How to Help Readers Discover Your Book

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It’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means: another installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group! And today marks the one year anniversary of the IWSG website. Has the time flown by or what???

The cohosts for this month are Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue. Make sure you stop by their blogs and say hello!


I recently ran across the blog of an author who was having trouble marketing her book. In her blog post, she said something along the lines of, “I don’t do much marketing. I kind of just put the book out there, don’t publicize it, write something else, and then say to myself ‘I’ll do better next time.’”

I thought about that for a while. Though I’m no psychologist, something tells me that this author is purposefully sabotaging herself. Hey, it happens. We don’t want to finish our novel so we clean the dishes instead. We’re afraid of what our beta readers are going to think, so we lollygag on that last chapter longer than necessary, or go back to the beginning, obsessing over every little word, never really finishing the darn thing because we’re afraid of being judged.

Or, we’ll have a perfectly fine novel but we don’t do our due diligence at marketing ourselves.

“But, Quanie,” you say, “I’m no marketing expert! All I want to do is write and I don’t have a budget to hire somebody! So you see, it’s really not my fault that nobody, not even my closest friends, knows about my novel!”

Yes, it is, and I’ll tell you why: your writing career is your responsibility. I’m assuming that if you wrote a novel, you wrote the best novel you could possibly write, so you owe it to yourself and your potential fans to get the word out about your story. And besides, who says you need a huge marketing budget to promote your novel? Does it help? Sure. Is it necessary? Absolutely not.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Pick your poison: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. Pick one (or two), learn how to maximize it, and start networking. Avoid overloading on the “buy my book” posts/tweets like the plague and start making genuine connections. Help other authors promote their books and you’ll be surprised how quickly others will be willing to return the favor for you.
  2. Start blogging. Yes, I know. You don’t want to blog, and you can name a ton of successful authors who don’t touch the stuff, but this is a great way to connect with other authors, readers, and reviewers. Whatever it is you’re going to blog about, make sure the content is interesting enough to draw readers in and make them want to share the content.
  3. Get on Goodreads. Yesterday. Join some of the review groups and offer some free copies of your book in exchange for a review.
  4. Organize a blog tour. If you don’t have the time or plain ole just don’t feel like doing it yourself, hire someone to do it.
  5. Guest post on another author’s blog to reach readers outside of your normal circle.
  6. Tell people you wrote a book. Yes, I know: for some reason you’re treating your novel like it’s the world’s best kept secret, but people can’t buy a book that they don’t know exists. Besides, once your family/friends/coworkers realize you wrote a book they’ll probably be impressed and will tell everyone that they know a real life published author. And there is nothing like free, word of mouth marketing.
  7. Get some bookmarks and business cards made with your book cover and your social media info. And don’t be shy to casually mention you wrote a book! The conversation might go something like this:
    “It looks like it’s going to rain.”
    “Oh? Did I tell you I wrote a book?” Bam: hand out the bookmark. Easy peazy.
  8. If you have a physical copy of your book, leave a few copies with your hair stylist. If she double books like the stylists I know, her clients will be there until kingdom come: why not help them discover your book while they wait? It also wouldn’t hurt to ask the stylist if you could leave a few bookmarks on her workstation. It’s worth a shot!
  9. Make a book cover flyer with your social media info and buy links and post them at local coffee shops.
  10. Got some wiggle room in your marketing budget? You might want to consider paid advertisement (Goodreads, Bookbub, etc).

There are many ways to market a novel, and if you’ve taken the time to write the best book you can possibly write, why not do everything you can to promote yourself? Is there a chance that you could publish your novel and, with little to no marketing, experience J.K. Rowling like success? Sure, but it’s highly unlikely since most authors have to be diligent about helping readers discover their books. If you’re serious about your writing, you’ll be willing to put in the work it takes to have a stellar career, because after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is an author’s platform.

