How to Market Your Self-Published Book—A Plan by Bill Quain

by | Apr 2, 2010

Marketing Your Self-Published BookLast month I published an article called Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For? that attempted to communicate my enthusiasm for marketing through social media and online generally.

Response was strong with people chiming in in the comments. I asked one poster, Bill Quain, to expand on his book marketing ideas. And Bill took me up on it—in a big way. Over the last month he’s published a virtual marketing manifesto for authors. I reprint it here, together in one place, because I think we all have a lot to learn from Bill’s teaching and his generosity. Enjoy!

Hi Joel,

As promised, here is my take on creating a marketing plan for your book. I will probably break it up into a few posts, because I don’t want to go too long in one.

First, let’s review why it is important to plan. Two major reasons – time and money. Planning takes up time, but not as much as floundering around, trying marketing scheme after marketing scheme. Money – I personally wasted a lot of money by forgetting my plan. The most glaring is the time I paid $2,000 to get 20 radio interviews. They produced no business at all, and laying out that money stung!

Worse, the publicist who made the arrangements told me “Of course, you have to consistently do this month after month.” Luckily, I did not. But, the only reason I felt confident in refusing to spend more was that I realized it did not fit into my plan.

Writing the plan has absolutely NOTHING to do with tactics. Tactics are things like book store signings, advertising, blogging, website development, etc. The tactics come after the plan. You use the plan to choose the tactics.

A Practical Background

Let me give you just a bit of my background to explain how I came to the planning process. My first five books were commercial failures. I lost money on four of them. But, I kept at it, because I needed the money, and I knew that I was a decent writer. I just wasn’t selling books.

Before I wrote my sixth book, I started looking around and asking a very good question. “Who buys books, and what kind of books do they buy?” Asking this simple question made all the difference. Because I asked that question, my wife stayed home from work to raise our kids, we lived on the water and had a big fishing boat. We took vacations, and I had the opportunity to help my parents. In short, I was able to reach my dreams.

Now, you may write for different reasons. For me, it was always about the money. I wanted money to be able to do the things that I could not do on my college professor’s salary. But, that was my dream. If you decide on a dream, you will start asking the right questions as well.

Folks, I discovered the Big Selling Secret with my sixth book. Here it is:

If you want to sell books, you need to know who is buying them.

Sounds simple, I know, but so many authors are quite unaware of this Big Selling Secret.

The Five-Step Planning Process

I use a five-step process for planning: Here are the steps.

  1. Break your markets into groups (segment)
  2. Choose the group(s) that are going to be your best customers (target)
  3. Learn how, when, where, and why they buy books, and be there when they are (intercept)
  4. Create a special marketing mix (product, price, promotions, and distribution) for each target group (position)
  5. Create a “to do” list and turn it into a “to sell” list.

This may seem complicated, but it is not. If you do it once, you will see how simple it is. Let me just give you an example of steps 1 and 2 to get you started.

  1. Break your market into groups. Do not try to be all things to all buyers. Look for groups that “buy and use” similarly. I always use the example of the Best Banana Cream Pie company of Philadelphia. They found two kinds of users of their pies. Some people eat them, and some people throw them into others’ faces. They USE the pies differently. On the other hand, some people buy just one pie at a time (for throwing or eating) and some buy it in bulk (again, for throwing or eating) The Best Banana Pie Company of Phillie does not care HOW people use their pies, they only care if they BUY the pies!
  2. Choose your target markets. Of all the groups you identify, you cannot possibly afford the time and money to market to all of them. Choose your top markets. Both individuals and brokers buy my books. I would rather sell to brokers. I don’t ignore the individual buyers, I just don’t market to them. I choose my targets and concentrate on them.

The Continuing Story of Marketing & Selling Your Book.

Okay, we covered steps 1 & 2. There is a lot more we could say about them, but let’s move on. (However, if anyone wants some info on targeting the “Gift” market segment, let me know. This is an often-overlooked segment, and is ideal for both fiction and non-fiction.)

