The Gurus of Author Marketing

by Marylee MacDonald in General

We authors need to finish writing our books, but then what? The next step is figuring out how to let the world know our books exist. Where can self-published authors gain the skills to develop a following of avid readers? If that’s you, then you would be wise to begin developing your marketing skills just as soon as you can. Here are four self-publishing gurus who rank high on my list. I’ll try to give you a flavor for the differences between them and the kinds of skills you’ll learn in their courses.

Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing for Authors 101

Mark Dawson, an indie author who writes thrillers, has teamed up with James Blatch to produce professional, step-by-step courses that walk you through the nuts and bolts of author marketing. Their “Self-Publishing Formula” channel on YouTube has 8.6 million subscribers, and will give you an idea of what these two entrepreneurial authors have up their sleeves. Their interviews with other authors are always inspiring and packed with “lessons learned.”

While you will benefit from their interviews and discussion of trends in publishing, you will benefit even more from their paid courses.

I’d suggest you start with the SPF free List Building for Authors course. By the end of it, you’ll know if you have the stick-to-it-iveness to not just sign up for a course, but to implement it. If you don’t finish this course, then don’t waste your time buying the others.

Mark’s Ads for Authors’ course shows you how to use Facebook’s audience-creation tools to locate readers likely to be interested in the kinds of books you’ve written. It’s detailed and techie, and he goes through the material with lightning speed. However, if you’ve written, or are writing, a series, you will benefit by learning how to “retarget” your readers and create lookalike audiences. If you’re trying to design your own covers, you definitely need the course taught by Mark’s cover designer, Stuart Bache.

All three of the above courses are rolled into their flagship course, Self-Publishing 101. Add yourself to the email list, and they’ll let you know when the course reopens. The cost is roughly $397.

Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers

Also an author who has figured out a great deal about operating in the online world, Nick Stephenson is a fun guy with a ton of energy. He’s just getting into the YouTube thing, but already I’m enjoying his lighthearted, but info-packed, uploads.

Nick is very big on showing authors how to format their books so that the end of the book will entice potential readers to buy the next one, and he has a fabulous Facebook group where members do joint giveaways in other to boost one another’s sales.

Nick’s flagship course is called Your First 10,000 Readers, and at $597, it is a bit steep. Think about how many books you’d have to sell to make back that investment. While you’re considering it, you might want to read this extensive review. If you’re in the writing game for the long haul, this could be money well spent.

Joseph Michael Nicoletti’s 30 Day Writer Bootcamp

The guy who, in my opinion, really nailed it with his Scrivener courses, is Joseph Michael Nicoletti. Learn Scrivener Fast helped me double my output and streamline the process of moving from manuscript to finished book. That course runs $297.

But, that’s not all. This guru just came out with a new approach, “30 Day Writing Boot Camp.” The course runs $197, and it’s designed for writers who need help getting their books completed. Joseph goes into details about how to format books, find beta readers, and hire editors.

The course is supplemented with checklists and timelines that will help you keep track of the publication process. It would be especially valuable for writers who want to hold themselves accountable for getting their books out of their heads and into the marketplace.

Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Ad School

For a long while, I’ve been wondering how to sell more books on Amazon. Because I’ve had Bryan Cohen write some book descriptions for me (his book-blurb-writing company is Best Page Forward), I got wind of a new course he’s offering.

Initially, he did this course for free. It’s called the “Amazon 5 Day Author Profit Challenge, and his strategy is to teach authors to bid low and pay only for clicks, not sales. By the end of five days, my sales, which had flat-lined, were picking up. I was actually making money. Of course, what he hoped was to recruit folks for his paid class,  Amazon Ad School. The course costs $397 and is far more detailed than anything offered elsewhere.

In addition, Bryan is one of the most dedicated teachers you’ll ever find. He’s truly passionate about teaching, and that comes through in Ad School’s private Facebook group. People in that group post questions about problems they’re running into, and he’s right back at them with an answer.

