Vera Nazarian

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The Ultimate Secret of Book Promotion

Written By: Vera Nazarian - Apr• 28•13

The Ultimate Secret of Book Promotion

This is an expanded article version of a series of posts, starting with my post on in response to whether there is an actual honest-to-goodness secret to publishing success that is clandestinely employed by successful self-published “Indies.”

A writer mentioned half-humorously that their answer to a friend who has long suspected that there is “a secret method to achieving high sales” is simply “no.”

I responded with the following:


Thing is, there is a secret.

And it is something that so many of us glean over, and just sort of overlook willingly, because we tell ourselves it just couldn’t be that prosaic, could it? No, no way.

We repeat the healthy mantra “write more books, and write the best books you can.”

However, even having done so, even though it is mostly true, we still feel the strange “sixth” sense of having missed something else in the equation.

And here it is, the secret thing we’re choosing to overlook and miss, over and over.

It is money.

The dirty little secret above and beyond persistence and talent is money — in other words, the means to utilize every and all possible beneficial resources at our disposal.  I am talking not just about paid advertizing, but everything else that money can buy — time (yours and other professionals who can help you), assistance of others (minions, a street team, posse, whatever) you can pay to do publishing tasks for you (high end cover design, editing, website, creative legwork), the ability to pay hefty entrance fees to various exclusive contests and opportunities for exposure such as high profile ARC venues and mass mailings, the usage of PR Newswire, NetGalley, special PR Firms, Book Tours, etc.

All of the above and more, cumulatively.

If you cannot afford even a single Bookbub ad, or a paid book blast mailing, frankly your options to get exposure are limited.

And if you say you’ve been using some (or even many) of the above techniques regularly, and paying for numerous ads and services, and you are still in a mid-list rut and have not achieved the proverbial break-out, I say to you — how much worse off would you be now if you had not in fact done any of those paid things?

So yes, that’s the secret, folks.

Money (and the liberal, cleverly planned usage of it) allows you to buy a bouquet of multiple opportunities, including that one thing that in your case could be that bit of luck that will catapult you into the stratosphere.

But you already know it.

Time to face the reality.

* * *

and an addendum post:


It is sneaky, because time = money.  Yours, somebody’s, etc. We can call it something else, but it is what it is.

Luck also takes money.  I like to say that “before a lottery ticket is a winner, someone has to buy it” — in other words, literally it’s not luck, it’s luck plus a buck (or more, if you bought a bunch) that gets you that winning ticket.

As someone who also does pretty much everything myself (book writing, cover design, formatting, promotion, website work), it all adds up to my health and life energy, and giving it my all.

And I am flat broke, with holes on clothing and a chronically empty fridge too. This year I am at the lowest point ever (recovering from foreclosure and bankruptcy and major illness etc, etc) but I’ve been actually for once paying for some things, but it’s all blood money, food money, literally.

So it’s all money underneath.

* * *

The following day, I decided to sit down and brainstorm all the various methods, tips and tricks that I’ve gleaned over the last year and a half of closely following the Writers’ Cafe forum at, but with the caveat that the methods are all free and hence entirely affordable for not only those with the means to purchase advertising and other professional promo services, but for the poor-as-Church-Mice authors.

Here are the things I came up with, as a promotional core, summarized in another post:


It’s a fact.

Many of us cannot afford even basic advertising — promoted Facebook posts ($7 a pop), various sites’ book blasts and listings ($10-$25 a pop), much less the high end stuff like BookBub, ENT, KND, NetGalley, PR Newswire, PR Firms, etc….

All this stuff that feeds and powers (behind-the-scenes) the engine to kick-launch our books into regular and established visibility and maintain it there. (Ultimately, it’s the same engine that major publishers use to launch their mega-sellers, and that many — but not all, of course — successful indies use to put themselves in a position to regularly move thousands of units.)


The discussion in this thread, where I posted about the need for money (resources) as the real secret behind cumulative success (given all other factors in place such as a well written, well produced book) got me further thinking…

Supposing that we have a) an excellent book to sell, and b) we have no funds, only our own efforts, skills and dedication… then, what can we poor church-mice do?

Let’s post below our methods, tips and tricks that can be used by anyone without spending a cent.

I’ll start by listing some givens and things we already know, so we don’t re-hash the same-old same-old.

Methods We All Know Already (or Should Know)

1) Write a high quality book that people want to read.

2) Have it professionally presented — edited, designed, and with an attractive cover (as much as possible for a church-mouse).

3) Use Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumbler, Instagram, etc., to promote your book to your social circles. And this assumes you stay within limits of good behavior, don’t spam, and use tactful techniques to chronically cultivate your social networks. Use free HootSuite to set up automated tweets and posts.

4) Set up and cultivate a Mailing List for book announcements only (via MailChimp or such), and post links and/or widgets with the subscription form in as many places as possible and prominently on your website, blog, social media pages, and in the interior front and back matter of your actual book.

5) Include links to your other books or to a common landing page with links inside each ebook front or back matter (or both).

6) Give away your book for free to build readership and gain fans. Use the “Going Free” technique to either enroll the book in KDP Select and use the 5 free days to promote, or make one of your books Perma-Free by price matching it (making it free on other sites via Smashwords, and have Amazon match it).

7) Write a series, and put the first book Perma-Free as a loss leader to “hook” them and gain buying fans for books 2, 3, and onwards…. The more books in the series, the more likely you gain a long tail of “addicted” buyers.

8.) Write more books (with quality and professional presentation a given). Keep publishing them, and widening the net of your exposure, and have them sell each other.

9) Use the various Going Free and Discounted promotion sites that accept free submissions and fill out their forms, and hope to be picked up and featured.

10) Cultivate reviews. Use LibraryThing Member Giveaways to give away 100 ebooks (at a time) to gain reviews. (Use Goodreads Giveaways to give away 1-3 hard copies of your hardcover or paperback book, if you can afford it, but this is not free.) Find various forums and specialized groups on Goodreads where you can offer your book to reviewers. Email bloggers directly and manually, one at a time, until you lose the will to live as you comb the internet for them like precious crumbs.

11) Find and cultivate Super-Fans who love your work with a passion and will basically rave about your books for free to other people, which will in turn generate word-of-mouth and a geometric progression for exposure.

12) Cultivate yourself and/or your book series as a Brand.

13) Band together with other church-mice. Join group blogs, blog hops, and set up book tours. Plug each other!

Okay, now your turn! What other free tips, tricks, or methods did I miss? What new, original, unique things have you used?


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One Comment

  1. […] and for all the commercial print, e-pub, and self-pub authors in my genres, here’s a link to a great article by a friend of mine, Vera Nazarian. Your mileage may vary, but she brings a dose […]

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