The Book Marketing Maze: 22 Wrong Turns And How To Avoid Them (PART 2)

Author MazeSo many authors continue to make unnecessary ‘wrong turns’ with their book marketing, which costs them a significant number of sales.  

In this article, part 2 of The Book Marketing Maze‘, I’ve outlined 11 more wrong turns that are all too easy to take, including the worst mistake of all.

Fortunately for you, I’ve already taken most of the wrong pathways at some point, and my intention is to save you from wasting time doing the same.  So I’ve also included a solution for each ‘wrong turn’.

The 22 Book Marketing Wrong Turns … continued:

12.  Avoiding The Online Author Community

If you have decided that other authors are competition to be avoided, this can have several negative effects, such as isolation.  You may find yourself without support.

Authors ConnectSolution:  Interact with authors whom you like.

Interact with other writers in your fiction genre, and send people over to them as well.  This shows confidence in your own work, and attracts reciprocation.

The reality is that you want to find readers far more than writers, yes?  I agree entirely, but there is great value in mixing it up with the author community in your genre.  You’ll discover far more about book marketing and how to find readers.  And you can also share any writing challenges you are facing – a problem shared is a problem halved.

13.  Ignoring Your Fans

“I’m not interested in all those people.  Suckers.  I never reply to reader emails or questions in social media…”   The strangely ironic thing is, people who say this can’t fathom why readers aren’t talking about them and their books.

Solution:  Interact and communicate with readers.  

Readers have given you their commitment, you owe them yours.  Take time to communicate with them and reply if they ask questions or send praise.

Book Fans

Why?  If you keep producing titles and maintain contact, your readers will become your fans and Word Of Mouth promoters for life.

Your fans value the fruits of your imagination far more than you may ever know.  From your very first book, the first in a series, readers become invested in you.  They’ll buy everything you write and feel they own you.

You certainly owe them your allegiance, because they’ve given you theirs.

14.  Lacking A Firm Commitment

You haven’t truly decided you’re going to set out on the marketing highway, so you avoid taking action, hoping that somehow, something will turn up.

highwayOr you suffer from haphazardness and unleash a torrent of communications on social media and your blog, then… nothing for months.

Solution:  Commit to briefer content, more often. 

This requires far less time commitment.  Even a tasty release of weekly candy for fans is more effective than an epic every month.

I do this myself quite frequently.  For example, this post you’re reading is far longer than most I have planned.  Instead, I would rather help people and keep them motivated with interesting, shorter pieces of contact more often.  Agree?

15.  Expecting A Publisher To Do It All For You.

Publishers, if you can get one these days, don’t usually promote unknown authors.

Publishing Contract

As a result, very few new authors will ever sell more than a handful of books unless they understand book marketing.

Solution:  Build your Author Platform. 

What’s really required is promoting your books yourself. You want your book read so word of mouth can spread, so your main task is to ignite that process.

Download my free book containing information about how to build your Author Platform: The Bestseller Labs Guide To Publishing.  Sign up for it in the form below this article.  Also read through the growing collection of author marketing articles I’m publishing on this site.

16.  Chasing A Trend, Or Picking A Genre Because You Think There’s Money In It.

Neil GaimanBe afraid.  By the time a trend is hot it’s probably already over.  Try starting when a trend is everywhere, and you may be left with a pile of books you can’t sell.

“…Vampires go in waves, and it kind of feels like now we’re finishing a vampire wave; at the point where they’re everywhere. It’s probably time to go back underground for another 20 or 25 years.” 
Neil Gaiman

Solution:  Write for a genre that intrigues and excites you.

Never underestimate how much difference this will make to your work.  When writing for a genre you’re genuinely interested in, the characters will be more colorful, the stories more addictive, and the world you create for your readers more vibrant.

Read my interview with George R.R. Martin’s editor Jane Johnson.  She answers 3 key questions about writing.

17.  Unprofessional Presentation

Your books are unedited, with strange formatting and odd page breaks – i.e. they look ‘DIY’. You don’t fill out your author profile on Amazon either, and your blog is rife with unedited content just like your books.

TypoFor some reason, book sales seem ‘sluggish’.  You seek help, and spam 20 agents you’ve never met with a book manuscript typed in comic sans.  Your books continue to be ignored.

Solution:  Raise your standards.  

To attract your perfect audience and grow book sales, you’ll need to impress bloggers, publishers, agents, reviewers and in particular readers with a fine quality, polished look. This requires close attention to detail – i.e. a professional approach.

