Authors and the Marketing Conundrum

Authors and the Marketing  Conundrum

marketing and the author conundrum

For a little while I’ve been thinking of writing a series of posts on book marketing for authors. It’s something all authors need to think about and is crucial to get the word out about your book. Even with a publisher, authors are expected to be publicists and engage their potential readers to help with what is sometimes called ‘discoverability.’ Naturally, the hope is that once books are discovered, they will also sell!

The problem – or opportunity – for authors and publishers is that there are SO many ways that people discover books. In this article from March 2013 on Digital Book World, Andrew Rhomberg from Jellybooks discusses ‘Five Shades of Book Discovery’. Andrew describes them as Serendipitous Discovery, Social Discovery, Distributed Discovery, Data-driven Discovery and Incentivized Discovery. The brief descriptions are my summary from this worthwhile post.

1. Serendipitous Discovery: The wonderful, almost accidental discovery of a book you weren’t looking for. Online has struggled to duplicate the pure visual opportunity of bookshops without being blocked by lists, genres and ‘Top Sellers’ AND recommendations. Jellybooks is trying to remedy this with the way they encourage you to discover and explore books online.

2. Social Discovery: As said in the article, “This is the good ol’ word of mouth.” Instead of computer generated recommendations it is using the power of your crowd to introduce you to new books.

3. Distributed Discovery: The discovery of books through reviews, recommendations, sample widgets, reading about it on a blog or at a writers’ festival.

4. Data-driven Discovery:  This may be an app that learns from what books we have read previously, or a retailer ‘suggested books’ or ‘others are reading’ recommendations.

5. Incentivized Discovery:  The post I wrote here describes Incentivised Discovery in one form – I was sent a book, that I loved. I also loved the targeting so much I felt compelled to write about it. It may also be offering potential reviewers or influencers access to books via NetGalley, or even discounts offered. As Andrew Rhomberg says in the article:

“Increasingly we will see new data-driven, social or personalized models for creating incentivized discovery.”

With so many different forms of social media, online and offline discovery plus competition for their readers from other media sources for dedicated reading time – what marketing should an author focus on?

Through this series of posts  I hope my learn more myself and perhaps inspire a few authors by hearing what others have done.

I attended the day-long seminar at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, put together by NSW Writers’ Centre – Forest for the Trees. If you missed this event make a note to come next year – fantastic day talking about the state of the publishing industry.

Michael Robotham, a successful author, felt that he owes his publishers as they pay him large advances. He therefore does a lot of work and events to promote his books as he feels it’s his duty to assist good sales. Another very successful author, Kate Forsyth, acknowledged that unless her books sell she may lose her publisher! Kate also made the point that on social media it is not the number of followers that is important, but the connection that you have to them. Imagining her followers as kindred spirits, she feels they share trust, connection and interests.

My social media approach

This is an outline of all my profiles on social media and reflect my inquisitive nature and interest in understanding common platforms. I have to say that my social media isn’t as strategic as I would advise – a case of do as I say, not as I do! In fact, at one stage I had a chat to the ‘secret weapon’ behind author Chris Allen’s promotion – his wife Sarah Allen. She has given me some brilliant ideas of how to improve my own author platform that I am keen to implement – thanks Sarah!

A Digital Publishing Focus


I have had my Digireado Twitter account and blog for a long time, in digital terms. It took me a number of years to create a Digireado Facebook Page. I do pull back from social media from time to time due to work deadlines and parenting two small children!

Although I have an Instagram profile under Digireado, it is personal photos – a lot of pet photos! And less identifiable photos of the kids. Although I mention my book in my profile, I tend to use this as a place to capture some glimpses of lovely times.


Pinterest really intrigues me, and you can see from my profile that I’ve dived in there, but haven’t fully engaged. I’d like to play with this further as it can be a really interesting medium when used well. There are lots of reports that authors are finding success with Pinterest and a little bit of research will come up with multiple articles to help you, like this one.

A Crowdfunding Focus


After immersing myself in the emergence of crowdfunding, my book Crowdfund it! was published by Editia in late 2012 – and updated a few times since then. I have a supporting Twitter account, Facebook Page and blog. As this is my author focus – ie, there are BOOKS to sell – I should have more focus on this platform! I intend through this series of blogs to learn and implement those things I know I should be doing much better.

I also have a LinkedIn profile. This can be a worthwhile medium and I’d like to be using a lot more. It is a great news source and way to forge connections. For some authors who have a business focus they put all their energy into this platform with great results. I also have author profiles on Goodreads and Amazon.

Move away from the computer

Not all book promotion is conducted via social media. Get out and talk to people. I run workshops, have spoken at writers’ festivals, entrepreneurial events and been interviewed for TV and radio.  Each of those opportunities with people focussed on crowdfunding has increased sales of Crowdfund it!

So, back to my original question – with the variety of options available to authors, what is important?

There is one thing that I know for sure and that is that there is no ‘one solution fits all’ when it comes to marketing. Different genres have different approaches, fiction and non-fiction have different paths to market a book.  Authors either take to marketing with gusto, or would rather be in their garret writing the next book.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers although I do have a lot of questions!

Through a number of blog posts I’d like to look at what different authors – independently and traditionally published – have done to market and promote their titles. What influences sales of their books. How do they balance connecting with their readers with writing?

In my next post I will be speaking to an author who has taken a unique approach to promoting his title, as well as conducting his own experiment of how much readers are willing to pay for his book.

We’ll also look at some new methods of connecting with readers and – I hope – provide some interesting information on the variety of ways that a writer can promote their titles.

What would you like to see covered in this series?

You may also be interested in reading:

Authors experimenting with ebook pricing and promotion – Author Julian Feeld ran a street art campaign.

Indie Authors and Booktastik – Author Dionne Lister tells us what works for her with promotion and why she started Booktastik.

Anna Maguire – May 2014

3 thoughts on “Authors and the Marketing Conundrum

  1. Thanks for this post. I loved Forest for the trees when I have attended in previous years. As a follower of Kate Forsyth on twitter, Facebook and Pintrest I cab tell you that she uses these tools very well. Her pins are tantalizing hints at upcoming books while Facebook and Twitter are each used to engage the audience with upcoming events and reviews for books that have already been published.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Jessica! Forest for the Trees was another interesting and engaging day. Kudos to NSW Writers’ Centre! It was such a delight to meet you there years ago! It’s great to hear your feedback on Kate Forsyth and her approach – for such a busy and successful author she certainly maintains a personal touch. She did mention that she had people helping her with promotion, but her social media is definitely a reflection of her own personality.

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