Use Any Holiday – Not Just THE Holidays – to Promote Your Book

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Santa might be the ultimate celebrity pitchman, but you don’t have to hold out till Christmas to take advantage of holiday promotional opportunities for your book. If you strike when the iron is hot (or heat a different iron entirely) you can create demand for your book any time of the year – and that is most wonderful!

The key to tapping into holiday sales opportunities is knowing your audience. If you can identify who your buyer is likely to be, you can make an educated guess about when they’re most likely to respond to the opportunity to buy.

While Christmas does indeed tend to be a hot time for book sales, it’s certainly not the only peak sales opportunity and not every type of book or book consumer will peak during this season. For instance, readers who buy a lot of diet and motivational books for themselves throughout the year may prefer a juicier indulgence than the usual self-help fare at Christmas. If your book is a saucy bodice-ripper, go for it! (In fact, you can push that romance novel again come Valentine’s Day.) However, if your specialty is, say, finance, self-improvement or inspirational, consider a New Year’s campaign to help readers get started on those resolutions.

Everywhere you look and for every type of book, there’s an ideal time to on which to focus marketing efforts. (Think at least a couple of months ahead for major holidays.) Here are just a few examples of holidays and books that may sell well at those times:

  • Halloween – horror, crime, mystery, thriller
  • Thanksgiving – cooking/food, crafts
  • Spring – gardening, romance, sports, home improvement, nature, travel
  • Mother’s Day – biographies, romance, fiction
  • Father’s Day – sports, humor, home improvement, auto
  • Summer – sports, fiction, romance, travel
  • Secular Holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day) – patriotic, historical (fiction and nonfiction), ethnic heritage, political
  • Festivals – cooking/food, crafts, music, ethnic

In addition to the obvious possibilities, there are scads of anniversaries and national days or months recognizing just about everything: Black History Month, D-Day, National Doughnut Day, Administrative Professionals Day, St. Patrick’s Day, National Chili Day, Breast Cancer Awareness Month … and Elephant Appreciation Day, for Pete’s sake! If you’ve authored a biography on President Ronald Reagan, you can market your tome on Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and the lesser known National Jelly Bean Day, in honor of The Gipper’s affinity for the sugary treat. Find one that aligns naturally with your area of interest and promote, promote, promote!

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

Getting the Good Out of Bad Book Reviews


“No statue has ever been erected to a critic.” – Jean Sibelius

As much as every writer wants to bask in the accolades that come with a job well done, most of us don’t get through the writing process unscathed. If, by the time you publish, an editor or proofreader hasn’t zeroed in on all your writing flaws, at least one book reviewer is bound to do just that.

Let’s face it: Bad reviews sting! No matter how much praise your book gets, that one negative critique is usually the one that stands out. But as painful as it is to face the poisoned pen of a critic, it’s our mistakes that have the most to teach us. If you’re smart about your response, bad reviews could be the best thing that happens to you as a writer.

Before you fire off an angry retort or fashion a mojo doll in someone’s likeness, take a slow, deep breath. Don’t do anything in haste. Just cool your jets awhile, then take a few steps to get the ball rolling toward that silver lining:

  • Make sure the “reviewer” isn’t a competing author or a serial malcontent. Look up their other reviews. If they’ve posted an inordinate number of malicious reviews – perhaps all similarly worded – you can probably, at the very least, put very little stock in their comments.
  • Take action when necessary. If you suspect a reviewer is sabotaging your efforts to boost their own book sales or some other reason, contact Amazon, Nook or whatever book selling site is involved. You may be able to have bogus reviews taken down.
  • Answer your critics. Build a little goodwill by answering less-than-glowing endorsements with a personal reply. Let them know you’re sorry the book wasn’t their cup of tea, but you appreciate their comments (OK, you may have to fake that part). Solicit specific likes and dislikes, if they haven’t already spelled it out.

Once that’s out of the way, start making lemonade. It’s up to you to sweeten all the sour bits and turn them into something palatable. And believe me, there is something positive to be found in even the nastiest feedback:

  •  Look for specifics. A review that merely hurls vague insults is meaningless. It may be that the review was based solely on the reader’s preferences and personal biases and has little else to offer. Disregard those reviews, or those parts of reviews, and look for specific critical input. Did the reviewer complain about spelling errors? Were there factual errors in your book? Did he/she provide specific feedback about why the narrative failed to move the story along, or why the characters fell flat?
  • Learn from your critics. You may find that some reviewers have identified a weakness, your Achilles heel as a writer. Use that insight to buttress your flaws; it’ll make you a better writer in the long run.
  • Focus on what you can change. At times, reviewers are going to take a swipe at your style: the way you phrase things, the type of language you use, the type of characters you write about, the subject matter, etc. Often these choices make you you and aren’t up for discussion. Your style is your style. Period. As long as it’s not sloppy and incorrect, stay true to it.
  • Keep it in perspective. Even classics get bad reviews. Heck, huge bestsellers like Fifty Shades of Grey have received hundreds of negative reviews from readers and critics alike. Your story is simply not going to resonate with everyone.