What about others? What marketing strategies do you find work best? Which do you find are a complete waste of time? Which social media outlets have you found most beneficial? I’d love to hear your thoughts!



This is my entry for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond.  I give permission for this entry to be included in the anthology.
Title: How to Help Readers Discover Your Book
Topic: Marketing
Bio: Quanie Miller writes paranormal novels and romantic comedies. You can catch up with her at



52 thoughts on “How to Help Readers Discover Your Book

  1. Wow, Quanie, this is an awesome post! I love the idea of making bookmarks and handing them out to people I see/meet. I also love the idea of leaving a few copies of my novel at my hair stylist. I’d never thought of that! And what a great idea! My hair stylist is always asking about my books and how they’re coming along, and she has very loyal customers, so what a great way to self-promote once I get to that stage in my writing career (I’m still working on the publishing aspect). So glad you wrote this for the anthology so I can refer to your post when I need a reminder (hopefully, I’ll be in the marketing stages sooner rather than later). 🙂

    Also, it’s great to meet you through the IWSG! Sorry it has taken me so long to visit you back!

    IWSG co-host

  2. You make a good point about self sabotage – so easy to slip into.
    But I loved 7 and 8 especially – I DID work as a psychologist and in the 80s we did social skills groups for people who had lost/never had the basics through years of institutionalisation. You’ve got me thinking about something similar for writers – how to switch ANY conversation around into a promo for your book!
    Annecdotist recently posted..Ghostly Girls: Zebra Crossing by Meg Vandermerwe and The Snow Child by Eowyn IveyMy Profile

  3. These are some GREAT tips Quanie! I need to start implementing them asap. Especially the one about Goodreads…I’m so horrible about familiarizing myself with that platform. I made the cardinal mistake: I created a profile, then disappeared. It a personal pet peeve of mine regarding social media. Don’t start it, if you’re not going to keep up with it. It leaves a horrible cyber footprint. I’m getting on my own nerves. Gots to do better!
    Faith Simone recently posted..All Up in My E-Reader (September Edition)My Profile

  4. There is so much great practical advice here. There is also a bit of come-to-Jesus straight talk about how, as authors, we are often our own saboteurs. Guilty! I’m stalling right now because I’m scared to death to move forward with what I honestly believe should be my next step…indie publishing. Great post!
    Reese Ryan recently posted..Losing Control #MWTease #BadBoysGoneGoodMy Profile

  5. Love the tips here, Quanie! I’d say start a blog for sure and make sure you have good contents for your readers (a.k.a. not all posts for your own marketing purpose). Use it to build credibility. As for social media, use it to connect with other like-minded readers/authors, but don’t expect people to buy your books rightaway.
    Claudine @ CarryUsOff Books recently posted..Breathing RoomMy Profile

  6. This is all the stuff I enjoy doing. Do you know what I don’t enjoy doing? Public speaking!!! I can Tweet and blog all day. Here are a couple of things I’ve done–I mailed my bookmarks around to local bookstores, libraries, and school libraries in the hopes they’d hand them out to kids. (Hopefully they did!) With my next book, I’m doing a postcard to send out to every school, library, and bookstore in my area to let them know it’s coming. (Gotta get going on that one!) I also have ink pens made through VistaPrint that say “Read tween books by Stephanie Faris” and my website URL. I leave them at restaurants (servers always need pens!) and give them to my husband to take on business trips with him. He doesn’t even have to do it on purpose–he loses pens like crazy! I mostly use the pens instead of business cards, though. When someone asks what I do for a living, I hand them a pen! They’re more likely to keep that than a business card. Just a few little tips that might help!
    Stephanie Faris recently posted..It’s October!!!My Profile

  7. Yeah! I mean, heck, if you’ve spent the time WRITING the book, might as well get it in front of an audience. It’s interesting to me that a writer who is afraid of getting their books in front of people (or afraid of doing the marketing) would go the indie route. To make it in indie it seems to me you have to be SUPER GUNG HO about your work (which you are!) and have a good grasp on what marketing yourself is going to require (which you also do).

