“This podcast is guaranteed”



door-to-doorSalesmanMy email inbox is getting crowded with a lot of surefire offers lately.

So many people offer online courses to help me learn marketing so I can sell more books. Here are some examples from my inbox.

  • Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers
  • Bryan Cohen Selling for Authors
  • Joanna Penn, the Creative Penn—three courses, including “How to Make a Living with your Writing”
  • Juliet Dillon Clark of the Winsome Media Group has a number of courses and packages on “building your author platform” and using that to increase sales, and on how to launch a new book
  • Mark Dawson has Advertising for Authors courses as well as shorter tutorials and lots of videos.

These are just some of the online courses targeted specifically at marketing for self-published authors. They join a huge list of similar online programs:

  • Ray Edwards offers the Copywriting Academy, a series of online seminars on writing effective advertising—not just for writers, but for any business.
  • Rebecca Dickson, once a professional editor with a spicy vocabulary (she edited a book of mine, Army of Worn Soles), has the Entrepreneur Incubator program
  • Wilco de Kreij teaches e-commerce
  • The most recent to my inbox is Joei Chan’s branding blog and courses.

They may have different names and slightly different foci, but they have a lot in common, too. They claim to have found a formula for increasing book sales. The blog posts contain a tip that I usually know, but mostly they’re long ads for the courses, webinars, videos, books or other materials that make the same promises: more book sales for independent authors.

There are often videos, some free, some behind pay walls. The free videos and free webinars, however, are usually more drawn-out ads for the courses. What’s most annoying about them is that they always promise a free, bonus, sure-fire tip, one thing you can do to boost your sales, or your email subscriptions or whatever, if you watch the whole thing to the end. Some have disabled the fast-forward function (I hate it when TV shows do that in their on-demand versions.) And most of the time, when I do watch till the end, it’s not worth the wait.

The course is the whole point of all this stuff. It’s presented like a university-level program with several hours of video, whiteboard animations, info-graphics and support materials like workbooks in .pdf format. There are often downloadable videos, too, to help you remember some of the information (I guess).

What’s wrong with that? you ask

I suppose these must work, because more people seem to be doing them all the time, and the people already doing them seem keep publishing their teaser videos.

They remind me of late-night infomercials, with some sketchy guy or overenthusiastic woman hawking a product that, even with good lighting and photography, looks too flimsy to last more than day if used for whatever the hawker tell us to use it for.

Or like a timeshare salesperson, with a sales pitch that promises you a free TV or car just for listening. And goes on and on and on…

They’re expensive, too

But the worst part is the cost. Joanna Penn’s Self-Publishing Success course is one of the most reasonable, at under $300. And for the time and materials, and if it actually delivers results, it might be worth it.

Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10,000 Readers is even more expensive, at about $80 a month for a year. Ryan Deiss’s Digital Marketer courses are just under $1000. Others don’t tell you how much they cost until you already agree to give them your email address.

Do they work?

The marketers tell us they do. And they all provide testimonials.

But I signed up for one—I won’t say which—and soon dropped it, because I already knew most of the content: write a good book, know your audience, stay focused; use email to engage readers, make sure you have a full “author’s platform,” meaning a blog, website and a presence on just about every social medium.

I’m in a quandary. I’d like to know the secrets to selling books, but I just don’t see anything from these courses that convinces me that the authors know, either.

What do you think?

What’s your experience, if any, with online courses or programs that guarantee you the ability to sell to strangers? Leave a comment.

How to market your book: Guest post by J.P. Berget



This week, guest blogger marketing marvel Jens-Petter Berget, owner of the SlyMarketing blog and company, reveals some of the best, most practical advice on how to market your books I’ve ever read. (This post originally appeared on the old Scott’s Written Words blog.)

I say that I was a failed writer because I could not finish what I was writing for a very long time.

I am a solo entrepreneur with a marketing business, and I have written a novel and a short story for the Kindle. I am fairly successful in business with several big clients and a popular blog.

I love writing, but my first hurdle was to choose the right language. I write in Norwegian and in English. I am a better writer in Norwegian, because I am Norwegian, but I have a much bigger audience when I write in English. And that’s why I started my marketing blog in English.

I am still not sure if it’s such a good idea to keep writing in two different languages or if I should focus on one. But since I believe that one of my strengths in marketing and writing is experimenting and I’m not really in a hurry to get things published, I’ve decided to keep writing in both languages for now.

The 5 reasons I was a failed writer

I have been thinking a lot about why I haven’t been able to publish my novel or the short story. I’ve come up with five main reasons. Let me just tell you the reasons first, and then I’ll tell you how I market my novel and short story.

1. I don’t have a goal

I write because I love to write. I want people to read what I have written, and I love feedback. And I work to become a better writer. But I don’t have a goal when I write.

I am telling a story. I want it to be entertaining, but do I want my readers to cry, to learn something, or to never forget about the main character?The truth is that I don’t know. I just write without having a single goal for the story or how my readers should react.

I believe writers should have a main goal with everything they write. Do you agree?