18.  Amateur Book Covers

Your book cover resembles a school project.  It might have made your mother proud in 3rd grade, but won’t gain attention in the marketplace, particularly at thumbnail size on Amazon.

Solution:  Don’t skimp, have beautiful covers designed.  

Covers are the billboards for your books, need to be attention getting and also speak to your target market.

Billboard Book CoversWhite can appear ghostly on an Amazon or B& sales page.  Use a striking color or one dark enough for it to stand out online.  Employ a designer to create a beautiful, arresting image.

See my ‘how to’ post:  Book Covers – Billboards That Sell

19.  Promotional Content Reads As If Written By A Committee

All your communications, such as promotional work and blog posts sound corporate with no clue as to your identity.  There is nothing unique that stands out.

CommitteeSolution:  Let your personality shine through.

The author needs to be up front and personal.  As I said before, the ‘secret’ is that people are interested in people.

This applies especially to your blog.  The cornerstone of your promotional presence online is your author personality.  No-one can write quite like you, nor can anyone create a fake ‘you’.  Building this up can turn you into a lighthouse brand.

20.  Neglecting To Build An Author Blog

If you use social media such as Twitter and Facebook your a ‘blog‘, and as your main promotional strategy, it can be extremely slippery path to take, because all your followers can vanish overnight.

Author Blog

Picture what would have happened if you’d spent years building up your fan following on MySpace:  Now all gone.

Solution:  Bring readers off social media to your own blog.

This allows you to engage with people at no cost, make them aware of your books, encourage them to buy, and grow long term relationships.

Social media is of extreme value, but the danger is that you don’t actually own your social media followers, and they can disappear in a blink.

So bring them from social media back to your author blog, and then onto your mailing list, where you get to keep them forever.  (I cover the easiest way to do this in my Blogging For Authors course.)

21. Your Blog Posts Are As Dense As A Hawthorne Hedge

I see so many blogs of this type.  A solid block of text from top to bottom with no breaks. This not only looks daunting, but takes a considerable effort to read.

Hawthorne HedgeEven worse is a blog with white type on a black background.  If the intention is to make your blog almost impossible to read, that is the perfect way to do it.

Solution:  Split up your content to make it readable.

Your blog is a ‘poster boy’ for your books.  So split up your content and make it readable with paragraph breaks, bullet points, subheadings, lists, graphics and photographs to illuminate the points.

This will make it easier for those who wish to skim and read just the parts in which they’re interested.

Here’s where to find free photographs for your blog.

22.  Aiming For One Big Hit Instead Of Growing A Career

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of that big hit.

Colleen Hoover

When Colleen Hoover hit stellar success out of the gate with her books Hopeless, and Slammed, authors worldwide were awestruck and wanted the same naturally.  This also occurred with E.L James 50 Shades series, fan-fiction that caught fire and went global at breakneck speed.

But both those examples are rare occurrences, and not a workable strategy on which to base a career plan.  Aiming for a single hit out of the gate instead of working to enhance the quality of your books is the biggest mistake of all.

Solution:  Focus on writing first.  

It’s crucial to have well written books.  Achieving a bestselling book is a journey, not a rabbit to be pulled from a magician’s hat.  Writing that is deeply enjoyed by readers is almost always shared.  They’ll gradually spread the word for you, book by book.

So writing must always remain your primary focus.  It’s the key pathway through the book marketing maze.

Note: This post is part 2 of the ‘Book Marketing Maze’ .
Here’s Part One:  11 Wrong Turns And How To Avoid Them.

Have you made any of these wrong turns?   Any other mistakes you’d like to reveal so fellow authors don’t suffer the same fate?   I’d love to know.

Please leave a comment.

Jonathan Gunson

Article written by Jonathan Gunson

Author / Book Marketing Coach


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  • July 31, 2013 at 7:55am

    That would be me, Jonathan. Well Twitter-played! 😉 I’ve been falling down on 14 of late. Must. do. Better.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 8:19am

      You and me both Imelda. Henceforth bite sized candy piece posts shall be the order of the day, and more of them. Having said that about ‘blogging’, fact is that nothing beats churning out more words in the form of another BOOK.

      • August 20, 2013 at 11:58am

        Yep >> “bite sized candy piece posts shall be the order of the day”

        Exactly! Because who has time anymore?

        I recently decided not to buy a course because it had too much content. I’m sure the author thought they were doing their peeps a favor by offering a lengthy course (with bonuses) but all I could think of was “Noooo, I don’t have the time or inclination to read all that.”

        Short and sweet.

