Category Archives: Sales and Marketing

T-Shaped Marketing for Authors | Exclusive Kindle Edition

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It’s FREE worldwide for five days on Amazon’s group of sites: Download your copy TODAY!

T-Shaped Marketing for Authors. The New Way to Sell Books.

Online marketing provides today’s authors with a vehicle to reach a worldwide audience where, in the past, they were pretty much limited to their own backyards. But to make any kind of real headway in this crowded space full of millions of people doing the same thing as you’re doing online, you’ve got to be Internet savvy to a degree. You’ve got to figure out a way to stand out among the rest by combining analytical and creative skills together. I’m talking about T-shaped marketing.

Co-founder of Moz, Rand Fishkin (2013), provides this succinct description of T-shaped marketing on his company’s blog:

“T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad
array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few).”

In other words, your deep knowledge/ability—the stem of the T—is the content you’ve written about in your book(s). The flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s).

Some of today’s most recognized companies used their own unique T-shaped marketing strategies (also referred to as “growth hacking”) to build their businesses quickly when little or no venture capital was available to them: Airbnb used some shrewd background coding to hack the Craigslist platform to boost its own site’s user experience; PayPal grew quickly by paying early users for referrals; and Dropbox used a strategy similar to PayPal’s by giving early users extra storage for referrals. These tactics piggybacked their other online efforts (e.g., SEO, PPC) to supercharge each company’s scalability, hence the term “growth hacking.”

Authors can do the same. They can use T-shaped marketing to their advantage, and many of today’s most successful online authors already do. Each ebook in this series will focus on one particular T-shaped marketing avenue so authors can learn to utilize several customized strategies:

* Online (paid) and Offline (unpaid) Book Reviews | Advertising vs. Publicity
* Email Marketing
* Advertorials and Blogging
* Content Syndication and Guest blogging
* HTML Coding for Beginners
* Mobile Marketing
* Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising
* Search engine optimization SEO
* Social Marketing
* Video Marketing
* And the list goes on!

Authors are entrepreneurs, and T-shaped marketing is every entrepreneur’s friend. The top authors move more books by getting in front of their customers and communicating with them in a clear and consistent manner; and they do this by virtue of social media marketing, blogging, book reviews, email marketing, publicity/media tours, and all the other T-shaped marketing strategies we’ll be discussing. They do what’s necessary to make themselves stand out among all the rest for their particular genres, just as business people do with traditional companies.

The good news is it’s possible! There are examples right before your eyes—right inside these mini ebooks—of successful authors who have used T-shaped marketing to sell THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of books. You can use T-shaped marketing like a pro, too. I’ll show you how.

book reviews, email marketing, publicity/media tours, and all the other T-shaped marketing strategies we’ll be discussing. They do what’s necessary to make themselves stand out among all the rest for their particular genres, just as business people do with traditional companies.

The good news is it’s possible! There are examples right before your eyes—right inside these mini ebooks—of successful authors who have used T-shaped marketing to sell THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of books. You can use T-shaped marketing like a pro, too. I’ll show you how.

Ten Things I’ve Learned Writing Novels

Award-Winning Author Trace Conger

I published my first novel, The Shadow Broker, in October of 2014. It was a fascinating experience. Since then, I’ve published three additional novels and numerous short stories. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about the process of writing and marketing.

Your mileage may vary, but here are a few insights to noodle:

1. Writing a novel is only as intimidating as you make it. Starting a novel is like holding your newborn for the first time. You’re a bit freaked out thinking about your newfound responsibilities of raising a living, breathing human being. Taking on a novel can feel the same way, but it’s only as bad as you make it out to be. Take it one word or one page at a time, and one day you’ll wake up with an 80,000-word novel.

2. Outlines make the process easier. Other writers will debate this, but for me creating an outline kept me on track. I create a brief outline for each chapter, including no more detail than can fit on one side of an index card. After I have the story fleshed out, I sit down with my stack of cards and write each scene or chapter. Yes, the story changes. Yes, you’ll throw away some of your ideas or characters, but having a roadmap will help you get to your destination, even if you take a few detours along the way.


3. It takes time. I’ve heard countless stories of indie authors pumping out three or more books each year. I don’t/can’t do that. While I’m not going to insinuate that these prolific authors are sacrificing quality for quantity, I will say that if you rush the product, your quality will suffer. Focus on creating a quality product. If you can write multiple quality books per year, fantastic, but if you can’t, then don’t.

4. Your worst critic is you. I can’t remember a time in my life when I experienced more self-doubt than when I was writing my first novel. Every author has that voice in their head that tells them they’re a hack, their work isn’t any good, they’ll fail miserably, or they’re wasting their time. I haven’t figured out a way to silence this inner critic, but I have learned to tell him to get lost.


5. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s all bull. Writer’s block is an excuse authors tell themselves when they can’t produce. Maybe it’s a slow idea day, or the words aren’t coming as fast as they did yesterday. Doesn’t matter. Put your butt in the chair and write. Even if you feel like you’re walking through quicksand. Move forward, one step (or word) at a time, and you’ll make it to the other side. I promise.

6. Marketing is hard. You think writing a novel is hard? Wait until you have to market it. Even if you sign a big deal with a publisher, you’re going to have to promote your book. Get comfortable with the idea, even if you aren’t. Get comfortable talking about it, contacting the media, researching book blogs, responding to readers, hosting signings, doing interviews, and writing blog posts (like this one) to support your work.


7. You’ll become obsessed with metrics. You’ll spend hours Googling yourself, watching your sales, scrutinizing your Amazon author ranking, and stalking your reviews. Then one day you’ll realize you’re wasting your time and you’ll get back to work.

8. Your friends won’t buy your book. Some of them will, but most won’t. Most of your friends don’t read. Maybe because they prefer to spend what little free time they have binging on Netflix. Or maybe you just have crappy friends. Either way, don’t expect them to buy your book but do expect them to lie and say they will.


9. You have to field lots of questions. Once people discover you’ve written a novel, they’ll throw every question imaginable at you. Who’s your publisher? How did you get your agent? Did you get an advance? What’s your book about? How long did it take you to write it? Where can I buy it? Where do you get your ideas? Can I be a character in your next book? Listen to every question, even the stupid ones, and answer with a smile. Everyone is a potential customer.

10. Authors are an incredibly supportive bunch. Maybe it’s because they’ve been in your shoes or understand your struggle, but authors are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever met. Two huge authors, Joe R. Lansdale and Jonathan Maberry, gave me incredible advice (even if they don’t remember doing it). Don’t be afraid to reach out to authors you admire. Ask questions and listen to their advice. You’ll be surprised at how accessible and helpful they can be.


Bonus insight: There is a ton of horrible advice out there. I stalk the popular forums from time to time and am always amazed at some of the horrible advice that I see. One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was to publish your first draft to “get it out there” and then use reader review comments to identify weaknesses and revise your next draft. Are you kidding me? Scrutinize all advice and carefully consider who is dishing it out. I’m not advocating only looking to best-selling authors for advice (there’s great advice out there from authors at all levels) just make sure it passes the sniff test before you stake your reputation on it.

Trace Conger is an award-winning author in the crime, thriller and suspense genres. His Mr. Finn series follows disgraced private investigator Finn Harding as he straddles the fine line between investigator and criminal. Find out more at

© Trace Conger 2017

Steve Scott’s Six-Figure Success with Non-Fiction Books

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

I love author success stories! And the minute I decided to focus on finding success stories to share with you on this blog was the minute I started finding more and more of them for you.

Several recent posts on this blog have focused on authors who have seen massive success selling fictional novels and children’s books such as Amanda Hocking, Mark DawsonLiz SchulteTimothy Ellis, and Sheri Fink. Interestingly, posts such as these led to comments such as this one: “An important difference in Fiction Writing as opposed to non-fiction — Readers buy for entertainment, not to solve a problem, so you can successfully sell multiple products to the same reader pool.” This comment seems to suggest that it’s somehow easier to sell multiple fictional products to a single readership than it is to sell multiple non-fiction books—that it’s easier to build up one’s readership based on entertainment genres rather than self-help/problem-solving genres. I’ve also since received a similar comment from another local “author marketing consultant” that echos this person’s presumption: “…our particular audience is business (in many ways a tougher market than fiction) and business types rarely write more than one book. … Writing a book and getting it published are the easier parts. Making enough money to live on or even to cover the time invested in the writing of the book, let alone make a significant profit on book sales is extremely difficult.

Of course, you know me by now. You know what I had to do next, don’t you? I had to go in search of a non-fiction success story to prove that it is, indeed, possible for non-fiction authors to enjoy the same success as the above-mentioned fictional authors, and I quickly found one such success story in Steve Scott. (You get what you focus on!)


I won’t cut and paste the entire post from The Creative Penn here. I’ll let you click on the link to visit their site and read it for yourself. But I will list a few of the commonalities that I see with all of the successful authors I’ve personally interviewed or read about or invited to guest post on this blog.

1. All of these authors are prolific writers. They’ve all written several books and are releasing them one after the other, strategically, in order to leverage the success of each previous book’s release-date traffic. In other words, the best advice an “author marketing consultant” can provide to one’s business clientele is, “Don’t just write one large book. Break it down into topics. Create a series and release several smaller books within this series one after the other within six to nine weeks of each other. This will get you more bang for your buck by keeping the momentum of your release date going.”

