords related to your book’s topic. How do you do this? It’s easy! Pull up the search engine of your choice in your browser, such as Google. Think about what combinations of words your readers will be typing into that search engine when they’re looking for your book. Type them in to test them out and see what comes up. Find as many variations as you can. The more, the better because it will give you more topic matter to create even more content over time.

Create Content

Writing blog posts and online articles that are informative and helpful will bring you more readers—but only if they contain the keywords we just talked about. Repeating a specific keyword at least twice per every 100 words will improve the SEO of that content for that keyword. Then you must share those pieces with others via email marketing, social media marketing, et cetera. Why share it? Because the SEO of that article will further increase and improve with every unique click from every new person who views it.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Effective Copywriting and Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA)

This content first appeared on Warrior Forum and has been republished here with permission from the author.

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Writing really effective, eye-catching copy to promote a product or service is important. When it comes to online marketing, that copy also needs to cleverly incorporate the item’s highest ranking keywords for the purpose of search engine optimization (SEO).

But there’s more to it than that, and this is where things like blogging, social media marketing, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising come in handy. If you want to reach all your current and prospective customers, then you must achieve top of mind awareness (TOMA) with all of them by constantly staying in front of them.

Some people think of their target market as a fixed segment of the public that share similar characteristics (e.g. my customers are adult males and females between the ages of 25 to 45 who enjoy … blah blah blah, you fill in the blank). But your customers aren’t static like that. Think of them more as a fluid stream of people who are flowing in and out of your market all the time. If you want to stay top of mind with them then you need to stay in front of them all the time so that, when they’re in the market to buy whatever it is you’re selling, they’ll recall you ahead of your competitors. This will increase your chances of a sale.

Here’s an analogy for you. Think of a shopping mall. Think of all the types of stores in that shopping mall: shoe stores, clothing stores, furniture stores, et cetera. Most everyone has a need to buy shoes, clothing, and furniture at one time or another, right? But you may not be in the market for it right this minute today. You may not need it until next month or next year. And who are you most likely to buy from when the time comes and you’re in the market to buy? You’ll buy from the most trusted brand in your mind–a trust that was built up over time with regular and consistent copywriting that was shared over and over again through blogging, social media, PPC, and whatever other means.

Why don’t you fill in the blank and name “whatever other means” people can use to achieve top of mind awareness with their clients. What are some other great vehicles we can use to stay front and center with our target markets? Leave a comment below.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

[The Art of Copywriting] Creating Something New Out of Something Old

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

This content first appeared on Digital Point Forum and has been republished here with permission from the author.

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Whether you’re writing copy for your own company or freelancing for a variety of clients, chances are you’re going to be writing about topics that have been written about hundreds of times before. The best copywriters will have mastered the art of creating something new out of something old. But everyone struggles with this sometimes.

I have one possibly unique idea for the rookie copywriters who have come to this forum looking for guidance on how to best tackle a writing job. But I also invite all the pros to please add your advice into the comments below. We can all help each other. We can all learn from each other.

Okay, now for my somewhat peculiar idea…

Come up with a title for your topic that includes the words “3 Tips” or “4 Ideas” or something like that so you have a goal as to how many tips or ideas you’re going to cover in your marketing piece. Now pull out your dictionary (must be a physical dictionary), close your eyes, open it up to a random page, put your finger on a random spot on that page, then open your eyes and find the random word that you will use for your first tip/idea. Do this for as many tips/ideas as you have decided to write about so you have the same amount of random words to work with. 

Now write to those words. Figure out a way to make them fit into your topic matter in a new and creative way. You can do it. You may surprise yourself.

Again, the idea is to NOT flip through to try to find “relevant” words you’re familiar with but to stick with that first random word, get creative with it, and figure out a new way to make it relevant to your topic. Since there hasn’t been much activity on this thread, I thought I’d better provide an example of what I’m talking about.

Let’s say the topic I have to write about is “How to Improve Your Blog’s SEO Using Social Media Marketing” but I want to try something new rather than just re-writing the standard type of article for this topic. So, I choose a random word to get my creative juices flowing. For the purpose of this post, I used an online random word generator ( rather than a dictionary so I could prove to you my word choice was random. It wouldn’t let me choose only one word. It had to be two or more. The words are “wizard” and “horses.” Here is the article that resulted from those two words:

How to Improve Your Blog’s SEO Using Social Media Marketing, Wizards, and Horses

Anyone with a blog knows the primary reason why blogging is so important is search engine optimization (SEO), which means to improve (optimize) one’s standing in the organic search results on search engines like Google. You might have a fairly high search engine ranking for one or two of your primary keywords, such as your business and personal name. Blogging can help to improve your ranking for many more including some keywords you may not have considered before that will open you up to a whole new audience.

Who are you blogging for? What target market are you trying to reach? Adults or children? Male or female? What sorts of information are these individuals looking for online, other than your typical keywords, that you could intercept to bring them over to your blog?

For example, a blog that provides help, tips, and support regarding adoption can piggyback on a really prominent, instantly recognizable keyword anywhere in the world such as “Marilyn Monroe” to attract an even larger audience. Maybe the title of that particular blog entry could be: Why Marilyn Monroe Became One of the Most Successful Orphans in North America.

What about if you’re writing a blog for children and their parents about Internet safety? Do these children love Disney? Perhaps The Wizard of Oz? Horses and ponies? Start blogging about these things to attract additional subscribers: There’s No Place Like Home: Internet Safety Tips from The Wizard Oz and Not All Horses are Your Friend: Beware The Online Trojan Horse. Adding cartoon graphics of these images to your blog will make each post even more attractive.

Now your blog entries are written. Where do you share them? That’s easy. Find out which social media sites your target market is using the most and share those blog entries there. Facebook and Twitter are safe bets for your adult readers. But what about the children? Why not try out these: Safe Chat Rooms and Social Sites for Kids.

The more creative your blog, the more readers it will appeal to. Step outside the norm. Think outside the box. That’s how to improve your blog’s SEO using social media marketing, wizards, and horses … and maybe even movie stars! ​

How is that? Make sense? By choosing those two random words, I came up with a unique idea for this blog post that I may not have thought of before. Now you try!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Sell More Books: Run a $1,000,000 Contest!

This content first appeared on Warrior Forum and has been republished here with permission from the author.

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“But I don’t have $1,000,000 to give away as a prize,” you’re saying. That’s okay. You don’t have to. Neither do the businesses who offer those $1,000,000 “hole in one” prizes to their staff and clients at corporate golf tournaments. They aren’t paying for that prize out of their own pockets, either.

Here’s how it works…

All effective sales strategies start with a goal and a plan. Decide how many books you want to sell (whether it’s an e-book being sold online or a paperback being sold in a traditional “bricks and mortar” bookstore) and the date you want them sold by. For example, maybe you want to sell 100 books within the next 30 days. Guesstimate how many people would have to see your book in order to sell that many (e.g. if you think you can sell to 10% of the people who see your book, then you will need to attract 1,000 people to view it in order to reach your goal).

Next, you need to Google the specialty insurance companies in your area to determine how their contest and prize structures work and what it will cost you to run the contest. In my experience, it usually only costs a couple hundred dollars (your specialty insurance premium) to offer an insured prize of $1,000,000 to X number of people. The price may vary with however many chances to win you offer to however many people. No worries. There’s something there for everyone’s budget.

