Category Archives: Book Review

“Get Scrappy” with Book Marketing

Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small by Nick Westergaard is directly applicable to book marketing. What’s a smaller business than an author trying to sell his or her books? Often authors have a pretty good handle on talking to bookstores and libraries, getting appearances, holding signings, etc.. They may have varying degrees of success, but they at least know the concept well. However, they are often at a loss of how best to market their books online. Get Scrappy will not give you specific tactics on how to market your books online, but it will give you actionable steps about how-to clarify your overall strategy and goals in that effort.

Though all three of the book’s sections can be applied to book marketing, I happened to have my most “aha” moments while reading the first section: “Smart Steps You Can’t Skip.” It helps you get into a healthy mindset and think about the foundation of marketing and your goals; particularly, your brand’s goals. It then offers a way, using the classic, who, what, when, where, etc. to create your “marketing map,” helping you decide on which objective you should focus. If your objective is market research for writing your books, you can ask questions of your readers, having them vote on the next book cover or a subplot they’d like to see incorporated. Knowing why you’re using digital to market your book (objective) and knowing who you’re trying to reach (readers), will help you decide what to do to market your book.

The end of part one gives the basics of the current and most-used online marketing platforms. Nick purposely doesn’t explain how all of the available platforms work to reinforce his advice of avoiding being distracted by “shiny new things” As in other industries, there are always these shiny new things popping up to help you market your books. Chapter three helps you decide which shiny new thing to try and which to let go, giving you a framework for evaluating shiny new things that may pop up after Get Scrappy’s publication.

Part two provides advice to help you do more with less. As an author with a likely tiny marketing budgeting, doing more with less is essential. This naturally leads into part three which helps you decide how to do more with less by simplifying your efforts, including by connecting your online marketing to your offline.

Get Scrappy is more than just a book to read, it’s more of a marketing movement, a new way to approach marketing. It’s essentially a new way to think about marketing, including book marketing.

Source: Westergaard, Nick. Get Scrappy. (2016).American Management Association. New York.

(I received a free copy of Get Scrappy for review purposes.)

Win “Get Scrappy” for Book Marketing

I’m trying something new and running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard. If you win, you also get a bookmark and sticker.


Get Scrappy is about “smarter digital marketing for businesses big and small.” As an author, you are a small business that needs to focus when it comes to marketing. Get Scrappy will help you. Among other things, it will teach you how to do more with less and think long term.

I know Nick from when I took his Social Media Marketing class while getting my MBA from the University of Iowa. I’ve also attended the last two Social Brand Forums held in the fall, which brings in top names from the digital marketing industry. He works with the biggest business from the Fortune 500 list down to the smallest, local entrepreneurs. I also enjoy his weekly podcast, On Brand.

Nick is a great, fun guy from the great state of Iowa. I have no reservations in recommending anything he produces, so…


The Content Rules for Book Marketing

Content Rules CoverI recently read the revised and updated version of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. As I’ve been known to do, I thought I’d share my thoughts about how some of the book’s advice could be applied to book marketing.

First, you may think of your book as content and wonder why you’d even want to use more content to market your book. There are several reasons (see page 23), including to attract new readers, raise awareness of your book, generate buzz about your book, share information, and make it easier for readers looking for your type of book to find it.

Using content to market your book can also build a sense of community, which might motivate your readers to tell others about you and/or your book. Which in the preceding list of what content can do for your book marketing will depend on what book marketing stage you are in. If you are launching a new title, generating buzz may be better, but if it’s been out for a while, sharing information and fostering word of mouth may benefit you more.

As I’ve encouraged you to do before, and other authors have encouraged you, Content Rules also advocates focusing on the customer; in your case, the reader. Think about how you might attract readers to you rather than pushing your book on them.

One practical idea you might use for book marketing is to use content to authentically polarize readers and get them arguing about a way to interpret your story, a character, or a metaphor contained. They will have to read the book to form an opinion.

As Content Rules‘ subtitle suggests, there are many options when it comes to creating content related to your book. If it’s a heavily researched book, use that research to create blog posts, or maybe even a non-fiction e-book (if the original book is fiction). Create a list of questions book clubs might use to discuss your book. Use parts of your book you didn’t end up using as bonus short stories. For Taming the Twisted, I created a mini-story about how my fictional family got to Camanche as a bonus and created a map overlay with street names in 1860 and now to orient people in the setting. Think outside of the normal, content box and get creative. Have you created unique content related to your book? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Source: Chapman, C.C. & Handley, Ann. 2012. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ.