2. All of these authors build meaningful relationships with their readers. These authors stay in regular touch with their growing readership. They maintain regular communication with them by replying to each and every comment they receive from their fans. They build a more personal relationship with these people by doing so, which really cements their fans’ support. Some of these authors even use their top supporters as “focus groups” or “beta testers” by sending out manuscripts to them ahead of time to inquire whether or not they like the book’s content or have recommendations on how to improve it before it is officially released to the masses. In other words, they get additional free help with substantive editing from the people that matter the most—their buyers.


3. All of these authors use email marketing and/or blogging to promote the release of new books. For authors, building an organic email marketing list or blog subscriber list is equivalent to building a near-guaranteed readership. This allows them to let their greatest supporters know when to expect the next book in a series which leads to more sales of all their books. And this increase in sales raises their online profile which, in turn, attracts more and more new traffic to both their back list and front list titles.

If it can work for one author, it can work for you. If it can work for fiction, it can work for non-fiction.

Yes, you have to work at it. Nobody said it was going to be a quick and easy fix. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you get what you focus on. Focus on success.

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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.

Amanda Hocking: Another Fascinating “Rags to Riches” Success Story

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

I’m always on the lookout for author success stories to share with my blog subscribers because this is a tough business that requires a lot of inspiration to keep oneself motivated. It takes motivation to get yourself to consistently take the types of actions you need to be taking in order to achieve the success you desire.

I believe you get what you focus on. You can focus on the difficulties and heed the warnings of business advisers who insist that 90% of authors will never see the kind of success that authors like Amanda Hocking and Mark Dawson are seeing, and that you should therefore set your goals much lower in order to avoid disappointment. Or you can focus on the possibilities by going in search of the proof, all around you, that what you desire is indeed achievable … whether you write fiction or non-fiction.

The fact is, many authors are earning fantastic livings writing books nowadays. Wouldn’t you love to read an article that tells you exactly how they’re achieving this? If the answer to that question is “yes” then you’ll enjoy reading this: What Makes a $100k Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know. What I appreciate most about this article is that it provides relevant data about the realities of this business while also showing authors what is possible if they’re willing to put in the time and effort. It encourages authors rather than discouraging them.


I created the “Author Success Stories” category on this blog as a place where you can read about the possibilities. The purpose is to encourage you rather than discourage you because, at the end of the day, if even one author can accomplish something that means it’s achievable. It’s possible. Focus on that, and you may just be the next success story that is inspiring others to do the same. You may become one of the pioneers who steers others in the right direction so that, perhaps one day, it will be 90% of authors enjoying massive success and only 10% who will never achieve it.

Which brings me back to Amanda Hocking, an extreme success story that first appeared in The Guardian back in January 2012, who went from obscurity (and essentially poverty) to bestselling status within 18 months of publishing her first book online. Amanda is now a self-made millionaire. Granted, there were several years of writing and work beforehand … as it often is with these “overnight success” stories. Amanda makes sure to emphasize that in this interview which I highly recommend you read. It is eye opening and inspiring. And most importantly, it shows what’s possible even after several disappointments.

Keep writing. Keep working. Keep the faith!

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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.

Why B2B Content is So Important for Non-Fiction Authors

Ian Dainty

There is a lot of information on this blog that caters specifically to individual authors; but, until today, there wasn’t much here for the business authors—the executives who produce non-fiction books as part of their corporate marketing strategies. That’s why I was so grateful to connect with Ian Dainty on LinkedIn recently. As a CEO, business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing coach, strategic business advisor, speaker, trainer, and B2B blogger, Ian is the perfect person to fill this “content void” on the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

I’m sending out a special thank you to Ian for allowing us to share this recent post from his own blog titled ‘Why B2B Content is So Important’ as it provides a fresh perspective (including relevant statistics) to back up so much of the other information here. Not only is it valuable to have a book published and available online nowadays, but it is also crucial to have a diversified platform to promote that book through because, as Ian states below, “…People gather information from mixed sources. So you need to put your content on a few social media sites. Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ are relevant for B2B buyers.”

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Everyone is telling you that you need more and more content in order to grow your business.
content marketing 5
But you’re not sure why it’s so important, and how to ensure you are getting the right content in front of your potential clients.

And there is so much content on the web that you wonder if your content is going to matter, and will the right people see it?

Let’s have a look at why B2B content is so important, and how to ensure the right people see it.


The reason B2B content is so important is because that’s how your potential clients are judging you, and more importantly, finding you now.

Here are some significant statistics for you to know.