Your contest headline may read something like this: The first 1,000 people to view and like this book on our Facebook page before such and such a date (30 days from the contest opening date) will each have a chance to win $1,000,000! And you can offer them a discounted price or rebate of some kind if they also buy a copy of your book at the designated bookstore. But no purchase is necessary to enter the contest.

Think about it! What an incredible incentive to get someone to notice your book! The chance to win $1,000,000! And if they like the book, they can buy it. If you can attract 1,000 people to view and like it, chances are you’ll sell those 100 copies and meet your goal. You may even sell more.

It’s a great way to drive sales more quickly. When your buyers are sitting on the fence, trying to decide which way to go, a contest is a fantastic way to pique their interest and get them to jump off that fence into your yard ahead of your competitors’ yards.

Give it a try.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Marketing: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part Two

Marnie Lamb

 6. Go on NetGalley: Dock your boat at a big, densely populated island where the inhabitants know you’re coming and at least some of them want to meet you. NetGalley is an online service that connects book reviewers—including bloggers, members of the media, booksellers, and librarians—with authors and publishers seeking to promote their books. As an author, you sign up to have your book listed on NetGalley for a specific term. During that term, book reviewers can request a digital copy for review. Sounds fabulous, right? It is, but for authors, NetGalley comes with a few caveats.

The first is the cost. While NetGalley is free for those seeking to review books, those wishing to have books reviewed must pay a fee for their listing. The cost for an individual author to list a single book for six months is approximately US$450 (C$571), a heavy duty to pay for landing on NetGalley Island ( Fortunately, you can join a co-op, which allows you to purchase a listing at a reduced price. Through Xpresso Book Tours, the company who arranged a blog tour for my book, I bought a three-month listing for only US$180 (C$228).

Deciding who should review your book is another challenge. NetGalley has over 175,000 registered reviewers ( While no book will interest all reviewers, you may be in the lucky position of receiving hundreds or even thousands of review requests. However, as Xpresso cautions on its website, a small percentage of the reviewers on NetGalley are simply looking for free books. You want to promote your book, but you don’t want to be taken advantage of. How do you know which reviewers to trust? Although you can’t be certain of the answer, you can try to weed out the inhabitants who are simply going to grab a copy of your book, run off to the other side of the island, and never be heard from again. Set parameters for who reviews the book. For example, you could stipulate that reviewers must have a social media following of at least 500, and or that they must have posted a review on NetGalley within the last six months. As part of its NetGalley service, Xpresso undertook this weeding process for me. My contact at Xpresso, Giselle Cormier, asked whether I wanted to stipulate any other parameters as to who could review my book (such as the ones I’ve suggested above). As a first-time novelist, I decided that I would welcome everyone who wanted to read my book, so I didn’t include any additional restrictions. I’m glad, though, that I had Xpresso protecting my interests by choosing who would and wouldn’t receive a copy of my book.

Finally, as with all marketing, be careful what you wish for with NetGalley. During the three months that The History of Hilary Hambrushina was listed, it received numerous review requests, which resulted in reviews being posted on Goodreads, Amazon, and elsewhere. Having cleared the hurdle of finding reviewers, I now had to worry about their response to my book. While my book earned some heartwarming praise, it also gathered its share of criticism, some of it snarky. Yes, some island inhabitants are going to roll their eyes at your art, and you are powerless to stop them. Instead, be grateful that your book has garnered interest, and at the risk of sounding a bit slimy, try to make peace with the old adage about all publicity being good publicity. Point nine offers a more in-depth discussion about dealing with negative reviews.

 7. Be careful how you set up giveaways: As you’re rowing around the ocean, you may wish to toss a few freebies to the island inhabitants. Keeping the prizes small and light will ensure that you’re not weighed down or distracted from all your other marketing duties. I found this advice in several articles about giveaways, but I didn’t always follow it. So I think it bears repeating here.

I’ve run several giveaways (contests) in connection with my book promotion: two on individual blogs, one through my blog tour with Xpresso, and one on Goodreads. The first guideline of giveaways is to resist the temptation to offer your book as the prize. Otherwise, you’re taking away potential sales. After all, if people think they can get something free, they won’t buy it. On Goodreads, you can offer only books for giveaways, but blogs and blog tours provide the chance for different prizes. On the two individual blogs, I did offer my book as a prize, and in one case, I offered two different rewards: one print book and one ebook. Giving out two different prizes can be confusing, though, because winners may think that they have a choice of prize and they may both want the same one. So if you have multiple prizes, simplify the process by offering two of the same prize.

For one of my blog giveaways, I offered a $10 charitable donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, in addition to a copy of my book. I felt that this was a unique prize in keeping with both my life philosophy and the themes in my book. The prize did involve a bit of legwork in terms of setting up an account with the charities, but I’m happy to have been able to use my success to give back a little. Depending on your values and budget, you may wish to incorporate a charitable element into your giveaways. Overall, though, I strongly suggest keeping your prizes as simple as possible.

What prize is both simple for the donor and enticing to the recipient? You can’t go wrong with an Amazon gift card. Gift cards may seem unoriginal, but they give the winner a choice in what he or she wants to buy. When I was first looking into gift cards as prizes, I began considering other popular stores and places that tied into some of the themes and characters in The History of Hilary Hambrushina, such as The Body Shop, Lush, and Cineplex Odeon. But that just raised more questions. In which countries do these stores operate? Are the cards transferable between countries? Will readers even want one of these cards? A certificate to an online retailer, which can be easily accessed in any country, is more straightforward. And anyone who’s visiting a book blog clearly likes books, so why try to guess what else the person might like?

I think I was trying to be as innovative with my giveaways as I am with my writing. Setting up a giveaway is not an exercise in creative writing, however. By the time of my book tour, I’d learned from my earlier missteps, and as the end-of-tour prize, I chose a US$50 gift certificate to Amazon, which proved popular with blog readers. So don’t get too fancy with your prizes. You have enough other marketing tasks without trying to complicate this one.

 8. Take advantage of small promotional chances: In the midst of all the large promotional opportunities—going on a blog tour (see point five), getting your book into bookstores, and running a giveaway on Goodreads—it’s easy to overlook more modest marketing venues. But islets have fruit-bearing plants, too.

For me, the best smaller promotional opportunities came with marketing my book to colleagues. As an editor, I’m blessed to be part of a profession filled with people who love to read. Editors Canada (the national association for editors) provided me with several chances to tell other editors about The History of Hilary Hambrushina. The first came in the monthly e-news update, which contains a section for members’ news. I typed a short description of my book and sent it in. The blurb ran in the next update, which was distributed to 1300 editors nationwide.

Sometimes, a chance to market your book can be the fringe benefit of another opportunity. Three months after my blurb ran in the Editors Canada e-news update, I was featured on the Editors Toronto blog in its series Editor for Life. Although the article’s purpose was to profile my career as an editor, I piggybacked on the publicity by mentioning my book and including a link to my publisher’s website. Similarly, at a recent Editors Toronto monthly meeting, I spoke on a panel about branding for editors. Again, the panel’s purpose had nothing to do with YA novels or marketing fiction, but I made sure to mention my book in the biography the host read before I began speaking.

