Thursday, April 7, 2011

Published a book? A promotional "To Do" list.

So you self-published an ebook on Kindle/Nook or Maybe you also created a paperback version using CreateSpace or Lulu or one of the other print-on-demand self-publishers. You've done everything right: your story, cover, description, and formatting are top notch. You've priced your book low to entice readers to sample and buy. You chose the appropriate keywords, categories, and tags on Amazon and B&N.

Now what?

Besides obsessively checking your rankings and sales page (and believe me, I speak from personal experience here), there are other things you can do.

  • If you don't have a website or blog, establish one. Pronto.
  • Write a one-paragraph author bio in third person. You'll need it, not just for your Author Central page on Amazon, but also for future promotional purposes. Every time you send out a press release, offer to do a speaking engagement, or email a book store or blogger, you'll want to supply a professionally-worded author bio. It gives you cred, and who doesn't need cred?
  • Create a user/shopper account on and You probably have one already but if not, you'll want to do this. You'll need it to do the next two things on the list, and also to buy and review other people's books. Good karma and all that. :-)
  • Buy your own book to generate a ranking.  How can you start obsessing if there isn't a ranking? For those not in the know, book rankings are like golf scores--the lower the number, the better.
  • Create an Author Central account on Lots of options here and easy to do. From the site, "a free service provided by Amazon to allow authors to reach more readers, promote books, and help build a better Amazon bookstore."
  • Solicit a positive review for your book.  People always balk at this, but I think it's important. I'm not advocating filling your page with fraudulent reviews. What I am saying is that you must have at least one friend or family member who genuinely loves your book. Politely ask if they'd be willing to leave a review. Potential readers are reluctant to buy a book without reviews. Help your book by making sure there's at least one there from the start.
  • List your book on,, and If you have a blog, add it to your author page on these sites using an RSS feed
  • Use social networking to get the word out: Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc. But don't be obnoxious about it. People read to be informed and/or entertained. They don't enjoy being slammed with self-promotion. Figure out a way to be interesting/ informative, and be part of the community. Make your book information available, but don't push it on people. A subtle approach is more effective than a hard sell
  • Leave blog comments on heavily-trafficked blogs. Put your book title or website in as a link in the comment. Go here to find out how to do so:  Not every blog is set up to allow this, but many, including Blogger, do. As long as you're leaving a legitimate comment, no one should mind.
  • Guest blog on other people’s blogs and reciprocate on yours.
  • Submit your blog feed to Feed Burner: If you're using something like TypePad, Wordpress, or Blogger, you likely publish a feed automatically. Otherwise, this is a good option.
  • Send a press release out announcing the release of your book: The reason you want to do this is not because the news media will rush to interview you (although it would be great if that happened). The reason to do this is because Google gives press releases precedence over other types of content. Make sure your press release contains the necessary information about you and your book, including links to your website/blog and your contact information. Look at examples of press releases online if you're not familiar with the format. Try to include a great marketing hook if you have one. Self-publishing via ebook is currently a hot topic in the news, so if nothing else, that could suffice.
  • Create a video, either a book trailer or interview. Not everyone has the skills to do this, but if you know a teenager, you know someone who could help.

These are just suggestions. You don't need to do all of these things (or any, for that matter), and you can do the ones you choose at your own pace. With P.O.D. and ebooks, your book's availability is endless and infinite. It's not going out of print anytime soon so there's really no hurry. 

Promotional efforts like these are cumulative. Done daily, a half hour of marketing can build and build and build. And since its done online, it's out there forever.

Do  these things sell books? No one can say with complete certainty, but I believe if you start with a good book, and do everything else correctly, the things on this list can only help. 

Good luck!



Audrey McKay said...

Thanks for the advice! I had done most of this but I'm especially glad to see the things that I haven't done. That was extra helpful.

Cathy Keaton said...

Gonna bookmark this. Thanks so much!

Karen McQuestion said...