In this comment, I want to address step 3, which is understanding how, when, and why your buyers buy. When you know this, you can intercept them, and stop wasting your money on useless promotions.

Consumers (and bulk buyers) go through a decision process to buy. While it is a little different for bulk buyers, let’s use the consumer model for simplicity. Once you understand it for consumers, you can understand it for bulk buyers as well.

The Five Stage Buying Process Explained

There are five stages to the buying process:

  1. Problem Recognition
  2. Information Search
  3. Alternative Evaluation (also called “Sampling”)
  4. The Purchase Decision
  5. Post-Purchase Evaluation

Folks, if you understand this model, and how to use it, you can sell anything! Notice that the very first step is Problem Recognition. Nothing happens until someone realizes they have a problem, If your target markets do not realize they have a problem, you cannot sell them anything. This is why we say “selling is problem solving.”

Different markets have different problems. For example, if you want to get an article published in an online magazine (a great technique for promoting your book) you have to solve the problem of the editor. I recently helped an author do a pitch for a radio interview. What problem was she solving? The host needed great content and interesting guests for his show so advertisers would pay him! This was his problem.

Fiction books solve entertainment-related problems (diversion, romantic needs, excitement, escape, etc.) Non-fiction solves information, education problems. Don’t make the mistake that so many authors make, however, and focus on the information. Focus on the solution!

To help you with this concept, answer this question: “Last weekend, Home Depot sold customers 3,000 half-inch drill bits. How many of those people wanted a half-inch drill bit?” The answer is “none”. They all wanted a half-inch hole! Sell the solution and the result for non-fiction, not the information.

How Problems Lead to Sales

AFTER someone discovers they have a problem (or you point it out to them) THEN they start looking for information. After that, they evaluate alternatives. This is an excellent time to give them a free sample of your writing. Finally, they decide to purchase (or not) and afterward, they worry about making the right choice. (This is an excellent time to follow up and stay connected.)

Understanding your customers’ buying process is imperative. It dictates your timing. Learn to use your website, give-aways, blog, personal appearances and other techniques to intercept your customers at the perfect time, with the perfect promotion.

Oh, one more thing. Your customers may all go through the process in a similar way, but at different times. For example, a person in an airport with a few minutes to spare may be LOOKING for a book to download to Kindle. (Problem Recognition – they will be bored on the flight without some reading entertainment.) But, they aren’t all on the same flight! Plan your promotions to intercept multiple customers at multiple times with the same message.

How Authors Can Target Segments

Let’s get on to step 4, which is developing a marketing mix for each target segment. Now, I am certain a lot of authors are saying “Is this guy kidding? Does he think I am from Proctor & Gamble, with a full marketing department? Why should I go to all this work?”

There are a couple of answers to these questions. First, it isn’t a lot of work. In fact, it will SAVE you tons of work later as you sit in front of your computer wondering how you can sell books!

Second, you chose to write a book at the best time in history, because for the first time ordinary people like you and me can publish our own books and get them into the hands of readers. But, that freedom and opportunity come at a price. And, that price is self-marketing. But, if you follow these simple steps, you will see just how easy it can be to create a WINNING marketing plan that helps you reach your goals.

So, on with the Marketing Mix.

As a marketer of books, you only have to worry about four things. They are:

  • Product,
  • Price,
  • Promotions, and
  • Distribution.

These used to be called “The four P’s of marketing” except that you can clearly see that there are no longer four P’s, but three P’s and a D. How and why did this years-old marketing system change? The variables used to be Product, Price, Promotion and PLACE (now distribution). The fact that Place is no longer in the marketing mix is because Place is no longer as important. For example, the “place” where you sold books was the bookstore. For people like us, that is no longer true.

Now, here is the secret. You want to create a separate marketing mix for each target segment. That is, each target group needs its own version of Product, Price, Promotion and Distribution. Here is an example:

A Case Study in Targeted Marketing

One of the authors I help is a native of Ireland who moved to the United States to attend college, and stayed here. He had a very dysfunctional family situation in Ireland, and wrote about it quite eloquently. The story is very reminiscent of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.

