Thursday, May 3, 2012

Marketing the Self-Published Book: Tips that Work

Recently, I chatted with a good friend of mine, Ellen Sherrill, who has authored several Christian historical romances. Though it's not a genre I read on a regular basis, I love Ellen's work because she is terrific at creating strong, vivid characters that you can't help rooting for. Her heroine Sugar in Treasure from the Storm is one of my favorites because she's so feisty. (Read my review of Treasure from the Storm.)

Author Ellen Sherrill
Ellen spoke with me about how she has gone about the process of promoting her self-published books, and she had some good ideas and insights that I wanted to share with you.

Tip #1: Make local connections.

Ellen likes to connect with local booksellers and store owners who might be more interested in carrying her work if they know her personally. As a Christian writer, Ellen has made it a point to get to know the cashier at her church's bookstore. The cashier doesn't really read fiction, but she recommends Ellen's books to customers because she knows Ellen. So, making personal connections is effective.

Tip #2: Connect with your specific audience.

Since Ellen is writing Christian novels, she needs to get her books into the hands of Christian readers. So she makes it a point to connect with places where Christian books are sold, and where she is likely to have more of a foot-in-the-door as a self-published author. That means church bookstores, small Christian retailers, local women's conferences, and reading groups. Local conferences are an especially good place to sell books, says Ellen, because the ladies who attend them are making the time to take a special trip and are looking for mementos, gifts, and books to share with their ladies' groups back home.

Tip #3: It's not all about sales. (At least, not always.)

To help build her audience. Ellen encourages her readers to pass her books along to others. As a result, she has reached people she might not have otherwise reached. In one case, a friend of Ellen's handed the book to a daughter, who loved the book and then gave it to the local librarian of her small town. The local librarian loved the book and encouraged visitors to the library to check it out. Ellen's book became quite popular there.

Tip #4: Be bold. (In other words, it sometimes is about the sales.)

Ellen isn't afraid to ask people to buy her book. She told me that a friend of hers began lending Ellen's book to everyone she knew, and when she told Ellen about it, Ellen boldly said, "Tell your friends to buy it!" The woman said, "You're right. I'll do that!" Sometimes, it helps to be bold. After all, when you're promoting your work, you are your own best salesman. Don't be reluctant to ask for the things that will help you make it as an author.

Thanks to Ellen for all these great tips. I highly recommend reading her book Treasure from the Storm.

Don't forget to enter the Variant giveaway contest!
I'm giving away a hardcover copy of Variant by Robison Wells. It's a dystopian YA novel that has plenty of drama and an ending I didn't see coming. There are three easy ways to enter the contest:

(1) Tweet a link to this blog post or any other ChipperMuse blog post.
(2) Leave a comment on this post below.
(3) Like my ChipperMuse Facebook page.

Yes, that's it. Simple, right? The winner of the book will be announced on May 11, so stop by that day and see who won.

Have a great week, and see you next Friday!

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.


  1. Inspiring me into looking at local booksellers again. There seem to be so few around here!

  2. I loved Variant, and would love even more to own it! Tweeted and liked your FB page. :)

  3. All good tips. I would suggest taking steps to build a "platform" that would make the author ready to be booked as a talk show guest on TV would really pay off. OK, thanks, Edward Smith.

  4. John, I know what you mean. The indie booksellers are few and far between these days. If you don't have bookstores you can go to, you could try local shops that sell locally-made products. Often those types of store owners are willing to support anyone in town who are locals. Gift stores could be another option to try. You never know where sales can come from!

    Andrea, thanks for supporting the blog. Good luck in the contest!

    Ed, yes, building a platform is essential. I think Ellen is working toward that, but it's something all authors need to be mindful of. And it's definitely a good idea to try to get on TV, radio, podcasts, newspapers... anywhere that you can get your name and book known. I'm of the mind that we have to be infinitely creative in how we reach out because you never know where great word of mouth will come from. If it works, go for it. That's my motto.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.