Category Archives: Book Marketing

Author Spotlight: John Mundt – Comic Book Author

This month’s author spotlight features John Mundt, the author of comic books as well as short stories featuring his comic character, Monkey. He published his four issues of The Adventures of Monkey comic books over two decades ago, so he has seen the book marketing landscape change greatly. In addition to having his comic books, John also used his publishing efforts as ways to establish himself as a comic book creator, stating, “In comics, as in many other creative enterprises, the best way to show that you can do something is to have already done it.”

John started with a written marketing plan in the year leading up to his first publication and has been revising it ever since. He said, “I wrote it all out, especially my plan to maximize my meager budget (maybe $400?) by getting as much free press/promotion as possible, based primarily on personal appearances. At the time, there were many specialty comic book stores, most of which would freely host – and often advertise for – me at a comics signing event for a percentage of my sales made that day.” The first change he made was to “to offer to make an in-store appearance, complete with sketches and giveaways for attendees, for a standard number of books purchased in advance. With guaranteed sales, I could plot actual ‘tours,’ like my Mighty Monkeyssippi Tour, which started in Bemidji, Minnesota, and followed the Mississippi, store by store, all the way down to Dubuque, Iowa. An ‘event’ made advertising easier and press coverage somewhat more ‘legit.’”

John also uses regular press releases to promote his events. He said, “For other marketing (and, remember, this was pre-internet), I had a mailing list, cultivated from my in-store appearances (I literally had a sign-up book on the table next to my comics), and a newsletter! Everyone who signed up got at least one newsletter, and early sign-ups got annual holiday cards as well (usually with some mention of the most recent or soon-to-be-released product).”

John occasionally used paid advertising, mostly to industry and trade publications aimed at comic book shop owners, with “obvious, but not dramatic” results. He said, “When I’ve placed ads for direct sales or to advertise a personal appearance, I’ve felt like I was just throwing money away.  The best ‘paid’ ads that I’ve utilized have been to create and place actual semi-collectible ‘items,’ such as bookmarks, trading cards, and coupons, into the hands of potential readers,” such as giving convention attendees goody bags and leaving them behind after personal appearances.

When asked how book marketing has changed since his first publication, John said, “Things have definitely changed since I first published. In the late 1990s, the comics market – which had grown bloated by investment mentality and manipulation of the false goalpost of ‘market share’ – collapsed. That, coupled with the growth of internet retail sites, like Amazon and eBay, also killed the once thriving network of comics shops. So, my comfortable marketing plans (wherein I was once on a first name basis with dozens of comics shop owners, national distributors, and comics convention organizers) were suddenly moot. I now mostly hand-sell my books at personal appearances.”

Though marketing his books has become easier over the years with “tricks” he’s learned, John still feels basically uncomfortable with what he says “feels like very public begging.” He explained, “In a perfect world, I would create my comics, show them to passersby, and politely accept questions, comments, or even sales from whoever offered them. That, of course, isn’t the best way. I don’t know what ‘the best way’ is, I guess, but I know it’s not passive. More than just a way to sell, I think the state of my marketing becomes a measure of the value of my work (it stands to reason that the more enthusiastic I am about what I do, the more others will want to share in that feeling by obtaining my work…or at least they’ll be curious enough to check it out).”

When asked what has surprised him about book marketing, John said, “The biggest surprise has been that it is much more work to market a comic book than it is to publish, or even create it.  Marketing never ends.  It may ebb, it may take a hiatus, but it never really stops.  And it is always changing.  And it can be frustrating.  And I still do it.  I’ve experienced numerous – and humorous – failures along the way.  If I’ve had any success, I credit naïve persistence.”

His humor is clearly evident in this list of his chronological marketing strategies:

  1. If I Make It, They Will Come: doesn’t work, they didn’t come
  2. Traveling Salesman: works, but no guarantee of sales, so you’d better hustle if you want to pay for gas, food, etc.
  3. Buy Something, Get Something: that presale plan worked pretty well, with the hardest part being the logistical and sales legwork beforehand
  4. Cultivating a Reader Database: the newsletters, mailings, and reward system I used – and still use somewhat – created a core group of “fans,” upon which I could rely
  5. Contests and Coupons and Swag – Oh My!: worked surprisingly well, but was costly, especially in ordering minimums and shipping charges
  6. I’m John Mundt, Esq., And You Can Too: I “morphed” my personal appearance plans to include workshops and lectures…which works very well, especially since I often get paid before I even sell a single comic
  7. Have Marker, Will Travel: another version of the personal appearance, this as a guest or featured artist…which is often more work but has side benefits of helping hone my skills while also doing real-time market research
  8. Online Storefront: works only slightly better than If I Make It, They Will Come
  9. Quirky Curiosity: just being “weird” is part of the plan now, so I end up selling my comics in oddball, otherwise unrelated locales, like coffee shops, libraries, gaming stores, and museums…which is kind of hit-and-miss