Audrey and Cathy--I'm so glad you found it helpful.:)

Christopher Wills said...

Great post, exactly what I need at the moment.
I'd be interested if one day you could post on what to include in a YouTube video. I've looked at some and been interested, but they all seem so different; from hello this is me amd my book, to full blown TV style adverts to cartoons. A post on the do's and don'ts would be good if that's not being too forward. :)

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. And congratulations on your great piece of PR in "Entertainment Weekly."

Ruth Harris said...

Karen, Really excellent post. Very practical--and doable--advice for writers. I've done some of these things & will do more. I especially appreciate your observation that you don't need to do everything all at once. That feeling of being overwhelmed is so incredibly counter-productive. Something I know perfectly well, but I still fall into the gotta-do-it-all-right-this-minute trap. Thanks so much for helping save me from myself!

Anonymous said...


I just wrot out the checklist. Thanks.

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club

Michelle Muto said...

Great advice. I'd totally forgotten about Librarything. I never knew about


Michelle Muto
The Book of Lost Souls

Jacqvern said...

Thank you very much for the points. I'll read those again to follow the steps. It's a very informative post.

Best regards

Patrick Sipperly said...

Great info, Karen! The only thing I might add is about book trailers. In my opinion, if a video looks cheesy, fails to spark interest, or doesn't represent the book accurately, it won't help - it'll hurt. How many movies have we skipped because the trailer didn't grab our attention? Since I produce videos, I have the right tools, but not everyone does. For what it's worth, here's the trailer for my upcoming novel http://Parting Ways Trailer. Others will do better for sure, but I've received several compliments. The bottom line is if you're thinking of a book trailer, do it well, or skip it.

Suzanne said...

Karen, this is so useful. You need to get that widget that allows others to 'share' a post from your blog on fb or twitter. I'd love to share this on Facebook right now because it's such useful info!

Mano said...

Thanks, Karen! Very useful information especially for a newbie Kindle Author like me. I bookmarked this.

Karen McQuestion said...

Christopher, I'll keep that in mind for a future post. In the meantime, Patrick left a comment on that very subject below.

Hi Karen! Thanks for letting me know you found this helpful.

Ruth, I know that feeling of being overwhelmed quite well. They say with age come patience, and that's been true to a certain extent (for me), but I still find myself feeling like I'm not doing enough.

Sean, glad it was helpful. :)

Hi Michelle! Thanks for leaving a comment and I'm glad you included your links.

Jacqvern, I'm happy you found it to be informative!

Hello Patrick. You raise some good points about book trailers. Thanks for leaving a link to yours as an example. I thought it was great.

Suzanne, good suggestion! Done. (Hopefully I did it the right way.)

Kimberly Spencer said...

This is so helpful. Thanks so much for the advice.

Karen McQuestion said...

Mano, we posted at the same time! Thanks for your comment. We all were newbies at one time.

Kimberly--you're welcome. :)

Lexus Luke said...

What a helpful list! Thanks. I've done some of these things, but not all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your generosity. Most helpful.

Karen McQuestion said...

Lexus Luke--I love your name! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

And Anon, you are very welcome.

Courtney Cantrell said...

Thanks for these helpful points, Karen! I'm glad to see I'm already doing most of them for my new novel Colors of Deception.

But I hadn't heard of, so I guess that's what my next step will be!

Keep up the great work!

Karen McQuestion said...

Thanks, Courtney!

TheFairyShee said...

Fantastic advice!
You should also start building a list.

Get an account at AWeber or iContact and then put up a subscription offer on your website/blog.

Give away something free to those opting in (subscribing).

Write a dozen newsletters with valuable content and put them into your AWeber account, which will automatically send it out every month.

You goal is to do three things:
1. Build a LIST of fans.
2. Build a RELATIONSHIP with your list.
3. Market to your list (tell them about your latest book).

The key to doing this is to NEVER sell stuff in your newsletters without giving something away first. Give away 10 things for every pitch.

Hope this is useful to everyone out there.

