Book Marketing: Play Ball with Magdalene Thomas

Greenleaf Book GroupAdvances in technology for publishers and readers also affects book marketers. With the rise of digital publishing and the shift to buying books online, authors now have a new set of tools and opportunities to reach readers. Join Magdalene from Greenleaf Book Group to learn what tools you have at your disposal, how to get the most out of your marketing, and what three things you need to consider before you start promoting your book.

Big thanks to Magdalene Thomas and Greenleaf Book Group for the presentation! You can see the original Meetup event here.


Notes from the Presentation

There is no magic bullet for book sales, but things have swung in an individual author’s favor more than ever before.

Self-Publishing is a great option.

At Greenleaf:

  • POD book sales grown by 1,100% in last 5 years
  • Ebook sales have grown by 900% in last 5 years
  • 4,000 books published every day


  • At Greenleaf, 52% of books sales originate from Amazon
  • In whole industry, 70% of online book sales originate from Amazon
  • Online behavior different from offline behavior
  • Less attention, patience, so tell them what you want IMMEDIATELY
  • People more likely to follow more authors because they don’t have to invest money, time, energy into it anymore


Predictable Pitcher – know your audience

Bases Loaded – get your assets in order

Strong Swing – make a clear, cohesive plan

Your audience is not, and will never be, everyone.

  • Can you think of a book whose audience is everyone? Not even a dictionary or encyclopedia.
  • Who is your audience? Now narrow it down. Now narrow it down again.

Go where your readers go

  • Until your brand is big enough, you’ll need to put in the work of going to your audience
  • More on how to find your audience next

Your assets should meet expectations

  • We’ll discuss what those assets may be in a minute
  • Language and visual design
    • Fiction: readers want to see the imagination of fiction authors in all things.
      • Thrillers– moodiness, mystery
      • Scifi– nerdiness, commentary on current events
      • Children’s– brightness, playfulness, reassurance
      • Romance– whimsy, optimism
    • Nonfiction:
      • Business– confidence, approachability
      • Cookbook– ease, warmth
  • Where have competing authors established their presence? Can you be there, too?
  • Beta readers can be found in reading/writing communities online (Wattpad, local writing communities like this one!)
  • Important here: find someone with a little distance. Friends/family not always great for candid feedback.
  • Go through the process of creating Facebook ads to see just how specific you can get with your audiences (
  • Google Trends data can reveal points of frustration for consumers (
  • Once you find them, engage with them on THAT platform. If you found them on GoodReads, run some targeted GoodReads ads. If you found them on Twitter from a hashtag, incorporate that hashtag into your Tweets.


  • Mock up audience personas
  • Primary, secondary, maybe tertiary
  • How else can they be identified OTHER than as a reader of your book?
  • Demographics: age, gender, location, education background
  • Personal lives, professional lives?
  • How else do they learn? How else are they entertained?
  • All your marketing could come back to a persona.
  • “Does XYZ ad reach one of my target personas?”
  • “Does the messaging in XYZ ad speak to them in a way they’ll respond to?“

Book Assets

  • Elevator pitches will be spoken and written, and both “read” differently. It’s not unusual to have two different pitches, or even pitches of different lengths!
    • Try it out on a stranger.
    • If you can’t concisely explain your book, it’s time to edit some more.
  • Back cover, synopsis copy should be emotionally or intellectually engaging, pique the interest of a reader, tease/cliffhanger
    • Consider SEO value when doing this.
    • Understand that people oftentimes search lazy, not in full sentences or questions
  • Author bio should meet the expectations of your audience
    • An author bio is MARKETING copy. Part bio, part brand statement.
    • Take the opportunity to establish your expertise and credibility
    • Fit within your genre. Horror author bio vs. romance author bio.
    • Short
  • Author photo should meet the expectations of your audience
    • It’s your first opportunity for putting face to a name and connecting
    • You can play up your genre
      • Thriller authors in heavy black coats with popped collars looking over their shoulder, black and white
      • Romance novel authors smiling direct to camera, soft and bright colors
      • Business authors wearing suits. Men with ties, women with powerful jewelry.
      • Cookbook authors in their home kitchens (or staged kitchens)