        Say what needs to be said in the shortest amount of words.

        darlene :)

    • Florida Town says:
      July 31, 2013 at 8:14pm

      Well, as you can see, I already have a big problem. I don’t have a website. And I don’t know how to get one. So – that’s going to be my first project. Thanks for all the info and the pointers.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        July 31, 2013 at 9:07pm

        Let me repost a reply from one of the other comments – it will help: A blog is far easier to assemble then you think. Start with a free test one at, then before going too far with that, (after you’ve learned how it works), progress to a proper one using to software at

      • Margaret says:
        August 1, 2013 at 1:37am

        Neither did I. But I read that Weebly had “no learning curve,” which sounded promising. There was one for me, and I also needed my son’s help and Weebly support. But I’m happy with the result, and it didn’t take long. I chronicle my adventures here:

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          August 1, 2013 at 4:44am

          It’s not easy for the tech-unsavvy, but the website looks wonderful. One suggestion is to put a highly visible link back to your blog from it.
          PS. ‘Scissor Town’ sounds like a winner.

  • yomi says:
    July 31, 2013 at 8:48am

    Great post. Nice lessons. Who do you recommend for excellent and affordable type setting and internal book layout?

  • July 31, 2013 at 9:12am

    Nice post Jonathan! Reading it I’m glad to see I seem to be doing it right. :-) However I’m taking it slow.
    Should you be interested in writing a guest post for me, I would be honoured to post it on my Guest Blogger Day. Mail me if you want to.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 9:41am

      Lucy (A favourite name of mine)
      Kind offer thanks, I’ll keep it in mind.

  • July 31, 2013 at 9:43am

    As ever, a really helpful post!

    And point 22 is exactly right – all the promoting and marketing in the world won’t help if the writing isn’t there.

    Thanks Jonathan!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 9:55am

      Re writing – true indeed. Plus, a SERIES will take your books even further.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Michael says:
    July 31, 2013 at 10:23am

    I’ve been meaning to set up an author webpage for my upcoming thriller The Darkest Corner. I’m not big on social media since I’m not a social animal by nature. Looks like I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 10:43am

      The great thing about ‘social media’ is that it allows the less ‘social’ person to stand back and take time to consider a response. In fact I think dubbing it social media it’s not particularly apt, because there’s no pressure to interact immediately. Unlike being at a cocktail party, you’re safe behind a wall of time. This is also of considerable advantage when a user needs to formulate a carefully thought through response.

      • July 31, 2013 at 3:15pm

        Michael, while I agree with Jonathan about being able to take your time and have measured responses on social media, the truth is that much of what you need to do to develop your author’s platform WILL require you to step outside your comfort zone.

        But think about it this way: actually completing a book is WAY outside of most people’s comfort zone and you have already done that, so don’t underestimate yourself. You are definitely up to the task:) and we are all here to help each other.

        • Michael says:
          July 31, 2013 at 5:14pm

          Thanks Jonathan and Karen. I appreciate your helpful comments.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          July 31, 2013 at 6:47pm

          Karen is absolutely on the money. Agree entirely, and I might add, she has an excellent, highly informative author blog to model on.


          • Michael says:
            July 31, 2013 at 8:53pm

            Thanks for the link to Karen’s web page. There’s some good info there. I have to admit, I do feel overwhelmed. This is my first novel after finding modest success as a screenwriter. I have so much to learn.

          • Jonathan Gunson says:
            July 31, 2013 at 9:09pm

            One step at a time is the path. See this blog post that makes a closely related point:

  • July 31, 2013 at 10:32am

    Thank you for this very useful blog post.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 7:15pm

      You’re welcome Shynu.

  • LeeAnn says:
    July 31, 2013 at 11:13am

    Jonathan –
    Excellent posts and wonderful insight. You have been a huge help to me. I’m getting there!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 11:55am

      Thank you! And do keep on keeping me updated LeeAnn.
      ~ Jonathan

  • July 31, 2013 at 11:28am

    This is a great post, Jonathan. I’ve tweeted both parts out and shared it on my Facebook.

    The thing about this game is that we are all on a learning curve. The rules change everyday. The fellow who wants to be successful in this business needs to have his coffee every morning and to both embrace and to accept the constancy of change.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 11:59am

      Re rules constantly changing, agree – look what happened to Borders Books for example. But one thing remains constant: The power of a beautifully written series of stories. That will see any author through the storm.

