In Your Corner: Growing Your Market in Barren Soil

So here’s a story. Last winter, I spent weeks reading up on ways to make my yard and garden more butterfly friendly, bee friendly, and bird friendly. I checked out a pile of books from the local public library on how to combine these ideas with square-foot gardening, and put in some raised beds. I spent time at a local nursery, and picked the brains of both the nursery staff and my neighbors, who’ve been gardening in this alpine valley for generations. I talked with the local conservation nonprofit, collected native seeds, and come spring, put everything in the ground. I stopped mowing my lawn so often (and so short) and started caring more about soil composition, moisture, and pH levels. Basically, I took the time to care properly about a thing I should have been carrying more about anyway.

Then, one day, I came home from work to find that my homeowner’s well-intentioned handyman had “weeded” my wildflowers, pulled up my soil-fixing plants, stripped the beds, and basically reduced my various riotous little garden spots to bare earth. And then he sprayed them so that nothing would come back up. Sad, right?

For the record, I don’t blame the handyman. He had only the best of intentions, and there’s little visual difference between a healthy butterfly friendly, bee friendly, and bird friendly garden … and a wilderness. He simply didn’t know that it was intentional, and that I was happy with the chaos.

But here’s where things get real for those of us who self-publish: often, our setbacks often feel like they reduce our emotional landscape to scorched earth (or in this case, thoroughly sprayed earth). It can even seem like we’re starting from scratch, or worse. And it can feel like it’s not worth the energy, the sheer elbow grease, required to restart the garden mid-season.

So how do we get past that hump? How do we get to a point where it feels like we’re past the worst, where the garden is already back on its feet enough for us to see progress again?

As with last week’s post about kicking the summer slow-down, it’s all about breaking it down into littler, manageable chunks. If you need to treat the comeback like a fresh start, then that’s what you need to do. But even better than a fresh start is a re-start which builds upon the groundwork you’ve already laid. You don’t have to go full-throttle the moment you get back into the game; it’s totally okay to just dip your toe in at first. Remember how last week I recommended fifteen-minute chunks of social media time a day to get started? That tip applies to re-starts as well as fresh starts.

The difference between a fresh start and a re-start is, of course, how difficult it feels. It’s even in the terminology, isn’t it? A “fresh start” sounds positive and upbeat, a joyous celebration of something new. A “re-start” sounds a little beat up around the edges. And that may be an accurate reflection of how you feel, when push comes to shove. That means that your first job, even before you start re-establishing structure and launching plans, is breaking through the negative mindset which comes from facing down a rough patch.

My advice? Take time for you, and your craft. If you’re anything like the authors I’ve met, you probably spend your summer splitting your time between scrambling to make sure everyone else is having a good time (summer schedules are insane!) and trying to get some much-needed “you” time. If you have any time left to spare, it’s probably spent trying to cram in some writing time. If your summer is anything like my summer, it all feels extremely disorganized and messy, and like you’re doomed to fail at everything simply because you can’t get it all done.

Well, I’m here to talk you down from that mentality, just as much as I’m here to talk myself down from it. You CAN succeed, and you can start by succeeding at loving yourself, and seeing yourself as the triumph you are. Maybe once you see how great you are, you’ll see that great things can happen even on the most stripped-bare soil.

Only then will you have the conviction to pull out a new batch of seedlings.

You are not alone. ♣︎


ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.


6 Reasons to Add Postcards to Your Author Arsenal

There’s no doubt that book marketing can be challenging.  And giving advice or instruction on how to market a book is also not without its challenges. What works incredibly well for one author with one book may not deliver nearly the same results for a different author with a different book.  That is why the best recommendation of all is to start deliberately, slowly, and small – with measurable steps that produce measurable results. Then, once you find something that works, ramp it up.


For instance, some authors have a wide variety of branded and customized promotional materials at their disposal: business cards, publication announcements, postcards, posters, etc.  These are typically best suited for the extrovert author – the type of writer who loves the public eye and attends book fairs, book signings, and author events. At these events, every person you meet is a potential recipient of a branded piece of collateral, especially a business card.  Posters, too, are obvious in their purpose (book event signage to make your space stand out). But what about postcards? Well, stay tuned! If you are an extrovert author (or even if you aren’t), here are six great reasons to add branded, customized postcards to your book marketing arsenal:

  1. Invitations. If you’re attending an author event or book fair, postcards are the perfect way to notify everyone in advance. Sure, you should post the notice on Facebook and your other social media platforms, and email everyone you know, but in this day and digital age of electronic media, there’s still something about receiving a postcard in the mail that makes it stand out.  And standing out is what good book marketing is all about.

  2. Solicitations.  What if there is an event or conference that you want to present at? Same rule applies from number one.  An inquiry into a speaking engagement will literally speak volumes if said out-reach arrives in the way of a branded, customized postcard with your (eye-catching) cover on the front.

  3. Influencers. Speaking of out-reach, a successful book marketer never stops promoting themselves, their book, and their business (with diplomacy, of course). If you’re looking to catch the attention of influence-makers (other authors, experts, bloggers, and book reviewers), a handwritten custom postcard will certainly increase your chances.

