Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

“M” is for Marketing: If You’re an Author, You Have to Do It!

Posted on Jan 18, 2017 by Lisa Ricard Claro   17 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

This Buddhist proverb came to me the other day as I wrangled with the prospect of spending yet more of my precious writing time learning about marketing and promotions. See, I love to write, but I hate to market. Unfortunately, like an intricate Celtic knot, writing and marketing are inextricably wound together for any author who hopes to sell what she writes. And I was bemoaning my lack of a master marketing teacher. “I’m ready,” I promised the Universe. “Where’s my marketing guru?”

My marketing guru showed up in the form of super-agent Janet Reid who, in her daily blog, said to authors (I’m paraphrasing here), “The information is out there. Learn it, do it, stop bitching, and get to work.”

Well then.

I’m still not very happy about having to spend so much time marketing, but I understand the necessity. Like a trip to the dentist, I’m never thrilled about it but recognize the benefits. Up until now I admit I’ve mostly marketed the way I plant a garden: sporadically and with more good intentions than actual know-how. While an eclectic approach might work for a flowerbed, it isn’t optimum for actual . . . you know, marketing. Trust me on this. So while I don’t have a master leading me down the rosy path toward marketing success, I have managed to pick up some recommendations I’m happy to share. Because here’s the thing, buttercup. Marketing tools for a writer are like termites in a Georgia house: You’ve either already got them, or you’re destined to—so deal with it before the need arises.

Before I offer some advice, let me just say this. If you are a reader and not a writer, I beg you to consider that the author of that book you’re reading may have chewed her nails down to the nubs trying to figure out how to get her book into your hands. You are that most sparkly and special of all elusive unicorns: a reader. You are difficult to reach, but oh, so appreciated. Of course, with so many authors waving books at you, it is no wonder you might feel a tad overrun. For every fifty books that cross your path, you may only read one or two of them. Thank you for reading, even if my book isn’t the one you choose. Somewhere out there an author is giddy with delight that you’re reading hers. I’m thanking you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of us.

If you are a published author, then you already know how tough the marketing aspect of this business can be. Publishing is not an easy business, but it is a business, and we fare best when we remember that. And I’m preaching to the choir.

If you’re an unpublished author, please take this advice: enjoy your freedom. Enjoy being able to focus on craft and story without worrying about marketing or promo. Delight in the ability to indulge your passion without the distraction of the M word. But do take the time to learn all about marketing—before you need it. Be ready. Because if you’re serious about this biz, you will either eventually sign a contract with a publisher or self-pub. Either way, the bulk of the marketing falls on your shoulders, and it is quite a load. If you’re writing a book, it isn’t too early to start learning about marketing.

Okay, so I promised some recommendations. Here are a few books that I urge you to read sooner rather than later. These titles are suggested again and again, by people a whole lot smarter than I am:


Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales by Dana Kaye (This one is highly recommended by Janet Reid.)

Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl

Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eagar

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn


If you know of other marketing books for authors that you would recommend, please mention them in the comments.

Just a few other marketing tips to share before I sign off for this week:

Social media is a wonderful tool, but it is unlikely you have the time or energy for all of it. Choose two or three venues that you enjoy and put your heart into them. It is better to be effective in few than ineffective in many.

Keep learning, because the marketing method that works for authors today may be passé tomorrow. Everything has a curve to it. Try to find the method that is on the upward, rather than the downward, trajectory.

Reach out to other authors. You’d be surprised how many are willing to help you by featuring you on their blog or hosting a giveaway of your book on their Facebook page. One of the best things about the writing community is the sense of Tribe. Let people help you, and be willing to help them. ADDENDUM: In the comments, author Pat Wahler shared some great advice: “I heard a presentation on building an author platform last week, and the speaker’s biggest tip was to connect, network, and be relentlessly helpful. Go to conferences, meetings, workshops, writer groups, and book clubs. Offer to do presentations. Meet people–it’s the best way to gain new readers.”

And always remember, no matter your marketing strategy, the best way to sell books is still the old fashioned way: word of mouth.

Due diligence is imperative before tossing your hard-earned money at a marketing company. Because there are thousands of authors, and because authors need to market, there is no shortage of marketing and promotional businesses out there. Some are valid, some are not. Get recommendations from other authors before you click the PayPal button.

Be patient, be patient, be patient. This is a tough business and success is, for most of us, going to be a slow and arduous climb. The overnight blockbusters like E.L. James are pretty much one in a million. We stand a better chance of being struck by lightning twice while collecting our lottery winnings in the middle of a Martian invasion than we do of hitting it that kind of big. Write because you love it, market because you must, and build a body of work. If you’re destined to be that one-in-a-million author, you’ll find out soon enough.