  • July 31, 2013 at 12:00pm

    Tip 21 on blog density rang a definite bell for me – point taken, many thanks

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:10pm

      I see your blog is black on white, and easy to read. One thing: I’d put a larger, more visible link to it on your website.

  • Joy Dent says:
    July 31, 2013 at 12:36pm

    Jonathan, Is it okay to create my mailing list from people who follow my blog and from those who leave comments? Or, do I start over with a newsletter asking those who follow my blog if they want to sign up?


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:15pm

      You need permission from people to send them news and info. So I would definitely start a new free mailing list with that readers need to subscribe to.
      But for existing email addresses that you don’t have permission to send to people such as those who leave email addresses with blog comments, send them a single email each asking them if they’d like to sign up to your new free newsletter. (Offer them some sort of incentive for signing up such as an 80% discount off your next book.)

  • July 31, 2013 at 1:18pm

    I am working on 22! Social media and blogging take up so much time that I am finding less time to write. Must make a conscious effort to organize into time blocks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:21pm

      Your passion will carry you through! But yes, there’s no question that writing is central. It’s also the most effective ‘marketing’ tactic you can employ. Readership takes off usually after the third book.
      See also see #6 and #8 in part 1.

  • July 31, 2013 at 2:22pm

    Once again, THANK YOU Jonathan. Now I have a better direction to follow in A) writing on my blog – going to change up my colors. B) not being so ‘wordy’ in all my sites, and C) spending more time writing on my novels.

    Your posts are always very informative and helpful, and greatly appreciated. I always try to stay connected with other authors, AND readers, because firstly, I don’t really see other authors as ‘competition’, I see them as beneficial friends, who can offer insights and advice to each other. Your readers should be your ‘best friends’, as if they can relate to you as a person, not only as an author, and if they like your work, the simple adage “word of mouth advertising” is just another of the many ways to get your material read by more people, and will help grow your fan base.

  • BDJ says:
    July 31, 2013 at 2:38pm

    Thanks for the tips, Jonathan.

    16 made me laugh (Quick! Let’s all try to be Neil Gaiman, that sells!)

    13 is right on the nose. I’ve spent a fair amount of time advising bands on the need for just this thing. Not surprised to see that this one (and many others) parallel the same marketing trends in music. Connect first, sell later (maybe).

    Years ago I had an “Indie Band”. Now I’m an Indie Writer, loving every minute of it, and very grateful to have such a blog as yours that provides insights and a place to reflect and share with like-minded others. Well done and thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:37pm

      It’s all too tempting to shout out books on Social Media yes? Fortunately I see that you virtually NEVER do this on your Twitter account. In fact it’s always full of fascination, meaning it will play a far bigger part in attracting readers. e.g. I saw your RT about Dan Brown “Perhaps I judged @danbrown unfairly, his favorite book of all time is A Wrinkle In Time: I looked it up, plus checked out many other things you mention.

      P.S. I’ve just read Neil Gaiman’s book ‘The Ocean At The End of the Lane’. Weirdly delicious, full of empathy, magic and pathos.

  • July 31, 2013 at 2:42pm

    Hello Jonathan;

    You asked me to keep you posted about my latest book, I Want To Live, about my stay in hospital being operated on for bowel cancer, followed by chemotherapy.

    [ I’m about to start the second book, I Want to Live, Part 2. This entails another three operations plus radiotherapy, in 1996, 1997 and 2007.] The books are being printed at the minute and I’ll receive my first personal copies for advertising/reviewing etc, in ten days time. Also, a trade union have taken the book under its wing and intend to have a bit of a party and an official release of the book.

    Another top – notch daily newspaper has agreed to review it as well and to give it the full works, a review, article with my photograph, and interview personally. At present the book is being uploaded onto Amazon, with the Look Inside facility and it will also be on Kindle.

    You can look it up Jonathan in a week to ten days time on Amazon. a great start you’ll agree, and of course you were right about cancer victims and their relatives and friends in your reply to me in your last article, THEY ARE VERY INTERESTED as it’s an emotive subject. I’m not exploiting them I’m just trying to give a few tips to these suffering people on how to get through this terrible disease. Hopefully I’ll be able to give them a few helpful tips to get them through.

    Thanks Jonathan, keep your eye on Amazon in the next week to ten days, thanks again for your great advice, it’s very much appreciated.


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:42pm

      This is tremendously exciting news. Such great progress on a specialized subject is to be applauded. As always I wish you the very best in your work. You add to the world, no question Sir.
      ~ Jonathan
      PS. And yes, I’ll certainly keep an eye out for the book.