  4. Media Chow.  Members of the media get bombarded with interview requests from self-publishing authors all the time, but most of those inquiries come in the form of email, Facebook, Linked-In, or Twitter.  Imagine the impact you would have on a local journalist or DJ if he/she actually received a handwritten postcard from you in the mail, with your eye-catching, full-color book cover on the front and a short pleasant note on the back introducing yourself and asking for a short meeting to pitch your story (remember, you pitch stories to the media, not books, and not yourself).

  5. Follow-Ups.  Many of the people you meet as a published author will present opportunities. In fact, you may not even realize what the opportunity is until later that day or even the following-week.  Sure, you exchanged business cards with them, but so did everyone else. Which author is going to follow-up with an email and which author is going to follow-up with a custom postcard in the mail?  And of those two, which author do you think those influence-makers are going to take the time to contact?

  6. Thank-Yous.  With all these book fairs and author events you attend, and all these media contacts, influencers, and writers you meet, eventually it will be time to thank someone. And that’s a great time for a personalized, branded, customized postcard. You can’t give a free book to everyone you want to thank, and a business card isn’t a “thank you” (it’s a gimmee), so postcards are the perfect compromise!  People typically only receive postcards from loved ones on vacation (if that anymore!), so postcards still possess a degree of intimacy while being entirely professional and appropriate.  And for that, not coincidentally, your recipient will thank you, also.

brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Growing Pains: Part VII

When a business starts to grow, it should reasonably take up more space. This could be space on your desk, in your schedule and just in your life in general. When something begins to take up more space, sometimes the next logical step is to literally give it more space. With that in mind, this week, I’d like to explore the topic of expanding your business to another location.

Because it is 2017, I’d like to begin by saying that this other location need not be in physical space, but can also occupy the virtual reality we all seem to spend so much time in nowadays. If you don’t already have a website for your books, products and services, do yourself a favor and get one. Online marketing is crucial in this day and age, as a significant amount of shopping done today is online. If you’re not online, you’re simply missing out on one of the largest customer bases there is, period.

Further, a website is not always enough. A lot of people get their news and advertisements and ideas of what to buy via social media, thus, expanding your product to these other outlets is a fantastic idea. The more your page is “liked” or “shared,” the more it will show up on more people’s feed, and the higher the chances you have of exposure for your business. Be shameless with the use of hashtags and tagging of people and companies relevant to your work. This is another helpful way for people to find out about your work. Expanding into the digital world has got to be one of the most profitable and lucrative moves you can make as a business owner.

If you find yourself needing to expand your business in actual physical space, this is a whole different ball game. Expanding in this way can be as simple as asking for a display in a lock coffee shop, toy store, library, women’s shelter, Post Office, etc.  Make sure your displays are aesthetically pleasing and call to customers who may not be in that establishment for books, but may find themselves picking it up just out of curiosity. You want your display to have the same zest and pull that you want your cover design to have. Get creative, handcraft a wooden display or ask a handy friend to make one for you. Your display should add to the ambiance of the establishment its in, rather than be a nuisance pile of books with an 8 and a half by 11 sheet of paper next to it scotch taped to the counter.

If you actually need more physical space just to store your back stock of products such as books, manuscripts, files, etc., consider getting a storage unit or devoting a room in your house to just that. Nothing drives me crazier than a bunch of stacks of books and loose papers in my work space, and I think creativity will falter in such an environment. Always give yourself the space you need to both work and operate as a business!

Filling the shelves.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive 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,

Growing Pains: Part IV

Sometimes growing your business can happen from within your own, already existing customer base. Imagine your business as a tree trunk, the branches your customers and the leaves that come off of each branch a good or service bought from one of your customers. The more leaves on the tree, the better and healthier the tree. So how do we get a nice, full tree?

Young plant

Think about it, you already have someone who is interested in your goods or services, they have already decided you have a product worth purchasing, so the key is to keep providing them those quality products or services. Not only to you have to have a supply to both create and feed the demand, but you have to market that supply properly.

Let’s say we’re talking selling books. You have a loyal fan base already. That’s great. Make that work to your advantage. If you’re writing a series, make sure you keep an email list of those who have already purchased your first or second book in the series and alert them when the newest one is coming out. Maybe offer them a loyalty discount to show your appreciation for their support. Better yet, maybe you have older books that they don’t know about! Be sure to clue them in on past work you’ve done and how/where they can find or purchase that as well. That way, while you’re working on creating new material, you’re still able to move products you already have on hand.

Also, make sure you’re following your fans on social media and vice versa so that they can be in tune with developments in your writing and publishing stages. That way, they know you have a book coming out, you can build anticipation for it, and they’re excited to buy your next book. Be active on their pages, let them know that you are just another person who’s not too busy to keep up with their fans.

Keep in mind that the key to keeping a good customer relationship comes from after-sale support and contact. Ask your readers for feedback. Let them know that their opinions matter to you. After-sale support and contact may determine whether or not that customer will be a returning customer. When a customer feels that their business or opinions are valued by a business, they are more likely to support that business.