Have these promotional gambits resulted in many sales? I don’t know yet, but these marketing tasks involved little time and no money, so choosing to pursue them was a no-brainer. I know I made at least one sale through the blurb in the e-news update: The membership coordinator, to whom I’d sent my announcement, emailed me a week and a half later to say that she’d purchased my book and really enjoyed it. As with any marketing task, you need to ask whether smaller opportunities are worth your effort and money. But if they are simple and free, go for them. After all, no sales can be generated from people who don’t know about your book.

 9. Manage your emotions: During your journey, you will sometimes be riding high, hair billowing behind you, lungs breathing in the fresh sea air, as your boat crests the top of a wave and you survey all the islands you’ve conquered. The next minute, your boat will be pitched down into the roiling ocean and your body drenched in frigid water. As you emerge, gasping for breath, you’ll have salt up your nose, seaweed in your ears, and a bad case of the chills. The main cause of this cresting and pitching? Reviews. As a friend sagely warned me just weeks before my book went on NetGalley, “Amazon is good, but Amazon is horrible.”

I remember confidently telling two people at a party a couple of weeks later that while I knew my book, like any other, would receive one- and two-star reviews, I simply wasn’t going to read those reviews. “Good for you,” my listeners responded. Yes, good for me, only my resolve was about as adhesive as glue from the Trudeau era—Pierre, not Justin. The first review I came across had rated my book two out of five stars. Unable to stop myself, I clicked on the review, read the criticism, and immediately felt a six-inch-square knot crystallize in my chest. I read the first dozen reviews of my book—including, I’m happy to say, several four- and five-star reviews. Still, I had trouble sleeping for several nights, haunted by the snippy comments in some of the negative reviews. Soon, though, after I’d had my fill of masochism, I found the Justin-era glue, slathered it on my resolve, and stopped reading reviews that were fewer than three stars, a resolution I’ve stuck to.

If your willpower is stronger than mine and you can avoid reading negative reviews from the start, kudos! I don’t believe that anything positive can come of reading bad reviews, so if you can crush your curiosity immediately, you’ll be in a better emotional state than I was. Realistically, though, I suspect that many writers, particularly first-time novelists, will find it impossible not to unstop their ears for at least a moment as they row past that island of hecklers. And that’s OK. Indulging your curiosity about bad reviews is a part, albeit a painful one, of the writing journey. However, if you’re finding that you’ve been sucked in to landing on Heckler Island and you simply cannot move your feet to get back in the boat and row away, put out an SOS call to a loved one to rescue you.

Share your heartache with compassionate, supportive people who are good listeners, people who will let you rant without shelling out that useless advice, “Don’t worry.” It’s easy for people who haven’t had to endure public (or even private) critiquing of their art to tell you not to worry, but many writers are sensitive souls who are natural worriers. With apologies to Geico, if you’re a worrier, you worry. It’s what you do. You can’t will yourself to stop worrying. You will be anxious about bad reviews. How you handle that anxiety, however, is key.

Aside from connecting with supporters and trying to avoid reading bad reviews, you can use several techniques to deal with negative publicity. You can try rationalizing it by telling yourself the following: “One review is just one person’s opinion” and “If that reviewer didn’t connect with my book, that’s unfortunate, but I can’t expect that everyone will like it.” Personally, though, I don’t find rationalizing a very effective technique, at least not at the start of the process of recovering from heartache. When I feel badly, I need to feel well, not think well. So if you’re like me, prioritize positive feeling over positive thinking. I keep a separate file folder on my computer containing some of the four- and five-star reviews given to The History of Hilary Hambrushina. When I’m feeling down about marketing, I read these reviews to remind myself that regardless of what else does or doesn’t happen with my book, it has touched the hearts of strangers tens of thousands of kilometres away. That in turn touches my heart. Rewarding yourself also induces positive feelings. After reading those first dozen reviews, I bought several bags of tea, not of all which I needed. But the luscious lemon liquid and calming camomile concoction revived and soothed my body, mind, and heart.

Most importantly, regardless of how you’re feeling about your marketing, take breaks from both it and your book. Making a small excursion on the ocean before returning to the mainland to rest and refuel before heading out again is more than fine; it’s necessary. As difficult as it is to remember, you are not your book. For your own emotional and mental health, you need to separate the two.

 10. Define the extent of your marketing: Decide when you’ll return to the mainland. One of the best parts of being published with a company that doesn’t provide marketing is that you control your book’s promotion. Yes, the responsibility of creating and implementing the marketing plan falls solely on you. But so do all the decisions about where—and how far—you want to take your marketing.

I offer this advice with some trepidation because I don’t want to appear to be contradicting everything I’ve said thus far. So don’t think of this advice as telling you that the marketing route you’ve taken has been incorrect and you need to row your boat back to the dock from which you departed. Rather, see it as plucking you out of your boat, suspending you several hundred feet above the ocean, and giving you an aerial view of the path you’ve travelled and all the possible paths you could take.

When I began promoting my book in earnest this past spring, a well-meaning cheerleader urged me to “Reach for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” While I appreciated the sentiment, I dislike this expression for three reasons. First, it’s a cliché, often said without any deep thought about the particular situation in question. Second, it’s illogical. Think about it. The stars form about as solid an alliance as a sieve. They’re not necessarily going to catch you if you miss the moon. Who’s to say that in shooting for the moon, you won’t wind up flat on your back on the Prairies? Third, it’s harsh. It implies that any endeavour that doesn’t attain, or at least attempt to attain, a heavenly body is a failure. And that’s narrow thinking.

Let’s review. If you’re at the point where you’re marketing a book, you’ve already accomplished so much: creating the story and characters, writing the book, rewriting and editing it, finding a publisher, dealing with the lows and highs of rejection and acceptance, and maybe even running a crowdfunding campaign to cover the book’s publication costs. Those accomplishments comprise more than most hopeful writers will ever achieve. Yet, these achievements are often portrayed as not enough. What’s the motto of the biggest global competition, the Olympic Games? “Faster, higher, stronger.” You can always have more sales, more income, more accolades, more publicity, more glory.

When I first spread the news about the upcoming publication of The History of Hilary Hambrushina, several people made bold predictions: “Think of how much money you’ll make!” “You could be the next J.K. Rowling!” Fortunately, as someone who has worked in the publishing industry for over a decade, I have much more realistic expectations about where my book publication will likely lead. Furthermore, I have no interest in being the next anyone. I’m the first Marnie Lamb, and I’m proud of that.

However, some people will always tell you that you haven’t done enough. Ultimately, though, you need to take the marketing journey for yourself only. Marketing takes time, money, and mental stamina. Most of us have families and careers, from which we can be away for only so long before we begin to suffer in other ways. (Remember: You are not your book.) So one day, you may decide to dock your boat permanently and move on to other oceans and land masses. When that day comes, be proud of everything you’ve accomplished. Moving on is not the same as giving up.

Finally, rout out that festering weed of a word, “enough,” from your vocabulary. Your achievements aren’t impressive enough, inspiring enough, praiseworthy enough, or amazing enough. They are impressive, inspiring, praiseworthy, and amazing. Full stop. Don’t limit your accomplishments by qualifying them. Celebrate them in all their glory.