      • July 31, 2013 at 8:08pm

        Thanks Jonathan,
        before I found you on the computer I was a bit lost to be honest being just a novice. Now thanks to you I can motor on now, thanks mate, appreciated immensely, Patrick.

  • Mark Bordner, author of The Mighty First series says:
    July 31, 2013 at 2:50pm

    You’ve nailed it right on the head, excellent advice, all of it true ! Your point of wrongly expecting your publisher to ‘ do it all for you ‘ is quite spot-on. For someone who has been lucky enough to be contracted by a mainline publisher for the first time, it is easy to assume that they will have their book catered hand and foot. WRONG !

    No one loves your work more than you do. It’s vital as the writer to make those contacts and convince the reader to love it as well. A publishing house has literally thousands of titles to handle, they don’t have the time or the resources to focus only on yours.

    Thank you for posting about something that can be so easily misunderstood by those just breaking into the industry.

  • July 31, 2013 at 3:24pm

    Thank you for the helpful information. I went through the list nodding my head, saying yes, I’m doing that, I try to do that, most definitely do that, (and that one would be interacting through social media) but then when it came to having my own blog I realized I failed. I can put together a website but blogs have surpassed me. I have tried and tried but I haven’t succeed in understanding them nor how to put one together. I have a series, and my following has been slow, but it is getting progressively better with each book. I know I need one but I am totally blog-ignorant.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 7:19pm

      A blog is far easier to assemble then you think. Start with a free test one at, then before going too far with that, (after you’ve learned how it works), progress to a proper one using to software at

  • Lindsay Austin says:
    July 31, 2013 at 4:42pm

    WOW! It’s a real boost reading these posts. Thank you Jonathan, again, for mulling the subject matter so pertinent to us aspiring authors. It’s nice to have my dazzled brain soothed by The Book Marketing Maze and by the feedback the comments have provided. I have just taken the step into social media after reading Bestseller Labs. It’s the only way to go!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:49pm

      More brain soothing to come. Although the posts will be more bite sized tasty pieces of candy that will interest readers. Seth Godin does this beautifully. See

      • August 5, 2013 at 8:58am

        Hi Jonathan, great post, as usual!
        Your point about Seth Godin, I’d not heard of him, checked him out (and his chart) and he’s a Cancer (caring) with Moon in Aquarius (freedom loving) and he advocates ‘permission marketing’ which I totally agree with:)

        When you bombast people with tweets or emails, they go off you quickly.

        I use Mailchimp too, and they’re free for the first 1,000 subscribers (I haven’t got to that limit yet!) so I now have some VERY nice subscribers, who have been ‘with me’ all the way in my series, critiquing, giving quotes, proof reading, celebrating with me, having free PDF’s when my books are published and reader offers.

        …and I treat them like friends, they’re truly lovely people…and it’s THOSE people that need to be looked after.. so 13 really resonated with me:)
        In Peace
        Mary xx

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          August 5, 2013 at 11:44am

          Thrilled that you are building a proper mailing list. Essentially you are doing it all in first class style, perfectly summed up with your words: “… I now have some VERY nice subscribers, who have been ‘with me’ all the way in my series, critiquing, giving quotes, proof reading, celebrating with me, having free PDF’s when my books are published and reader offers… and I treat them like friends, they’re truly lovely people… and it’s THOSE people that need to be looked after”

          Could not have put it any better.


  • July 31, 2013 at 4:57pm

    I agree on everything. I followed your advice and I was able to conquer an excellent position in Italy. Now, I’m starting everything from scratch. English language market is wider and harder, but I’m confident that with this strategy I will have some results at some point.
    By the way, I read elsewhere on your blog about your 70% / 30% and I adopted it 😉

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:52pm

      I’ve been to Italy a couple of times – mostly in the Northern part. Beautiful. Good to hear of your success. If your STORIES are ‘page turners’, you’ll have no problem in the English speaking market.

  • J.L. Bond says:
    July 31, 2013 at 5:39pm

    Jonathan, how do you do it? You’ve taken the most complicated part of indie writing (marketing books) and narrowed it down to an easy to followed list of do’s and don’ts. Wow, all I can say is thanks for your generous helpfulness. J.L.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 7:14pm

      More to come JL.B and more ‘bite sized’.

