Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – February 2017

by | Feb 1, 2017

Bryan Cohen of Selling For Authors fame and I were talking the other day about what he calls The Selling Trilogy. It is a way of looking at the three different stages of drawing a reader towards you and your book. The stories he was sharing and the authors he mentioned were RIPE for the “Do This Not That” treatment! I found myself guilty of a few of these blunders and was wondering if any of you saw yourself in these items?

What They Did: They wrote their book description and marketing copy without an editor or any guidance.

See, authors often write their book descriptions and emails in the same way they draft their fiction or nonfiction. It is often a fine style for their BOOK, but marketing copy is a VERY different type of writing with VERY different goals. Also, these descriptions and emails don’t go through the same rigorous editing process, so they’re sometimes flabby and rambling.

What They Should Have Done Instead

Bryan says that the authors he has seen who write their own copy should have started their copy writing from the point of view of the reader. Authors who attempt their own copy writing quite often start with what the author wants the reader to know about the book. Instead, write MARKETING copy. Start with the statements that will most appeal to the reader and most convince them to buy the book. This means that before pen hits the paper (or fingers hit the keyboard), the author should have determined what the readers are interested in and then matched their copy to those interests.

What They Can Do Now

Authors who want to write their own copy, should take a HARD look at their existing copy every few months. Be brutal. Hire an editor. Focus on making your book descriptions emotional, succinct, and appeal to readers in your genre. Once you have the long-form of your book description and sales copy, get it edited! When the editing process is over, you should have a killer first line and some strong lines and adjectives to use. These can be repeated and reused. Bryan goes on to advise that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you need a different length or focus. Once you have killer copy, reuse, repurpose, recycle!

What They Did: Authors who use outdated web design and online look. This significantly harms an author’s “Funnel.”

Bryan’s definition of a funnel is “the path that readers take from not knowing who you are, to finding out about you, to following you, to deciding that they want to buy what you are selling.”

Authors who spend the time and energy making their online and business presence appealing and well-crafted will find that their funnel flows nicely right into higher sales numbers. Too many authors depend upon DIY and outdated webpages and images, and it often ends up with them losing the attention of the readers who were in the middle of flowing through the funnel process.

What They Should Have Done Instead

They should have concentrated on keeping the funnel as wide and flowing and strong as possible. They should have worked more on their webpages and they would have had more sales. The key to a successful marketing funnel is not losing people between steps. Those of us who use dated images and landing pages or who don’t edit our web copy and online pages often for freshness are missing a lot of sales. Some of us authors are SO concerned about OUR books looking good and being well edited and written, but we don’t carry that over to our web design and online presence.

What They Can Do Now

Let us all consider the cost of a dated looking and poorly designed online presence. We might want to use software that makes us look more professional and worth joining. If you cannot afford a designer, there are a lot of good ones out there. There are also a great many software pieces ( is one) that will allow you to create an email list and landing page for free. Another great site is They allow up to 1000 subscribers and free landing page templates. It is so much better than using an old platform and a stodgy look.

What They Did: Authors who avoid connecting with other authors and readers and would rather keep to themselves.

By now, most authors know that you need a following:

  • a platform
  • an email list
  • a newsletter

This is opposed to focusing entirely on social media. The problem we see often is an author not spending enough time optimizing their email and direct contact activities. Tweeting is less difficult than emailing, and Facebook is more fun and non-threatening than connecting personally, but social media venues do not have the same success as email and other direct communication methods.

Bryan says that this is the most neglected pillar of the Selling Trilogy, mostly because authors often don’t enjoy connecting with other and would rather keep to themselves. This is an instinct we need to avoid as authors. We can often enjoy a shortcut to success and leapfrog ahead by teaming up with and learning from fellow authors. But a lot of us hang back saying “I just want to write.” And “I am not good at reaching out.” Or “I don’t like to email and bother people.”

What They Should Have Done Instead

To start, authors should be connecting with other authors in their genre. Authors cannot only rely on paid advertising, friends, and strangers or they will find that they are missing out on connecting with authors that already have developed thousands of readers in that genre. If you connect with other authors, there is a LOT you can learn, share and do. Perhaps a successful author in your genre will want to read and recommend your book! What we should have been doing all along is participating in discussions online and getting to know authors throughout the world.

What You Can Do Now

DO NOT spam a bunch of Facebook Groups with your book link and call it networking. Don’t just ask Twitter followers for stuff. Head out into the social media pool and look for folks asking questions and be of help. Send a link… answer the questions. Helping others is key. The key to networking is starting out by seeing how you can help them. Find some way to contribute to their success then they might do the same in return. Guaranteed? No, but contributing to the community will drive your networking in the right direction.

Bryan’s advice works exceptionally well when it’s employed with care. If you rush through everything and try to do it as fast as humanly possible, you’re going to miss something. Even doing one of these three steps well can give your career a major boost. Focus on all three, and you’ll see incredible results going forward.


tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Keith Pott Turner

    Good post Bryan, I would like to contribute to the community and connect with other authors but my book genre is family history and not the latest commercial novel, however I do have links to famous authors such as Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and Mary Shelley in my ‘Turner’ family tree, I wrote the book to see If I had links to the great artist JMW Turner and I have five links. The book can help people to discover famous ancestors, I will not reveal the name in case it is viewed as spam. Cheers.

    • Bryan Cohen

      Thanks for the comment, Keith. It’s definitely easier to connect with others in your genre when you have a large genre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other folks who write family history. It just may take a little extra research. Thanks again!

  2. Kristen Steele

    Excellent points. I’m glad you brought up web design. Most people looking for information are turning to the web today. An author website is an important representation of their brand and it’s well worth it to invest in a modern, user-friendly website.

    • Bryan Cohen

      Thanks, Kristen! The days of relying solely on bookmarks or word of mouth without getting the web involved are definitely long gone :).

  3. sam

    Good work,Nice to read it..

  4. Deena Solomon

    The “I just want to write” sentence hit home. Manuscript sent to publisher- I should have an actual product in 30-60 days. Coinciding with my need for anonymity the platform-builders persist in prying me out from underneath my comfort zone. This note is my first attempt to do just that. Deena

    • Bryan Cohen

      It’s a challenging balance, but most of the folks I’ve seen who want to stay anonymous end up appreciating the connections they make with readers and other authors. Thanks for commenting, Deena!

  5. Jemima Pett

    Mmm, newsletter. What do you do when you don’t have any news?

    Also, on a point of ethics… I had a Mailpoet email list which I lost through a software glitch. Eventually I changed to Mailchimp. I found I’d kept a lot of the email notifications of sign-ups. Is it okay to transfer these email addies to the new list, or should I start from scratch…. or perhaps transfer them with a tag and send only them a newsletter explaining, and inviting them to confirm they want to continue following (or asking them to opt out)

    • Bryan Cohen

      One thing I love to do when I don’t have news is to promote the books I’ve liked by fellow authors in my genre. That, or you could hold a sale of one of your existing books.

      In my opinion, since you’ve already gotten the readers’ permission for your first list, it’s perfectly legitimate to move them over to a new list. Just transferring should be fine.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Colin Dunbar

    Holey kamoley, Amy. This is so useful! Thank you again.

    Keep ’em coming :o)

    Best regards.

    • Bryan Cohen

      I’m glad you liked the post, Colin!

      Thanks for putting this together, Amy :).

    • Amy Collins

      Colin – SO glad you find these helpful. Bryan was a DREAM to interview. He has so much good stuff!



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