1. 90% of B2B buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you. (Earnest)
2. 94% of B2B buyers report conducting some degree of research online before making a business purchase. (Acquity Group)
3. Content creation is marked as the single most effective search engine optimization (SEO) technique. (Marketing Sherpa)
4. Most buyers are 50-60% of the way into the buy cycle before they’ll talk to you (Earnest)
5. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (CMI)
6. 81% of B2B CEOs believe that the importance of marketing has increased, and 46% of them say significantly. (Stein IAS)
7. 73 percent of tech buyers surveyed said they consume two to eight assets (articles, videos, eBooks, pdf’s, etc.) before they purchase. (Eccolo Media)

Ensure Your Content is Relevant & Distributed Properly

The other side of the marketing coin is to ensure your content is relevant and distributed to the right platforms for maximum viewing and effect. Here is why that is so important.

1. 66% of B2B marketers with a documented content strategy feel they are effective, vs 11% of B2B marketers who don’t have a content strategy. (CMI)
2. 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing. (Ragan)
3. Peer reviews matter. Ensure you have case studies and testimonials that sell. Customer testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing. (SocialTimes)
4. People gather information from mixed sources. So you need to put your content on a few social media sites. Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ are relevant for B2B buyers.
5. 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content. (CMI and Marketing Profs)
6. The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has. (QuickSprout)
7. 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure; 69% to increase web traffic; and 65% to gain market insights. (Social Media Today)

Click here to view the original post on Ian’s blog. It was republished here with his permission.

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Ian Dainty is the CEO of Maximize Business Marketing. Ian has close to 40 years’ experience in B2B marketing & sales. Ian started his career at IBM, in the large systems division, in 1974. He has owned, operated and sold two successful businesses in the technology field.

For the past 20 years, Ian has been working with B2B companies, helping them increase their revenue by 25% to 100% over forecasts, through better marketing and sales strategies and techniques.

With the advent of the Internet, and all of its many platforms for reaching people, Ian has become a student, researcher, advocate, coach and mentor, helping companies use these tools wisely, as well as more traditional marketing and sales strategies, to help B2B companies grow.

Ian has a good grasp of the marketing capabilities of websites, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, PPC, and YouTube.

Ian also has over 40 years of B2B selling experience. He has trained and coached thousands of sales people, marketers, executives and business owners in how to sell their products and services.

Ian has developed, through his years of experience and also through extensive research and interviews, a methodology for growing your current accounts. The methodology is Strategic Account Management or SAM. It is taught to you and your team through extensive training and coaching.




© Ian Dainty 2017

Adventures in Publishing: Why I Chose to Go Independent

Sheri Fink, Best-selling, Award-winning Children’s Author

One of the biggest decisions today’s aspiring authors make is whether to go the traditional route with a publisher (whether large or small) or to explore the independent publishing path. I chose to go independent and many writers have asked me about my decision. So, here’s the scoop:  when I made a commitment to myself six years ago to bring The Little Rose children’s book to life, I had limited experience with self-publishing and was beginning to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the variety of publishing options available.

I attended writers’ conferences and networking events with writers. I asked both traditionally published and independently published authors about their experiences. I learned so much and decided to independently publish The Little Rose for several reasons:


Passion and Speed – I felt a burning need to get the uplifting message of The Little Rose to children quickly. I didn’t have the time or patience to woo an agent, find a publisher, go through the whole process, and then wait for a slot on their release calendar several years later.

Control – I wanted to be 100% happy with the final result of all of my hard work. I wanted to choose the right illustrator to bring my story to life and to influence the ultimate look and feel of my book. Even though I published independently, having a high-quality product was really important to me and I knew I could find the right partners to make that goal a reality.

Entrepreneurial Spirit – I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and I was excited about the possibility of building a business around doing something that I absolutely loved. I also learned from other authors about the value of the rights tied in with a book and felt like I would be able to make those decisions for my brand better than a big publisher could. And, my background was in marketing. I believed that I could leverage my knowledge and skills to be successful.


Happiness – When I talked with other authors, the happiest ones tended to be the self-published authors. They had control over their destiny, their schedules, their agreements, their rights licensing, etc. That really appealed to me.

My best advice for authors who are exploring traditional vs. independent publishing is to talk with successful authors who have already done it. See what their experiences were like and what they would do differently knowing what they know now. Find out who’s happy and why. Writing and publishing my first book was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve done. Since the successful debut of The Little Rose, I’ve independently published six additional books across three genres.

Independent publishing is exciting and easier than it’s ever been before (although it’s still not an easy business), but it isn’t the right solution for everyone. Only the individual authors can truly decide what’s right for them, their books, and their careers.