John still uses elements of all these strategies when it’s appropriate. For social media, he mostly uses Facebook to stay connected and network but has plans to sell through social media, stating, “ I do, however, have plans.  Evil plans.  Well, not ‘evil,’ I guess.  Just regular plans that include the social media promotion of a new, graphic novel style comic to be released in the near future.  Stay tuned!”

His advice to an author who is about to publish and enter the book marketing world is, “Be ready to change.  Like, all the time.  Your audience, and opportunities, may surprise you, and take you down a road – both creatively and in regards to marketing – that you hadn’t even considered.  Never pigeonhole yourself.  Oh, and find ways to share with potential readers whatever made your work exciting enough to create in the first place.  Enthusiasm sells.”

When asked if he had anything else to say about writing, being an author, or book marketing, John said, “Nope. I’ve heard or read so many crummy, contradictory, or self-aggrandizing author statements and ‘advice’ through the years that I just can’t do it with a clear conscience.  I’ll just suggest that, if you have ever wanted to write, you should.  Follow your passion.”

Learn more about John at his website at, which has “lots of different features, including a step-by-step process page, a blog, interviews, a story in progress, behind the scenes stuff, and more.”


You may have heard of imposter syndrome, which is essentially that you feel like a fraud and that you don’t deserve the praise you get because you’re not as good as people think you are. It can also be a fear that one day people are going to wake up and realize that you have no idea what you’re talking about and that you actually suck.

Imposter syndrome is common in writers; many times there is absolutely no basis upon which to base this fear, but sometimes (at least in our own minds), we have pretty convincing reasons to believe it.

In addition to my occasional feelings of being an imposter in other areas, one area in which I feel like a true imposter is in book marketing.

You see, I don’t have a best-selling book. I’m not listed on any best seller lists. I haven’t won any major awards. I don’t even earn a livable income off of my book sales.

But here I am, giving book marketing advice, selling book marketing services, and offering book marketing courses.

Sometimes I feel like I should just give it up.

But then I give a book marketing presentation or talk with authors about book marketing, and they tell me how helpful I’ve been.

So here’s what I tell myself to keep going.

First, marketing is more than just book sales. It also involves the product, which involves a solid story, good editing, and physical (or digital) book design. I truly believe (most days) that though of course, my books could be better, they are good products. I believe in them and when writing imposter syndrome isn’t getting me down, I believe the people who tell me they’ve liked them.

Second, there is no one-size-fits-all, magic bullet, this-will-work-for-everyone book marketing solution. Every author is different. Every book is different. And what may work for one book may not work for another. So, just because I’m not selling millions of books with my ideas, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. And since I consider myself a creative, idea person, I may help someone else come up with something that will work for their book, but that wouldn’t fit mine.

Third, book marketing isn’t a guarantee; it’s designed to give a book the best chance. It’s nearly guaranteed that if you do absolutely nothing to market your books, they won’t sell, but employing some book marketing strategies will help to give it the best chance of selling. A lot of authors don’t know marketing basics, and thanks to my education (marketing certificate and M.B.A.) and experience, I can help guide them at least through the basics, if not specific ideas that make sense for them.

So, even though there are days I feel like I should throw in the towel and admit my fraudulent ways, I’ll keep going, helping other authors to market their books in the best way I can that makes the most sense for them, their readers, and their books, as well as working on my own book marketing to see if I can get something to stick for someone.

Happy 2018!


One of my “why”s – traveling.

It’s December. The end of the year is near. Perhaps you are either wrapping up your current year goals, or perhaps you’re just scrapping them and planning to start over next year.

Sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated when marketing books, especially when it gets toward the end of the year with all of the holiday preparations, family get-togethers, and so many other things taking our attention.

And this is fine. I see nothing wrong with taking some time off to regroup and prepare for the next year. But if you feel yourself losing your motivation too often, earlier than you’d like, or you’d just prefer to push through until the very end, make sure you have defined your why.

Your why is the reason you do what you do. It involves your author as well as your life vision and goals.

