Book Marketing Q&A With Joanna Penn

In this podcast, I go through your marketing questions submitted as part of the blog survey a few months back.

I recorded this about a month ago before I left Brisbane in anticipation of the change to come. I will try to update you in the next podcast or video, but basically I am in temporary accommodation so haven’t got my blogging/video/audio routine together yet. I am also working from 6am as I have a project in Brisbane so my early pre-work slot is gone which is when I used to do a lot of creation. I am adjusting but some things will be changing once I settle in as I also have a much bigger commute. The day job is manic, but I am LOVING the culture! Last weekend we went to St Martin’s in the Fields to listen to Mozart’s Requiem, and then saw David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing (Dr Who & Shakespeare – geek heaven!). Marvellous! This weekend I am going to Paris for a research trip for the next novel, Prophecy – more on that to come! On with the show.

Show Notes:

  • Do book trailers work? Should you make a book trailer? I am a believer in meeting people where they are and YouTube is a major search engine now so to me, it makes sense to be there. I did a book trailer for Pentecost that has been viewed over 1386 times. Here’s my post on how I made it. Video is also growing and few authors use it effectively now so I think it is a growing niche (and publishers are just realizing this which means we may have missed the curve!)
  • Are there people who can be hired to do marketing for you who will charge based on results? In marketing it’s very hard to know what works vs. what doesn’t work. Marketing professionals are generally paid on a retainer basis where they will do a list of things and some may work. Some online people have programs for authors, e.g. Aggie Villanueva Promotion a la Carte. You need to be sure of what you want and what you’re getting for your money. But you will always be your best ambassador as you care and you know your book.
  • Selling when you’re an introvert. Don’t think selling, think marketing. It’s about relationship and content marketing. Be useful, provide good information and people will notice you. Attract people to you and then provide them with what they are interested in, at some point they may buy your book. None of us want to be over the top salespeople. I also interviewed Ruth Ann Nordin on marketing as an introvert here. She’s also written a little ebook on marketing.
  • Is Twitter worth my time? I’m an evangelist for twitter and it’s my #1 social network. Here are all of my Twitter tips. I explain why I share other people’s links – one reason is relationships and most of my podcasts have come from people I’ve met on twitter. It’s important to be useful and also you must focus. So if you spread your energy across a lot of networks, you won’t be successful on any of them. Choose your network and focus.
  • Effective blogging patterns. See this article on Content Marketing for Authors for the overall concepts and types of posts. Longevity is critical. You need to last at least 6 months before you get any benefit and a number of years before you really make an impact. The 6/7 figure bloggers have been blogging for 5-6 years. Blog regularly, I blog every 2-3 days and consistently (you can schedule posts while you’re on holiday). You also need to blog a niche so it has a focus – you wouldn’t like it if I started to talk about weight loss on a writing blog! Centering your blog around your personality is important too as you will change over time. Quality information is important as is multi-media so you stand out. Getting traffic is about a hub and spoke effect (check out the Author 2.0 Blueprint for more details on this – bring people back to your central hub). Go where your audience is.
  • How can I get email addresses to market my book online? Here’s the article on this topic. Basically, you need to give something useful away for free in exchange for the email address – example is my Author 2.0 Blueprint. I use Aweber (affiliate) to manage my list which fits the anti-spam laws.
  • How do I manage my time with marketing? I’d rather be writing. I explain how depressing it was when I wrote my first book and didn’t sell any. The writing time was “wasted” because I had no platform for readers, no one knew who I was. So you have to determine whether, if you just write the book, who is going to buy it? Agents & publishers want a platform now, it’s not just for indies.
  • Blogs for authors, not readers. What’s the point? Most people blog about what they know and experience. You do need to go elsewhere, so I have a book review blog in order to connect with readers of the genre. You can also use Goodreads or Shelfari. You can also connect with book bloggers.
  • What if you are a private person and you don’t want to share your life on the internet? I use the example of Zoe Winters, paranormal romance writer who has been on the podcast twice now. That’s not her real name and I don’t know what she looks like. CJ Lyons also uses a pseudonym as she is a pediatrician. I don’t even mention my husband’s name and people use other names for their children e.g. Mur Lafferty’s daughter is The Pink Tornado, Tee Morris’ daughter is Sonic Boom. Justine Musk also uses a lot of fake names on her blog as she knows some high profile people. You can still hide yourself online.
  • How do you get public speaking bookings? I believe successful authors need to know how to speak publicly so this is critical. People will buy your book if they know, like and trust you and being a good speaker is an excellent way to do this. I got my first speaking events through being approached on my blog. If you have an ‘authority’ presence, people will find you and want you to share. You also need a speaking page on your website and make it clear you’re available. If you want to be a professional speaker, join an organization like National Speaker’s Association which has chapters everywhere. Here are my 7 tips for speaking about your book.
  • On the fear of putting yourself out there. Think about what will happen if you don’t – i.e. you won’t sell many books, and that is the aim of pro-writers. You will have time to grow into your presence, so just start and things will happen slowly. Very few people become overnight successes on the internet – most of them have been working for years and then a tipping point happens.
  • How the hell do I get people to notice me? It’s about word of mouth and it is slow! Be useful, put yourself out there, write great stuff and someone will notice and tell their friends, then they will share and so on. This is not get rich quick, people!
  • Marketing for fiction vs non-fiction authors. I think the principles are the same. Any of these strategies can be applied to any type of book or any business. It’s about building a platform and getting attention. Find where the people who will buy your book hang out. I think having a personality blog is critical so your audience can grow along with your writing. I’m intending to write in other genres as I’m intending to write until I die (in a long time!) and hopefully some of you will grow with me. We all need to cultivate a long term market.