Happy marketing!

© Marnie Lamb


Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Marketing: 10 Tips to Make It Work for You, Part One

Marnie Lamb

This past spring, my first book, a young adult novel named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books, a Toronto-based hybrid publisher. Hybrid publishers represent a third way, a cross between traditional and self-publishers. Like a traditional publisher, Iguana maintains high quality standards and will not publish manuscripts that do not meet those standards. Like a self-publisher, Iguana does not include free marketing in the services it provides for authors. Instead, authors are responsible for promoting their own books.

After having successfully raised money for my book’s publication costs through crowdfunding (see my earlier two-part article on crowdfunding), I turned my attention to marketing. I wasn’t a total greenhorn. I’d been running a freelance editing business for seven years, which necessitated some self-promotion. But for me, marketing was always the grimy other side of the coin to the polished artisanship of writing and editing. During my years in Ryerson University’s Publishing Program, I studiously avoided all the marketing and sales courses. I wanted to focus on the careful crafting of books, not on the dirty, cutthroat business of selling them.

But once my book was in the process of being published, I had to accept the grime and begin navigating the treacherous waters of selling. However, Iguana didn’t just toss me off the pier and walk away. My contact there suggested that we have a phone conversation with a colleague of hers who had marketing experience. In it, they sketched out a rough map of the marketing ocean, highlighting some of the islands at which I should stop. The planning of the route, the paddling, and the embarking and disembarking were all up to me, though.

The Internet offers a cornucopia of information about marketing for writers. Some fruits appear multiple times in the cornucopia. For example, many wonderful articles have been published about the importance of having an eye-catching, informative website and becoming social media savvy. In this article, I’ll focus on some of the smaller fruits that remain hidden in the middle or at the back of the horn of plenty, as well as on the arrangement of the fruits in the basket—that is, on marketing as a process.

Here are ten tips I’ve learned in my marketing journey with a hybrid publisher.

 1. Give yourself as much time as possible: If you’re being published by a company that doesn’t provide marketing services, chances are that the publisher is either a hybrid or self-publisher. Therefore, you probably have at least some sway over the publication date. You may be tempted to set the earliest possible date so that you can send your masterpiece out into the world immediately and begin bragging to everyone you know about your book’s being on Amazon. But doing so is rarely a wise marketing strategy, especially for an unknown author whose book doesn’t yet have any buzz surrounding it.

Marketing is multi-faceted. Not only are there many islands to explore, but these islands are all part of archipelagoes, and each island in the archipelago must be visited or at least considered for a visit. For example, when Iguana advised me to “go on Facebook,” I had many more tasks to complete than simply signing up for an account. In fact, before I even signed up, I needed to decide which type of page I wanted: business or personal. Then, I faced a multitude of decisions about my friending policy, my security settings, the tone of my posts, and the amount of control I wanted to grant to others (would they be allowed to initiate or only respond to posts on my wall?).

Every aspect of marketing is a journey in itself. So allowing yourself enough time to formulate and execute a marketing plan before publication is crucial. Six months is the average time that a writer must wait after publication before receiving the first royalties cheque. If you rush to publication and haven’t had time to spread the word about your book, you’re unlikely to garner many sales, which could mean a delay in receiving payment. You’ve already worked so hard to get your book published, so why not start earning money as soon after publication as you can?

Even more sobering is the possibility of your book going out of print after only a short time in print. Most publishers, including hybrid publishers, have a clause in their author contract stating that if sales fall below a certain threshold, the publisher will cease to print copies of the book. Garnering sales can be a slow process because you often have to try various marketing initiatives to see which ones are most fruitful for you. If you wait until after publication to begin marketing, you risk having very low sales over the first few months or even year, which could put further printing of your book in jeopardy. The few months before publication are a precious time to get a jump on your book promotion.

Start your marketing at least six months in advance. If that means postponing the publication date, do so. Production wise, my book was ready to be published at the end of February. But I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, in earlier consultation with the publisher, I had chosen May 31 as the publication date, which gave me an extra three months of marketing time. By the time that date arrived, I felt comfortable knowing that I had made a push to spread the word about The History of Hilary Hambrushina.

 2. Talk to someone before you start formulating your marketing plan: If you push your boat out before making a map, you’ll quickly become lost at sea. But even creating a map is tricky for a newbie cartographer. Speak with an experienced mapmaker who can give you an idea about how to chart your course. For me, this person was my Iguana contact’s colleague. If your publisher cannot provide any advice about marketing, seek that guidance elsewhere.

Chances are excellent that you know someone who knows someone with marketing experience. If you’ve successfully crowdfunded your book’s publication costs, the network you’ve built during your campaign will come in handy now. If you’re lucky, you may know someone who works in marketing or publicity. But people who have some background in promotion, even if they’re not marketers per se, may be helpful. Maybe the daughter of a friend took a marketing course in her publishing program and would be glad of the opportunity to hone her skills by assisting a newly published author. Or perhaps a colleague’s spouse had a book published and can offer his perspective. However, ensure that whoever you choose does have marketing experience, preferably with books. Many well-meaning people will give you ideas, solicited or not, for promoting your book. But when you’re beginning your marketing, you need to first talk to someone who’s been out on the ocean, however briefly.

If your circle of acquaintances doesn’t yield fruit or you want further advice, consider taking a seminar or reading a book. I picked up some good tips at a morning-long course from the Toronto-based Canadian Children’s Book Centre titled “The Business of Writing: Selling Your Books, Selling Yourself.” The newer and more convenient cousin of seminars, webinars, ensures that as long as you have Internet access, living outside a large metropolis is no barrier to availing yourself of educational opportunities. Shop around online and look for marketing courses aimed at writers and offered by professional institutions such as universities or writers’ groups.

With all the advice about marketing for writers available online and in print, you may be wondering why you should bother having an information interview with a marketer or spending money on a course or book. But before you begin reading articles, knowing where to start is essential. If you don’t which islands are out there, how will you know which travel guides to read?

 3. Make and remake a to-do list: Once you’ve spoken with a cartographer, sketch out a plan for which islands to visit in which order, and revise the plan as many times as you need to.

Most people work better having a written plan for major endeavours. I’m no exception, and as an indexer, I love lists. So after speaking with Iguana about marketing, I saved a new copy of the notes I’d typed during the meeting and began putting tasks in the order in which they needed to be completed. At first, I grouped tasks under different headings such as Author Website, Social Media, Readings and Bookstores, and Other. Although this was visually pleasing because the to-do list was not presented as one big chunk, the presentation was impractical because it meant that I had to look under multiple categories to figure out what my next marketing task was. So I collapsed all the categories and simply made a long list. For every completed task, I wrote “done” in uppercase pink letters at the end of the line (or “n/a” in red letters if I’d decided not to pursue the task). For ease, I highlighted in blue the tasks that I needed to perform next.

You may prefer to group tasks by category, or perhaps you’d rather use an Excel spreadsheet or pen and paper instead of a Word document. Experiment with different list formats and find what works for you. Regardless of format, include timelines for completion of a given task. Return to your list every time you work on your marketing, and refine it by adding, deleting, or moving tasks around.