About Sheri Fink


Sheri Fink is an inspirational speaker, a #1 best-selling author, an award-winning entrepreneur, and the creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” brand. Sheri writes books that inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem. All five of her children’s books have become #1 best-sellers, including The Little Rose which was a #1 Amazon Best-seller for over 60 weeks.

CBS Los Angeles selected her as one of the top three authors in the local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Sheri’s brand is the recipient of the prestigious Gold Mom’s Choice Award for the best in family friendly entertainment. She was recently named an inspirational beauty by supermodel Cindy Crawford’s “Beauties Give Back” campaign.

Sheri’s newest adventure is a contemporary romance. She was inspired to write Cake in Bed, her debut novel, to empower women to be their authentic selves and to not settle for less than they deserve in life or in love, because everyone deserves to have their cake and eat it too … preferably in bed! Discover more about Sheri and her books at

© Sheri Fink 2017

Content Syndication Welcome

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

A while ago, I shared a post with you regarding the differences between guest posting and content syndication, and how you can use both to improve your search engine ranking: [Guest Blogging and Content Syndication] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors.

In a perfect world, we would all have time to write and post fresh content on our own blog and someone else’s website every single day. If we did this, we would quickly see an increase in our traffic and search engine ranking as a result. But that’s not always possible, so a great way to keep one’s momentum going is through content syndication.

For those of you looking for some great content to post on your own blogs, but who are inundated with other work and just don’t have the time to write fresh content on a regular basis, I’m happy to share the wealth of information contained on the PPG Publisher’s Blog.


Feel free to use any of the posts you find here. Cut and paste whole or parts of whichever posts you would like to use. Just make sure to always attribute the original source so we don’t get dinged on the SEO front. That’s all I ask. You can do so by ensuring the following message appears at the top or bottom of your post:

This post first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog here:
[insert direct link to the original post]. It has been republished with permission.

Here is a great example of how Alexander von Ness of Nessgraphica used one of my Quora posts on his own blog. Note how he acknowledged the original post at the bottom and also included a direct link to it: Independent Authors Earnings – Three Independent Authors Who are Earning $150,000+ Annually.

One more option for you to consider: add our Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed to your blog/website. You can find a link to it below, on the bottom right-hand side of this blog. Or simply click here to access 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 © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

3 Ways Introverted Authors Can Sell Thousands of Books

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

Many authors out there lean a little more toward the introverted side of the personality spectrum; but don’t mistake their introversion for shyness or social awkwardness because these are all different things. Most love people and socializing. What separates them from the extroverts is simply that they expend energy in the same social situations that fill the extroverts up, and they rejuvenate their reserves when they’re alone. Writing is a favourite rejuvenation pastime for many introverts; and, believe it or not, that can be an advantage when it comes to the T-shaped book sales and marketing methods many authors are now using to sell thousands of books each year.

What is T-Shaped Marketing?

Possibly one of the most succinct descriptions of T-shaped marketing was written by Rand Fishkin and posted on the Moz blog along with a useful diagram: “T-Shaped basically refers to having a light level of knowledge in a broad array of skills, and deep knowledge/ability in a single one (or a few). This model may not seem particularly remarkable or unique, but it carries qualities that are essential to great marketing teams. … By having multiple overlapping T-shapes, a marketing team can invent and evolve remarkably unique and powerful solutions to problems.”

Now let’s take this description and apply it to authors. Basically, the stem of the T (the deep knowledge) refers to an author’s genre and the content of his or her book(s). The horizontal part at the top represents all the other creative and analytical skills the author can learn in order to sell more books online. The good news is many of these skills require prolific writing—something that already comes quite naturally to most introverts. Just how powerful are these tools in the hands of an author? You may be pleasantly surprised when you read the below three real-world success stories.


1. This UK Author’s T-Shape Combines Social Media Marketing with Email Marketing:

Email marketing goes hand in hand with books much like writing goes hand in hand with an introvert. Why? It’s because this type of marketing is about promoting, sharing, and selling information. And that’s exactly what a book is—an information product.
All you have to do is Google the name “Mark Dawson” and you’ll likely come across a Forbes article titled “Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer.” It’s an enlightening read. After a disappointing go at trade publishing that resulted in meagre sales of his first book, this author decided to take matters into his own hands and become an entrepreneurial self-publisher for every other book that followed.
Through some trial and error, Mark learned how to significantly scale his readership and book sales. He grew his email subscriber list organically by replying to each and every message he received from his readers—the compliments and the criticisms—so he could build a rapport with each and every one of them. As a result, back in 2015, he already had 15,000 subscribers that converted to “near guaranteed sales” (his words) every time he sent out a mass email to announce a new book in the series. According to the Forbes article, another effective tool Mark combines with email marketing “…is Facebook advertising. Dawson is pumping $370 a day into Facebook advertising and he’s receiving double that in return on investment.”


