Dumb Things 2Authors are the most courageous, talented, creative, passionate people I know, and trust me, I know A LOT of authors! Somehow these remarkable qualities seem to mutate into a new DNA, like cancer cells, and turn brilliant author minds into backward thinkers when it comes to marketing. I do understand. Marketing is one of those scary places, but the bottom line is the bottom line … sales, or the lack thereof. Authors must market, and this daunting task has split authors into factions and made a lot of them toss up their hands in defeat.

There’s no need for all the drama. Marketing is simple. You locate the unique hooks in your book. You find people who love those unique hooks. And you make them aware of your book. See, simple! But sometimes it’s too simple and authors, being the amazing thinkers they are, tend to complicate it and make everything about the process book-centric or genre-centric. Not necessary and terribly limiting. As I said—marketing is simple. Product + Correct Target Buyer = SALES. If an author wants big sales, it’s all about thinking BIGGER than books or genre. It’s about simple marketing.

Here are the 5 limiting behaviors I’ve consistently seen in smart authors that drastically minimize their ability to make great sales.


Procrastination 1PROCRASTINATE – It can wait, can’t it?

Who thinks they should wait until the book is available before they market? Far too many, that’s for sure! Marketing is all about locating the correct audience you want to sell your product to, making them aware of the product BEFORE it is available, and connecting so that the audience is waiting with baited breath.

A good rule of thumb is to begin creating awareness of your coming book at least six months before the book’s release. Six months ahead you should be building BIG following among people who love the unique hooks in your book. Six months before release, you should start blogging about your unique hook subjects, building a website, and keeping your eyes open for unique hook events that might put your book in front of huge audiences who love the things in your book. Don’t procrastinate.

The person who tells you that you can’t sell a product before it’s available is not a person who understands the dynamics of effective marketing. Why are television shows promoted months in advance? Movie trailers blasted long before the film’s release? Simple … they are being marketed to create awareness and build excitement for the coming product.


Sorround themselves 2SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH OTHER AUTHORS – Authors buy books too!

Yes, authors do buy books too, but hey, why are authors always limiting themselves to an author based sales audience? I’ve seen authors with thousands of FB followers, all authors, wondering why they’re not selling enough books. The reason is simple. Authors are too busy trying to sell their books to you. You don’t buy every book pitched to you by your author friends, so why do you think they will? Authors represent such a small percentage of possible sales it’s almost insane to waste marketing time them.

Besides … other authors are the COMPETITION. Don’t guest blog on another author’s blog. The blog followers there like the blog owner and will seldom make a purchase of a different author’s book. Also, never let another author guest blog on your blog. Keep your hard earned unique hook followers and fans to yourself.

So, the question is, where do you guest blog? Do a Google search for blogs that focus on your unique hooks. If there are motorcycles in your book, check out all the cool bloggers who talk about biker culture. Ask them to guest blog and you’ll be amazed at the difference. You will have blogged to a huge collection of motorcycle lovers, and there’s not another author in sight! Step away from other authors and seek ways to build following and locate pockets of prospective book buyers based on your book’s unique hooks.


Game of numbers 1FORGET THAT MARKETING IS A GAME OF NUMBERS – But I have 1000 followers!

All authors forget the numbers until royalty payout time. “I have a thousand followers! They all said they’d buy my book! I don’t understand. Why did I only sell twelve books?”

Marketing is a simple game of numbers. Period. It’s math, and nothing compromises math. We can manipulate numbers in hopes of justifying a marketing strategy, but in the end, the numbers never lie. This is the truth about numbers:

You can expect a 1% return on your numbers. So, if you have 1,000 followers, that should result in 10 books sold. (The extra two mentioned above came from the author’s mom and sister.) Sobering thought, isn’t it? So, where do you get the numbers you need to make the sales you want?

If you want to sell 1,000 books, you would need 100,000 followers. Don’t faint…take a deep breath…it’s easier than you think. This doesn’t mean 100,000 twitter or FB followers at all. It simply means that you will need to connect with 100,000 people and that’s extremely possible.

Look at it this way. If you build a strong unique hook following on twitter of 5,000 followers…If you have a good 2,000 unique hook FB followers…If every time you blog on your own blog, over 1,000 of your unique hook blog followers view it…If you have joined 3 FB unique hook groups, each with over 10,000 members (30,000)…If you regularly guest blog with 3 unique hook bloggers, each with thousands of followers (9,000)…If you join 3 unique hook yahoo groups, each with thousands of followers (10,000)…If you speak regularly at local unique venues about your unique hook subject (500)…If your unique hook connects with professional people and you join 7 groups on LinkedIn, each with thousands of followers (35,000)…well, I’m sure you’re getting my point.

The trick to getting the numbers you need is not only to stay away from loading your following and focus with other authors, but to connect with your unique hook lover prospective buyers as often and in as many different places as possible.

Want more sales? You have several unique hooks written right into your book. Locate those audiences too.


shortcut 2CHOOSE THE SHORT CUT ROUTE – Wow, it’s so much easier!