Using the Tao of Twitter for Book Marketing

The Tao of Twitter
Photo from Amazon

If you’re on Twitter, you know there are a lot of people there. And it’s pretty easy to make connections; people will seem to follow you out of the blue. Of course, many times they are just hoping you will follow them back. Then there’s all of that clutter. How do you stand out in the noise and actually connect with readers? The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer can help you with that.

The Tao of Twitter not only gives general advice about using Twitter, but also provides an action plan to get Twitterized in 20 minutes a day. You can easily apply this advice to book marketing.

On page 20, Mark says, “Twitter is about sharing content for humans, not search engines.” He advises linking to your blog posts so readers can find out more and see that you know what you’re talking about. He pushes “authentic helpfulness” above all, providing several examples of beneficial connections he’s made thanks to Twitter.

As the title suggests, Mark breaks his advice down into to three main “tao”s. Number one is to find your tribe. You can do this for your book by using keywords and phrases related to your book in your profile description. For example, if I had a strictly author Twitter account for Taming the Twisted, I would put something like “Author of American historical fiction set in the Midwest on the Mississippi River involving murder and romance.”

Tao number two is to offer meaningful content, which means sharing and posting things that are helpful, entertaining, enlightening, interesting, or a combination. Do not just post ads to your own books. It’s not that you can never talk about your book on Twitter, but follow something like a 10:1 rule: for every promotional tweet, post ten helpful, entertaining, etc. tweets.

Tao number three encourages authentic helpfulness. When you’re using Twitter, constantly be thinking about how you can provide value, right there on Twitter, but also offline and via other online avenues. For authors, think about how you can be authentically helpful to your readers.

Not only can you apply these three “tao”s to book marketing, you can also easily adapt Mark’s 20-minute daily plan. If you’re a beginner, for the first couple of months you’re on Twitter, spend 20 minutes each day tweeting an authentically helpful post once each day, finding and following people, and reading and responding to tweets. Continue this practice until you have “20 relevant followers.”

Once you have 20 or so followers, break up your 20 minutes throughout the day, retweeting things as they resonate with you and adding your own comments where you have real insight. You can also create lists to categorize those you’re following to make it easier to do this. Continue to delve into authentic helpfulness by retweeting, answering questions, and offering help. You can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to spread out your tweets and get the mobile app so you can work on Twitter during down times.

Mark classifies you as a pro when you’ve hit 400 or more followers. When you get there, keep doing what your doing, continually striving for authentic helpfulness, experimenting, and building your lists.

These are the basics of The Tao of Twitter. The book also contains other helpful advice and tips, such as holding Twitter chats and ways to @mention to make sure your tweets are seen. To find that out, you’ll have to check out the book yourself.

Source: Schaefer, Mark. 2014. The Tao of Twitter, Revised and Expanded New Edition: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. McGraw-Hill Education.

DUCT TAPE (Book) SELLING by John Jantsch

Confession time. Yes, you love writing. You love it when your words touch just one reader. And having a bunch of positive reviews is better than having a ton of sales. But admit it, earning at least enough money from your books to live comfortably so you can do nothing else other than write more books IS your ultimate dream. Isn’t it?

If it is (it’s mine), you have to accept the fact, at some point, that you are a salesperson in your book marketing. And you have to sell many things, but ultimately, you have to sell your books. Duct Tape Selling: Think  Like a Marketer – Sell Like a Superstar by John Jantsch (also the author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine) isn’t about book marketing, but there’s plenty of helpful advice for marketing books.

Build a Community

For an author, you can think of building a community like building a platform, a group of people who like you, your ideas, and/or your writing who are most likely to buy your books. Think about the seven touchpoints Jantsch talks about in the context of your book: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat (other books), and refer.

Lead Defining

Jantsch says that lead defining “is done most profitably when you can define an ideal prospect’s particular behaviors” (p. 34). Define your ideal readers as narrowly as possible so you know where to find them and what to say to get them to pick up your book.

Content Building

Duct Tape Selling‘s advice about building a general platform is also pertinent to building an author platform. You can do this by blogging consistently without worrying about the number of readers because you’re looking to build a presence; podcasting; and collecting emails by trading something free. Jantsch says, “Sharing content is a great way to engage your buyers. Read what your buyers read and share that content across your social networks” (p. 139).

Write Every Day

I love the part of the book (p. 119) where Jantsch sings the praises of writing every day. There are seven great reasons to write every day, but here are my two thoughts on a couple that are especially good for authors:

#1 – To be a better salesperson. It helps you as an author to talk about your books, but it also helps you to improve your product (book).