2. This US Author’s T-Shape Combines Cross Promotion with Anthologies:

Liz Schulte is a self-published author with more than 20 mystery and paranormal romance novels, short stories, and audiobooks to her credit. Much like Mark Dawson, she is earning a six-figure income marketing and selling her books online; and she does it through a combination of prolific writing and clever cross promotion.

Where some authors may view their competition as “the enemy” to be avoided, Liz viewed hers as an opportunity for shared success. She partnered with several authors within her genre, and this group now cross promotes each other’s front and back list titles through their respective subscriber lists, newsletters, and blogs. What a treat for all their readers who now have that many more great books to choose from—not to mention the added bonus for each of these authors who have basically quadrupled their individual readerships through the partnership.
Not only does Liz write and publish multiple books every year to keep her fans engaged, but she is also one of several authors who contribute one story each to an anthology within their genre. This is yet another clever form of cross promotion that can be used to plug upcoming books to an extended audience while producing incremental revenue.


3. This Aussie Author’s T-Shape Combines Abundant Publishing with Q&A Site Networking:

Here’s an author who takes “prolific writing” to a whole new stratosphere in order to keep his readers satisfied. Think you could write and publish a new 90,000-word novel every 60 to 90 days? This is what Timothy Ellis does to consistently sell 3000+ books every single month. According to him, “The single best way of promoting any book is to release another book.” He’s personally written and published 34 since 2006 (an average of three per year and growing).

The reason for publishing these many books, according to Timothy, is ranking: “Visibility comes with rank. I can only talk about Amazon’s ranking system, and it is very cut-throat. The single most important thing is release day debut rank. … After the debut, ranks begin to slide. About a week later, Amazon sends out emails to your followers, and this can spike you up again. But at about 20 days, you start being cycled downwards unless you have promotions which can hold your sales up. At 30 days you fall off the new releases lists. By 60 days, your book is gone into Neverland.”
No money for promotions? No problem. Publish another book instead. That will keep your name and overall book series on top even as individual back list titles start to slide.
Much like Mark and Liz, Timothy also has a mailing list and social media presence that he grows organically in a couple of different ways: first, by staying in regular touch with his readers; and second, by mentoring other writers and authors on Q&A sites such as Quora. He pays it forward by over-delivering on the value he provides to each and every person he encounters.


Authors Are Entrepreneurs

For some people, the very idea of authors selling their own books seems to be an impractical notion cooked up by contemporary publishing “gurus” who lack the influence within the book supply chain that the traditional trade publishers have. For many, the belief is still held that, as purveyors of “the greatest literary writers” in the industry, trade publishers always do (and have always done) everything that is necessary to ensure their authors’ success because they’ve carefully selected only the crème de la crème … the sure sellers that will guarantee a profit for them.

For those who balk at the idea that authors are entrepreneurs because they believe sales and marketing is the publisher’s responsibility—and that all traditional publishers do it for all their authors all the time—you are invited to pick up a copy of John B. Thompson’s Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Thompson, 2012, Second Edition, Kindle Edition, p. 263-265) where this myth is busted by “The Big Five” trade publishers—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster—themselves:

“As soon as a book shows signs that it’s going to take off, the sales, marketing and publicity operations mobilize behind it and look for ways to support it with extra advertising, trying to get more radio and TV appearances, extending the author’s tour or putting together a new tour to cities where the book is doing particularly well, and so on. … the sales, marketing and publicity operations are geared and resourced in such a way that, when they see that a fire is starting to ignite, they are able to pour generous quantities of fuel on the flames. … But if further appeals fall on deaf ears and sales fail to pick up, then the marketing and publicity effort will be wound up pretty quickly – ‘In two to three weeks we might pull the plug,’ … So how long does a book have out there in the marketplace to show signs of life? How many weeks before it becomes a dead fish that will be left to float downstream? … I would say the life of a book today is about six weeks. And quite frankly it’s even shorter than that, but you probably have six weeks and that’s it.”

That’s the reality of this business. Unless a book takes off within the first three to six weeks (which usually only happens when the authors, themselves, already have a platform and are out there actively promoting that book alongside their publishers), then that’s the most time a trade publisher will spend on selling it: six weeks. Maybe even less. After that, it’s up to authors to sell their books completely solo … or let them die along with the rest of the ignored and forgotten back list titles.

Authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. And today’s authors need to be that much more savvy to stand out among the competition … or, as Liz Schulte does, stand beside the competition for everyone’s mutual success.