My ultimate vision/goal is to live abundantly while writing, traveling, and helping other authors. How does book marketing fit in? In order to live abundantly doing anything, I have to be bringing in an income. Selling books allows me to do that largely from home, which can help me to travel more. I could even market books while I travel. I also find it difficult to help other authors market their books if I’m not at least trying to market mine. Selling more books also begets selling more books, which will allow me to keep writing books.

For me, it’s all intertwined, so book marketing is very important to my why.

To find yours, keep asking yourself why until you can go no further. It could be as short as why do I want to market books? So I can sell more books. Why do I need to sell more book? To bring in income. Why do I need to bring in income? So I can write my next book. Why do I need to write my next book? Because I love it, I have something to say, and it’s what makes me feel whole and satisfied. When the why seems to be intrinsically motivated, you’ve found yours.

What’s your why for book marketing? I’d love to hear about them if you’d like to share in the comments section.

Author Spotlight: Kim Sigafus – Native American Author

This month’s author spotlight features Kim Sigafus, a multi-title author in fiction and non-fiction, all of them featuring Native Americans. For her eight titles published over the last decade or so, Kim hasn’t had a formal marketing plan, though she did make a list of ideas to try. She’s always trying out new marketing ideas and networking with other authors to find more new ideas. Over time, she’s learned what works for her and what doesn’t.

When asked how she feels about marketing, Kim said, “Yuk. I find it hard to toot my own horn, which you have to do to get books sold.” The fact that marketing is just as much work as writing the book surprised Kim, “After I got the first one out, I was immediately struck by how creative I would need to be when marketing for such a niche genre as Native American titles.” She added, “At first, I did try all the traditional marketing ideas and they went okay. When I found my platform I now work within, the bookselling and publicity became easier.  In the beginning, I was surprised people would come out and hear me speak and then buy books afterward. Then I realized that WAS the way I would be selling books. I rarely do a book signing at a store these days. I would say 90% of book sales come from my Native American presentations.”

Some things Kim has tried to market her books include press releases, book signings, radio, bookmarks, and social media, but has found that it’s her Native American presentations that sell her books. She’s bought newspaper advertising but said they didn’t go over too well since not too many people read the newspaper anymore. Facebook, email, and a website where “people can see what’s going on with me and the writing by checking up on me there” have worked the best for her online.

When asked what advice about selling and marketing books she would offer to a new author, Kim said, “Everyone has to market their work. Even famous people have to push their work out there. Keep trying new things until you discover what works for you. Network with other writers. Join a writing group.” On the writing life in general, she said, “Becoming an author has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. But it’s nothing like I thought it would be. People have preconceived notions about writers; what we look like, how our day goes, what it’s like to write and create. What I can say about it is, it’s harder than you could ever imagine, one of the craziest things you could ever take on, and one of the most rewarding things you can ever experience. It’s really hard work, so those who don’t have to get those words down on paper just don’t do it. For the rest of us, it’s like clearing your head of the people living in it and taking up space reserved for other things.” She added, “Marketing is really about finding your personal niche and then carving out selling points for yourself. It’s an ongoing process, and changes over time.”

Kim has demonstrated that the key to being a successful author (according to your own definition) takes time, testing, and practice as well as learning about yourself, your readers, and what works for both. Learn more about Kim at her website. Her books are available for sale on Amazon and Smashwords.

Kim’s Books:

The Life and Times of the Ojibwa People, 2006, McIver Publishing

Native Writers, 2011, Native Voices, Book Publishing Company

Native Elders, 2012, Native Voices, Book Publishing Company

The Dress, McIver Publishing

The Mida, McIver Publishing

The Mida Book Two, Finding Genny, McIver Publishing

The Mida Book Three, Destiny of Darkness and Light, McIver Publishing

The Mida Book Four, Perilous Choices, McIver Publishing

Three Steps to Creating Your Author Brand

Last weekend I gave a presentation on branding at the Davenport (Iowa) Public Library’s first Indie Author Day. As is smart to do with any content, I thought I’d repurpose a bit of it into a blog post.

When working with branding for book marketing, there are essentially three steps to follow.

  1. Define Your Brand

Whether you like it or not, people are going to form opinions about you and your writing, thereby defining your brand. So why not do your best to steer those opinions? In addition to considering your genre, writing style, voice, etc. in defining your brand, think also about other aspects of your personality, outside interests, and goals. Incorporate your reader as well, deciding what benefit you’d like him or her to get from your books. If you’re a genre hopper, think about focusing more on the “author” part of the author brand or incorporating a common theme or element throughout your books, such as a hobby, emotion, or setting.