While negative comments hurt, they’re not likely to sink a truly good book, and the innate desire to prove your critics wrong will inspire you to shore up your writing in the future. If you can muster the humor to laugh about your ugliest reviews, you might even frame the worst as wicked little good-luck charms or sorts – right next to your best-selling book!

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

Nail Down New Readers with Pinterest Book Marketing Tips

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Think of it as a highly sophisticated scrapbooking or bookmarking tool – one that allows you share with and borrow from other users. That element of sharing can be a powerful tool, if you use it to your advantage.

Pinterest is a unique opportunity to reach out to readers and to the writing community in ways you may not have thought of. Once you’ve signed up for an account, apply these techniques to make a positive impression:

  • Build your presence. Once you’ve signed up, get started by building the identity, or brand, you want to project to other Pinterest users. First and foremost, fill out that profile as completely and creatively as you can. The more information you give, the more likely it is that people will follow you and pay attention to what you pin. Then get started pinning the things that resonate with you and define you as a writer.
  • Build pin boards. Create a separate board for each of your books, and perhaps extra boards for other books in your genre that have inspired you.
  • Promote visually. Writers illustrate with words, but Pinterest represents an opportunity to attach memorable visual images to your project. Do you have a book in progress? Consider pinning photos of locations represented in your book, or even actors who resemble how your picture your characters.
  • Go behind the scenes. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate how the “magic” happens with pictures of your writing desk, photos from book signings or industry-related events you attended. Allowing readers a peek inside your world puts a human face on the writing process and helps build a virtual rapport.
  • Pin promotions. Are you offering buy-one-get-one specials or redeeming coupons for discounts? Pin ‘em! Post printable coupons, or offer a promotional code with links to your website or author page where your book is available.
  • Engage. Just as you would with Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and other social media, interact thoughtfully with other users. Post comments and useful links on their pinned items, and re-pin the ones you like.
  • Get “pin-able.” Pinterest is currently the fastest-growing site and some studies suggest that users are spending more time pinning than they are Facebooking. Feed the sharing need by making sure that distinctive red “P” appears on your own website.

How are you using Pinterest to further your own book marketing efforts? Let’s discuss!

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

3 Reasons Why You Should Constantly Talk About Your Book on Social Media

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Book marketing professionals often discuss the importance of brands (authors, books, etc.) embracing the idea of transparent and natural engagement with users of social media. What if you don’t agree? Are there ever good reasons for constant promotion of your book on social media sites? Sure, here are just a few of the best:

  • You like annoying others. Sure, people are on social media sites to start, build, and grow relationships, but they want to hear about your book book all of the time. Not really. People want to connect with relevant people who engage/participate in relevant discussions. If you annoy them, they will either ignore you or disconnect (unlike, unfriend, unfollow, etc.) from you.
  • You know that everyone needs to know about your book, and they all need to buy it. Target markets? Who needs ‘em? Your book was written in gold, and there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to read it. Not necessarily. Every product on the market has a target market. Think about it… not everyone is interested in even the most common things – TV, internet, telephone service, etc. Why would your book be any different? Define your target market and aim to connect with them in a natural way.
  • You want to be ignored. For every person who ignores you, there are 100 more people who will listen, right? Not exactly. People that you connect with are not “a dime a dozen.” They also don’t grow on trees. Cherish the relationships you have built with the goal of building even more meaningful relationships.

Social media can be a powerful book marketing tool – especially if used correctly by authors who take the scenic self-publishing route. You don’t have a traditional publisher standing behind you or throwing their marketing dollars at your book. So, you have to figure out how to “go it alone.”

Interacting with new potential readers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. could be a potential goldmine for opening the door to earning even more royalties from your book. You not only have a chance to connect with people that you already know, but you can meet new people and form new relationships. Make every opportunity count!

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

Beyond the Tweet: Tips for Making the Most of Social Media

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…

There’s a social media/networking site for just about everyone. While most people use them to keep up with friends and track down old contacts, businesses and individuals with goods and services to sell are hopping on the bandwagon to round up more traffic and more sales.

Not everyone’s riding that wagon in the right direction. At least, not the right direction for their destination. Social media can be a terrific tool for authors looking to pitch their latest books, but it requires a plan and the right frame of mind. With Social Media Day right around the corner (tomorrow), what better time to get involved in the digital wave of the century?