    Really really good tips for anyone trying to sell more copies of a book! Thanks Quanie.

  8. Great tips, Quanie! I recently read a fantastic article about Bookbub. If they do select your title, this strategy of marketing might be a huge help. I am currently debating whether or not to submit my children’s book to them.
    PR companies are also great ways to get your book out there. I recently hired one for my picture book and the result has been beneficial to my reviews. I seriously received 10 five-start reviews within two weeks!! I couldn’t believe it! I often use Twitter and Facebook but haven’t had much luck there, even though other authors are tweeting for me and vice versa. But as self-published authors, we MUST continue to try and spread word about ourselves and our work, no matter what the end result is. Authors, don’t give up and please don’t wait for your book to climb the Amazon charts on it’s own. Unless you are J.K. Rowling, this ain’t happening, lol!
    Gina Stoneheart recently posted..Oh, How I Love Thee, OctoberMy Profile

  9. This is great, you have explained things in a no nonsense way and even made me chuckle! Thank you so much for sharing, it will be a wonderful addition to the anthology.

    Great to visit and meet you as a co-host of IWSG this month.

  10. All good stuff. ^_^ Admittedly, a lot of this scares the hell out of me, but I have the feeling this will be really helpful someday. I like the idea of leaving flyers/business-type cards/bookmarks where people who like to read will find them; a good book you find by happy happenstance is one you tend to remember and recommend.
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..IWSG: Embrace the Fear.My Profile

  11. GASP – I love lists!!! Did you know that?? This post warms the cockles of my little OCD heart.

    Formatting aside, YES to all of the above. We might hate marketing, we might think we stink at it, but we still have to do it. Amen.

  12. Wonderful advice, Quanie!

    “It looks like it’s going to rain.”
    “Oh? Did I tell you I wrote a book?” Bam!

    I love that! My one problem is saying something to someone in public. I shy away from mentioning that I’m an author. Whenever I was with my mom and she’d tell people we were writers, I would quietly tell her, “Don’t say that. That’s embarrassing!” And it was because we weren’t even published yet, but to this day I still can’t bring myself to tell strangers about my books. I’m more of a leave-a-postcard-everywhere-and-runaway person. LOL!
    Chrys Fey recently posted..Tears and Fear . . . But Surprisingly Secure + Beta Readers WantedMy Profile

  13. Excellent tips. With all the online interaction, it’s easy to forget face-to-face contact is just as worthwhile. A little bit daunting to hand out bookmarks, but what harm can it do?

  14. Wonderful advice! I need this entire post in a frame above my desk because I swear you were speaking to me! 🙂 You have attained another ardent follower–Thank you!

  15. Great insights, Quanie. It is far easier to say “I don’t really try.” or “I’m no good at marketing.” than “I failed.” Your tips for marketing are spot on. I was hesitant to hand out cards/bookmarks to people I meet in my day to day life, but people are remarkably gracious. Even if they are not interested in the book, they are nice about it.
    Elizabeth Hein recently posted..Today Is The DayMy Profile

  16. Quanie, you have hit the nail on the head with so many wise words of advice on marketing your book. I think one of the best tips is to select a couple of social media to use and not try to do ALL of them. Talk about overwhelming. Giggled at your “working into the conversation about your book.” Marketing is a lot of work and you never know what will be the silver bullet that shoots your book to a bestseller. When it comes to marketing, we’re in it for a marathon, not a sprint.
    J.Q. Rose recently posted..Insecure Writers Support Group: Writing Tip on Creating a Promotion Page for Guest BloggingMy Profile

  17. These are all great tips, and some of them are as easy as running errands! I especially like the hair stylist suggestion. I take my mom to the beauty shop every week, so it would be a perfect conversation starter. I can’t wait to see this in The Guide, as I know I’ll refer to it again and again! Thanks Quanie!


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