  1. Build Brand Awareness

Steps two and three are very similar, but I think of building brand awareness more as being your brand. Behave and make choices about how you conduct your business, marketing, and life in accordance with your brand. As an indie author, readers will often encounter you before your books, so make sure they know what to expect. The last thing you want is for them to expect one thing from interacting with you at an event, buy your book, be disappointed, and leave a negative review.

Part of this step is also choosing those style elements that symbolize your brand: colors, logo, font, graphics, etc. that you use on everything that represents you and your brand.

  1. Promote Your Brand

You also build brand awareness through step number three, promoting your brand. When you are promoting your book, you are also promoting your brand. You can promote your brand through content marketing with the book itself (cover, typeset, etc.), website, social media, blogging, business cards, bookmarks, etc. You can promote your brand more personally with appearances, book signings, readings, and author fairs.

Whatever you do with your author brand, make sure that you are doing your best to drive it where you want it to go instead of leaving it up to chance. Little by little, you will create the brand you desire.

Do you have any questions or ideas on author branding? If so, please share in the comment section.

You (Pretty Much) Already Know How to Decide Which Platforms to Use for Book Marketing

Winter tree
Photo by Sergei Vavinov,

Website. Video. Blog. Webinar. Slideshow. Podcast. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. These are all possible platforms for using content for book marketing. And this is just the beginning.

Are you confused as to which one will work the best for your readers? Are you wondering where you should focus your attention?

You’re not alone.

But, fortunately, you probably already have the answer for how to figure out which would work best for you.

Did you get beta readers for your book or otherwise test the content out on potential readers, including family and friends? Did you submit your book to an editor to see what they thought of your grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction? Did you ask people what they thought of your cover?

If so, then you have the answer.

It’s testing.

(If you thought it was going to be something quick, easy, and painless, sorry – but you’re a writer, you should be used to that by now.)

The only real way to know what platform or method of content book marketing is going to work for you, your readers, and your book is testing. For a good period of time, maybe three months, focus all of your attention on one platform or method and keep track of all the data available, whether that’s “likes,” shares, engagement, reach, etc. (there are different metrics measured by the various platforms). Repeat with the other outlets you’re considering.

Based on that information, decide if which platform(s)/method(s) work best and how well so that you can determine how much time and money to spend which ones (if any).

Have you already done some of this content book marketing testing? If so, I’d love to hear what you found, so please comment.

Author Spotlight: Lauren Wood – Debut Children’s Book Author

Lauren WoodThis month’s Author Spotlight post is a bit different as I talk with Lauren Wood who is about to release her first book, a children’s book, Something’s Missing, which was illustrated by Johnnie Cluney and published by her Paradisiac Publishing company.

Lauren hasn’t created a formal marketing plan yet, but plans to hold a release party, try to be a guest on a local afternoon magazine-style television show, send out press releases, and “do a big social push.” When asked about her attitude surrounding marketing her upcoming book, Lauren said, “This is my first book but I am aware of the daunting chore that is book marketing; however, I have a naive hope that the combined social network between myself and the illustrator (who has national notoriety) will somehow help this book garner a bit of attention.” She further explained her feelings about book marketing, “Honestly, I am excited to tell anyone and everyone that will listen, and I can’t wait to Facebook/Instagram/Tweet my face off about it; however, the press releases and the follow-up with bookstores and media, in general, is a bit overwhelming. I do have a marketing background; however, I feel like this is going to be a much bigger undertaking than I am able to grasp at the moment.”

Even with the insightful and realistic expectations she has for marketing her book, Lauren does expect that she will still be surprised at the work required. She plans to rely heavily on social media initially, especially Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as research other strategies and learn as she goes, the road to successful book marketing almost all authors take. Other strategies she might consider include paid advertising, “If I’m able to find something that is effective and will garner an ROI (return on investment) for me.”

When asked what advice she’d give other authors about to start selling and marketing their books, Lauren said, “TELL EVERYONE WHO WILL LISTEN. You’ve just accomplished something you should be very proud of and friends and family are there as your first line of cheerleading offense. Do not be afraid to toot your own horn!” On the writing life in general, she offered, “If you’ve always wanted to write a book, just go for it. There’s a lot to be said about marketing and getting the word out, but don’t let that discourage you from sharing your words!”

Lauren is celebrating her new book with a release party at Cru in downtown Davenport, Iowa (221 Brady Street), on November 5, 2018, from 3 to 6 p.m. The book will be available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 6th.

Book Marketing: Freebie Reader Magnets

Photo: Ben W.,

Have you heard that you should be giving something away for free so that readers will give you their email addresses, but you’re not sure what to give? 