As you embark on your social media journey, here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Content still is king. Use social media to create high-quality content – NOT marketing copy! Think of your blog as one big corporate white paper or newsletter that you post one piece at a time. These types of communications are, first and foremost, informational. People should turn to your blog, tweets and Facebook posts because they find them useful or enjoyable. A potential reader is not likely to “follow” or “like” your status because they just love reading marketing copy, and they usually don’t “digg” a sales pitch.
  • Remember it’s not all about you. Individuals tend to use social media to focus on themselves, usually to fulfill some need of their own. However, when you’re using social media for business purposes, the format works better when you focus on what you can do for those who read your updates. You’ve got to give to get. Write blogs and post updates with the mindset that you’re providing information to your contacts that will enrich them, not you. As hard a concept as that can be to master, always think about what you can give to your readers – not what your posts can get you – and the loyalty you build will be worth the effort.
  • Enjoy a lengthy engagement. Get your name and your book title out there every chance you get by engaging with others on social media. Comment on blogs and leave links to your homepage when it’s appropriate. Now, note the emphasis on “when it’s appropriate.” As already mentioned, your interactions should be selfless, not an excuse to market or plug your wares when it’s unrelated to the topic at hand. Posting a link to a romance novel on a political blog is not appropriate. Multiple posting your book title to bump it to the top of the comments is not appropriate. Spamming is never, ever appropriate.
  • Build links, build bonds. Linking is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site and also help search engines find you more quickly and rank you higher. But be smart about your links. Network with other authors and swap links, even ones writing on the same topic. Your visitors may find them, but they’re visitors may also find you. Your goal is not to get as many visitors as possible, but to get the most appropriate visitors possible. A hundred site visitors who are a great fit for what you have to offer are better than a thousand who aren’t likely to connect with your message.

Be smart and be generous, but above all, enjoy the ride. This is the key to using social media to promote your book.

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at Elise and a group of talented book marketing experts assist self-publishing authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

Espresso Book Machines Offer Self-Publishing Authors a Jolt in Sales

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Oh, the publishing industry has come such a long way since the days of minimum advance orders, massive preprinting and prohibitive upfront production costs. Technology has not only given digital readers the gift of instant downloads, but now has given hard copy traditionalists the ability to choose a book digitally and have it in hand in the time it takes to press a few buttons on a vending machine.

In fact, the Espresso Book Machine® (EBM), as the name implies, is essentially a vending machine for literature. Just as an espresso maker both makes and vends a piping-hot beverage on demand, the EBM produces a paperback copy of your selection on the spot. The buyer selects a title and the EBM instantly prints the selection, complete with a full-color cover, that is indistinguishable from a preprinted paperback plucked from a bookshelf. The machine even cuts the book to the proper size for that title!

All that in three or four minutes. You can’t even make a latte that fast.

It’s understandable why so much excitement is brewing over this technology. Booksellers and libraries, wise to many readers’ undying love for both tangible reads and instant gratification, are keen to offer as many new releases as possible, even when shelf space is hard to come by. Naturally, authors are drinking it up, as well; any gadget that serves up their books without requiring huge advance printing and shipment costs is a sweet deal. Authors only pay a small preprint cost and receive the full retail price, minus a consignment fee.

Espresso Book Machines are already working overtime in libraries and universities all over the world, including but not limited to:

  • New York Public Library
  • University of Michigan Library
  • New Orleans Public Library
  • San Francisco Internet Archive
  • University of Michigan Library
  • Manchester Center Northshire Bookstore
  • University of Alberta
  • McMaster University Bookstore
  • London Newsstand UK
  • Library of Alexandria, Egypt
  • Melbourne, Australia Angus & Robertson Bookstore

More vending locations are being added all the time. Self-publishing giant Outskirts Press has added the Espresso Book Machine as an affordable distribution option for its authors, and it’s a smart addition to any book marketing plan. The small set-up fee makes the book available at all of the EBM locations and automatically uploads your title to new machines as they’re added to the EBM network, at no extra charge.

Combine an EBM edition with Amazon book listing, and iPad, NOOK and Kindle editions to maximize access to your book and make it easier for readers to make the decision to buy. Of course, you can still keep your car’s trunk stocked with your latest book just in case, but the Espresso Book Machine can help you lessen the load when preprinting isn’t possible.

Elise works as the Manager of Author Support of Outskirts Press.  She also contributes to the Outskirts Press blog at Elise and a group of talented book marketing experts assist not only published Outskirts Press authors, but also all authors and professionals who are interested in getting the best possible exposure for their book.

Using Twitter as a Marketing Tool for Self-Publishing Authors

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Have you ever wondered whether Twitter could be an effective book marketing tool?  I often encourage self-publishing authors to use social media to market their books, and recently came across a really great story I wanted to share.

As I was monitoring the views on the Outskirts Press blog a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that in one day the blog’s Twitter referrals (viewers that came to our blog after clicking on a link from Twitter) went up by 40 percent! Yes, 40 percent!

How did this happen? Simple. Glenn Skinner, one of our Best Book of the Year Award Finalists, had tweeted about the contest that day in an effort to get more votes for his book.  Glenn (@KeyaQuests) currently has over 2,800 followers on Twitter, so his one tweet brought in so many more viewers that the referral rate went up by 40%.  Wow!

By building a strong social media platform, you can create similar results. Whether you are promoting your author website, blog, or book, you can drive website traffic and increase book sales by using Twitter. The key is to build a network of followers who are read your posts and visit the links you share. While keywords can get you some traffic through search engines, social media is the key to increasing website traffic.

If you are new to social media, you may want to consider a self-publishing company that offers help with social media marketing. For instance, Outskirts Press offers an Author Platform Set-up Through Social Media Option which helps authors harness the power of social media to market their book.

I’d love to know, how has social media helped you connect with your readers?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

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