You’re not only a writer or self-publisher or trade author. You’re a marketer. You’re a salesman. You’re an online networker.

This is a Dream Come True for Introverts

For the introverts whose favourite rejuvenation pastime happens to be writing, T-shaped marketing is a dream come true. Don’t you think? Can you imagine selling thousands of books every month by doing what you love, what comes naturally to you, what you’ve already been doing for free for the past several years anyway? Mark Dawson, Liz Schulte, and Timothy Ellis are the real-world proof that it is indeed possible.

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[Rock Mechanics] You’re Probably Closer to a Breakthrough than You Think

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

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve been hammering away at your book sales and marketing efforts forever, and yet you still can’t see any real progress with it? Still not selling as many books as you’d hoped you would be even though you’re putting in the one hour per day, six days per week or more that you promised yourself you would put in? Well, I have some good news for you. You’re probably closer to a breakthrough than you think—especially if you’ve been working at this for several weeks now. It’s science.

I came across this blog post the other day, and I found it so inspirational that I wanted to share it with you: 13 Signs You’re Close To A Breakthrough by Dr. Isaiah Hankel. Very early in this post, he talks about a field of science dedicated entirely to rock mechanics. He goes on to write that:

Back in the day, before we had things like drills, dynamite, and high pressure water jets, rocks were broken with handheld hammers. The process of breaking open a boulder by hand can take a very long time. Imagine trying to split a rock in half using a sledgehammer. You hit the boulder again and again and again but nothing happens. You don’t see any progress, which is extremely frustrating. But you keep swinging the hammer. Then, on the 30th hit or maybe the 300th hit, the boulder splits in half—like this. It seems like magic but it’s not. It’s science. Even though it looks like nothing is happening on the outside, each blow by the hammer is reducing the rock’s internal integrity. The rock is getting weaker. You just can’t see it.


For independent authors with small (or no) budgets in place to help them advertise and sell their books to the masses, much of their sales and marketing efforts must be done organically. One reader at a time. One blog post at a time. One video at a time. It’s the equivalent of trying to break a boulder with a handheld hammer one hit at a time, isn’t it? But if you click on that link above and view the boulder being split in half, it drives home the point that, just because you can’t see any of the progress you’re making in real time, you are still making progress.

No doubt you’ve heard the term “overnight success” used to describe people who become successful very quickly … or so it seems. But this is a myth. Usually, these people were already working for months (or even years) beforehand, honing their craft, learning their trade, perfecting their skills, hammering away at the boulder. Until, at long last, it split in half for them.


Here is a short list of Dr. Hankels 13 signs:

1. When you’re frustrated.
2. When you hear radio silence.
3. When resistance increases.
4. When they start laughing at you.
5. When you want to give up.
6. When you start rationalizing.
7. When you feel like changing your goals.
8. When you’re told to be realistic.
9. When it really hurts.
10. When the numbers say you’re wrong.
11. When people turn their backs on you.
12. When people try to help you.
13. When you’re scared.

You can read the details behind the points on this list here: 13 Signs You’re Close To A Breakthrough. Do any of them resonate with you? If yes, you may just be close to a breakthrough. Keep hammering! 🙂

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[5 Crucial Tips for Authors] Selling Essentials by Claude Whitacre


Anyone who’s read my last three full-size books on publishing, sales, and marketing knows that I started my career with a small Canadian literary press straight out of college almost 25 years ago. After working there for three years, it was clear to me that there were no solid opportunities for advancement nor any real chance of a salary increase due to the fact that this press operated solely on government grants. Needless to say, I was forced to leave my job out of financial necessity and found a more prosperous position in advertising sales at the local daily newspaper. It was my reluctant beginning to a lifelong career as a salesperson. I hated sales back then. It felt so foreign to me.

Perhaps, if I’d read a copy of Claude Whitacre’s Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling back then, I would have had an easier transition into the world of sales and would have enjoyed it that much more. That’s why I’m sharing my review of this book with you here. Because authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. If you want true commercial success as an author, you can have it. There’s proof of this everywhere these days (you can check out the guest posts on this blog for some real-world examples). You just have to learn how to sell.

I already know the reason for your initial resistance to selling, and so does Claude. Believe it or not, he and I both lean more toward the introverted side of the personality scale like so many other authors do … which may be hard to believe since we’ve both done something seemingly extroverted by placing our author pictures on the front covers of our books. (That literally makes me laugh out loud.) In any case, Claude sums up this initial resistance perfectly in this early excerpt from his book:

People say they cannot sell when they are doing it every day. It’s because they don’t want to do … what they think selling is. They don’t want to pressure people, misrepresent, abuse friendships, sell shoddy products and services. That’s what they don’t want to do. But selling isn’t any of those things.