Some people have said to me “Bill, shouldn’t he write something different? Isn’t it too close to McCourt’s story?” The answer of course is “No”. Angela’s Ashes was a huge success, and Frank McCourt’s death has left the Irish-American community looking for more!

This book will be released late in 2010. Here is some Marketing Mix analysis we already did. The author has several target markets, but let’s just look at Specialty Retail Stores (Irish shops selling clothing, music, etc.) and online sales to Irish-Americans. Both targets have personal buyers and gift market buyers.

Specialty Stores

  • Product – The book, along with a CD of him (in his Irish accent) reading passages and adding comments) The author pre-signs the books.
  • Price – 50% discount to the store
  • Promotion – CD’s of him reading book to play on the store’s sound system. Point of Purchase posters, Personal visits to the stores to meet with store owners and to do signings.
  • Distribution – Print books in bulk and deliver case lots to the stores. Visit stores on a regular basis to get reorders.

Online sales to Irish-Americans

  • Product – same product/CD combination, except he customizes the autograph.
  • Price – Full retail plus shipping and handling.
  • Promotions – To build a a list of potential buyers, the author will run an “Irish story” contest. Interested people can submit their stories of growing up Irish. He will work with Irish bands to do Joint Ventures to gather names. Promotions will focus on this list. He will also blog, and create audios for the site, all geared to gathering names through both his Irish Story contest and a newsletter.
  • Distribution – Shipping individual orders.

Another author I work with wrote a book called Following the Drum: the story of women at the Valley Forge Encampment. She was selling this book traditionally through bookstores, but wanted to increase her sales and visibility. She decided she needed a new PRODUCT to reach new customers. She is recording “What Martha told George – lessons for Women from the Nation’s First Lady”. She used the Marketing Mix principles to define her new product, and to come up with new promotions, pricing and distribution as well.

I use the “Three P’s and-a-D” marketing mix to differentiate between my resellers and direct customers. It works! Even more importantly, it is completely necessary – or you will spend a lot of money on useless ideas.

Can you see where this is going? I have now given you four parts of a five part system. The fifth part – creating a “to do” list and turning it into a “to sell” list is next. If you do the first four steps, creating this all important “to do” list is easy. You simply EXPLAIN how you are going to carry out the things you identify in the Marketing Mix.

Creating Your “To Do” List

You are now ready for the final stage in the Marketing & Sales process. Folks, you MUST do these things if you want to avoid costly mistakes.

Let me remind you that the things I tell you in this entry are all strategies I use – for every single book I write. For example, one of my books (actually a program with book/workbook/audios/videos) just got a major sponsor. One of the reasons I was able to secure the sponsor was that: 1) it was part of our marketing plan to LOOK for sponsors, and 2) we were able to show the sponsor our marketing plan – making us much more attractive.

So, let’s finish this article with some very useful strategies!

Execution – Up to this point in the system, we have talked about planning. However, plans are only useful for selling books if you turn them into actions. Some authors find it difficult to convert plans into actions because their plans are not designed for total market penetration. If you have followed the first four steps in this process, you are now ready to create executable, action-generating, sales-crunching tactics.

In step 4, you created a Marketing Mix for each target market. Each marketing mix has information for each of the four variables – product, price, promotion and distribution. If you did this correctly, then step 5 is a cinch! All you are going to do now is formalize your plans with specific instructions.

Creating Actionable Plans

Here is what you want – you want a series of plans that you “Stick To” for selling your book. In other words, when you write out these plans, they are the plans you will carry out. You will not jump on the next great idea that comes across your email’s inbox. You will not get a “bright idea” in the shower and lose time on the internet while you research this idea. You will not listen to a friend who just heard a great speaker, who says . . .

Do you know what I am talking about? How much time and money have you wasted because you did not have a total plan, and executable strategy?

Your plans should have 8 parts. You need a plan for each action you want to take. Let me share the 8 parts of a plan, and give you some examples for each part. As I said in earlier parts of this process, do not say “This is too much work. This guy is crazy. I can’t do all this work just to sell books”.