 4. Realize the limitations of non-traditional publishers: Sadly, books from self-publishers, independent publishers, and hybrid publishers are not welcome in some quarters. If you attempt to land on those islands, you’ll encounter hostile inhabitants who will bar your ship from entering the port.

This fact didn’t come up during my marketing conversation with Iguana. Instead, my status as authora non grata was a distressing lesson I learned soon after I began researching book bloggers to whom I could send my novel for review. Some bloggers state in their review policy that they won’t consider self-published books. Because of its newness and connection with self-publishing, hybrid publishing is equally suspect in some quarters, and books published by such companies are lumped in with self-published books.

I wish I had a way of busting open these ports, Commodore Perry style, but I don’t. You’re better served by advice warning of the existence of these islands and suggesting that you move on. As an individual writer, especially a new one, you’re unlikely to change anyone’s mind about non-traditional publishing. More likely, your impassioned pleas and carefully reasoned arguments will annoy bloggers. This anger is justifiable. After all, you wouldn’t send a query about a romance novel to a blogger who specifically states that she does not review romance novels, so the same applies to non-traditionally published books. Also, book bloggers are a close-knit community. They talk to one another. If you send too many “will you make an exception for me because my book is awesome?” emails, you might be pegged as an obtuse pain who wastes bloggers’ time because he doesn’t read review policies properly. And as someone trying to promote your book, you definitely don’t want that reputation.

The tide of opinion about non-traditionally–published books has shifted over the past twenty years. When I was studying for my master’s in creative writing, self-publishing was called vanity publishing, and our seminar instructor assured us that none of us would ever have to stoop to the degradation of publishing our own work. Now, with the commercial and critical success of more and more self-published books, including Canadian Terry Fallis’s first novel, The Best Laid Plans, non-traditional publishing is becoming more respected. You can do your part to help this opinion shift by writing the best book you can, promoting it to the best of your ability, accepting that some still people won’t want to read it, trying not to take this rejection personally, and moving on.

 5. Go on a blog tour: A blog tour is a virtual book tour. Instead of visiting bookstores, reading from your book, and signing copies, you have your book featured on several blogs (the exact number depends on the tour package you choose) over a set period. The blogs offer excerpts and reviews of your book, author interviews with you, and guest posts written by you—all important promotional opportunities. The best part? You can hire a blog tour company to organize a tour for you. Inviting someone else to chart a course and steer my boat for a while was the smartest marketing decision I made and the best money I spent.

When I first learned about blog tours, my reaction was “why bother?” Many individual reviewers have guidelines for how authors can contact them. I figured that if I could contact reviewers myself, I could save money by not hiring someone to reach out to people for me. I was confident that I could secure the same number of reviews and promotional opportunities that a blog tour would produce. I resolved to resort to a tour only if I struck out with the bloggers I was contacting personally.

Within a couple of weeks, I realized my error. Iguana had provided me with a list of over 600 YA bloggers. I spent several days combing through the list and narrowed it down to 184 who were the best candidates to review my book. Then, I spent another two weeks reading over some of these blogs, crafting personal emails to the bloggers, and sending out queries. Of the 96 bloggers I emailed, I received 8 responses: 3 yeses, 2 maybes, and 3 nos. Given the number of books out there and the number of authors, publicists, and publishers jockeying for reviews, I suspect that an 8% response rate is decent, especially considering that I was a first-time author with no published reviews and only a fledgling web and social media presence.

Nonetheless, I found the process demoralizing and time consuming and the result disappointing. I’d hit a sandbar and knew that I couldn’t continue. I checked my pride and made an SOS call to a blog tour company that specialized in YA fiction. Thankfully, Giselle Cormier of Xpresso Book Tours responded immediately and agreed to come to my aid.

As I was researching potential blog tour companies, I realized just how arrogant I’d been to assume that I could quickly make the kinds of connections that tour hosts have taken years nurturing. Blog tour companies are deeply connected; Xpresso has ties to over 2000 bloggers. Unless you’re someone who’s already securely plugged in to a network of bloggers, I strongly recommend hiring a professional to organize reviews and other promotional opportunities for you. As with any other hiring decision, do your homework. Tour companies specialize in certain genres of writing, so make sure you’re targeting organizations who will promote your type of book. Investigate their credentials. How long have they been in business? What are their qualifications? Is their website professionally designed and free of grammatical and spelling errors? Does it have a testimonials section?

Promotional opportunities organized by tour companies have another advantage over those you organize yourself. If a blogger says she’ll review your book, that’s not a guarantee that the review will happen. Life sometimes has other plans. With a blog tour, there are no guarantees, either. However, you’re more likely to get the reviews requested. For example, Xpresso added a couple of extra stops to my tour to compensate for any bloggers who might not be able to post. In the best-case scenario, everyone would post and I would get a couple more stops than the twenty for which I’d paid; in the worst-case, I’d still have my twenty posts.

My blog tour provided The History of Hilary Hambrushina with great exposure. I first noticed the effects on the giveaway I’d been running on Goodreads. After five weeks, around 400 people had signed up to win one of ten free copies of my book, not exactly a stellar turnout. Then, Xpresso posted my tour sign-up sheet on their website and began promoting the tour. In the last week of my giveaway, the number of entrants spiked to over 1300. During the tour, I ran another giveaway organized by Xpresso. Over 2000 people entered, meaning that those 2000 people were now aware of me and my book. I would never have been able to attract that many eyeballs on my own. If you take only one piece of advice from this article (except for point ten, coming in part two), take this one.

© Marnie Lamb


Author Bio:  Marnie Lamb is a Gemini incarnate: half writer and half editor. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor. Her short stories have appeared in Journey Prize Stories 25 and various Canadian literary journals, including filling Station, The Nashwaak Review, and The Dalhousie Review. Her first novel, a YA book named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, was published by Iguana Books this past spring. She pursues her other love, editing, as the owner of Ewe Editorial Services, which offers copy editing, indexing, permissions and photo research, and proofreading services to educational, scholarly, and trade publishers. When she is not writing or editing, she can be found cooking recipes with eggplant or scouting out fashions—preferably ones with polka-dots—at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show.

Three Ways an Author Central Page Can Spike Your Ranking on Amazon

Kim Staflund’s Author Central page can be found here:

You may have been browsing’s bookstore recently, and you may have come across author pages that group together all of an author’s books in one place along with his or her photo(s) and biography. If you’re wondering how you can set up a page like this for yourself and how it can help to spike your overall ranking on Amazon, keep reading. Here’s what you need to know.

You Must Create Your Own Author Central Page and “Claim” Your Books to That Page

Whether you have a publisher (such as PPG) that is publishing your books worldwide for you or you’re self-publishing your own ebooks to Amazon’s Kindle by yourself, Amazon won’t automatically group all your books together—nor will Amazon allow your publisher to do it on your behalf because the company prefers to work directly with individual authors. What you must do is sign up to create your own Author Central Page; and, once that process is complete, you must contact them again to “claim” each of the books you want added to your page by sending them a list of the ISBNs (or ASINs) and titles of those books.

Your Author Ranking is Important to Your Overall Success Online

In many ways, online book sales and marketing works differently than traditional book sales and marketing does. In the traditional world, you’re trying to appeal to people (e.g., publicists, book reviewers, booksellers) to help you promote your book(s) to the masses. But, in the online world, you’re goal is to get your webpage indexed via computerized processes—algorithms. It’s all about effectively “pinging” a search engine’s algorithm in order to rank higher and higher in its search results which, much like a successful publicity campaign, will increase your page’s exposure. More exposure generally equates to more sales over time. It’s a numbers game.