2. I don’t focus

When I started writing my novel, I thought that I wouldn’t do anything but write for a year. I believed that was what authors do. I’d lock myself inside my office and just write.

I did write for a long time, but I kept doing so many other things that were not part of my main projects. And I kept creating new projects, instead of writing and finishing the novel and the short story.

I believe that writers should focus on one project at a time, and finish it before starting new projects. Do you agree?

 3. I am terrible at editing

I write from the beginning of the first sentence until I’m finished. That’s it. I know that as soon as I’ve finished writing, I will be really just at the beginning. Most of the time it’s all about the editing. And the first draft is more or less just the foundation of the story. But I am having a hard time to remove anything from the story. I can add a lot, but since I have a hard time removing anything, the story becomes more and more complex.

I have come to realize the importance of editing, but removing is still a huge obstacle for me. I’d love your thoughts on this — what part of editing do you struggle with?

4. I write alone

I love the solitude of writing and I love the social part of the online world. My marketing experience is mostly part of the social world, where I have teamed up with lots of brilliant people who are helping me out. I get the experience of people from all over the world, and we share marketing advice. This has been all positive, and I wouldn’t have been able to start my business if I didn’t have this team of supporters behind me.

I believe that I shouldn’t have been doing all my writing alone. I should have teamed up with other writers and I should have told them about my projects, and we should have shared opinions and experience. I am sure it’s a myth that authors should be all by themselves when they write. I do my best work when I get feedback and when I am having conversations with people. If I could start all over again, I would find a mentor and a team of like-minded people to help me out. I understand the power of collaboration and I would have done my share.

Do you write alone, or have you teamed up with other writers? I’d love to know if other people are part of your writing process.

5. I write what I love, not what people will buy

One of my friends is a painter. I believe he is a brilliant painter. I love the way he paints, but the reason he doesn’t sell any of his paintings is that he only paints what he loves to paint. And at the time I am writing this, he loves to paint aliens and blood. I believe that if he would have looked more at what people are interested in buying rather than what he loves to paint, he would be making a career as a successful painter.

I am not saying that he should only look at the market, but the market should be part of what he’s doing. And the same goes for my writing. It took me a long time to adjust my first novel from a story that I wanted to write, because I thought that it would be an interesting project, to a story that would actually sell. I have added elements of both.

Adjusting to the market is important if you’re going to make any money from writing. I know that money isn’t really the issue, but if we’re going to be able to write every single day and make writing part of who we are and what we do, we need buyers. And that brings me to my last point.

How to market fiction books

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. I think of marketing fiction books in the same way: it’s a three-step process.

The beginning

Research who your audience is. Find out where they are, and what you should be doing to reach them. It’s usually not that hard.

Do a pre-launch phase. Think of how movies are marketed: they’ve got trailers and movie previews at the movie theatres. Create book trailers and add them to your blog, to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The point is that you should build expectations. It’s not hard at all. You can hire a brilliant person to do it on Fiverr for only $5. Add some text, and she’ll add the effects and the audio.

Use the trailer to drive traffic to your blog, and build an email list of people who are eager to read your book. Let them know that they’ll get it before other people, or make a promise that they’ll get it cheaper. The pre-launch phase should be no less than 30 days. It takes time to build expectations.

The middle

When you’re launching your book, you should first send emails to the people on your list. They should be waiting for your book. Write guest posts on related blogs, the blogs your audience reads (which you learned during the research part of the pre-launch phase). You should write many guest posts, and they should be about the process of writing your book. Add things about your new book (you could do this during the pre-launch phase as well). Create press releases and submit them to the local press (it’s fairly easy to get reviews in the local press) and to the large PR sites (such as?).

You should get testimonials from people who’ve read your book. Publish all the testimonials to your blog — the more the better. Ask your readers to publish the testimonials on sites like Amazon.com, which will give your book a higher ranking.

The end

The last part of the launch should be about building relationships with your readers. Relationships are one of the most important parts of marketing. Ask your readers for feedback, and get more testimonials. Build a community. Let them know about you. Tell them how you write, give them more background on the story, and why you wrote it and what your inspiration is.

It’s important that you add to your blog regularly, and that you build your newsletter email list. Communicate with your fans and they will spread the word about your awesome books.

Jens P. Berget is a Norwegian author and entrepreneur. He published the short story, Fuzzy, to critical acclaim in . He published the novel, Lizarragain Norwegian in 2013.

His marketing business is called SlyMarketing. He continues to live off his passion. You can follow him on Twitter @berget.

Jens’ blog, http://slymarketing.com/, published my guest blog on book marketing, as well. Check it out!

From the Book Fest floor



Today, I’m participating in the first (annual) Book Fest organized by the National Capital Region chapter of the Canadian Authors Association. The picture shows me at my half-table with my little display of books.
This is the first time I’ve done anything like this. The doors opened an hour ago, and it’s been quiet so far, but there has been some “customer” traffic. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed talking to some fellow authors, including one Facebook friend, Barry Finlay. 
I’ve already done a two-minute reading from The Bones of the Earth and heard a panel discussion with four Canadian writers in various genres.
I’ll try to post a few times through the day as interesting things happen.