You are going to do the work anyway, so you might as well do it right.

The 8 Parts of a Plan

Remember, these are executable plans, part of your “to do” list.

  1. Plan name – Give every plan a name, such as “Selling to Specialty shops”. This will come in handy when you have LOTS of plans and want to keep track of them. Also, when you want to integrate one plan into another, having names is convenient. For example, if you have a plan to create a CD with readings from your book, you might want to use that CD for Specialty Shops to play on their audio systems to promote your book. In the “Selling to Specialty Shops” plan, you will say “Give each store two copies of my CD from the ‘I Read My Book’ plan”. This allows you to build plans upon each other. The same CD might show up in another plan, or it could even be a product you sell.
  2. Plan Number – Give each plan a number, and separate them into the Marketing Mix Categories. For example, all Product Plans could be in the “100” series, Price Plans in the “200” series, etc. Again, many of you are going to think this is overkill. I understand. But, if you want to be successful, you will take my advice here. I am going to get you organized to sell! You will thank me for this.

    For example, just yesterday, I received an order for 144 books from a distributor. (I have quite a few distributors.) I went to my plans, and looked up the number of books per case (a distribution plan) and suggested that they make the order 160 books, because my books come 80 to a case. They also wanted a special discount, and I was able to look them up in a Price Plan to verify that they were eligible. This was a small order, but I still sold an additional 14 books. In the past, I have done the same thing with larger orders, and sold additional books. It all adds up.

  3. Target Market – Be specific. If this plan is aimed directly at the “Specialty Shops selling Urban Romance Novels in the Philadelphia Area” then make sure you write it down here!
  4. Objective – This is incredibly important. Each plan should have an objective. Each objective should be Timely, Measurable and Attainable. If you throw out everything else I tell you, and just use this one thing, you will make more money, and save more money, than you ever imagined. This is so critical. When was the last time you took an action and knew, in advance, EXACTLY what it was supposed to do for you?
  5. Person in Charge – If you are doing everything yourself, you can skip this part. If you use ANYONE – either paid or volunteer – to help you, use this part. Here is a big clue – write down his/her name, and ask him/her to initial it. This will change your life forever.
  6. Plan of Action – Here is where you list the steps to carry out the plan. Are you doing a book signing? Great, write down all the things you are going to need, and when you will need them. After the book signing, review and revise, then use the plan as a checklist for the next one. Are you creating a squeeze page to capture email addresses? Great, write down the steps, then review and revise. Use it as a checklist. How many times have you done the same task, or a similar task, and discovered you are missing a critical element?

    Can you remember everything you did, on every task, for your entire book selling career? Of course you cannot. Learn to write things down. AND BY THE WAY, make sure the things you write down will reach your objectives for the plan.

  7. Cost – How much will this plan cost? Folks, this is another big one. If you write all your plans FIRST, and assign measurable costs to them, guess what you have? You have a marketing and sales budget! Wouldn’t you like to know your budget in advance? Wouldn’t you like to say “I can’t buy that program to get booked on radio talk shows for $595, because it is not in my budget. I am already close to break-even. If I spend another $595, I have to sell an additional 100 books.”
  8. Method of Evaluation – How are you going to measure the effectiveness of this plan? Don’t wait until the plan has been carried out to decide how you will measure it. Do it in advance! Again, this is going to save you BIG TIME.

Once you have ALL of your plans written out, THEN you can start selling books. I am telling you straight up, this works. Go through the steps, one at a time.

The Four Steps to Marketing Success for Your Book

  1. Break the market into groups (segment)
  2. Choose the groups you want to go after first (target)
  3. Understand your targets’ Buying Process and patterns (intercept)
  4. Create a Marketing Mix for each target segment (position)

Turn your marketing mix actions into specific plans and carry them out (execute)

A Final Word

Are you disappointed that I did not give you a list of specific actions like “Call 5 Specialty Shops each day” and “call _______ at Radio Station _____ to get an interview?” Let me explain. NO ONE can successfully give you specific steps because your book is different from everyone else’s book. Each author has different target segments, a unique budget, etc. However, if you read this entire article, you now have the ability to select specific methods and determine if they apply to the target market, objectives and specific strengths you are selling. The information, and the SYSTEM I just gave you is far more valuable than any series of “tips, tricks and tactics”.