All my best marketing posts are here => Marketing for Authors and Writers

What are your marketing questions? Maybe I’ll make the Q&A a regular segment – what do you think?

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  1. says

    Hi Joanna; love your blog and this post. Hope your settling in well. I think a regular marketing Q & A, say, once a month is a great idea. In some posts you could put the questions to expert guests and other times answer them yourself.

    My marketing question would be; ‘how do you market something that appears to be unmarketable?’ Sounds a bit vague I know, but I’m asking from personal interest here as my first book ‘Call Me Aphrodite’ is about child prostitution, and has violence, rape and other nasty stuff in it and I am finding it very hard to get someone to review it. Everybody want to review a Teenage Vampire Romance….

    Don’t worry about that; I’m sure you’ll get plenty of other very useful marketing qustions. Keep up the good work.

  2. Jane Cranmer says

    Hi Joanna,
    Welcome back to the UK! I’m a Yorkshire lass myself, look forward to hearing of your adventures down south.
    As a writer with her first book out (indie published, set up my own company to cut out the middle man), I love your marketing blogs, it is one of those areas I really need to get to grips with fast, and you are so inspirational, and so prolific, I can’t believe how much and how often you write!
    Hope you’re settling in well xxx

  3. says

    Trailers are something I’m hearing more and more about and when the time comes I’m really going to have to dip my toe in that pond aren’t I. I find it difficult as I’m not one of those people who find themselves going round and round in circles on YouTube so never see the appeal, but I do know it has a massive audience. It’s one for the future!

  4. says

    Hi Joanna
    You said to ask questions ! I have listened very careful to what you were saying about BRAND, BLOG and SOCIAL NETWORK, above. My question is all about BRAND.
    My problem is that I have written quite a few school textbooks for Papua New Guinea and now I have almost completed “Japanese Prisoner—David Barrett’s Story” or a similar title. But in the future I would like to write on other topics related to my experiences such as—in Cyprus 1955 to 1957, Farming in NE Scotland, Working in Papua New Guinea and so on. I am not a diehard Japanese war story fan although I do know a lot about the topic now!
    It is similar to what you explained about your “How to Enjoy your Job” book. You set up a site but it was no good for what you are writing now.
    I feel that it is most important that I do the marketing of David’s book really well so I am very loathe to set up a site about me— . My only solution at this time is in fact to set up a site such as japanese or something similar and when the book is on the best seller list and I have written something else , then start my own website.
    What do you reckon?
    I hope you are enjoying life back in Britain. The weather is beautiful in Brisbane!!

    • says

      Hi Brian – yes, brand is difficult and morphs over time as you say. I have now got where I will be posting more about what inspires my fiction – that type of site will work for you as a person. For David – that is another brand and something you might have to build and then leave over time. It’s a case of looking at what you want for yourself over time, not just for one book. If you are focusing on the Japanese book then indeed, that should be the focus but maybe you could set up your own site as well & add some basic info. It all takes time!

  5. says

    Thanks Joanna, I will do as you say and stick with a suitable web site for this book alone while I put into practice all your marketing advice.


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