As I read this book, I was pleased to learn that Claude and I both agree the best salespeople in this world are trustworthy and accountable. They do what they say they’re going to do. They tell the truth. They are reliable. They keep promises. They work hard for their customers. They are interested in understanding their customers’ needs first and then doing what they can to fill those needs in the most beneficial way for that customer. That’s what this book is about; and, although it’s tailored more toward the corporate sales environment, there’s a lot of information for authors to garner from Claude’s advice. Here are five crucial tips for authors in particular:

  1. The single biggest threat to your sales success is hanging around with the people who say it can’t be done.
    There is a lingering myth among aspiring (and some established) authors that the ultimate goal is to have one’s book “picked up” by a traditional trade publisher, not only for the associated recognition but also because of the belief that these publishers will sell your books for you … you won’t have to do any heavy lifting at all. In reality, to be a truly successful author you must treat book publishing, sales, and marketing as your own business. The same holds true whether you self-publish, take today’s hybrid (e.g., supported self-publishing) route, or sign with a traditional trade publisher. Hanging out with the “bitch and complainers” (or “losers” as Claude refers to them) in the corporate world will kill your sales potential because you’ll begin to take on their personalities and habits if you’re around them for too long. The same holds true in the book sales and marketing world. Do you want success as an author? Then you not only need to learn how to sell, but you need to surround yourself with those who are succeeding to keep reinforcing for yourself that it is possible to be successful. Here are two such authors for you to pay attention to: Timothy Ellis and Liz Schulte. You should also read Claude’s book.
  2. It’s not all about the price!
    Claude calls this a myth: everyone buys based on price; no one buys expensive products. Claude is absolutely right. No matter what it is that you’re selling, there is a time and a place for price-based selling and there is a time and a place for value-based selling. It all depends on your prospective buyers’ wants and needs as I discuss in many of my books. If you want to reach them, you need to speak to them in their language. You need to figure out what their needs are and sell to them rather than just assuming everyone only buys based on price.
  3. Here’s a great way to overcome your fear of rejection.
    Every aspiring author fears rejection. Every new salesperson fears rejection. Why? Because they’re taking certain things personally that aren’t personal at all. The way Claude helps new salespeople to realize this, during his sales seminars, is to ask 10 random people in the audience whether or not they like butterscotch. Usually, around half say yes and half say no. At that point, he poses a question to the entire room: “Do you feel any differently about the people who like butterscotch versus the ones who don’t?” Everyone says no, of course. Because it’s simply a choice they’ve made about a product—not a personal attack on the person who asked whether or not they like or want that product. What a great exercise! It truly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Keeping that in mind should make anyone feel better when they approach a new sales prospect whether they’re trying to sell a vacuum cleaner or a book.
  4. You need to measure your activities in relation to your sales to know how you’re doing.
    In most corporate sales jobs, your employer expects you to log your daily activities in some type of customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Salesforce. It’s such a valuable practice that everyone should be doing, even if they don’t have an employer asking them to do it. Why? Because doing so tells you exactly where your sales are coming from and how long it takes for them to happen in relation to whatever sales activity (e.g., blogging, social media marketing, event marketing) you’ve done. When you know what’s working and what isn’t, you can tweak it. You can improve it.
  5. Start with just one push-up and, the next thing you know, you’ll have done 100.
    I always recommend authors to commit just one hour per day, six days per week, toward their book sales and marketing efforts. That’s it, that’s all. Why? Because everyone can commit an hour a day. Claude has another way of saying the same thing. He calls it his “one push-up theory” and here is how he describes it:
        Let’s say you want to start an exercise program. And that exercise program starts with
    push-ups. You work your way up to 100 push-ups a day. But today, you just don’t feel
    like doing 100 push-ups. What do you do? Do one push-up. That’s right. Just do one.
    Anyone can do a push-up. It takes you no effort at all.

    He goes on to say that it’s interesting how, once you’ve done that one push-up, you suddenly feel motivated to do a few more. So, you maybe do 10 or 20. Then that’s builds up a momentum. You’re already in position. Might as well do the remaining 80 or 90 push-ups. Sales works the same way. Just start. Just one hour. Just one push-up. Just start every single day, and you’ll see that momentum build.

I highly recommend you click on the above link and buy a copy of Claude’s book Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling because there is so much more value in this book than the five crucial tips I’ve included here. You may find some additional tidbits that speak to you even more clearly than these.

It’s a small book, a fast read. I got through it in about two hours, so it won’t take up too much of your time. But it will be worth the read in terms of helping you to understand and feel so much more comfortable with your role as a salesperson.

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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.