Folks, I can only tell you one thing. This worked for me. I sold 2 million+ books, in 20 languages. But guess what? I sold the first book using this system, and the last order I received (yesterday for 160), I was STILL selling them this way. This system works for fiction and non-fiction, workbooks and regular books, ebooks and print, everything. In fact, it works for any kind of product or service you want to sell.

I learned this system in graduate school, and have used it for more than 30 years. By using this system, I was able to leave my job and become a full time author/publisher. I traveled to Europe, Asia, and all across the United States, Canada and Mexico by using this system to get speaking engagements. Will you have the same kind of success? No one can say. It depends on your drive and your target markets. It took me 16 years to sell all those books. I did it with consistent application of the same system.

I will make you a promise. If you use this system, you will sell MORE books and make MORE money than you would otherwise.

And, of course, keep reading Joel’s blog.



  1. Charisse Marei

    Much appreciated. Valuable content to help me move forward with clarity.

  2. Dewey Wall

    Fantastic commentary , I Appreciate the points . Does anyone know if my business could possibly acquire a template a form copy to type on ?

  3. Dean Kutzler

    Wow! Thank you Joel & Bill, for taking the time to post this very informative process! I am a new author planning a self-pub book launch and am going to use this method. Invaluable, really.

    I’d like to suggest how I’m going to organize & approach it with Trello. I also just discovered this little free app. It’s used as a pinup notecard board, wherein you can create titled lists and enter text/files/etc into the cards & move them around. There is a lot of functionality where you can add Teams & Members to the cards, so when Joel mentioned about outsourcing parts of the promotion, you can assign members to the tasks.

    So, inotherwords, I’ll have lists for all the items of the plan that you spoke about & insert cards for each part of the process. It’s highly functional & adaptable. Check it out. You may start using it if you don’t already. (No, I’m not a rep for Trello, lol) I just found it invaluable for creating my Editorial Calendar & saw it’s potential for a myriad of things!!

    Thanks again for the great info!!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Glad you found this helpful, Dean. You might also want to check out BookPlanner, a project management tool created specifically for indie authors. Good luck!

      • Dean Kutzler

        Thanks, Joel! Will Do!!

  4. Debby

    Hi there! What a great article … so much to absorb in-one-time.
    Before the internet was available, I wrote books, published, and then marketed them across the country and Europe.
    I did very well.
    Then I quit.
    When back to school instead of writing.
    Everything has changed so much.
    I have so many clips — articles I’ve written that have been published. I seem to have lost my “pride aba” to get back in the saddle.
    Yet, I’m still collecting stuff for my writing!
    I don’t seem able to throw my writing ‘junk’ stuff away.
    That’s why I was interested in your article.
    My MBA was Marketing, my BA was Education.
    I have to much to write about … yet!!
    So, what do I do??

    • Joel Friedlander


      Why not start a blog on your subject? It’s the perfect opportunity to re-purpose that old content, and you can explore the subject gradually as you find people who are interested in what you’re doing.

  5. Jilliana Raymond

    Thank you for the great guidelines. I am in the process of publishing my fourth book, “A New Beginning; Elements of Change” on April 23. Your information is really helpful.

  6. Timothy McIntyre

    I read your article 6 months ago and have been following it step by step with my new book “I’m a Type A — How the Heck Will I Ever Retire?” and it has been going really well so far. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. One thing that has helped me sell a lot of books is having an author’s website, which I had done by DesignbyIndigo. I post weekly articles, and I am now generating 100 – 200 hits per day! That is helping me sell even more books. Thanks again for the great, great article.

  7. Sherri Obermark

    Thank you Joel!

    I’m launching my first book in the next month or so, and this information has been very helpful.