Social media

  • Big beast to tackle
  • You SHOULD NOT try to utilize every network

Author Assets

  • Website is the hub of all your assets.
    • It’s the first place people will go to find more information about you and your books.
    • Doesn’t have to be fancy. WordPress, Squarespace both great resources.
  • Newsletters keep you in touch with your audience
    • One of the only opportunities to go to them directly (instead of them seeking out you online/social media)
  • Swag can be great, but it doesn’t translate directly into sales.
    • Top of mind
      • Related to content
      • Passive, like a bookmark. Meant for someone to see periodically and remember “Oh, yeah, I like that author. I should Google their next book soon.”
    • Actionable
      • Related to content
      • Cute? Funny? Dark? Rude? (e.g. inflatable baseball bat for Baseball Dads by Matthew S. Hiley)
      • Sharable?
        • Instagram-able? Tweetable? (e.g. colored pencils)

You don’t have to be everywhere all the time

  • It’d be impossible, and wouldn’t do you any good.
    • BIZ/NONFICTION: LinkedIn, Quora, Medium, Twitter
    • FICTION: GoodReads, Facebook
    • ARTSY/HOW-TO (COOK, DESIGN): Instagram, Pinterest
  • Where are your competitors? How are they engaging?
    • Susan Mallery on Facebook
    • Daniel Pink on Twitter

Have a plan to mitigate stress

  • Consistency and quality over frequency
    • Readers would rather have less great content than more unrelated, filler content.
      • Fatigue
      • Start ignoring you
      • Disengage
    • Your brand is better served by putting out fewer pieces of relevant content over spamming unrelated content for the sake of filling space
  • Still meet expectations of social networks
    • Twitter: 2-3x/day, RTs, engagement
    • Facebook: 1-2x/day, engagement
    • LinkedIn/Medium: 1x/day, or maybe 3x/week
    • GoodReads: 1x/week, or maybe even less
    • Quora: as applicable
    • Instagram: 3-5x/week or more
    • Pinterest: 3-5x/week or more

80/20 rule

  • 80% content from someone else
    • Share, provide commentary, elaborate on a point, offer a solution, (politely) disagree
    • Good way to try to tap into other audiences
  • 20% content self-promotional
    • Events: speaking or signing
    • Price promotions/flash sales
    • Award wins

Know what you’re trying to accomplish before you jump in.

  • Not knowing your goals means you can’t measure your success
    • Not measuring your success can leave you frustrated and demotivated
  • No goals in mind makes you susceptible to getting SIDETRACKED
    • So dangerous! Stay focused!

Stay focused. Be deliberate.

  • Make sure each marketing initiative you undertake has a purpose
    • Be clear about expectations of each initiative with yourself
    • Also be clear about expectations of each initiative with your audience
      • Take your readers to water, prompt them to drink. Be clear about what you’re asking them to do.
  • When the initiative is over, regroup.
    • What went well? What didn’t?
    • Did you learn something new about your audience that may affect your next step?
      • Maybe you discovered GoodReads isn’t a great avenue for your readers. Where can you go instead?

Stay flexible.

  • We change things ALL THE TIME
    • We learn new things about the audience
    • A new ad partner or social media pops up
    • Things didn’t go as planned and we want to try a new angle
    • Life events happen
      • Negative: Common practice to pause social media during times of tragedy
      • Positive: Spaghetti squash has just been named the sexiest new superfood, and you’ve written a cookbook only about squashes. News-jacking opportunity!

POEM: Paid Owned Earned Media


  • The least fun part because advertising is expensive 🙁
  • GREAT way to expand your audience


  • Work with what you’ve got!
    • Make sure messaging is consistent across all of your assets
      • Multiple impressions before someone clicks (5+)
    • Least expensive, most powerful
      • Least expensive because you already have all of these assets in place
      • Most powerful because everyone whose looking at your newsletter or social media presence WANTS to be there


  • In theory, PR gets your name in front of thousands of people instantly
    • -Print media is dead?
  • Word of mouth and social sharing are the best credibility builders
  • A strong digital footprint = a stronger reputation. The more evidence of your expertise online, the stronger your reputation as an author will be.