Each one of your books on Amazon’s website has its own individual webpage ranking, and that ranking is based primarily on how many copies of the book have been sold. But there are other factors that can affect ranking such as publishing frequency, association with other bestselling books via the “Customers who bought this item also bought” section of the page, and one’s Author Central page … to name only three (algorithms are elusive creatures).

Three Ways an Author Central Page Can Spike Your Ranking on Amazon

Once your page is officially set up (which should only take a day or two … they’re pretty fast), the fun begins! Now you can create an author bio for yourself, upload author photos and promotional videos, include your upcoming events, and add the really simple syndication (RSS) feed from your WordPress blog to share teasers of your latest blog posts with an extended audience. Doing so can help to spike your ranking on Amazon in these three ways:

1. The very act of creating an Author Central page—and adding those first one or two books, author photos, events, and/or videos—automatically spikes your overall author ranking on Amazon. I found it to be quite a significant spike (400,000+ points on the author ranking scale!), so they’ve obviously built this into their algorithm to encourage more and more authors to do it.

2. Each subsequent update of any kind pings Amazon’s algorithm and increases your ranking again; albeit, in my experience, it’s not as significant a boost in ranking as the first time around. But here’s some great news: much like it is with all blogs and online publications, each time your RSS feed adds another entry to your author page, it not only pings Amazon. It also tells other search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu) that this particular Amazon page has received another relevant update which gets it re-indexed with all of them. (It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that an RSS backlink like this on a high-traffic website such as Amazon is also great for your blog’s SEO.)

3. Last but not least, a high-ranking Author Central page can help to boost the ranking of every book associated with it. If someone buys one of your books and really likes it, he or she won’t have to go far to find all the other books published by you. They will all be listed together, making it much easier to find and buy. The more books people buy and subsequently review for you on Amazon, the higher up your overall ranking will go.

The key is to maintain this pace. Keep it going. Keep updating your Author Central page in various ways … new books, new pictures, new events, new videos, new posts via your RSS feed. You can build on the last increase in your ranking by adding a new update quickly. But if you stop for extended periods of time, it will all slide back down again. Pretty soon, you’ll be so low on the totem pole that it will take a lot of work to climb back up to the top. So, be sure to keep your momentum going by continually updating your page at least once per week if not more. That’s the key to success in the world of algorithms and online selling.

Not All Amazon Regions Currently Offer Author Central Pages … and the Ones That Do Don’t Offer All the Same Features as

As of today’s date, there are only five regions in the world that offer Author Central pages and you must set up each one separately from the rest: the USA, UK, Germany, France, and Japan. I’ve also found that only the USA page allows for links to RSS feeds, but I’m hopeful the other regions will begin to see the benefit of this and add it to their platforms over time.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

What if you could sell 1,000 copies of your book every month?


What if you could sell 1,000 copies of your book every month? How about 3,000? Or even more?

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to think the likelihood of this was quite low. But I’ve done some research, this past year, and I’ve come across quite a few teachers who have shown me just how possible this truly is. Now I’m going to share their teachings with you, and I’ll begin with this short excerpt from the first book of my new mini ebook series titled Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers | Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources:

…one evening, while I was researching bestselling strategies for authors, I came across an online Forbes article by J. McGregor (McGregor, J. 2017) titled “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” That began to shift my thinking. It was an eye-opening piece about a highly successful UK author named Mark Dawson and how he sells massive quantities of books online. Following that, I attended a conference in Columbia, Missouri, where I met a US author named Liz Schulte who also earns a six-figure income selling her books online. A while later, I met an Aussie author named Timothy Ellis through an online Q&A site called Quora (Ellis, T. 2017, July), and he willingly shared his personal formula for selling a minimum of 3,000 books online every single month. (You can read more about these authors in this post from the PPG Publisher’s Blog.)

These three authors write fiction. So, I went in search of a non-fiction success story to confirm for myself that this strategy can work for everyone and every type of book—not only fictional novels. With a quick Google search, I easily found a post on The Creative Penn blog about a non-fiction author named Steve Scott (Penn, J. 2014). He, too, appears to be using this “rapid release” publishing method in conjunction with various other strategies, some of which will be discussed within this ebook series. (You can read more about Steve’s story in this post from the PPG Publisher’s Blog.)

Pre-order your copy today!

You may be wondering to yourself how they do it. What is the strategy? After quite a lot of research, I can tell you that, while they each have a unique relationship with their respective readers, there are two qualities they all share. And these are the two qualities that allow them all to sell the equivalent of thousands of books per month.

If you’re interested in learning more, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of each mini ebook within my new series titled Book Publishing Shortcuts for Online Marketers | Six Weeks to Creating a Book Series that Earns Passive Income from Several Sources. Inside these books, I talk in detail about the two techniques each of these authors use to sell their books … plus a few more I’ve learned along the way while studying how Amazon’s and Google’s algorithms work.

The first book in the series is available for sale now. The remaining three are all available for back order. Order them today. Read them in full. Learn these strategies because they may just help you to improve your own sales in ways you never dreamed were possible before.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Be Your Own Best Writer You Can Be

James Sale

When Kim Staflund, whose ‘How to Publish a Bestselling Book’ is a mini-masterpiece of useful information on the topic, invites you to do a blog for her pages, then you know you have a problem: what could you possibly write that could add to her readers’ knowledge or skill-set that is not already contained in her volume? There is so much she has done already; so perhaps my first piece of advice would be to go back and read her book! But the initial panic subsides when one realises that one isn’t trying to be Kim Staflund; on the contrary, everyone can become truly helpful to others when we just simply become authentic. What does that mean? It means in the first instance we need to address our own experience, and not try to come up with all the regular solutions that everyone else does. On that basis, then, I’d like to share with you some of my publishing experiences over a 35-year period, and to see whether this of use to you, dear reader.

First, so what are my publishing credentials for speaking at all on this matter? I am pleased to tell you that I have been both self-published, and also published by minor and major publishing houses. All my poetry collections (as opposed to individual poems, which have appeared in many magazines in the UK and the USA) have been self-published (check my The Lyre Speaks True:, as have some management booklets, which have been done for marketing purposes within my core consultancy business ( But alongside these, going back to 1984 when a 3-volume educational series of books were published by Macmillans, I have had over 30 books published by the likes of Nelson, Hodder and Stoughton, Longmans Folens, Stanley Thornes, Pearson, Courseware Publications, Gower and most latterly, Routledge. My book, York Notes: Macbeth (Pearson: ) has been (and still is, though currently when I looked, ranked #2) an ongoing bestseller, and I have written 4 versions of the book over a 20-year span. Currently, following the sales success of my Mapping Motivation book for Gower ( ), I am under contract to Routledge to write 6 more book on aspects of motivation. So it is true to say that, whilst I am not a full-time professional writer, like many readers here perhaps aspire to be, I am a serious writer with a track record to match.