    Sherri Obermark

  8. Jason Moser

    Joel, outstanding article with pertinent and helpful information. As a self-published writer, I’ve always had a passion about finding the best ways of marketing to maximize revenues. The best way an author can get a following is by showing face, especially through book signings. They not only get you in front of your future fans, they get people talking about your books. I just published a book available on my website and on Amazon regarding a new twist to book signings that combines a common practice for network marketing companies with book signings. I tried many network marketing companies and received all of their training, but I wasn’t passionate enough about their products to make it work for me. But combining what I’ve learned with my writing, I came up with a great way for writers to introduce their books to their networks called book signing parties. They really work and deliver a high degree of confidence in the writer so they can easily transition to a more traditional method of marketing that takes them out of their comfort zone. Thanks again for the great information Joel.

  9. Melanie

    Hi there,

    Thank you for all of this incredibly valuable info! My only question is-When you are taking the case-lots to the stores how much should you sell them for? My cost of print and shipping is about $6 per book. My suggested retail price for the book is $7.99? Is that worth it for the retailer? How can I market this aspect differently, if it is not worth the cost per book for the retailers?

    Thank you!

    Melanie Kilsby
    Reality writer for His Glory!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Melanie, stores will expect a minimum 40% discount. This would net you $4.79 per book, or a loss of over a dollar a book, obviously not a good situation for you. Either you are paying way too much to produce a book that sells for $7.99, or you are underpriced for selling at retail.

  10. Peter Stallard

    I recently put together a book of cartoons which I will be self publishing shortly.Some of these cartoons, though not all,are particularly relevant to certain businesses.They are a little on the dark side but I think they might compliment the other products available in these businesses.
    The front cover includes one of the cartoons just as an indication of what can be expected in the rest of the book.I wondered if I might actually tailor my books to each target segment by swapping this front cover cartoon around.The rest of the cover would remain the same of course.
    It seems as if this might be advantageous but I have never seen it done before.If it is printed by Amazon it would appear that the cover can be changed whenever I order a book/books so swapping just a section of it as desired should be no problem.
    Do you think this would be an acceptable approach to my marketing strategy or do you know of any presently unknown difficulties I might run into by playing a bit “fast and loose” with my book cover ? Would I need a separate ISBN number for each cover for instance ?

    Thanks for any advice you have…

    I just purchased a couple of your books to glean more information about this new venture.I hope you don’t mind……. :)


  11. Danny Kyzer


    In the above article, Bill Quain invited anyone interested in the gift market to ask him about it. Do you have his website or blog address? I searched but did not see any way to contact him.

    I am reading much on this matter of self-publishing. I have one book completed and a small number in readers’ hands. This endeavor needs a good jump-start, though. Thanks for the information in your blog.

    Danny K

  12. James Maynard Gelinas

    I read the post twice. I’d really like to see this updated with examples on how to put together a marketing plan for ebooks through Amazon. Some questions:

    – how do you find a market niche using Amazon search tools? That gets you book titles, but not user search queries.

    – With fiction, most authors tend to target genre. But mixing and mashing genre is popular now, and really the point of genre is to segment the market based on prior reader interest. Mixing and mashing presumes the _creation_ of new genres by targeting new markets or submarkets. So how do you test if a genre mix-mash is viable _before_ writing the book? (that’s the whole point of this marketing game, right?)

    – If you’re targeting, how do you avoid stuffing the work full of empty cliches? This is akin to the ‘Save the Cat’ theory of screenwriting: follow formula for success. Yet many formula scripts suck. Some creativity and originality is necessary to retain reader interest. Yet go to far, or focus on a low popularity genre, and you’re work is just as dead as if you had written cliche ridden dreck for a popular audience.

    – And then there’s the audience accumulation issue. How? I haven’t seen that addressed here at all.