#7 – To establish a name. Maybe someone will see your book, think “Hey, they write on that blog,” and buy it.

If you are at all interested in the broader picture of marketing books, I recommend Duct Tape Selling. If you are an author into the book selling game for the long haul (i.e. you want it to be your career), I strongly recommend it.

Have you read Duct Tape Selling or any of John Jantsch’s other books? I’d love to hear your thoughts on tips to apply to book marketing. Just put them in the comments section below. Or contact me…

REVIEW – How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Photo from Amazon

I’ve been receiving Joanna Penn’s emails directing me to her helpful blog posts about writing and book marketing for at least of couple of years now. So when I started to dig into planning to market my next book, Taming the Twisted, I purchased a few of her book marketing and writing business books. The first one I read is titled simply, How to Market a Book.

If you know Joanna from reading her blog, you will love this book. It has the same conversational, friendly, open, and honest voice that it has. The book is divided into sections so that the reader can easily find and read what he or she needs to know right now. It includes information on the basics with book marketing fundamentals as well as clear, step-by-step how-tos covering specific tactics.

How to Market a Book has solutions for you whether you need to do something to boost sales just for now or to increase reach for the long haul. I also liked that the book contains up-to-date information, which is invaluable in the ever-changing book marketing world. She covers social media, audio books, podcasting, video, and book trailers, which were non-existent not too long ago, as well as information on more traditional book marketing options like press releases, reviews, and traditional advertising media.

In addition to the practical advice, what I really enjoyed was the underlying story about Joanna’s life as an author. She talks about how she manages her fiction-writing life along with her entrepreneurial life, balancing and marketing them both. This resonated with me because of my varying personalities: fiction and poetry writer (visit for more info), business and copywriter (, and author services provider (right here at Sometimes I think I’m crazy having so many different personalities, but Joanna gave me hope that it can be done, and successfully, which would make for a fun and rewarding career.

How to Market a Book by Joanna Pen can be purchased on Amazon (click here) as well as other online retailers, I’m sure. (P.S. I’m not an affiliate of either Amazon or Joanna Penn – I recommend her book for no other reason than it’s that good.)

I’m doing a major study blitz to find out all of the latest tools for book marketing, so if you have a resource or book you recommend, please share in the comment section below.

(Writer) Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth

Like Think Like a Rock Star, I picked up The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth at Brand Driven Digital’s 2014 Social Brand Forum, the second day of the conference after I’d heard Chris Brogan speak. I’ve always felt like a freak, so a book to tell me how I could inherit the whole Earth sparked my interest. Then the subtitle: “Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators.” Weirdo and misfit are how I feel many times when I answer, “Writer,” or “Author,” to the question, “So, what do you do?”

Find Your People

This book, especially the chapter about connecting with your freaks, reminded me of a conversation I had once with my author-friend, Joanne. She talked about how wonderful it is when you “find your people,” those you feel at home with and who understand you. For me, those people are writers, and it took me a long time to find them. Over the years, my family and other friends have been great – always supportive – but I still have this sense that they really don’t “get me” or they still think I’m a little bit strange. Other writers understand my freakiness and I can carry on conversations with them like I can with nobody else.

In addition to embrace-your-inner-self, be-true-to-you, self-love encouragement, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, offers some practical advice for, if not how to take over the whole world, at least how to successfully run your business. I’ve applied a couple of ideas to running your author/book business:

Define Success Your Way

Chapter three talks about defining your success; you need to do this with your books. What will it take for you to be considered a “successful” author in your own mind? Make a best-seller list? Get picked up by a traditional publisher if you’re self-published? Sell a million copies? Sell a hundred copies? Get featured on the news? Or have someone tell you how your book positively impacted his life?

Book success comes in many different forms; decide what that looks like to you. Similarly, chapter six addresses goal setting. For books, you need to decide how many you want to sell and in what time frame and then figure out what you need to do today and who you need to connect with to make that happen.

Play to the Market – Just a Little

In most businesses – or even almost every business – you have to match your offerings to what the market wants. This is true for books to a certain extent. I don’t necessarily advocate for writing for today’s book market because it takes time to write a quality book. By the time you’ve finished, the market might be onto the next big thing. Instead, I think it’s better to write your story and then find the market for it.

Even though you are a wonderful freak, chances are there are at least some other somebodies like you out there. It may not be enough somebodies to get rich, but keep trying and tweaking your work until you find a large enough market. If you’re lucky, what you write will be timed perfectly with what the market wants – and that’s when big things will happen. The key is to know the characteristics of that market, defined right down to the underwear color of that one ideal reader.

