Don't follow your dreams. Market them.

Advertising and Marketing have been around forever. Some of it works really well, some of it goes unnoticed. And what works well for one product, may not do anything for another.

I get asked a lot about what I do to market my books. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, but I thought I could write down some of the things I believe have worked for me. Then I can simply direct people to this page and get back to watching Game of Thrones.

Take a minute to look at this checklist. If you can’t answer YES to all of the items, then you probably aren't ready to market your book, and should go back and complete these things before you read on:
1.     I have a completed manuscript
2.     I have read and revised my manuscript more than 25 times (seriously, by the time you’re ready to publish it, you should hate it)
3.     I have hired a professional editor and/or copy editor (someone other than your child who’s a high-school sophomore. I believe that English is their favorite subject, but trust me on this one. You get what you pay for)
4.     I have professionally designed cover art for my book (see #3 above regarding your children. Yes, even the one who knows Photoshop)
5.     I have a professionally formatted file for all those crazy eBook readers
6.     I know my genre
7.     I am somewhat familiar with Amazon and how they sell books (tags, reviews, rankings, pricing, etc)
8.     I have purchased a book by Dina Silver

Alrighty, there are probably more things that you need to do, but I’m sure you’ve done your research and are just looking for some free advice (see #8 above).

First of all, I care about making money. Some people say they’re really only concerned with finding an audience or getting their work out there, and while those are also two goals of mine - I still care about the money. Why? Because if I don’t care about the money, then my husband will expect me to get a real job and cook dinner for him. Those who know me well know that I get hives walking down grocery store isles, so in order for me to live hive free and out of the kitchen…I need to make money as a writer.

Be a Brand:
Marketing 101. You should view yourself and your books as a brand. Are you like Apple? Are you like Nike? Are you like Abercrombie &Fitch? Whatever you decide you want to ‘look’ like should be consistent throughout your platform. You might not be as big and well known as Apple, but you can certainly emulate what they do and apply it to any level of branding. For example, use consistent fonts, have your webpage reflect your Facebook page, choose imagery that is unique to you and represents what you’re trying to convey to readers. Ideally have all of your books covers visually relatable. When you line your books up on a shelf, people should be able to immediately know that the same person wrote all of them. That they all fall under the same brand.

Know your Genre:
I mentioned this above, because it’s critical in marketing your book and will define your target audience. I don’t go after mystery readers, because they aren’t going be interested my contemporary romance offerings. There's a reason Pampers doesn’t advertise during televised UFC cage fighting tournaments.

Social Media:
I’ve said this before…YES, it’s a must. Get on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads and surround yourself with likeminded people. Follow and friend other authors you admire and other people who are adept at social media and appear to be doing it well. People want to get to know you and what you’re about. They don’t want to see you posting ‘buy my book’ messages all day long. Those are fine (and crucial) when appropriate, but the more people get to know you and like you, the more apt they’ll be to buy your book without you ever having to ask them.

Start with a good price:
I’ve talked a lot about price, and have found that the sweet spot for debut indie authors is $2.99 or $3.99. Buyers are swayed by low prices as much as they are by high prices. If a book is priced to low, they may assume it’s crappy and not worth their time. Perceived value, people. Perceived value. Don't sell yourself short on money or pride.

Book Bloggers and Blog Tours:
I have a 22 page spread sheet that I compiled two weeks before my first book was published. It contains every book blogger that I could find within my genre (or similar genres). I spent months reaching out to them with a personalized email asking if they would be interested in reading and reviewing my book. My email was short and succinct, and included a brief summary and a cover image. Some said no, most said yes. Some said they couldn’t get to it for 8 months, but that was still fine with me. There are some bloggers who have more influence than others, simply b/c they’ve been at it longer, and have built a ton of followers. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the start-ups though. As far as I’m concerned, ANYONE who’s interested in reading and reviewing my books on their blog is welcome. I've had that attitude from day one. I don’t make bloggers prove anything to me other than that they have a blog.

Blog tours are a great thing, because you get someone doing the legwork for you. A tour host will promote your book and your tour, and organize everything for you. All you have to do is send copies out to the bloggers. Make sure you use a reputable person...and one within your genre.

Book Clubs:
I love talking at book clubs, and did a ton of them when I published my first book. I asked everyone I knew if they had a book club, and if they didn't, they knew someone who did. What's better than a room full of people (and complimentary wine) telling you what they thought of your book!?

I’ve talked a lot on my blog about reviews, so I’ll be brief. They matter. And anytime someone reaches out to you and said they read and enjoyed your book, you should kindly ask them to leave a review for it on Amazon. They may not do it (and you shouldn’t ask twice), but 3 out of 5 people will and you’ll be glad you asked.

Paid Promotions:
These are a tough thing. The good news is that many of the ones I’ve come across are not very expensive, but you still want them to be effective. I have placed an ad on Goodreads, which was affordable, but not effective. I have placed an ad on Facebook, which I believe could have been more effective if I’d spent more money. There are bigger sites, such as Ereader News Today and Pixel of Ink that offer paid marketing opportunities and they both have a huge number of followers. These promos sell out fast, and sometimes are only available a year in advance. I sold close to 700 books in ONE DAY through a promo with Ereader News Today that I did last January. Those are by no means guaranteed results, but you have a better chance of an increase in sales if the site you’re paying has a large audience of avid readers.

Stay Active:
You need to be actively promoting your book for as long as you want people to buy it. Stay current on social media and what is going on in the industry.

Stay Cyber Focused:
As an indie author, your best shot at reaching the most people will be from online eBook sales. Don't waste time trying to get your local book store to carry two copies of your paperback on consignment. That's not where you'll find your success. 

Cross Promote:
One of the best things you can do is to forge relationships with other authors who are willing to cross promote. I have always been ridiculously supportive of other indie authors because if they’re doing well, then I could be doing well. We’re all on the same team so help your teammates! You shouldn’t view other books as you competition per se. Readers don’t just buy one book.

By partnering with other authors, you can get your book in front of their fans and vice versa. It’s a great way to reach a new audience. The indie community is an awesome one. Very welcoming, very supportive and very effective in moving mountains in this industry.

So if you’re a new author, and many of my blog readers are, let me say this:
Follow your dreams!

Now let me translate that for you:

Don’t stop working your ass off to get what you want.
Be relentless when it comes to believing in yourself.
Be encouraged when you see your peers doing well. If they can do it, so can you.
Work hard to write a decent book, and then work ten times harder to promote it.

Follow your dreams, but don’t be a dreamer. Be a worker!


  1. Great insights, Dina. I enjoy reading anything you write, even in the "how to" genre!

  2. What a nice post with great points. Can I reblog it on my blog?

  3. Love this post ~ needed it. Love your outlook and style, too. Your contact me page had me laughing.