Short cuts don’t work. Let me say that one more time, only louder … SHORT CUTS DO NOT WORK. Tying to be more efficient is one thing. I have no issues with authors pre-scheduling blog posts, or tweets … my problem comes in the fact that authors who consistently do the pre-scheduling, completely forget to follow up or check to see if the tweets or blog actually happened.

If you pre-schedule your tweets, you’re not there to respond. Granted, you’ll be able to see if someone retweeted or responded to your tweets later, when you get back to your tweetdeck or twitter page but hey … the person who retweeted or commented is LONG GONE. Twitter is all about IMMEDIACY. It’s a constant stream of people, jumping onto the train and jumping off of the train. In order to make connections, you have to be there when you tweet! Connection requires immediate response, not delayed responses to comments that the person has already forgotten about. My suggestion is to tweet for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon. Tweet only about your unique hook subjects, your blog entry links, and your coming book. Tweet at least ten tweets, one per minute and in between, retweet and comment on those flowing along your twitter stream. THEN LOG OFF. This is good time management. Never get too caught up on twitter, or FB, or any social network.

Another issue on twitter is the “I can get you 10,000 followers” short cut. Guess what … SHORT CUTS DON’T WORK! Who are those 10,000 followers? Are they unique hook lovers? Are they book buyers? Are they even human beings? Are a majority of them one person with a hundred different accounts? Random, unfocused numbers are as bad as low numbers. Make sure every moment you spent on twitter is focused on your goal … to connect with your unique hook followers and have that result in sales!

If you pre-schedule a blog post, PLEASE MAKE A NOTE TO CHECK ON IT! I’ve seen pre-scheduled blog posts not go up, go up at times the author didn’t intend, go up without the photos, and go up with the links mysteriously missing. Make note of the date the blog entry is supposed to go up and CHECK the post! If that’s too complicated, do a Google search for your name and Google will remind you that the blog has gone up. Save yourself some embarrassment, especially if you plan to go out to all your 100,000 connections and tell them to come over to read your blog.


Taking Risk 1AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS – But … but … what if it doesn’t work?

Remember, we all learned to use a fork, to walk, to dress ourselves, to choose a subject for our education, to say yes, or no, or look further for the right partner, job, or life choice. Authors are human beings and we try new things every single day. Trust your instincts! Just because no other author has tried a marketing technique, doesn’t men that you shouldn’t. Protect your wallet and steer away from those great advertising packages that feature your book with thousands of other authors’ books. Who needs the competition when you can be visible to thousands of people who already love the unique hooks in your book? Walk your own trail and seek out prospective book buyers who will run, not walk, to buy your book. Be different! IT IS SO WORTH THE RISK!

Are you a smart author doing any of these five dumb things? Which of these bad habits will you tackle first! Got a question, I’ll be happy to answer!

 Write Brain.Left BrainAVAILABLE NOW


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About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus


  • Cynthia Echterling

    Very good advice. I especially notice how many authors market to other authors to no avail. I think the hardest part is identifying an audience especially for fiction and then finding those people.

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Hi Cynthia,

      It’s actually easier to locate the correct audience than you think. For example, if your main character rides a motorcycle, just go to your twitter account and search motorcycle, leather, bike riding boots, tattoos, or anything related to motorcycles. Then all you need to do is start following and building a nice big following. Join FB groups that are focused on motorcycles too. The next step is to connect with those people by blogging and tweeting and Facebooking about motorcycles and how they relate to your story. BAMMM! Now you have a unique hook following and there’s not another author in sight trying to get their attention! Give it a try. Good luck!


  • Ethel Lewis

    Reblogged this on Ethel Lewis and commented:
    Very good advice

  • Lev Raphael

    Do followers really translate into any sales at all? Maybe if you have tens of thousands of followers and you’re a public figure in a sense and have a huge platform. The advice above about building a following also makes it sound easy: “all you need to do.” It’s incredibly time-consuming, and not necessarily going to work for everyone. But that’s the American marketing dream. How can you be sure that those people you find on twitter or FB are 1) readers and 2) readers who would buy your book. Most Americans don’t but books or buy very few. Almost 2/3 of book buyers are women over 40. Also, plenty of marketeers warn against pushing your books too hard on Twitter and FB, so there’s that, too.

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Hi Lev,

      The CORRECT following CAN translate into massive sales.

      The bottom line here is that most authors have only marketed their books one way … they genre market to book buyers and, unfortunately, to other authors. If an author would stop doing this and replace those efforts with locating and creating a strong following of people who love the unique hooks within their books, it takes no more time than they’re already spending on marketing. It does work for authors willing to take a few months to change their approach and try. This isn’t a crazy new idea … it’s basic marketing … the way every business markets a product. It works. And, it is easy. You just need to do this whole marketing thing differently. BTW, this isn’t an American Marketing Dream, it is the basic marketing approach of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world who successfully sell their product.

      It doesn’t matter if the unique hook loving people you locate on twitter are book buyers or not … it only matters that something inside your book touches and creates a positive reaction in them. Many of them will buy your book because something they really love is inside your story. These are sales made to an audience you wouldn’t have if you didn’t connect with them. More sales is a good thing to all authors.

      Americans do buy books, Lev. I’ve taught this basic marketing technique to American authors (as well as Canadian, Australian, English, and other European authors) and when implemented, it shows great results. Many have sold thousands of books in the first few weeks of a release. It’s just a matter of marketing differently. Marketing is all about who you’re talking to.

      And finally, you NEVER push your book with this technique. You simply locate lovers of the unique hooks inside your story, connect with them, talk about the unique hook that they love, and connect it to your book. There is no hard sell, begging, or difficulty when marketing this way. You’re no longer one shouting author in a crowd trying to get the attention of a limited or unfocused audience. You will have custom created your audience and simply enjoy tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging about the things they love.

      Granted, smart authors often do things one way because they don’t wish to make the effort to change it. They often love the marketing technique they already use more than they love the idea of making better sales. Smart authors sometimes are fearful of change. Shaking things up and trying something different can turn a corner for your book sales, Lev. It’s so much more fun to make sales than it is to hate marketing. (Yeah okay, that sounds very American, but it is true, LOL.)


  • Richard

    Very interesting article. It mentions the need for authors to experiment and try new things. I’m having a lot of success with book subscription services such as KindleBookPromotions and BookBub.
    Have you an opinion of these services yourself where they match your book to readers in the same genre?

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Hi Richard,

      Anything that expands your outreach and the visibility of your book is a good thing! These promotions do work, but imagine taking a few minutes every day to step away from genre lovers, and seek out twitter and FB followers who love the unique hooks in your book. That’s also expanding your outreach. The wider you expose your book, the bigger your audience. The cool thing about expanding audience through building unique hook following is … it’s free. So it can’t hurt, right? LOL


  • davidkbryant1408

    Deborah, Let’s first get on record that I don’t know you and this is an unsolicited comment.
    I found that article so informative. It really hits the spot. I so often read through stuff on blogs that leaves me thinking “what a waste of time”.
    Your post is the most useful I’ve found yet.

  • Deb Sanders

    Reblogged this on Deb Sanders and commented:
    Great tips for authors by Deborah Riley-Magnus

  • Jassie

    Reblogged this on International Book Promotion and commented:
    So you think Marketing should wait until your publish the book? Think again.

  • Paul Burt

    I’m sharing your insights with our authors. Your blog deserves a large author following!

  • Mary Kate

    Thank you for this advice. Going to give it a go and see what happens. :0)

  • Dac Crossley

    So – why blog to other authors? Better to blog to readers….

  • Jesse V Coffey

    I will argue one point in that article — which is very good, by the way. I don’t want it said that I didn’t like it. But this idea that other authors are competition is not completely true. It very much depends on the genre. It also depends on the author. Romance readers, for instance, are constantly looking for other authors to read — a methadone list, if you will — while they wait for more from their favorite author. They will go look at other writers. Especially if their favorite recommends it. It depends on the author — if it’s not a favorite, that author’s word might not carry that much weight. But for the most part, when someone’s mentioned my books, I’ve had sales. There’s research to do here as well. Do the authors write in your genre? Write in your subgenre? BDSM readers are not going to read sweet romance just because the author recommends it. That’s also a factor. If I write BDSM, I’m going to go to authors like Kallypso Masters and Tymber Dalton to share cross promotion — another angle. They’re not going to do it “for free”. I recommend their books, they recommend mine. We don’t compete, we support each other. And it does pay off.

    • Deborah Riley-Magnus

      Hi Jesse,

      I agree that other authors do buy books and can generate some sales for you. HOWEVER, other authors will never get you to the best seller list under any category. There are bigger sales and bigger audiences to have. To concentrate large amounts of time and energy on marketing to other authors is far less effective than locating and focusing your marketing efforts on pure readership … no matter the genre … even BDSM. It takes time, research, and patients, but it is real marketing at it’s best. My point in this blog entry is that more marketing efforts should be focused on reaching out to your prospective readers and book buyers, less toward other authors.

  • timdesmondblog

    Yes, thanks for this piece. Just now reading it in June 2016. While I’ve always thought of the business side of being a published author [1st book in December 2005], so much has evolved in the print industry and all digital formats. Borders hadn’t closed yet back then, and I thought they might have stayed longer as they had this electronic connection with Amazon. It’s really eye-opening about your points of pitching “hooks” instead of genres. When I am at a signing event and a visitor asks about the book, I begin with a hook statement immediately, without knowing their interest quite. Thanks again, as I carry on and try your angles. I needed this.

  • lfox328

    Not just good advice, EXCEPTIONAL advice. I took marketing classes while in college, and I’m ashamed to admit that I had forgotten (or never learned) a lot of this.

    Thank you – I will definitely be promoting this blog in the future to any writer I know.

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