How To Develop and Perfect Your Book Marketing

I’m overwhelmed and honored that over the last two months, my first Broken book, Broken Pieces, has not budged from the #1 spot on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list. It’s also #1 on Women Authors, and somewhere in the top 50 (as I write this, it’s #24) in Memoirs (overall ranking alternates between 1,100 and 2,000). In ALL of Amazon. And, for the first time ever, I have an ‘official’ Amazon overall author rank under 100 (I’m around #55 right now), which shocks me.

My second Broken book, Broken Places, is on the same lists, not quite as high: #4, #7, and #97, respectively (overall ranking between 4,500 and 7,000).

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How is my book marketing different these past two months than over the last two years, since I’ve released my first Broken book?I have a backlist now: Pieces and Places are my third and fourth books, and they’re also available in a collection, titled The Broken Collection (which makes a fifth title). I’m also featured in two major anthologies, released just before Christmas, all which helps with visibility. Finally, I’ve invested focused money in my marketing. Not thousands, but not pennies.

The marketing money didn’t appear on the money tree I used to imagine would grow outside my house when I was, you know, five. I worked my ass off. I scrimped and saved, I haven’t gone on vacation, I don’t drink my coffee at Starbuck’s, and I rarely if ever buy new clothes or shoes (except for my kids because well, kids). In fact, this year has been particularly rough as a single mom with divorce and tax lawyers to pay for — so not only did I have to pay them, I still had to find a way to creatively market on a tight budget.

Marketing is not a choice, so I created a ‘promotional marketing fund.’ This is how I spent it. Note: some of these tactics are free.

{Ed. note: I realize many people are on fixed incomes, so these options may not be for you. I’m sharing what I have done, and maybe give you some ideas of what’s out there, and what has worked for me, and maybe for you at some point in the future.}

Let’s deconstruct.


One of the best ways to let people know about your book is to not talk about it yourself, but to let readers know about it in other ways, and get them talking.

For all of you who are constantly tweeting and sharing, “Buy my book!” links, this will probably be pretty eye-opening. I rarely, if ever, share a ‘hey, go buy my book!’ tweet. Go, look at my author Twitter stream and you’ll see. I’ll wait.

Okay, you’re back. Instead, I’m doing this:

  • AuthorRise: These fellas (Chris and Joe, the founders) are smartypants, and their services are free however, they do offer paid Facebook boosts. You set the budget (they give you guidance), and they do the rest. You only pay for the boosts, not their service to do the work — I’m not sure how they’re making money, but hey, that’s on them. I pay $30/week to boost both of my Broken books, which is $120/month. On average, my boosts reach anywhere from 500-900 people per week, resulting in anywhere from 20-70 weekly clicks to Amazon.

When I guessed at these Facebook ads myself, the results were dismal. The ROI isn’t 1 to 1, but they don’t promise that. I see it as a growth experiment, and I’m not locked in — I can quit at any time. If you choose to only utilize their free services, you will still be happy.

***UPDATE: AuthorRise is history, gone belly-up. Sorry, guys. I really liked their service. 🙁 *****

  • There are many spendy promotional sites which offer newsletters that go out to large databases of eBook readers — I like this one because it’s affordable, they have a large base broken out by genre (in my case, nonfiction), and they are very easy to work with. Their Nonfiction list goes out to 75, 500 readers and the price is $40. This site only works if you’re planning to discount your book, or if your book is already priced between .99 and $5.

If I have a few free days, I will pay for a FreeBooksy instead, which goes out to 68,800 readers and costs $80.

There are many, many more promotional sites I use and recommend because they go directly to your readers, people you may never be able to reach on your own. You can find all of them here on this post with details and links.

  • Discounting my books: my normal eBook price for the Broken books is $4.99, but because my publisher, Booktrope, ran a month-long promotion in November, where they priced all participating authors’ books at $2.99, I lowered the price to $2.99, and also went free for a few days. When the books went off free, the price returned to the sale price of $2.99, which greatly helped maintain my improved Amazon ranking.

I decided to keep the lower price throughout December, and I can definitely tell you that has helped my sales and ranking immensely. When the price returns to normal in January, will my sales tank? Who knows? The Amazon Machine is fickle.

Author Platform

  • Making a name for myself: this is important for any writer. Some pay, some don’t. I didn’t trip over the Huffington Post, Indie Reader (they pay), Feminine Collective, the Good Men Project, and others. I didn’t ask for any favors — I used my own blog, over many years, to establish my expertise (why are you still not blogging again?), and then pitched them. I’ve had my fair share of rejections, too (Elephant Journal has zero interest in my stories of survival and recovery from childhood sexual abuse so see? It happens to me, too!).

I’m currently submitting to more sites also — a few of them even pay! You need to decide for yourself if you will only write for sites that pay — that’s your call. Regardless, the exposure helps your visibility and SEO.

  • Guest blogging, podcasts, and interviews: give and receive. I often have people guest post for me and vice versa. This is totally free, and if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out on a huge visibility opp. Look for bloggers with whom you have similar interests and approach them. This is the building relationships I speak so much of. You blog for them and find new readers; they blog for you and find new readers. Win/win.