  • July 31, 2013 at 6:39pm

    Jonathan, I always look forward to your mails. I’ve implemented some of your suggestions and I can see the results already. I’ve reviewed the books of other authors for years for some of the biggest publishers in a statewide newspaper. I’m always happy to see someone succeed. But you are right. Many authors consider other writers as competition. There is room for everyone. And you proved that once again. Thanks so much

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 7:12pm


      I see you have written 23 novels – a prodigious output indeed. Note: Reviewing books of other authors for the papers is great long term strategy – it also opens to door to reviews of your books too. Reviewing others books also displays great confidence in one’s own work – the word ‘competition’ doesn’t enter the mind.

      Having said that, I’ll also point out that Maeve Binchy always refused to review any books sent to her. She sent them straight back marked ‘unread’, because she feared that if by chance the ideas were similar to her own upcoming stories, she might be accused of plagiarism!


      • July 31, 2013 at 7:36pm

        Same goes for Mary Jo Putnam. I know there are better authors out there than I am, but I don’t feel threatened. Everyone has their own take on a story. I am proud when I read my reviews in books like those of Cindy Gerard, Kat Martin and Roxanne St. Claire (she is as bubbly in person) and some lesser known authors. It usually says Winter Haven News Chief, but that’s me :-) BTW I’m no goodie two shoes. My halo is firmly held in place by two little horns. Heide

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          July 31, 2013 at 11:08pm

          My kind of writer :)

  • July 31, 2013 at 10:36pm

    Thanks for another great article, Jonathan. I have to work on letting my personality show in my social networks. It’s not something I’m comfortable with, but I know it makes a difference. Besides that, blogging is a major chore for me. Still working on making my blog work…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 31, 2013 at 11:07pm

      Like you, I find writing blog posts to be ‘diverting’ experiences! So I feel your pain. As a consequence, I’m going to be writing very brief posts from this point on, with a single useful point in each. (A candy piece that’s easy to chew on.) Personality comes more easily that way too.
      ~ Jonathan

  • August 1, 2013 at 2:59am

    As aways, excellent info here Jonathan. In addition to many of the things you’ve mentioned we should be doing to move ourselves and our careers along, I’ve taken a huge step outside my normal comfort zone and participated in my first author interview podcast. I’d never heard of podcasting before, but it was a great experience. It gave me more to Twitter, FaceBook and share about, and taught me more about myself and my writing. Who knows, maybe someone will hear it and be intrigued enough to check out my website, blog, or dare I say it, my book. Response so far has been great. What do you think of this marketing venue for both new and established writers?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 1, 2013 at 4:49am

      Congratulations! Podcasts, if not too long, have increasing audience potential as you do more of them. Thing is to limit how many channels you use of course, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Podcasts, Interviews, Google+, YouTube et al – do too many and you’ll be a social media train wreck! In the end it’s your writing… and getting readers to Amazon that counts.

  • August 1, 2013 at 5:16am

    Hi Jonathon – silly question – How do I get an author page on Amazon? I can’t find where to go to start one!

  • August 1, 2013 at 9:38am

    Thank you for another informative post Jonathan. What do you do when you have a publisher who produces an amateurish book cover? Can you risk asking to have it changed at your cost without offending the publisher or compromising your professional relationship?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 1, 2013 at 11:18am

      If I were you I wouldn’t hesitate. The whole idea is to sell your book to readers, and the book cover is the ‘billboard’ that does this selling job initially, so getting that right is far more important than worrying about offending your publisher. In any case I think you’ll find the publisher won’t debate the point if you are paying.

      • August 2, 2013 at 8:51am

        Thank you Jonathan. I have no idea which kind of covers attract which readers and I’ve received varying feedback, thus I’d rather leave it in the hands of a professional who has market knowledge.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          August 2, 2013 at 10:02pm


          If the cover designer has done an amateurish job, then they are not one of the ‘professionals’ of which you speak. Your book was a massive amount of work to write and deserves the best presentation a publisher can give.

          The point is to know exactly what your book is about and be able to clearly explain that to the designer. e.g. To begin with, which genre does it belong to? Most readers only read a narrow range of books in specific genres, so they need to be able to tell from the cover whether it will interest them or not. Does it do that?

          The cover is the billboard that sells your book. See blog post on book covers that sell:


  • Pam Long says:
    August 1, 2013 at 1:51pm

    Once again (as evidenced by the numerous replies) you’ve hit the target dead on! Such good insight and information. Can’t thank you enough!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 1, 2013 at 8:42pm

      It’s all common sense in the end. The whole thing is rather like getting a great wagon wheel to start turning. Large effort up front, then once rolling it becomes easier.

