Allen J Johnston

Author of The Divine Series

The official website of Allen J Johnston, the author of The Divine Series.

How to market your book

Okay, so it is taking me longer and longer to get these darn blogs kept up to date.  I have a good reason; I am working on my forth book in the Divine Series almost every spare minute I have.  I have promised my readers to publish it Oct 27, 2014 and I mean to keep my promise.  Okay, now to focus on this post.

Marketing is easily as important as writing the book if not more so.  Most people search blogs, Google, Bing and everything else under the sun to figure out how to market their book.  You can have the most amazing manuscript, but if you can't get it in peoples hands, its not going to sell.  I cannot tell you how many times I have searched 'How to Market My Book'.  I get sites that give a small tidbit here and there but nothing like what I am going to list.  Well, after six months of intense research and trying different things, I am going to outline what I think are going to be your best options right off the bat.  There will always be more things you can do, but to really turbo charge things quickly, follow my suggestions.  In my opinion, you are going to spend some money or you are going to struggle to get attention.  I have spent $1,200 on advertising, book giveaways, press releases...etc.  I have taken in ten times that much and more.  I won't say exactly how much, but know that it was DEFINITELY worth it.  So, now onto some of what you need to do.

         *Create a business card.  I used VistaPrint.  I love them.  They always have discounts.  Always, always, ALWAYS keep cards on you.  Get an impressive looking case that gives a good impression when you take it out, and keep it on you at all times.  I did my card case shopping on ebay. This link will take you directly to card cases.  I had so much fun with this, I bought eight.  My favorite is a shiny chrome case with "Author Allen J Johnston" engraved on it. When you tell people you are an author, their eyes light up.  When you pull out that fancy looking card case, they will notice.  Then you can tell them that they can take a look at your books as you hand them a card.  Trust me, you WILL feel like a celebrity.  This part alone makes writing books fun!  Use both sides of the card.  Put a picture of your books on the back and your author information on the front.  Have your website and email info on the card.  Do what you can to make your card stand out but don't make it too busy.  I would suggest not pinching pennys here.  Do the card right.  You want people to be impressed when they feel the card along with see it.  By the way, you do have a website or blog, right?

        *Create a web site or blog (Didn't see that coming, did ya?).  A blog (Like the one you are reading) is a great way to get your name out there.  If you are reading this, then it means it is doing its job.  As a self published author (I am assuming here) you can use all the help you can get.  Even if you are published by a big house, you should follow these tips.  It makes a difference.  The more web presence you have, the more your chances are of being taken serious and the more books you will sell.

        *List your book with GoodReads and BookDaily.  These two sites alone have driven so many people to my books, it's amazing.  Let's talk about GoodReads first.  On this site, people can rate your book.  You can also do book giveaways.  I cannot begin to express what a fantastic idea this is. If you have a series, giving away the first book through this site is an absolute MUST!  I believe Amazon owns GoodReads.  Just a little factoid.  Back to my tips.  If you sign up for a book giveaway, your book will receive extra advertising on the site.  I would suggest giving away ten books over a month period.  Put a personal note in the book asking them to write you a review.  When people see a personal, handwritten note from the author, their eyes light up. They may be buying it for a retaliative so be cautious when personalizing it.  I would suggest just signing it and say something short.  I write "Enjoy the book and let me know what your favorite scene is."  Readers find me on facebook and email all the time telling me what they liked.  It makes my ego inflate way too much, but it is fun. You will thank me for this.  Also, the people who run this site are amazing.  If you have any questions, they will respond very quickly.

       *BookDaily:  This site is an advertising site.  If you pay to promote your book, they will feature your book once a month on their site and another popular site.  At this time, it costs me $49 per month.  I believe it is well worth it.  My book sales spike dramatically on the day my book is featured.  I EASILY make my money back and then enough to cover the rest of the year!  Another out there is bookbub.  I must say, I am not that impressed with them.  I would put my time and resources into other avenues.

       *I would also suggest doing a Press Release.  The site I used  is PieceOfCakePR.  I was incredibly impressed with this service.  I wanted to see if they were as good as they claim to be so I sent them a press release I had created myself.  They took what I did and improved it so dramatically that I almost ran out and bought ten of my own books.  These people know how to write a press release.  They also send out that very press release to thousands of sites.  Two weeks later, they send it out again...if you get the higher package.  I think it was $159.  Now, I can't attest to any actual sales based on this, but it is an avenue for advertising.  You need to decide for yourself.  If asked would I do it again, I would say yes.

       *Out of all the companies I used to distribute my books, Amazon won hands down.  I did sell on Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble, but Amazon really knows what they are doing.  They are clever and devious at the same time.  They want your book listed with them and them ONLY.  To encourage you to list with just them, they offer higher royalties and a few extra promotional tools.  I have to say, if these other sites want authors to list with them, they better understand capitalism real quick or they are going to dwindle and Amazon is going to continue to grow.  As much as I want my book in all those places, they do not hold a candle to Amazon.  In the end, you must go where the sales are.  Amazon knows how to make those sales happen.  I sell 500 books on Amazon for every 10 I sell somewhere else.  The math here is easy.  Now, I am not saying that you have to chose either Amazon or these other sites.  You can be on all of them, but if you want to use Kindles promotional tools, you must be on just Amazon/Kindle.  Do your research and decide if you want to try their tools. I have decided to try their tools, so for me, it is just Amazon for a short time.  I will know in a little over two weeks if it was worth it.  Send me an email if you would like to know my results.

       *There are a lot of book distributors, but I like Lightningsource/Ingramsparks.  EVERY bookstore knows these people.  This company will take returns so all the bookstores are able to buy from them.  I love the service, but they do have ways of nickle and diming you to death.  Before you submit your book to this company, I would suggest waiting a month.  You do not want to have to make changes to your content or it could cost you extra.  Amazon does not charge for content changes.  It is almost inevitable that you will want to change something.  When you are certain you have the cover and content the way you want it, then submit it to Ingramsparks.  I believe it is $49.  That does seem to be a popular amount, doesn't it?  IMPORTANT:  When you contact bookstores to ask them to carry your book, it will show as POD (Print on Demand).  You MUST tell them that the books are returnable.  For some reason, when bookstores see POD, they assume they cannot return them and won't order them.  Enough about this.

       *If you want to promote your books like the book publishing houses, the secret is thinking like them.  I cannot begin to suggest strongly enough that you contact the major bookstores in your state and ask to talk to their PR person or the store manager.  Tell them you want to send them a book at no cost for their staff to review.  They will put it on their break room table for their employees to read.  If they like it, they will even order it for their store.  It works.  Trust me.  Every Barnes and Noble I have sent my book to has wanted my book in the store and has asked me to do a book signing.  As a matter of fact, I have one tomorrow in Saginaw, Michigan.  At this time, I am selective which stores I put my books in.  Dealing with bookstores can be tricky.  If they decide that they only sold 10 books in three months instead of the 5000 they wanted, they could return your books.  Think about all 600 Barnes and Nobles doing this.  Makes ya think a little, doesn't it.  I would suggest sticking with your home state.  Stores love to work with authors from their home state.  As long as you are on line with Ingramsparks, any store can order your book when a customer comes in and asks for it.

Okay, for now, I have definitely given you enough to think about.  If you have ideas that you believe would be useful for marketing, please respond below.  Although I have definitely hit on some of the most successful, I have by no means covered everything.  These suggestions in this blog for book marketing are the most powerful and successful for someone who wants to jump start their book writing/selling career.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed