Self-publishing 101: Five marketing resources to connect you and your book to your audience

February 6, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Last week, we talked about how marketing begins with your target audience.

While my experience is largely with non-fiction, one of my favorite comments came from athenap about marketing fiction:

With fiction, you’re offering an experience. An entertainment experience, to be exact. So you have to create a question in your target audience’s mind. “What would happen if an entire world’s survival hinged on one short, hairy-footed guy who liked to throw jewelry into a volcano?” or “Hey, what’s that space princess doing in prison, who’s looking for these lost droids, and where did that small moon come from?”

I would never have thought about it this way, but this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen about writing fiction. If you know your question and who it might intrigue, you know your target audience and have a leg up on how to generate interest and market your book.

Along these lines, I thought today I’d talk about five resources I found useful to help connect you and your book with your audience.

1. APE (Author. Publisher. Entrepeneur): How to Publish a Book

This is my goto book on self-publishing. Guy Kawasaki’s strength, having spent a great deal of time at Apple, is marketing. One of the best parts about the book is that Kawasaki tells you what you want to know (and some of what you don’t know you should know but need to) without wasting any time. The book also includes examples and details about how Kawasaki and Shawn Welch put together and marketed APE.


Guy Kawasaki:

My old boss at Apple, Jean-Louis Gassee, once told me, “Do you know what the difference is between PR and advertising? Advertising is when you say how great you are. PR is when other people say how great you are. PR is better.” Jean-Louis was right: when other people talk about your book it’s better and cheaper, so take this information and start pitching.

In terms of marketing, the entrepreneur section of the book, Kawasaki and Welch cover:

  • Guerilla marketing
  • Choosing a platform tool (Examples: e-mail, a website, social media platform, etc)
  • Fun promotions
  • Building an engaging personal brand
  • Promoting on social media
  • A few notes on leveraging traditional marketing outlets
  • Leveraging other bloggers and reviewers

What I found most useful:

How to pitch bloggers and reviewers. Kawasaki covers how to identify reviewers, when to make what type of pitch, leveraging and building relationships, and tips for how to do it in a way that’s both direct and non-offensive. I think Kawasaki writes a good book, but I think he succeeds largely because he is extremely good at “the pitch”.

On the APE website, Kawasaki offers a few free resources if you like his page (also not a bad marketing idea).


2. Matthew Inman’s presentation: How to get 5 million people to read your website

If you live in America and are on the Internet you know Matthew Inman because you’ve seen his comic The Oatmeal.

Inman’s 5-minute presentation on creating great content is less widely known.

Best piece of advice:

Pick a gripe that everyone shares and that resonates with everyone.

I think I channeled Inman when I wrote: 15 things everyone would know if there were a liberal media. I was so frustrated with a friend I knew who kept insisting we had a liberal media that I wrote the piece to show how completely insane the idea of a “liberal media” truly was.

3. The Book Designer

Joel Friedlander has a great blog about self-publishing. If you’re Googling topics related to self-publishing, it’s a good bet that an article from The Book Designer may be one of them. One of the best things about Friedlander’s site is that in addition to his own content he seems to have a good deal of great content from guest authors. I leveraged Joel’s site to help learn about ISBNs, Amazon CreateSpace and IngramSpark, mistakes beginning authors make, and how to get started.


When it comes to marketing, The Book Designer talks about:

  • Author blogging
  • Website landing pages
  • Samples
  • A process for marketing
  • Mistakes made
  • Using e-mail
  • And just about every other topic under the sun

The Book Designer is also a little more down-to-earth than Guy Kawasaki. What I mean by this is that Kawasaki is great, but I believe some of the things he does work best if you happen to have worked for Apple for as long as he did and have Guy Kawasaki’s reputation.

Favorite marketing idea: Creating a free e-book

Few people today want to sign up for a newsletter—they are too busy and have email boxes too full already. They will sign up for your list if they receive a valuable product in return, such as a free ebook, white paper, report, or manifesto. They also will add their name and email address into a form if they can receive a beneficial audio recording, course or video series.

The free e-book is one of my next projects since I have a chapter of the book that would make a great free downloadable. This post, written by Nina Amir, is a great example of guest author content.

4. Copyblogger

Website design and SEO (search engine optimization) are areas where I recognize my own weaknesses. I found while doing research on basic search engine optimization.


Copyblogger talks about:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages
  • Keyword research
  • Internet marketing
  • Content

My favorite post at copyblogger actually is more of a project scoping post rather than a marketing post: 40 questions you need to ask every copywriting client. If you want basic help with search engine optimization, copyblogger authors this free e-book (you just have to register).

Favorite quote from a copyblogger article on David Ogilvie, the founder of advertising:

There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.

5. Write. Publish. Repeat.

The book Write. Publish. Repeat. is by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. I’m going to be honest and say I don’t own this book and have never read this book. I’m just tremendously intrigued by these two guys and what they have done.

They write books like this:


I could never write a book titled Unicorn Western. But I kind of want to read it. Just like I want to read almost all of their books:

  • Robot Proletariat
  • Yesterday’s Gone
  • The Beam
  • Fiction Unboxed: How Two Authors Wrote and Published a Book in 30 Days, From Scratch, In Front of the World

Fiction Unboxed was a Kickstarter project where Truant and Pratt asked their audience if they wanted to see how they managed to write so much. They gave themselves 30 days to fund the project; it funded in 11 hours.

These guys are simply a dynamo. They also host a podcast on self-publishing at

What I learned from these two guys is the importance of writing honestly. Writing honestly is about developing a style that fits who you are rather than trying to force yourself to write in a style that doesn’t fit you. When you write honestly, it feels comfortable and it comes easily. I believe it was also one of the hardest things I ever learned how to do. Most people, my self included, spend years trying to sound like someone else (whether they know it or not).

These two guys seem to just do it naturally. Part of the reason, I believe, is that they took some very big risks and were willing to learn from them.

What helped you?

Marketing and promoting yourself may be the toughest thing you do.

What helped you? What have you read that might help other people?

Cross posted at Daily Kos.

 photo little_book_sm_zps7eb5e66a.jpg David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution:
A Distributive Strategy for Democracy