If you do offer other services, such as editing, formatting, marketing, etc. make that known to your customers. People who are already fans of your work, who find your books appealing or well-written, will most likely value your advice on how it is you produce a professional, quality book. Start by hosting free (or small-fee) webinars where you offer your advice with the option at the end to hire you personally for your services.

Thinking of your business as a living growing entity will remind you that you need to give it the proper care and attention it deserves so that it can continue to expand and grow stronger over time. Keep watering that tree, letting those leaves bask in the sunlight, and you will have shade and fresh air to breathe in for ages to come. Ignore it, or give it too little attention and you will watch it wither away and be left with a lifeless stump.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive 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,

Growing Pains.

Growing pains, we’ve all felt them. Growth is part of life, and for the next few weeks I want to explore the idea of how growth should also be part of your aim to create a better book marketing plan for yourself.

growing pains growth chart

It’s important to recognize that truly successful business grow over time. Sure, some people can “successfully” string together a bunch of separate marketing stunts and receive some boom and busts as far as sales go, but those businesses that build their brand and their audience or customer base over time will have a better chance at longevity and a consistent consumer base.

For example, a really trendy coffee shop with highly overpriced drinks may attract a few people who love that niche of pricey coffee and want a hip shot of a beautifully crafted milk-foam heart for their Instagram feed. However, the small, “homey” coffee shop with a staff that knows customers by name and creates a space where people feel welcome in the community is ultimately going to be the more successful of the two.

How do you become the more identifiable, welcoming coffee shop where everyone wants to go for the free WiFi, the delicious chai tea lattes, for every business meeting, slam poetry session and acoustic night?

  • Reach out to your fan base and let them know you appreciate their support.
  • Offer perks to loyal customers. Much like a “Buy 10 coffees, get one Free” punch card, send a loyal fan a copy of your book signed, on the house. Their more often to talk you up that way and recommend you to their friends based on your merit not only as an author, but as a person.
  • Coffee shops are the modern day salons, where people gather to talk about ideas, business plans, gossip, etc. You can recreate this as an author by involving yourself in the community you’re in. Do this by spending time at community film festivals, poetry slams or book readings, or do this online by participating in forums and being active on your blog and responding to comments on any and all social media forums. This makes you a relatable person that people want to support.

People ultimately want to identify with a business they support. That’s probably why businesses like Whole Foods plaster poster-sized images of regular Joe employees and local farmers on their walls–it makes people feel all warm and mushy inside and like their money is going to regular, hard-working people. This is more likely than not  just a master manipulation of the consumers by corporate conglomerates, but it’s brilliant marketing. That being said, I’ve worked for many local businesses, and the number of clients who come in and say, “I could have ordered this online, but I just love supporting local businesses,” is amazing.

Takeaways? Make yourself known locally. Be personable, interact with other authors, share ideas, go to writing groups. Also make yourself known online. Be active on social media, interact with readers, build your fan base. All these actions are seeds you plant that ultimately grow a more reliable marketing base. Attending one conference or even a year, or making one social media post a month won’t provide growth. Growth is a constant process that you must actively participate in.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive 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,


6 Ways Watching Real Housewives of New York Can Help You Market Your Book

Do you watch Real Housewives of New York? If not, surely you’ve seen all the press about the show. Did you know that you can learn a lot about how to market your book and build your author brand by watching it? Here are just a few of the lessons to be learned when watching the show for any period of time (some old and some new):

  • Follow trends: Take note from Ramona and her jumping on the “renew your vows” trend. Sure, it is a good idea to be unique most of the time, but sometimes you have to “do the stuff everyone else is doing” in order to get your momentum going. After all – it works well for everyone else – isn’t it at least worth a “try”?
  • Defend the grapes: Bethenny offered to “stomp the grapes” to make wine. Not if Kelly had anything to do with it – she planned to eat those grapes. If you take a stand on some issue or cause that you really believe in and make this public knowledge, that’s a good way to network and build demand for you and your book.
  • Start your own team: It works for the Twilight saga (remember “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob”?) and is even working for RHONY with the “Team Blonde” and “Team Brunette” fiasco. Have you considered starting “teams” for the main characters in your book? This will build audience excitement for sure because people love to choose sides.
  • Refer to yourself in the third person: Did you see how Sonja referred to herself in the third person on the recent reunion show? Well, don’t do it that way, but this is a great way to write an effective author bio that will stand out amongst the crowd. Author bios should never be written in first person (neither should social media profiles and the like).
  • Toss modesty to the wind: Also in the recent reunion show, Kelly mentioned that Cosmo rated her as one of the Five Nicest Celebrities. Why can’t you do the same as an author? Naturally, you don’t want to tout your achievements at inappropriate times, but don’t be afraid to brag a little – especially when it comes to your bestselling author status.
  • Wear cream to the wedding: This is not the best thing to do in “real life”, but it can be very effective when promoting a book. Don’t allow other authors in your genre to get all of the spotlight. It’s OK to steal the show just a bit for yourself.

Many newly-published authors are faced with the question of: “How do I market my book?” Believe it or not, your answer could be as close as your nearest TV set.