Mark :)

robert stermscheg said...

Thanks Karen,
Your post was informative and just what I needed. I think many of us from the "older" generation are just waking up to this techno stuff. It's where things are headed.

Karen McQuestion said...

Robert, I think I'm on the cusp of that older generations you're talking about. :-) It's true that there's so much to learn that it's overwhelming at times. I try to pace myself, and bit by bit, I'm figuring it out.

Karen Charbonneau said...

Last fall I ran across an interview you did which inspired me to re-edit a couple of dusty manuscripts and publish them on Kindle. After all those years, it was as though I was editing someone else's work. The narcissism was gone. Now I've followed your advice about blogs and book trailers on You Tube and the Author's Page. One trailer is short, , but I may have committed a gaff in making the video for the other book by reading excerpts from the novel, extending its time to nearly 10 minutes. How are we to know whether or not we fascinate our public?

Karen Charbonneau said...

Let' try this again. My book trailers are at: Kindle Author's Page. Thanks for posting BlogU, which had the proper instructions!

Karen McQuestion said...

Karen, I'm glad you figured out how to make a link work in comments. It's an easy way to get the word out about a site/book or what have you...

Thanks for commenting!

AJ Barnett said...

What a great post. Thank you.

Indie authors are always on the lookout for ways of promoting their work and I'm no exception.

I've tried all sorts of things to get noticed, without success. I'm even doing a giveaway on Librarything to see if that will help.

Guess I'll have to bookmark this and keep checking back

Karen McQuestion said...

I'm glad you found it helpful, AJ.

Donna Brown said...

I wish I'd had this list months ago! My husband published his book and we sort of stumbled upon all of these things one at a time. This is a must use resource for newbie authors!

Helmy Kusuma said...

A fellow writer dropped the link to this article on a facebook forum right in the moment I was about to bang my head on the wall.
Now I am going to peruse and smooch the list like I did my proof.
Thanks a bunch, Karen!

Mementoes of Mai, my first novella.

vickiejohnstone said...

Thanks so much - this is really useful. Brilliant :)

Karen McQuestion said...

Donna, Helmy, and Vickie--thanks for letting me know this was helpful.

And Helmy, I appreciate knowing the source of my visitors, so thanks for mentioning that the link was posted on a Facebook forum.

Helmy Kusuma said...

Of course, Karen. Anytime, anytime...
Vickie Johnstone posted the link.

Donna Brown said...

Hi, I got it from Vickie too!

Karen McQuestion said...

Ah mystery solved! Thanks Vickie!

Donna and Helmy, since you found this of interest, you might also want to look at the links at the bottom of my FAQ page. I have more information for writers posted there.

Karen's FAQ page

Helmy Kusuma said...

Will do, Karen!
You are harvesting golden karma somewhere in the near future!

Mementoes of Mai, my first novella.

Peggy Williams said...

I had purchased A Scattered Life last spring after you talked about your Amazon experience at a WSF meeting. Now I have my own book up on Amazon: On the Road to Death's Door. I am desperate for info on next steps, and have been reading your web page and blog. You are SO generous with exactly the info I need. And it's fun watching your writing career take off. Thanks for helping other writers.

Karen McQuestion said...

Hi Peggy! Congratulations on getting the book out--you're at the beginning of a fun journey. Mysteries are really popular, so you have that in your favor, and of course, the holidays are approaching.

Thanks for buying A Scattered Life. I just returned the favor and bought On the Road to Death's Door. Hope to see you at an upcoming WSF meeting!

One Woman's Quest said...

PERFECT advice, all relevant and 'fairly' easily doable.

I might add create yourself a simple table or spreadsheet informing yourself when & where you have promoted. There are that many it soon gets overwhelming and you forget what you put where and when. This stops you duplicating or spamming plus allows you to know where your older posts are to go and update. Keeps your head above the waters.

Karen McQuestion said...

Excellent idea! I'm all for ways for keeping organized. :)