Same goes for podcasts and interviews. Podcasts are popular and here to stay. Join groups with authors and bloggers who write what you write, and invite them to write for you (if you’re not a podcaster) in exchange for an interview. As always, be polite and use your inside voice. AC Fuller has a popular author podcast — here’s my latest guest spot with lots of author tips!

  • Generosity: One of the reasons I share posts like this, created #MondayBlogs, #SexAbuseChat, and my upcoming 30-Day Marketing Challenge (click to learn more and sign up), is to give back to others. It’s not complicated, all that time-consuming, or difficult, and the rewards are immense: people engage with me on a much deeper level than if I simply spam a link at them, or beg them to read my work. I’m giving them opportunities and ideas with no expectation of anything in return.

What can you offer to others?

  • Social Media: Be consistent, engaging, share interesting content that’s focused on what you are interested in. Build relationships with readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, and other influencers who are also interested in your same topics. This is how I’ve built up my social media and how I work with my many author clients to do the same. Change your paradigm from “Buy my book!” to building relationships, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll grow.


Awards don’t fall out of the sky to be bestowed upon you by magical awards fairies. You must find appropriate awards and apply for them, often for a fee. Some authors refuse to pay any fees for a book award because they feel they shouldn’t have to pay for an award — that it’s somehow ‘gaming’ the system. I disagree.

The organizations that run these awards employ people who will process your entry, distribute your work to reviewers or panels who will review and discuss your work; some even analyze it and offer critique. Why should their time be free? Your application fee covers their time.

I’ve won several awards for both my books and I can tell you, being an award-winning author helps sales immensely. Here’s a fairly complete list of award opportunities (some free, some paid), from The Book Designer site.

Is your book just not selling at all? Here’s an excellent article by Joanna Penn that covers many reasons why that may be happening. Perfecting your book marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Take your time, create a plan, and work your plan!

Do you need customized consulting? Hire me! Take a look at my fees and services here




  1. Frances Caballo on January 25, 2016 at 6:08 am

    This is a great post, Rachel. I agree that the folks at AuthorRise are great. Chris is indeed a sweetie. I didn’t know that they were helping authors with Facebook advertising. I’ll check that out. BTW: I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through a divorce. I divorced my ex in 2002 and 6 years ago found the love of my life. I wish the same happiness for you. Take care and thanks for this wonderful post.

    • Rachel Thompson on January 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you, Frances! I so appreciate all your kind words. Happy to share the updates on AuthorRise, too. I recommend them a lot. xx

  2. deepercolors on February 16, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I’m one of those poor ones. senior on fixed income, etc, and getting poorer :-[ with the skyrocketing costs of everything out here in CA. It is so discouraging to keep hearing you must hire this that or the other if you want to succeed. I have to find free ways to get editing help, do my own formatting and design, and my own promoting too it seems. It’s frustrating and exhausting. Have wanted to give up several times. May do so yet, but in the meantime I need the free resources. And some caffeine.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 16, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Hi Deeper 🙂 First off, I completely understand having a fixed income. I’m a single mom of two and a freelancer. I provided many articles (and linked them in this article — did you click on the links provided?) which offers low-cost options for promotion. In fact, if you Google free promotional options, you’ll find PAGES of options.

      I personally recommend using (again, all this is in my articles so you can read them closely), a free service that connects you to all the free sites when your book is free or discounted. Social media is totally free though I don’t recommend using it to spam your book links — it’s highly ineffective for selling, highly effective for connecting with readers. A Facebook page is great for engagement, and forming a street team is also free.

      Creating a book isn’t a free process, so save what you can for professional services — offers reasonable options and they do very good work. hope that helps you a little — there are ways. 🙂

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  7. Karen on April 15, 2016 at 9:34 am

    Thanks for another informative article, Rachel. I’m always caught between whether I should write about topics that will draw other writers to my site (e.g., craft issues, agents, books, etc.) or to write about topics of passionate interest but not related to writing (e.g., gardening, motherhood, etc.). Any thoughts you have are appreciated. Cheers!

    • Rachel Thompson on April 16, 2016 at 10:01 am

      HI Karen! Well, unless your reader base/ideal reader is other writers, then your topics won’t be of much interest to the average reader. If you write say, romance, then you would want to write about topics having to do with romance (i.e., relationships, love, marriage, etc.). See the difference?

      I do see a lot of writers write about writing, which is great if writers are your audience (wow, that was a lot of alliteration), so if you’re an editor, book manager, publisher, or someone who is in the business of helping authors (i.e., I write about social media, book marketing, and branding, so my articles are geared toward authors/bloggers). It makes sense that I write about these topics.

      hope that helps!

      • Karen on April 19, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        Thanks, Rachel, for taking time to reply. My book is about a botanist who struggles to grow a medicinal apple despite being stalked and vandalized by a bigot. But do you think people would want to read about the birthplace of the first apple trees? And or issues of religion and intolerance? And then it’s set in Paris, so there’s that to write about too (which I love), but isn’t that a weird combination?

        Anyway, thank you again for your blog and tweets. I check them out all the time.

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