The People I Haven’t Mentioned

Honestly, I think the only people making money these days are the folks who’ve figured out how to tap into the relatively new phenomenon of social media. There are many other gurus I could have mentioned, folks who have well designed courses and who work hard to help us get where we want to go. However, for authors who see themselves writing more than one book, and who intend to self publish, the four “internet gurus” listed above provide the best value for the money. Learning through a structured course is a great deal easier than trying to pick up bits and pieces on your own.

6 Responses to “The Gurus of Author Marketing”

  1. I did not realize you had a blog and this was an interesting article as I was wondering where do you start if you self-publish (like my fantasy some day to self publish a craft book!) 🙂

    • Hi Tierney,
      I would love to see you write a STACK of craft books like those that your friend recently gave you. Why don’t you start by making a list of books that would be the most fun and the easiest for you to write? It’s always good when creativity combines with enthusiasm. Is there any angle that you could bring to this that would be unique? (By unique, I mean can it solve a problem potential readers are having, or can it be focused on a particular market?) So, having followed your blog for a while, and loving it, I could see you writing a book along the lines of “crafting for widows,” something that would help people regain the joy in their lives. Or, I could see you doing something about quilting and history–e.g. women quilters tell their heritage stories through their art. Or, maybe something having to do with genealogy and quilting–crafts my grandma taught me or crafts that have almost died out, but I’m here to show you how much fun they can be.

      You could also do something related to quilting as a metaphor for life. I guess, here, I’m thinking of a quilt my grandma made after my grandfather’s death. She cut up all his suits and pieced the quilt together. It was the warmest quilt ever, and just so healing to snuggle under. Does the word “pieces” or “fragments” mean anything to you?

      Of course, with your creativity, you could easily write any number of craft books, bringing to those books your expertise. The key there would be to figure out how to illustrate those books. Any book with interior color is just hugely expensive, compared to black and white. I’ve used Blurb, rather than Amazon or IngramSpark (the two normal print options most people use). I’ve also used Bookpatch for ARC copies, meaning advanced reader copies, but the books I’ve sent them have all been black and white.

      For books with interior color, I like Blurb quite a lot. Their least expensive cream paper looks just super for color interiors. (I helped a friend do a quilting book, and I produced the book on Blurb. The color looked great, and we were able to do hardbacks and paperbacks.) Like the print companies above, Blurb is a POD printer, meaning they can print one book at a time or 100, so you wouldn’t have to have boxes of books in your storage locker, and if you wanted to go out and give talks about what you’re doing, you could have a box of books printed up when you needed them.

      Once you have your preliminary list of ideas, then Google “Amazon bestselling craft books” or “Amazon bestselling quilt books.” You want to write a book that’s like the ones that are selling well. Why? Because if a book is selling well, it means it’s filling a need in people’s lives, and you will get some payback for the time you put into writing it. But, my suggestion is that you don’t just limit yourself to the “how to” stuff. Allow your personality and unique take on life to shine through.

      Also, since you’re in Denver, you really need to connect with Judith Briles. She runs AuthorU, and she is really savvy about book publishing. She has a network of local writers who can point you to resources that might be nearer at hand, for instance, offset (small run) presses. Hope this gives you a place to start.

  2. JUDE HAYLAND says:

    Writing is easy: marketing is hard – surely the words on every independent writers’ lips – thanks for these tips. Yes, social media is out there to exploit – but still not at the stage where my increasing contacts are ensuring increasing sales!

    • Hi, Jude,
      We can expend a lot of effort on social media–tweeting, blogging, etc., but I’m not convinced all this activity actually sells books. I’m doing Bryan Cohen’s course right now, and for the first time, I’m seeing my sales numbers improve. Yes, we need a social media presence, but we also have to be selective about how we spend our time.

  3. Well said, Marylee. I have taken multiple courses with both Nick and Bryan, and the knowledge gained was well worth it.

    • There is so much to learn about this internet marketing thing, isn’t there? We have tremendous tools to get our books into print, but getting them into the hands of readers is a whole different kettle of fish. Thanks for your comment, Weston.