The Book Math Test

I like to spin Brogan’s mortgage math test to that of a book test. In The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, Brogan advises calculating the amount you need to cover your mortgage and other expenses, and then planning your work, time, and expenses around that number. You can use a similar concept for marketing books. For example, if you have to pay $2.75 every time someone clicks on one of your social media ads, but your royalties are only $2.10 per book (70% of a $2.99 Kindle version), assuming if everyone who clicks the ad buys the book (which they won’t), you still lose $0.65 with every click.

I only use this for deciding on paid advertising, though, and not things that only use my time. It’s so hard to measure return on investment and put a definite dollar amount on the exposure you get from participating in social media conversations or attending personal appearances.

If you ever have any doubts about your book life (and who hasn’t), The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is worth the read. It goes quick and offers helpful advice and encouragement. Once you read it, you will be ready to take on the world and proudly fly your freak flag.


Think Like a Rock Star (photo from Amazon)
Think Like a Rock Star (photo from Amazon)

Being famous. People waiting in line for hours to buy your book and get your loopy signature on its title page. Readers scrambling to get your next copy. Volumes of pre-orders. Admit it, as an author, deep down, that’s your ultimate dream, isn’t it? Don’t tell me you’ve not been the least bit envious of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King? (My hand is sheepishly raised.) Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy for all those book-star successes, but there is that teeny, tiny bit of bitterness.

Think Like a Rock Star by Mack Collier is a general marketing book with the subtitle, How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers Into Fans. (I bought it at Brand Driven Digital’s 2014 Social Brand Forum.) The book studies rock stars and provides helpful advice about cultivating fan relationships with any brand. As an author deep in book marketing, your brand is more similar to a rock star’s than many products.

The book is good; not preachy. It presents case studies to illustrate real-world points. It also includes a backstage pass in each chapter with action items for putting the ideas into immediate practice.


The main takeaway is to listen to your customers. In your case, listen to your readers. Listen to what they engage with the most, what excites them, and give them more of that. If they rave about the way you describe your characters, repeat it in your next book. Don’t try to make your book appeal to all readers – the only people you need to please are your fans. Fans attract more fans.

Cultivate Fans

One specific idea for cultivating fans includes giving them an identity. For example, Fiskars® calls their website/forum members Fiskateers®. One of my author-friends has a series of books called the Greyhound Lady Walking series; she could call her fans the Greyhound Walkers (if she wanted to).

Take care of your fans. If someone takes the time to praise your book on social media, respond and thank them. Make your fans feel special. Give them backstage or insider information that only those who follow you on social media get to see. Do something special for them like hold a contest related to your book, perhaps a video, essay, poem, or writing prompt contest.

Let some of your trusted fans be beta readers. They already know and like your work so they can tell you exactly what works and doesn’t for your target audience; plus being a part of the product might make them want to tell their friends and family about their work, increasing readership.

Bad Reviews

Most of the advice in Think Like a Rock Star apply perfectly to book marketing, except for one. For brands other than books, responding (and empathizing with) negative comments is important. If you liken a negative comment to a negative review about your book, I believe it’s important to not respond. It’s especially important to not defend your book. If someone mentions a typo, respond, say thank you, and that it will be corrected in future editions. If someone has a problem with receiving an order or a book arrives badly printed, of course, respond and make it right, sending them a copy from your inventory if you need to, even if they ordered from a third-party vendor. However, if someone simply says they didn’t like your book or criticizes your writing, do not respond. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the fact is, not everyone is going to like your book or writing.


What if it’s a troll, you ask? Yes, you occasionally see a reviewer who simply likes to give scathing reviews for fun. It’s mean. But your true fans are not going to care. And most readers are intelligent enough to determine when someone is just being mean-spirited and when someone is giving a thoughtful review. If a reader is going to believe such crap and avoid your book because of it, is that the type of reader you want anyway? If someone’s really out to get you and posts numerous such reviews, you need more help than I can provide in this post (and I’m going to assume that’s not going to happen). If you’re really lucky, your true fans will respond to the review for you, singing your praises. Most likely, though, you will have several positive reviews which will negate the bad review. Plus, people get suspicious if a book has 100% 5-star reviews, so it might actually make your overall rating more credible.

This is just a small sampling of general marketing principles you can apply to your book in Think Like a Rock Star. If you enjoy marketing in general, need to learn about using social media, or if book marketing is one of the things you like most about being an author, this would be a good read.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What would it be like if you were a book-star? If you are a book-star, tell me how you made it happen (please)! Do you have additional ideas for cultivating fans?

Just pop in a comment below.