All of this is difficult to pull off if your book doesn’t meet expectations

  • Cover design
  • Book size
    • Oddly small children’s book? Not great for developing brains and eyes.
    • Oddly large travel guide? Won’t fit in a purse or carry-on luggage!
  • Price
    • Too expensive? Readers won’t take a chance on a new author.
    • Too cheap not really a problem for readers, but don’t undervalue yourself.

Plan months in advance.

Or years. No time is too early to start getting to know your audience.

Make it easy to share on social media

  • Hashtags
    • Help you track success (#meditationsthroughcoloring)
    • Help you amplify that success because everyone can explore the hashtag, get excited/jealous
  • And really, that’s where we spend a lot of our time anyway.

Data capture.

  • The best thing you can have as an author is information about your readers.
    • It helps to remember that once your book is out to market, you are not just an author: you’re a business.
    • Businesses need info on their customers to survive, so don’t feel weird about collecting it.
  • Email addresses are gold!

Power of free.

  • It’s the last thing you want to hear, I know. You’ve worked so hard and deserve to be paid for your work.
    • Consumers LOVE free. I love free. You love free.
      • They love getting free things.
      • They love helping other people get free things.
    • Let’s use free strategically.
      • Early access in exchange for a review posted on Amazon
      • Free copies of a book series in exchange for a blog post
      • If you’re not comfortable with giving away the whole thing, offer a few free chapters on your website in exchange for email address
  • Publishers give away tens of thousands of copies
    • We can’t all do this
    • Digital access great way to minimize cost

Recommended Resources

Newsletters to which you should subscribe:

Social Media resources:

  • HootSuite ( – great for managing Facebook and Twitter simultaneously
  • TweetDeck ( – great for diving deeply into managing a Twitter account. Very customizable.
  • Facebook Ads ( – even if you don’t run ads through Facebook, you can pretend to set up ads to get a sneak peek at your audience demographics
  • Twitter ( – great for researching current trendy topics through #hashtags. Worth having an account even if you don’t use it to keep an eye on trends, current events, news, pop culture, etc.

Authors who have social media figured out:

  • Susan Mallery ( – romance author who really understands how to engage her female, typically older audience
  • Daniel Pink ( – business/management author working his qualifications and engaging with strategic partners through retweets and conversations
  • Elizabeth Gilbert ( – although she’s written both fiction and nonfiction, all of them are inspirational. You can see that in all of her messages! Great consistency, and wonderful, respectful commentary on current events.

Beta reading resources:

  • Wattpad ( – Began as a fanfiction community and is evolving into more than that. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a Young Adult or fiction writer.
  • Tumblr ( –Tumblr is much more than a writing community. It can get weird. If you feel like you’re veering off track or falling down a rabbit hole, just walk away.
  • GoodReads( – there are a number of active beta reading groups on GoodReads. Here are a few:

Website design resources:

  • – Offers both free and paid options. Free is more than enough to get something up and running, and learn a little bit about web design at the same time.
    • WordPress is a hugely popular platform and there are local communities everywhere. If you need support, check for a local WordPress Meet Up group or event!
  • – Paid only, but reasonably priced. A very easy drag-and-drop interface that makes web design a snap for someone less confident in their web design skills.

Other resources:

  • Google Trends ( – a great resource for searching for “pain points,” trends shows you how often users are using search terms. Really fascinating if you like to dive deeply into data, or are just feeling nosy.
  • Independent Book Publishers Association ( – May also be worth becoming a member as membership offers discounted pricing on some publishing services and marketing opportunities. Great print magazine, as well.
  • ( – A fantastic resource for early reviews! IBPA membership (see above) gives you discount on listing books here. (Also great for readers who want to get some free books!)
  • DIY Author ( – Chris, the guy behind DIY Author, runs great webinars and shares a lot of free, quality information.

Bargain ebook sites (a current list):

About Magdalene

Magdelene ThomasMagdalene Thomas works with authors to design, execute, and evaluate balanced, thoughtful marketing campaigns surrounding their book launch. Prior to joining Greenleaf, Magdalene worked in publicity for Dorling Kindersley and spearheaded the marketing team for an independent international ebook retailer. While she has worked in both traditional and independent publishing, she much prefers independent publishing because she gets to work one-on-one with authors. She holds a BA in International Journalism and Media from Richmond University in London, England.

Maggie says, “Email me with any questions! I love talking to authors.”

Magdalene Thomas

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