    None of these points imply that I didn’t find the post valuable. I did. Very helpful and thank you. -M

  13. Angela Elliott

    I suspect, like a lot of writers, all this stuff, though good, leaves me cold. That’s because I’m a writer and not a marketing whizz kid! If I wanted to be an expert at marketing I would have gone into marketing. I wanted to be a writer and so I wrote. I realise that the world has changed and that we now have to be good at everything. Well you know, I’ve tried being good at everything and it doesn’t work. People become ‘successful’ and ‘expert’, because they focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. I didn’t do that. I focused on the bigger picture and it got me precisely, nowhere. Oh, I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve been published. I’ve written scripts for TV and film, but I’ve not earned nearly half as much as I should have, and in my eyes I’m still a failure. So… how to turn all this very good and very vital advice into something I can use? I don’t know. I couldn’t even read it without feeling bored to my back teeth and I apologise for that, because, like I said, it is really good stuff. Perhaps what might work better is if us writers identify those who are really good at marketing and strike a deal with them. Because for sure some really crap books and being sold in their thousands by people who are just really good at this marketing thing. While the rest of us, who write (even if I do say so myself) really good books fall by the wayside because we are just good old writers and nothing else. Phew.

    • Joel Friedlander

      I hear you, Angela, and I do get it. To me, marketing is more about communicating your passion for what you write about with other people who share that passion. How much marketing you do is up to you, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. And the idea of partnering with others, or creating a kind of writer’s co-op to share these duties is one that lots of writers seem to be interested in.

      Also, check out this article:

      • Tasha C. Scott

        Secondary email ([email protected])

        Could you look at my Series (My Grandmother’s Deep South Soul Food Cookbook Volume 1 & 2) Let me know what you think about their progression if you have the time. It will be greatly appreciated.

  14. Tasha Scott

    I have self-published my new cookbook “My Grandmother’s Deep South Soulfood Cookbook” this month and I am looking for distribution channels for my cookbook. It is available on Amazon and Kindle, which was a lot of work. What to do next?

    • Katherine Petersdorf

      Have you considered doing any of the following

      *Researching Blogs That Review Cook Books or Recipes. You can check search engines, but looking up groups on Shelfari and asking for insight is another great way, and another way (which does take time) is too look up cook books on amazon and view the profiles or reviewers, many of them have book review blogs for the genres and types of books they review

      Review will help gain readers

      *You can also check out at the library or purchase the 2013 or 2014 Writer’s Market Guide and search magazines and publishers who are seeking book reviews and pieces from books in your non-fiction fields. You can offer them pieces of your novel to print in their small trade journals or magazines (both print and online) and it be linked to your cook book so that readers who are seeking those types of novels will look for your book to see the rest of the collection that they liked the sample from

      *Do you have a Face Book page as a writer, and for your cook book collection (separate pages) that you can use for posting teasers and samples of.

      *You can also select 1 to 5 recipes from your book that you like and post them places like All Recipes and link them to your book. I’ve learned in self publishing you have to be willing to give a tiny bit away for free to get readers.

      Other than that you should create a plan of action.

      • Tasha C. Scott

        Secondary email ([email protected])

        Thanks for the info. I just self-published Volume 2 of the Series, and it has wonderful pictures. Please tell me what you think. Thanks again.

  15. Caryl J Voorhees

    I just finished my book on my experience starting, running and selling my dance school business. I know where my buyers are, but this article helped me to see that my audience will be divided into three different categories. Professionals, past students and parents, and people that are familar with my story and are just curious. I will now work up a marketing mix personally created for each group. Another great thing I took away, was, with the targeted group in mind, the professionals, for example, I will now, divide that group into three different potiental buyers;the group that is a teacher and is thinking of starting her own dance school, the group that already owns their school and wants to prepare for the future while running her school, and the studio owner that is ready to retire and wants to know her options for selling.
    Thanks so much for the article, it has helped motivate me to the next important step of marketing and selling my book!

  16. Linda Truitt

    I found this to be very good advice. I am publishing a children’s book called My Momma Comes Back with parents, grandparents and child care facilities as my major target. The book has an original song, an audio book with music and beautiful illustrations. I know that this is a very relevant problem in today’s society that crosses all barriers. From doctor to burger flipper we all have some anxiety about leaving our children in child care facilities or with relatives. Small children have to develop a trust factor that whoever loves them will return for them.
    Where would you suggest I start with marketing. I should have the printed copies by Nov. 1.