  • August 1, 2013 at 4:21pm

    Another great post, Jonathan, thanks. Particularly like the point about letting your personality shine through! (point 19)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 1, 2013 at 8:49pm

      A personality driven author blog is a cornerstone of book marketing. It does several things – providing readers with an intriguing place to learn more about you as author and your quirky interests, where they can also discover what you might be writing currently, and your existing books.
      Plus, the media, news organizations, agents. publicists and publishers, all need a place to read information and background about the ‘author’, as well as a place to derive press releases, and any video book trailers etc you may have produced.

  • August 3, 2013 at 2:25pm

    Another killer list. I have a a pile of stuff to read or to keep handy outside of the actual writing (a.o. is a set of screendumps I need whenever I am compiling from Scrivener and need to get the details exactly right) and your previous list remains on top of this pile everytime I put it back on the shelves.

    It’s all very helpful and positive, expecially when one is a tiny bit lost in the huge information stream about publishing.

    I’m taking the slow road — I’m now working on the third installment of my “Bizz Jockey crime series” and I find out stuff as I go. I did my first Kindle promo weekend (a free download of the first book) and learned a lot of stuff, especially about what to do in advance. This second list is definitely going to help in the time ahead. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 4, 2013 at 1:48am

      MH V. My view is that you simply need to keep going exactly the way you are. It won’t happen overnight, but if your books have a reasonable level of appeal, it will happen – especially if you are writing a series with a consistent central character. Readers minds are colonized by characters and a unique style, and increasingly need another ‘fix’.

  • August 5, 2013 at 6:18pm

    Thanks for putting this together, Johnathan. I think you hit the nail on the head on a lot of points. I will recommend this as my article of the week on my blog next week. I think there is a lot of value here.

    What I find hardest is author personality as you state in tip 19. I am naturally introverted and sometimes stand in my own way by hesitating too long to comment. I have all the marketing principles in my head, but don’t always manage to act on them because I feel awkward about revealing too much. Or feeling that everything I post needs to have absolute substance. Any tips on how to speak more genuinely on online platforms? Probably I just need to get over myself :)


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 5, 2013 at 11:50pm

      Re ‘author personality’. When I asked my father years ago “How do I write a book Dad?” he replied “Start writing.” The same applies to creating blog posts with a hint of personality. One could try too hard with this, and you certainly cannot ‘push it’. You also don’t need to reveal all. Just write about the various subjects naturally and with enthusiasm in the first person, and personality will begin to emerge.

  • Tom Kelly says:
    August 8, 2013 at 7:17pm

    Hi Jonathan,
    Congrats on having the best blog on writing on the web. I have a website up and running for my forthcoming debut, a treasure hunt thriller for teens: Danny Battle and the Book of Shangri-la. I will self publish the book on amazon in the autumn just as soon as I’ve finished the edits and commissioned a cover that I’m happy with.
    But I do wonder just how many readers actually feel the need to try to communicate with authors through social media or read their blogs. My guess is not that many. I have to say I think that every hour spent on twitter or facebook is an hour wasted that could have been spent writing. In the past month I’ve read books by Robert Harris, James Rollins and Dan Brown but have so far avoided the urge to stalk them on face twit. :)
    Keep up the good work,

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 9, 2013 at 4:42am

      I suspect you may have missed the point of blogging and social media. The objective is to use social media to attract readers to your books, not to ‘get to know readers’ for no reason at all.

      Readers are on social media en masse, as are publicists, book stores, publishers, the literary media and agents – all people who can help with book publicity. So social media is a great resource to light the word of mouth wildfire. See how an author Mary English is doing exactly this:

      Plus I agree re time consumption. See point 1 in the Book Marketing maze part 1. 70% writing, 30% promotion.

      Lastly, all the very best with your treasure hunt thriller! Your website looks very slick indeed – I assume you’ll eventually add an image behind the big title on the home page?


      • Tom Kelly says:
        August 9, 2013 at 8:12am

        Thanks Jonathan,
        All very good advice. My brother made the website. Images to come shortly.
        I’m not the best in the world when it comes to social media so I’ll stick to your advice and try to do a few things well (in my case twitter and the website).
        All the best,

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 9, 2013 at 11:07am

      Readers don’t necessarily follow authors in social media, but the reverse is certainly true. Twitter, Facebook and the like are best used to grow a support circle of fans who DO communicate, and people such as publicists, media, publishers agents and friends who will help, rather than being used constantly to directly pitch readers.
      ~ Jonathan

  • AC Townsend says:
    August 9, 2013 at 2:17pm

    I’ve been thinking about #20, Building an Author Blog, as I get closer to finishing my web site. I believe I can manage writing a weekly blog. Coming up with topics for the blog is not a problem, but variety of content might be a concern. I have noticed that most authors naturally blog about aspects of writing. My ‘idea list’ contains subjects that range from writing, to faith-based inspirational encouragement, to family life, to pets. I know I need to have consistent subject matter in my blog in order to attract the same people back week after week. But my “conspiracy” novels could be listed under more than one genre (historical fiction, family saga, Christian fiction), so is it acceptable – or absolutely unadvisable – for an author to blog about a variety of topics on her web site?