You don’t want to proverbially let them milk the cow for free without ever buying it.

Or maybe you only have one book so far or don’t have a series, so you can’t let the first edition go for free.

How do you decide what to give away to help ensure that the people who subscribe will be the ones most likely to buy your book?

If you had these thoughts or questions, you’re not alone. Here’s my take on the subject.

I look at reader magnet freebies like I do free samples at the grocery store. Let’s say there’s a new faux noodle out that claims it tastes just like real, white pasta with the same nutritional value as whole grain varieties, but contains a fraction of the calories. (If we’re going to dream, might as well dream big.) I’ve had the tofu noodles and used zucchini in my spiralizer. So I’m skeptical. Luckily, the grocery store is giving out free samples of the new miracle noodle today. I try it. Then, I either decide it’s just another trick and pass, or their claims are actually true, so I stock up.

Try to look at your writing the same way. A reader sees your book, and it looks promising, but they aren’t sure. They’ve never heard of you and they’ve fallen for this before. Offering them a free sample will help them decide if they want to buy or pass.

If you have just one book, I recommend giving away a short story you’ve written in the same genre or at least one as similar to your book as possible. If you’re not a short story writer, you can give away the first few chapters. However, make sure you’re clear that they are just the first chapters and not the entire book so you don’t anger them.

Once you have more than one book, seriously consider giving the first book away for free as your reader magnet, especially if it’s the first in a series or in the same genre. Even if it isn’t, it will still give the reader an idea of your writing style.

Above all, when deciding on the freebie to offer in book marketing, think “free sample.” What can you provide that will give a potential reader a good idea of your writing style, story telling ability, etc? 

Especially if you’re in the early stages of your author career, think of the this as more of a long time process. If they get your freebie and like it, they are more likely to buy your next title(s) when you send them that email telling them it’s available.


“My” Gym

For the past couple of months, I have been going to a gym. I have always been a walker and I know the importance of strength training, but I’ve never been able to sustain the discipline needed to complete workouts at home. I have hand weights, a weight bench, and dozens of workout DVDs, so you’d think that would be convenient and I would do it, but I didn’t. And when I did get to a workout, I always quit when the weights started to get heavy.

It wasn’t until last week that I started going to regular classes that start at 7 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Because this is no ordinary gym; this gym is smart. They set you up with one coach who you meet with individually for 12-18 sessions (I did 12 over about 6 weeks) at a time convenient to you. 

They knew throwing me into a 7 a.m. class wouldn’t work.

So I met with my coach around vacation and meeting schedules about two days per week at 2 in the afternoon. She eased me into working out starting where I was, somehow challenging me enough so that there were times I thought I might die but at the same time making sure I was successful so I built confidence that I could do it. Then she said, “I think you’ve got the fundamentals down. Why don’t you just try this one class?” At 7 a.m.! I rarely see that time of day. I agreed, got up on time, got to class, and survived. Last week on Wednesday was my first “regular” attendance. The night before, I didn’t get to sleep until after 3 a.m., but I didn’t let myself cancel. I made myself go anyway; again I was challenged but I did it.

I couldn’t believe it when this past weekend, I was actually looking forward to going to class again the following Monday. (Those endorphins must be kicking in or something.) I didn’t jump up out of bed or anything, but still…

I have heard for years that one needs other people to be successful, and I didn’t want to believe them. My success (so far) has been in having a coach. I finally decided to try to give a fitness coach a try when I finally admitted how much other people have helped me in my business life.

So, what’s this got to do with book marketing? 

Well, like exercise, book marketing is really practicing skills and developing habits. If you’re having trouble doing your marketing, maybe it’s time for some help, like a class or a coach (coincidentally, I can help – just contact me). If you’re starting a new habit, don’t just jump into the proverbial 7 a.m. class, but work up to it.

Also, you will still feel a certain degree of resistance and will probably have to force yourself to do the book marketing you plan to do and sometimes step out of your comfort zone, but you will be more motivated if you make it as convenient as possible. Do what challenges you but also makes you feel accomplished or successful. Keep the logistics convenient. If you hate to travel, don’t schedule far-flung out-of-town appearances. The gym I go to is less than 10 minutes away. Finally, make sure the timing works. I’m really tempted to sleep instead of going to the gym, but getting done at 8 a.m. does leave my whole day open for productive writing and work.

Do you have any ideas to make book marketing more pleasing, convenient, or easier so you’re motivated to do it more? If so, please comment.