So what can I advise people? How can I help you become a better, more effective writer? I think the first thing I would say, and which is counter-intuitive to what many readers want, and even reasons for reading Kim’s magisterial work, is this: be really clear about why you are writing! This may sound obvious, but in my experience it is not. The trouble is, I think, that people see writing as an easy way to make money, or worse: simply they do it for money. And that – with many honourable exceptions – leads to dire writing; disposable writing; writing that is here today and gone tomorrow, even when it succeeds in its objective of making money.


You see, once you get on the treadmill of I need to make money writing, then the marketing takes over the writing process; the writing for the market becomes more important than discovering yourself; the ‘it’s good enough’ attitude supplants the desire to – in that wonderful Eagles’ phrase – ‘take it to the limit’. What I am saying is, of course, very difficult in today’s world where the market dominates everything. But for me, writing is a special calling, and in two special ways.

The first is that writing is a process of discovery, self-discovery. We may intend to write a book about a particular topic, but true writing always reveals more than we thought we knew. In fact, it could truly be said that we don’t know what we think until we come to write it down. Second, the content and the writing itself are both forms of expertise – and becoming expert in both is what is critical. In this expertise there is a deep joy – one, in the element of words, is like a prime dolphin in the element of water, how wonderful to experience that mastery!

And here – as a seasoned consultant and business person – I can bring in my first true marketing point to help you. Namely, what the great American marketer Jay Abraham called the principle of ‘Pre-eminence’. I don’t write to make money; I write to become pre-eminent in the disciplines that I know and exercise. I want to be in the top 4% of poets, in the top 4% of management and motivation writers; these are my playing fields, and these are my objectives. So to establish this is not about simply how many copies of a book can I sell, and what percentage of the turnover do I keep (typically 100% in self-publication and 10% with major publishers); it is much more about my reputation and the collateral benefits that book writing provides. These collateral benefits are considerable; and have always been there in my life: ranging from giving me the edge in job interviews (in ye olden days before self-employment), attracting invitations to speak as prestigious events, facilitating consultancy assignments and etc. To give an example, only last week I was at Regents University in London at a conference called ‘5 Great Minds’, organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing; it was a day conference ( ) with – guess what? – 5 speakers, all ‘great minds’ speaking, and I was one of them. Hype aside, that – THAT – is what is so valuable to my business and career, and writing enables it. And to be clear, I am all for making money – it’s just that writing books can lead to it indirectly (as well as directly), which is why clarity of purpose is so important.

Thus, given the above context, what do I recommend you do to develop your own writing business? What things have I done that have helped boost my reputation as a writer?

First, let’s deal with getting a publishing deal with a major publisher. What is my number one piece of advice? You need to go and find a way to meet the editor personally. That’s it. Like you, I have had hundreds of rejections from submitted manuscripts and proposals. But I have found that when I get out and go for it, and meet the relevant person at some event, and I don’t try to ‘sell’, but simply have a great chat and find out their interests and what they are doing, then – THEN – there is every chance the magic sentence can almost casually come out: “You know, I think I have something you might like’.  Boom! And they say, “Send me it – I can’t promise, but –”

Can you do that? Can you get out and meet that someone? And keep in mind, when you meet them, meeting per se is not enough. For the transaction to take place they need to: know you (hence you turn up), like you (are they going to, or are you going to be a pain?), and trust you (do you listen to them carefully, and are you going to follow through and do what you say?). My key books with Macmillan, Pearson, Gower and Routledge all occurred because I went out to meet the key decision maker, enjoyed their company, and as they liked me, so good books were born.

The question you might ask is: well, how do I meet them? Where will they be? The answer to that question is not as opaque as it might seem. In ye olden days of the ‘80s, things were trickier, but now you find on Twitter especially, but also Facebook and Linkedin, editors going on about conferences, book signings, writers events that they are going to attend all the time. They, too, remember, are in the market.

This leads on to my third point: developing expertise. In Kim’s wonderful book she has a great tip on overcoming writer’s block, but actually the tip is much more important than just writer’s block. She says, “The writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another author’s work often find they are more creative …” Yes, and often more expert too. We need to find not only authors who inspire us, but also what I call ‘home-bases’ – people or sites who share your values, who are aligned with what you do (Kim’s website is just such a place for writers generally) at the ‘field’ level. Learning and expertise through this can become so much deeper.


What does this mean? It means that being a writer can be a lonely business and we need deep encouragement from others, and others who can support us on the way. Take my own ‘field’ of poetry for example. This is an extremely fragmented and disputatious field. One could never get published if one kept sending one’s work to ideologically-opposed magazine editors. So I identify ‘home bases’ where people are in sync with me, where I share values, and this is like a watering hole (one brilliant home for me is The Society of Classical Poets: This is a place that values, especially, form and beauty; it doesn’t want poetry that says the world is a hellhole, there’s no hope, no form, and – hey, subtext coming up – aren’t I a clever little monster for observing all this rubbish; where’s my Pulizter?) So the question for you becomes: where are the value-friendly and vision-aligned publications where you can expect – if they know, like and trust you – to find a receptive audience? Go to work and project there!

My fourth point would be the importance of those two twins: reviewing and blogging. In between writing your actual books, and sometimes mining them for articles as ‘sneak peaks’ or ‘tasty teaser’ copy, there is the importance of contributing back. I really cannot emphasise this enough. Indeed, a subsidiary point arises: namely, it is better to engage in 2 or 3 marketing activities that you really understand and enjoy and ‘work’, rather than trying to deploy 25 techniques and tools from a dozen different marketing experts promising outstanding success if you just only do this … No, really getting behind one or two great ideas is where the meat is; or is the 80/20 Rule in action.

Reviewing is so important because you learn from the books you review, you alert others to them, and critically you demonstrate your expertise. Finally, reviewing can also lead to your making invaluable and prestigious contacts. This is so important. I myself through this process have only just this week been contacted by a leading academic at a top-notch New York university about a project. This is someone I could not have accessed, probably, through any other mechanism, but now it’s happening. And remember, when you support others, they are much more likely to support you; and if they don’t, no matter, move on, and be a moving target. So where are you reviewing? And there’s the thing; it’s rather like publication – think of the self-publication where anyone can start, and also think of the more prestigious magazines where one might gain a foothold. So, to use myself as an example, I regularly review on spiritual and healing matters for the Quaker print magazine, Towards Wholeness ( and also have now become an official poetry reviewer for The Society of Classical Poets. On top of this I am an active re-purposer! My management blogs I present first on my Linkedin page ( but then I re-use them on my personal blogging site on Typepad (, so that they can appear fresh a week or a month later; also, I have spent a long time building up credibility on, so that now I am a ‘Diamond’ author for them and get top priority with my posts ( There are so many outlets out there, and here’s the thing; they really are desperate for high quality content because – why? – there is so much low quality content around! This is either because the writer cannot really write, or because they are simply peddling clichés and jargon, the sort of stuff you can find anywhere. But if you are a real writer, if you have followed Kim Staflund’s advice, if you are adopting the strategy of ‘pre-eminence’ as I mentioned earlier, then you are exactly the kind of person that editors are looking for: your writing can be a game changer for so many other people, and in the end quality counts. So to return to my earlier point, it’s counting the quality first, and then the money follows, rather than trying to count the money, never mind the quality.