    Thanks for sharing your insight through another wonderful article! (And thanks for including the link to Karen Dodd’s web page. I’ve found her on FB as well.)

    ~ Angela

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 11, 2013 at 11:26pm

      It’s more than fine to have broad variety on your blog. The real ‘elephant in the room’ is to realize that you need to write material that will grab and hold the interest of the reader. (So of course you need to define the reader first.)

  • August 10, 2013 at 3:30pm

    Thank you! I wish I could have read this a year ago. But it has still been encouraging. Sometimes the marketing aspect looks like an ocean, and I’m just treading water, but reading articles like this help. I guess I won’t give up just yet.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 11, 2013 at 11:31pm

      Never give up. It takes time. Envisage the work of making your books known as planting a tree, then nurturing.

  • Penelope says:
    August 13, 2013 at 4:07am

    Hi Jonathan,

    I scooped your very fine article onto my “Ebook Promotion and Marketing” content curation page, as I believe it sums up what every author needs to hear.

    Authors just need to start with the basics, and I believe a blog should be #1. It is super easy to create a free one at, then add in the social media as you find the time. If there is no book, there is no need for any of the other stuff.

    I have resorted to using Hootsuite to help handle the daily tweeting, and then I add in more personalized tweets and correspond throughout the day as I find time. There is no need to fret, as an author can do just small bits of social media to see big rewards. Just get started! 😉

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    August 14, 2013 at 4:11am

    Hi Jonathan,

    As usual, an excellent post and I’m so glad to know I’m already following all your “solutions” instead of the mistakes…*laughs* Your book paid off for me and I’m so thankful you put it out.

    I love your posts too. I always learn so much and I have to say I adore interacting with the fans. I’ve also made a number of Author friends in the last two months and I’m pleased to say we cross promote each other regularly.

    I have to get better about my blog though. I have one, use it for both guest spots, hops and blogging for my work, but I need to get more regular with it. It’s so hard having to do everything on my own *and* find the time to write *and* find the time to Blog too! How you do it, I just don’t know. Kudos though because you do do it well…

    You’re right though. There’s nothing better than putting out your books, especially when fans are all but begging for the next one. That creates an excellent Word of Mouth platform to work with and will generate sales.


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 14, 2013 at 9:56pm


      No question it is hard doing it all yourself, which is the reason I recommend limiting the number of channels you use to avoid becoming overwhelmed. See post

      A blog is a crucial home base of course to further your career, find your audience and grow your readership, and it’s common sense that anyone interested in you has a place to find out more. (Apart from readers, think ‘the media’ – publicists, journalists, movie producers.)


  • August 21, 2013 at 7:20am

    Just as interesting post as the first one, if not more!

    Thanks again, Jonathan

    I shared a link to this second post as well on my blog

    Have a wonderful day!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2013 at 11:34am

      You’re welcome Angel. I’ll blog some more soon – slight hiatus while I’ve been working on my own publishing project.

  • Jeevan Jacob John says:
    August 30, 2013 at 4:02pm

    Hey Jonathan,

    Great Post :) I do agree with most of your points, except for #20. I do agree, we do need to build a blog. But, if we are just starting out, it is better to spend some time reading other blogs, building social profiles and meeting new people. It helps to kick start our blog. Plus, we will be much more knowledgeable and experienced when we launch the blog.

    I do agree. Ignoring other sites and your fans isn’t a good strategy. Build relationships with other writers – even if they are our competition. We can always learn more from them.

    As for fans, they have the potential to be our clients. They also possess the power of recommendations, which can help us to get more clients.

    Commitment is also important. Be consistent and be committed (but don’t worry too much about quantity – as in the number of times you post online).

    Presentation is quite important. I love simple designs, and I believe in simplicity. I think that’s the best way to go (neat and elegant).

    As for book covers, we certainly do need to invest in finding high quality book covers. We could also use our own photographers. We are all natural photographers 😀

    Anyways, thank you sharing your insights :)