Marketing Advice Roundup: Best of the Last Year

As editor of the The Hot Sheet, I regularly read and report on marketing trends that affect traditionally published and self-published writers. Today I’m sharing the most useful articles we’ve found and mentioned in our newsletter in 2018.

General book marketing advice

  • How to sell books (for indie authors) in 2018. David Gaughran discusses various reader-magnet and lead-generation models. Read at his blog.
  • Why and how to reach the right readers. It seems counterintuitive, but rather than seeking a broad audience, you should focus on a narrow one. Diana Urban at BookBub explains the strategy.
  • Take time off writing to level up your marketing skills. Indie author Karen Myers offers a detailed look at how she improved her book marketing and what resources she used to increase her know-how. Read at the ALLi blog.
  • Make a good impression with your author photo. Goodreads offers specific tips for engaging headshots. Read at their blog.
  • How to get non-bookstore venues to host events with you: Marketer Penny Sansevieri discusses the ins and outs of getting stores like Costco, Hallmark, and Starbucks to agree to a book event. Read at her blog.
  • NoveList is the best book database you’ve never heard of. At least I hadn’t heard of it. NoveList is available (hopefully) from your library and can help you identify lookalike authors for your marketing. Learn more in Book Riot from Abby Hargreaves.
  • A sci-fi author self-publishes his work, sells a few hundred copies, then gets a deal with Hachette three years later. It’s an outlying case, to be sure, but it shows the power of high-profile fans. Read more at the Goodreads blog.

Book covers

  • Your book cover is critical to sales. Marketer Penny Sansevieri goes over a variety of rules to follow when designing your cover, especially if you want to drive online sales. Read at her blog.
  • How to brief a cover designer. Authors and publishers alike both know the number-one marketing tool for any book is its cover. Indie author David Gaughran explains how to get it right. Read at Kobo Writing Life.

Social media marketing


  • How a pre-order strategy can build a book’s platform: Indie novelist Cheryl Bradshaw describes her step-by-step process for pre-orders as part of a book launch. Read at the BookBub blog.
  • Learn how to get pre-orders. Novelist Therese Walsh offers 11 ways to promote pre-orders. Read at the BookBub blog.

Ebook pricing, advertising, giveaways

  • How to advertise and sell more books: Indie author Nicholas Erik offers a 4,000-word article on how to analyze the profitability of your paid ads. Read at David Gaughran’s blog.
  • What’s the best price for your next ebook promotion? BookBub offers guiding principles based on data collected from their own promotions. Read Diana Urban at their blog.
  • Try a contest instead of a giveaway. Indie author Ian Sutherland outlines a creative method for using a free ebook to attract email newsletter sign-ups. Read at the ALLi blog.

Amazon specific

  • Improve your keyword strategy for selling on Amazon. Learn how to increase the chances of your book being discovered by identifying the best keywords for your book. Read Dave Chesson.
  • Top tips for advertising on Amazon: Indie author John Doppler offers specific and actionable tips if you’re running AMS keyword-driven ads at Amazon, which are open to all authors who sell through Amazon KDP. Learn more at the ALLi blog.
  • Why you can’t trust AMS (Amazon ad) metrics. Author Ian Lamont discusses the problem with the stated “average cost of sales” and how to correct for it. Read his blog post.
  • Learn how to use Amazon also-boughts in your marketing strategy. Sell more books by understanding Amazon’s algorithms and recommendation system. Read Ricci Wolman at Written Word Media.
  • Learn about Amazon search optimization. A search engine marketing blog tackles a variety of approaches for keyword research at Amazon. Read Shannon Roddy at SEMrush.
  • The latest trends in ebook pricing for Amazon. The folks at Written Word Media have crunched the data from their own ebook price promotions and offered insights for authors. Read at their blog.

BookBub advertising

  • How to increase book sales through BookBub Ads. Diana Urban offers step-by-step advice on improving the effectiveness of BookBub email newsletter ads (which do not require editorial review and can run anytime). Read at Writer Unboxed.
  • Making the best use of BookBub CPM ads: Indie novelist David Gaughran offers tips on maximizing click-through rates for CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads in BookBub email newsletters. Read at his blog.

The Hot SheetLicensing

  • You can license anything to anyone—if you know what you’re doing. Author Kristine Rusch discusses the lucrative potential of licensing your intellectual property. Read at her blog.

If this was useful, I think you’ll enjoy The Hot Sheet. Get a free 30-day trial.

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