So what is true of reviews is true of blog and blogging: you demonstrate what you know. And here again is another important principle in action that needs to be fully grasped, embraced even. Namely, the key point of blogging is to give away free and significant information – note, to give away. This means, then, what not to do: not to act like some consultant who has key information regarding a solution to a pressing problem, but only hints that they have the solution, and that you will have to contact them – and pay – to get the full works. People hate this niggardly sort of transaction; and not only that it always reveals, in my view, that the author has a very limited set of ideas, which is why they are so parsimoniously doling them out. When you are a deep-knowledge worker/writer you can give away a 100, a 1000 ideas for free, why? Because you really do have the abundance mentality; you understand that in the world of ideas, everything is limitless – there are 10,000 more and that the human mind the more expert it becomes, the more it realises the more there is to comprehend, and the more driven it is to encompass just such further knowledge. Thus, there will always be more! As the Dalai Lama said: “Generosity gives rise to a creative mind”. You are fueling yourself when you give to others: awesome or what?

These, then, are some core ideas that have emerged for me as I have pursued my writing career and am now a senior in the digital age! But I don’t yearn for the good old days. Yes, they were good, but I think things are even better now precisely because of the ability of writers to determine more of their own destinies; we can produce, we can distribute, we can market, much more easily; and we can keep the rewards of our labours. But that doesn’t mean self-publication is the only choice. As I said at the beginning, be clear about what you want to achieve from your writing. Be open, then, and be flexible; look for opportunities, especially in the form of good contacts. Give to others and commit to the work. There is a deep joy and calling in being a writer, so now seize that moment and get your stuff out there! I hope some of you may let me know how successful you have been following some of these ideas.

MAPPING MOTIVATION  by James Sale for Routledge on Amazon

The Lyre Speaks True by James Sale

James Sale on Linkedin

© James Sale 2017

A Non-Fiction Self-Published Author Success Story with Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph, Bestselling Non-Fiction Author on Amazon

4 measly eBooks.

In 4 months.

I was floored.

After becoming overwhelmed with a sense of excitement about writing and self-publishing my first eBook, I failed miserably.

A good friend nudged me to write an eBook. I had resisted my own inner pull and advice from friends for years.

I bought a domain, churned out the eBook and sold 1 each month before I trashed my site and eBook in a fit of complete frustration, anger and anguish.

3 years later I have written and self-published 126 bite-sized non-fiction eBooks. A few of my eBooks became Amazon best sellers. I even ghost wrote an Amazon best selling ebook which netted tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

How did I make the transition from struggling self publisher to rocking self-publishing machine?

I followed a few basic steps to right myself.

1: I Got Clear on Why I Wrote and Self-Published eBooks

I honestly saw my first eBook launch for what it was: I primarily wanted to make quick money.

I did self-publish a helpful eBook. I also chose a relatively unknown platform through which I sold the eBook.

I was heavily focused on getting profits so I gave little thought to the eBook title, my marketing strategy and the problem I solved through the eBook.

Worst of all, I had no specific reader in mind before I brainstormed, outlined and wrote the eBook.

I learned my lesson for the Blogging From Paradise eBook series. I wrote these eBooks mainly because I enjoyed writing. I also visualized a specific reader in mind before contemplating eBook titles and outlines.

Get hyper clear on why you want to be a self-published author. Tie the reason to something fun and freeing. Get your energy right to build your self-publishing campaign on a solid foundation.

2: I Wrote What I Knew

I’ve had self-publishing success by writing 6,000 to 15,000 word, short and punchy reads on topics I know inside-out. I address specific problems suffered by my blog readers to match my passion and know-how with reader pain points.

Unless you are writing an in-depth, heavily researched eBook I suggest you cover familiar topics to confidently self-publish eBooks.

My creative process: I brainstorm eBook titles based on reader problems, create titles solutions to address those problems, outline eBooks and write the eBook chapter by chapter.


3: I Became Comfortable Writing in My Distinct Voice

Purists may cringe after reading my blog posts and eBooks.

I am not a polished author.

But I also have circled the globe over the past 6 years as a world traveling blogger and Amazon bestselling author.

I feel comfortable writing how Ryan Biddulph writes. Even if this means turning off writing purists.

My eBook How to Find Your Writing Voice is the top ranked eBook from its category on all of Amazon.

All 49 customer reviews are 5 star reviews because I give readers permission to write best sellers on Amazon in their own unique, authentic voice, even if this writing style is unpolished.

Write 1000 words daily in a Word document for practice. Trash the document after you reach your daily word count. Feel comfortable with your writing style. Position yourself for a successful non-fiction self-publishing career.

4: I Found My Niche

My readers would become bored reading a 30,000 word eBook on blogging.

They prefer a 6,000 to 15,000 word pillar style blog post masquerading as a pillar style post.

My readers also enjoy shopping from a wide range of eBooks on a variety of blogging and travel-themed topics.

I wrote 126 eBooks to follow James Altucher’s advice: “The best way to promote your current book is to write your next eBook.”

5: I Built a Community

Struggling self-publishing authors tend to worry about how or where to find readers.

I decided to embody this quote well before I considered self-publishing.

“The wealthiest people on earth look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki

I patiently and persistently built a friend network of blogging tips and travel bloggers by promoting them, endorsing them and featuring them on my blog.

My patience paid off.

Since I looked for and built a friend network my blogging buddies help to build momentum behind my eBook promotional blitzes. Many of my blogging buddies purchase and review my eBooks too.

Build your readership by promoting top authors in your writing niche. If you are an author blogger, promote top bloggers in your niche. Co-promote one another to build large, loyal, supportive communities.


6: I Built a Blog and Email List

I helped people with their blogging problems through my blog.

I built strong bonds with my readers through my email list.

My readers expect a helpful blogging eBook delivered to their email inbox every other Friday.

Start blogging through a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Grow your email list to stay in touch with your readers.

Use these 2 tools to help folks for free and to announce new eBook releases.

7: I Used Free Promotions to Boost Sales and Reviews

I sometimes use free promotions to increase eBook sales and reviews.

Giving eBooks away gratis is a generous way to increase your exposure.

Create a buzz around your eBooks by giving your creations away for free on the release date.

8: I Created Authentic, Rough and Ready eBook Covers

When I think of how much money I paid to design my eBook covers I have probably spent more than James Patterson, Lee Child and George R.R. Martin combined.

I personally photographed every one of my eBook cover backgrounds in exotic places like Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica. Add up my plane ticket costs and you quickly see what I mean.

I chose to be ruthlessly particular in all things branding. The Blogging From Paradise logo graces all of my eBook covers. Factor in my pictures from paradise and you have an authentic experience for any of my eBook readers.

These rough and ready, simple, clean covers deviate from normal eBook cover design but I always intended to differentiate myself and my brand from the average eBook author.


My #1 Piece of Advice for Aspiring Self-Publishers

You need to love writing to get through the ups and downs of being a self-publishing author.

If you feel passionate about self-publishing an eBook write 1000 words or more daily for practice. Make writing as habitual to you as breathing.

Have fun writing. Even if you’re a non-fiction author let your imagination run wild. Develop a daily writing habit.

Hone your skills, enjoy the ride, build your reader base and you too can become a successful non-fiction writer.

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© Ryan Biddulph 2017