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 to avoid exhausting your social media followers. Publishing industry vet Amy Collins describes how you can drive away even loyal readers by talking too much about your own books—and she offers alternative strategies. Read at the Book Designer.
  • How to market yourself on Instagram. Thriller author Melissa Frey offers concrete action steps at Shayla Raquel’s blog.
  • There are strategic differences in posting video on YouTube versus Facebook. YouTube videos tend to be longer as well as branded or sponsored. Learn more from Gabriele Boland at NewsWhip.
  • Some old-school media tactics no longer work. For instance, it’s no longer enough to link to influencers to get them to share or send automated messages. Get up to date on best practices from Aja Frost at Buffer.


  • 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.

Posted in Marketing & Promotion.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Barber

Wow! What a resource this is. Appreciate it. One question I have about publishing through I plan to use Amazon for my e-book and softback versions but I also have a hardback version. Any suggestions for handling those sales on Amazon, which I assume I would have to print and fulfill myself? Thanks.

Jan Cline

Oh man, I can’t wait to dive into this. What a comprehensive list! Thank you. I have enjoyed your blog for some time and always recommend it when I talk to writers and new authors. Waiting to hear back from a publisher on a series, but I’ve been brushing up on topics that will help me if I Indie publish the series. Thanks so much.


So much to do, so little time. And so many decisions! As the person I most trust to curate the writing business, Jane, I’d like to share an idea with you and your readers: Begin by printing out Jane’s blog post and buying a set of darts. Next, tape the print out to a wall. Now, step back from the list, backing up six paces so you may throw a dart. Just one. Save the others for later. (Be sure to buy spackle because this process is hit and miss.) Now, when your dart hits on one piece of advice,… Read more »


Thank you for this extensive list of resources. Much appreciated! As fellow/aspiring writers, we should all let you know more often about our gratitude for all you are doing, posting, researching and writing about, Jane! You save us so much time and every topic is more helpful than the next. Gracias!

Rick George

Thank you for such a thorough sharing of the best ideas and for putting those ideas into categories. I’ll be spending time reading through these and incorporating ones that will enhance my marketing efforts. Your blog is always tremendously helpful.

Sonja Haggert

I apologize from the start if these are a stupid questions but I am having a difficult time understanding the navigation process on Amazon. I published my book through IngramSpark, obtaining an ISBN number for both print and ebook. Then I also published in KDP on Amazon. I am able to access Amazon Central and the Author page only through an email I received from Amazon. When I go into KDP I cannot find this link. Also, when I look up sales for the book, the author page gives a number but when I go into KDP directly it says… Read more »

[…] Friedman brings us the best marketing advice of 2018, Gila Green discusses a formula for the writing-marketing balance, and Sherrilyn Kenyon shares tips […]

Sam Write

Great list. I especially agree with the book cover section. Often something that is overlooked when it comes to marketing for self-publishers.