  17. Dr. Helen J. Harper

    This plan will save a lot of time and money. It is sensible and quite organized. If an author does not pay attention to this, he/she will surely fail, unless there is some miracle plan that has not been told yet.

  18. Andrew

    Joel, as you can see from my recent queries I am absorbing quite a lot of information from your execellent blog. Having my first book (hopefully available in Sept) is a big deal for me; the comments here and in other places of your blog are absolutely correct that the marketing has not been too much on my mind.
    What practical tips would you offer to those of us who have demanding professional careers outside publishing and (I have to admit to it) are a bit uncertain about social media. I am planning to have book website but wonder if for non-fiction historical book I can be savvy enough to direct potential readers?
    Perhaps my query is too long but I am learning how to be brief on while blogging :)

  19. Dr. Helen J. Harper

    This is a great article! I have started to do many of these things. I am working on a larger audience.

  20. liza johnson

    I was doing the author’s page on Amazon and came across your advice. I already have some new ideas for marketing my book. Thank you so much for offering so much free information! Liza

  21. Colleen

    Great article with tons of good, executable steps! I’m working with an Indie author, helping with her promotion. She says come up with a proposal on how I will assist/promote; you’ve provided a base for me jump from. Do the work – see results. Do the work some more – see reults. Do some more work. . . persistence and consistency and a plan and action. Excellent. Thanks for posting this.

  22. David Ferrers

    Hey Joel, I spent 20 years working in the Advertising and Marketing business and this is one of, if not the finest, no BS, how to, marketing articles that I have ever read for any product.

    It’s been an inspiration as well as a timely reminder about what I have to do to get my management handbooks more widely bought.

    Thank you.

  23. Sherry Harper

    I am writing a reference book. Is it okay to use tables for easy reading on each page? Tables is what I want to use. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Sure, Sherry. Since you are the author, it’s up to you to present your content in the best way for readers. If it’s tables, go for it.

      • Lavern

        Dear Joel
        I have tried to schedule radio interviews and Q&A sessions with readings at my local libraries but I have only gotten one positive response. I know that media is the best way to get the word out but what do I do when nobody wants to help me?

        • Joel Friedlander

          Maybe start thinking about ways you can help them, that is, what value do you bring to readers and to potential radio/library/media hosts? Then pitch them with that.

  24. Jeff Emmerson

    Your advice and insight is simply AMAZING and so very valuable! Thank you!

    – Jeff Emmerson

  25. Ken Howard, LCSW

    Great article! Lots to take in, but I’m eager for all of it, because I wanted a structure for developing marketing plans for two self-published books that are still yet to be finished! Thanks for such great information!

  26. Carolyn McAndrew

    Good grief that was in depth,
    Excellent article Joel thank you for bringing it to us.


    • Joel Friedlander

      Yes, it was pretty massive. Bill actually posted this as a series of blog comments, so when I put it together it was pretty long. Thanks for visiting.

  27. Joel

    Sarah, thanks for your comment. It’s fine to summarize this as long as you include both the link back to this article and the link to Bill’s site. I think many readers have found it useful.

    You might also be interested in linking to this article: Editing Process

  28. Sarah

    Joel, thanks for sharing this very informative article. I’d like to link it, and summarize parts of it, on my blog, if that’s okay with you and Dr. Quain. I think this should be as widely shared as possible. It’s great info.


  29. Joel

    Hey George, thanks for your support, I really appreciate it!

    Robby G, you are correct that a lot of work goes into publishing a book. We take books for granted, but to get it right takes a lot of attention to detail, and that’s before you try to start selling them. Thanks for stopping by.

  30. Robby G

    I read it, and I’m going to re-read it once I’m closer to self-publishing my book. I found a lot of helpful tips here and I have to say there is a helluva lot of work that goes into self-publishing. Thanks for the post and wish you success in the future.

  31. George Angus

    Whew! This is a big one. Bookmarking it so that I can take the time to digest it appropriately. It’s posts like this that make your site my newest fav on the web.





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