Advice to a fellow Author

I wrote a teeny little book, which is occasionally impressive to some. A friend recently reached out about help marketing his own book, and what he needed to do to make it “go viral” 🙂

After a friendly preamble, here was my response:

I see that there are a few hurdles to getting your book out there:

  1. Price = $31.95 for a paperback and $46.95 for hardcover is college bookstore kinda pricing (i.e. too high). It may be the greatest book since the bible, but…well, even bibles don’t cost that much. If you’re trying for a textbook market, this may be appropriate. But that would be a very different strategy indeed.
  2. One lonely review = When something has less than a handful of reviews, it’s a bad sign. Professional reviews are great, but real user reviews are often even better. When you see a busy restaurant with happy people in it, then one next door looking empty, which do you conclude has better food? Regardless of what a newspaper reviewer said, you want the one that looks busy, right? Same for most anything online. People are less likely to buy (and even less likely to actually read and value) anything that people aren’t talking about already. Sad but true.
  3. Length = 740 pages? That’s a pretty big book you got there fella! Only certain kinds of people will pick up a book that weighs more than their brain does. 


  1. Identify your EXISTING audience = Who has read lovely work of yours already? Find them and get to know them. If you can beg/berate/bribe them into leaving a review of your book on Amazon, do that. You need at least five before you’re ready to market anything. These don’t need to all be five 5-star reviews or anything, but you need at least some “social proof” that your brain-weight book is worth picking up before any marketing efforts will take.
  2. Identify your DESIRED audience = Who doesn’t know about this book yet but would totally love it? Where are they hanging out (blogs, subscriptions, podcasts, interest groups, etc.)? What kinds of books are they buying already? 
  3. Copy the best = Your book is listed in 3 categories on Amazon right now. Look at what the top 20 in those categories are doing, this is your competition. Your book does not need to BE like those, but it could probably take a marketing lesson or two from them. Those books likely worked hard to get there, it’s no accident. So…what did they do? See if you can figure that out and then copy what works for you. Can you play with the pricing? The description? Your Bio? (I’m assuming you’re self-published here, please correct me if you’re not) Search those top 20 books online. Did the authors speak somewhere or get covered on a certain blog or have some controversy around them? Again, assume this was no accident.
  4. Do it different = After you learn from what’s working from others, don’t get discouraged, get creative! Your book is done and you can’t change how many pages it is. But…maybe you could release shorter versions as a series or something? I don’t know. One of the great things about the internet is that you can change your mind whenever you feel like it, really for no good reason at all. So try stuff. See what happens.
  5. Focus on one portal = This is Amazon. You don’t need to take your book off of Barnes & Noble or anywhere else it may be, but you don’t need to give a different link out ever again. You want everyone in one spot, and Amazon wants to be that spot. So build out your presence there, starting with your Author Page.

You’re right that I have experience with such things. But this is mostly experience with trying stuff that didn’t work. Occasionally, stuff does work and that’s awesome. But it rarely works twice, and therefore I can’t say that it has anything to do with me. I think it’s more the sheer volume of efforts than anything. There is no repeatable formula or process to learn, just ideas of stuff to try. Of course they can only work when you actually DO them, the thinking part doesn’t help much at all 😉

If you want to dive into this more, I could recommend books or other additional resources that help you try stuff. But I think you probably already know how to try stuff, and without even buying any stuff. That’s really all it comes down to, in my humble opinion. And either you learn to have fun trying stuff…or you might want to do other stuff entirely instead. That’s fine too, whatever makes you happy, dude!

Hope this helps!