I welcome your comments. Please share your experiences, thoughts, cat videos, whatever. 🙂  Seriously, what’s your stance on marketing and promo for authors? Do you have a success to share? A horror story? This is the place for the Naked Truth, so I hope you’ll comment.

Next week I’ll be interviewing Gothic mystery writer Terry Lynn Thomas, author of The Spirit of Grace and Weeping in the Wings. She is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet, so I hope to see you here next Wednesday!


Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, or Kobo. Or just click the book cover on the sidebar. That works too. 🙂

Ricard_websize logo  In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.

17 Responses to "“M” is for Marketing: If You’re an Author, You Have to Do It!"

  1. Comment by Karen Lange
    January 18, 2017 at 7:17 pm  

    Good tips, Lisa. Appreciate you sharing the resources. Marketing is not my favorite thing, matter of fact, it ranks right up there with scrubbing the tub (which I dislike intensely). Wishing you much marketing success! 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 8:05 am  

      Thank you, Karen. (And I’m with you on the tub scrubbing!)

  2. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    January 18, 2017 at 8:04 pm  

    I have a friend who just canNOT understand why her daughter has stuck with a certain someone for the last seven years. And I often think, when she’s ranting, that love may not look the same to her daughter as it does to her. I think success is like that, too. I think you have to figure out what success looks like for YOU and then market accordingly. And for what it’s worth, I think you’re a LOT better at it than you think!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 8:05 am  

      Thanks, Cathy, I appreciate you saying that. I need to learn more, get better at it. It’s a learning process like any other, made more difficult by the fact that I don’t like doing it.

  3. Comment by Pat
    January 18, 2017 at 8:19 pm  

    Add me to the list of writers not fond of marketing.

    I heard a presentation on building an author platform last week, and the speaker’s biggest tip was to connect, network, and be relentlessly helpful. Go to conferences, meetings, workshops, writer groups, and book clubs. Offer to do presentations. Meet people–it’s the best way to gain new readers.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 8:03 am  

      Yes, Pat! That is absolutely correct, and an aspect of marketing I should have included in the list. In spite of all the advertisements, book trailers, giveaways, etc., the BEST way to market a book, the most effective way, is still word of mouth. I think I should go back and add it to the list.

  4. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    January 18, 2017 at 9:08 pm  

    I really don’t have much to say that would be helpful but if you ever decide to start a street team or a Facebook group just let me know and I’ll be there in a flash.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 8:01 am  

      Thank you! I’ll be doing that this year. 🙂

  5. Comment by Tierney James
    January 18, 2017 at 11:33 pm  

    I am always looking for new ways to market. How-To Launch Your E-Book by Mimi Emmanuel is one book I’m reading now. Thanks for this info. I will look at your recommendations.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 7:57 am  

      Thanks for the suggestion, Tierney. I’ll take a look at that one.

  6. Comment by Sioux
    January 19, 2017 at 12:46 am  

    Lisa–I agree with Cathy. You market your books with grace and a deft hand (if I’m using that word correctly). You also do it in creative ways.

    I don’t like it when writers almost fall over themselves as they pat themselves on the back. They tell stories about other people who lovedlovedloved their book and you’ve read the book. Or part of the book. And you KNOW it stinks to high heaven. I always wonder: do they believe what they’re saying?

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 7:56 am  

      Thanks, Sioux. I don’t ever want to be one of those authors always screaming, “Buy my book! Buy my book!” To be honest, though there is a lot of that going on, I don’t believe it sells many books. I recently hired a promo company (a bit of an experiment on my part…that whole gardening analogy rearing it’s head, lol) and they have flooded the Twitter-verse with my book. Now, I’ve always suspected that doesn’t increase sales (it probably did back when Twitter was the new kid on the block), and I’ve seen proof positive of it now. Twitter is good for a lot of things, but inundating feeds isn’t a positive.

  7. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    January 19, 2017 at 1:10 am  

    Sioux and I know a few people who over do it, but YOU don’t. I dislike marketing, too, but it is a necessary evil for writers. I enjoy doing group presentations at local libraries.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 7:52 am  

      Those face-to-face events are fun, though I admit to being a bit self-conscious still, which makes the lead-up a bit rough. Once things are underway I’m fine, but the anticipation ruins me. lol

  8. Comment by Leah Vidal
    January 19, 2017 at 8:04 am  

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      January 19, 2017 at 8:12 am  

      Hi Leah – Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the post like, as well. 🙂

  9. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    January 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm  

    I’ve heard other published authors say the same thing you did about enjoying the freedom you have in your pre-published writing. That’s something we don’t hear enough. Marketing takes sacrifice and hard work, and all the while you’re still supposed to be writing the next thing. Thanks for pointing out one of the positives that come from waiting for the big break to come. I know it will happen someday, and I will do all I can to be ready when it does, but I also am thankful for this time, right now, that allows me to be a little more flexible!

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