Friday, November 04, 2011

Guest post: author and blogger Becky Illson-Skinner

Becky Illson-Skinner is an author, blogger, sister, lover and more. Her blog, Mystery Writers Unite, is an online community where writers can meet to talk about the art, joy and passion of mystery writing.

Thank you, Becky, for this guest post today on selling written words.

Increasing sales of the written word

Probably one of the biggest challenges for any new author, regardless of the genre of their book, is to build a fan base and reach their sales goals. I’ve always loved marketing and graduated from Business Marketing with top marks. I understand how to market a product—I know marketing, but that is only part of the equation and probably the smallest part.

The biggest challenge is that the average person is bombarded by approximately 3,000 ads per day, all vying for their spending dollars. In addition, most people won’t buy something the first time they see it or hear about it unless the product is a name brand and the buyer is motivated (i.e., they need it). All of these things work against the new author.

By now, you’re thinking “Tell me something I didn’t know.” I respect that and I’m relieved you already know the things that work against you in getting yourself known to the masses. Don’t give up hope! There are things you can do to get yourself known and increase your sales. Also remember that the first book will be the hardest to market and subsequent releases of your work will be easier.

Here are some avenues that you can utilize that won’t cost you a fortune:


1. Host a book event in your area—Find other authors in your area that you can team up with and plan a fun, interactive book event with things for visitors to do. Don’t jump into this head-first; instead, do some research like you would for your book. Check out other book events that happen in your area to see what has worked and what hasn’t.

2. Have a book signing—There are many different types of venues (craft sales, flea markets, festivals, coffee shops, mall kiosks, etc.) that writers can capitalize on and be a part of to give readers a chance to meet the author in person and obtain a signed copy of a book. Believe it or not, having a signed copy of a book adds prestige to the book for the readers.

3. Approach your local library—Ask if they would support a “Meet the Author Day” that would consist of live readings from your book and prizes. You could even see if some other local authors would like to join you and partake to cut down on the costs.

4. Join groups—Find out what kind of interest groups exist for your book genre (e.g. book clubs). Ask if they would like to have you attend one of their meetings to do a reading, and offer signed copies of your book for sale at a discounted price. Make sure you have a prize to offer and a small thank-you gift to the organizer.


5. Social networking—Make sure you are signed up to all the social networks and make connections with other authors, bloggers, writers, media gurus, etc. The more people you know…the more people know you.

6. Book reviews—Try to have at least three people a week read and review your book. Make sure that they are willing to post a review of your book either on Goodreads or Amazon. Once they have provided their written review, make sure you thank them and then link to that review and get the word out about the review. People tend to be more likely to buy something that someone recommends as opposed to being approached by the author of the work.

7. Links, links, links—please don’t undervalue links! These are the life-blood of the Internet and the more you have the better. The only way to climb the social net ladder in search engines like Google and Firefox is to have other pages pointing back to you. The more you have, the faster you will move up in the page ranking and the more visible your online presence will be. It takes time but it is time well spent.

8. Use a signature in your emails and always include a link to your book—this may sound simplistic but many people miss doing it.


  1. Thanks for these great ideas. I'll take all the great marketing ideas I can get! (Wow, three people a week reviewing the book. That's a full-time job right there.)

  2. Anonymous6:18 PM

    Some excellent ideas here. I have just been planning a virtual tour and I know you have to find sites that may be interested in your work before you start. It takes hours of work and I hope it proves rewarding.

  3. Thanks for the fab advice. Much appreciated! The time spent marketing is laborious, here's to hoping it pays off.

  4. I've probably gotten the most out of giving away things for free. I started with a short story, and now that I've got three books out in my series, I have the first one free at Amazon. I'm not sure if I'll keep it that way forever, but it's a nice way to let people try your work at no risk (I've had lots of folks go on to buy the non-free stories), and it's a bit of advertising in its own right, since people will go hunting for free ebooks.

  5. Thanks for the information, and thanks on the comments which are also informative.

  6. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Giving away copies of my recently self-published work built word of mouth which led to more sales and additional reviews ... check it out at

  7. Thanks for some great information and ideas