Marketing Tips for the Frugal Self-Publisher

The role of a writer/author in this 21st century is one of hard work and fabulous rewards–not necessarily monetary rewards unless you are exceedingly fortunate, but your life will change as you attend meetings, readings, conferences etc., and meet hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who are in awe of you for even completing a book. Of course, you will also meet those who laugh with scorn (perhaps thinking why you bother because they don’t even read and can’t understand) or envy (believing you are now rich!). But trust me, your journey will be fascinating and anything but dull, for if you face the challenge squarely, it will enrich your life and also that of your readers … and best of all, they will tell you about it!

1.  Decide what YOU can do to market your own book and do it well. No matter how you choose to market your book, you have to do something … so you might as well do a good job of it. You will have a major investment in this book through time, and eventually, money. Don’t allow your book to stagnate on a shelf/ a website or in your basement.

2.  Learn the “3 Foot” Rule – talk to everyone who comes within 3 feet of you. Always carry a book, bookmark, business card or info. sheet. If they don’t buy a book, don’t be disappointed, you will be surprised how else they might help you. Don’t expect anything. Be yourself.

3.  Buy, or at the very least, read a few well-known marketing books … visit your local library or download an  ebook copy to always have with you!  I’m a huge fan of ebooks (2011) and all our books are available in all formats at  Here are a few of the classics to start you off:

Marketing Without Megabucks by Shel Horowitz
How To Promote Your Book by  Dan Poynter
The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn and Tom Ross

4.  On the internet, you’ll be deluged by thousands of sites with marketing tips. A small selection are on our links page found to the right (in category list). Facebook has many groups and joining Twitter has been known to be a great way to get free promotion, just don’t overdo it or your friends will untweet you 🙂

5.  Join a ‘useful’ Internet Email List (Yahoo group, etc) and subscribe to topical newsletters but be careful not to get sucked into their own marketing endeavours to sell you the BEST marketing plan ever!! Most of what they sell can be found free if you search the web.

6.  Networking with local groups is a great way to advertise for little money but membership fees need to be assessed first. Make sure the group is suitable to your needs.

7. Trade books with other willing self-published authors. A good way to pick up gifts and get your books out there.

Now get out there yourself, write, plan and then, if you decide ‘to go for it’, market that book you’ve dreamed about.

Good luck and all the best.

Google, RSS, SEO, Keywords …

Thanks to everyone for your support, nice comments and suggestions, I know some of the (suggestions) posts can be classed as spam and I deleted them but not before copying so I can remember them while not inflicting them on the rest of you 🙂  Google Adwords, I don’t think I’m going to touch (been there, done that – too time consuming & potentially costly etc). Now don’t everyone write to me about how easy it is please …; RSS – one day soon; SEO (see below); and Keywords (I’m trying, but selling fiction books is such a competitive subject). Keywords are almost a lost cause in that area but I am working on other strategies … brain works very slow on this sort of info tho so suggestion could be useful!!

I seem to have been forgetting that my focus here is to sell books, so if you haven’t discovered our fabulous novels, which are amazingly read by all ages, it’s time that you did. Our books became popular because of word-of-mouth beginning in Dec. 1998 and people come to Victoria, BC to meet my husband because their neighbour loved our books or they were coming to Victoria and their aunt said to look for him in Bastion Square. Yup, it happens all the time. Go to the tabs at the top of the page and discover Robert’s books … and they are ebooks, too! Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Barnes & Noble, iPad, and Smashwords (the latter has all formats). My next post will give more info on the style my husband, J. Robert Whittle, uses and which I follow in my editing and writing because it has been so successful … and because he won’t let me do anything else!! Hey, I thought I was the boss 🙂

Ok, that was the plug, now briefly back to what I’m doing on this blog … I discovered Builder Child Themes last night and as I had already purchased it last week, I am eager to get a new page up using this great new tool. It makes the page look classier and has a lot more, and very cool, options.

I also see that SEO can now be automated. I think I will definitely do that but not for awhile … one thing at a time. My gosh things have changed so much over the past few years (when I was too busy to even consider implementing all the new online programs). One has to be very careful how they spend their money here … I thought I was heading for retirement but now not so sure!! Back to work!

‘Leprechaun Magic’ gets a new cover

2011-03 LM_new coverI decided in my wisdom to update the Leprechaun Magic cover for the next printing. We have sold a couple thousand copies and I felt it needed a new more modern look, especially as I considered my crude moonbeam just that rather crude! So, the new print run arrived early this summer just in time for the main onslaught? of tourists.

Simone Padur, our wonderfully talented illustrator on Book 2, ‘3 On A Moonbeam’ came to our rescue once again and has produced a cute and colourful new Paddy sliding down the moonbeam and arriving on our Earth-child’s windowsill. We love it … thanks Simone!

It’s actually been on our market stands for three months and causing a lot of interest including …

Have to read right now

… this cute little 3-year-old fan whose identity shall remain anonymous. She and her grandmother, one of our biggest fans, visited me most weeks out in Sidney at the street market. One day in August, this cute-as-a-button granddaughter, decided to make herself comfortable!! Yes, she’s lying on the street ‘reading’ aloud and carefully turning the pages. Then she goes and gets another book, even the novels; her Grandma says she has favourites among them, too!

I can’t wait until she gets older and can review and tell all her friends about our books! Grandma took this photo and has allowed us to use it. Thanks Grandma!!

Yes, we’re on eBooks!

This post has been copied from the Newsletter Page on our main website at

HOT NEWS!!   EBOOKS … EBOOKS … yes, ALL OUR books are available as ebooks at Amazon/Kindle (USA, UK and Germany) and (includes Kindle but here they are DRM free). Also available at your favourite ebook store (Kobo, iPad etc.).

Yes, the big news in books these days are eBooks and we are continually being asked if our books are available as eBooks. The answer is YES and we are seeing ebook sales increasing every month, especially via Kindle! The wonderful part is that readers are now able to afford to purchase more than one book … our ebooks are all under $8 and sometimes we offer specials through Smashwords and our Facebook pages (see TIP below).

Formatting all our books for eReaders was Joyce and Tara’s project for 2010/11 and we’re happy to announce Kindle and Smashwords have them all. Smashwords has more up-to-date files as Joyce reads them again herself and tweaks those minor errors that are now easier/less costly to correct than on a printed book.

facebook_logo TIP: Visit our facebook author pages for regular news and updates. Our profiles are public so you can see them even if you aren’t on facebook.
J. Robert Whittle or Joyce Sandilands

* A note on Kindle purchases … GREAT NEWS … Kindle is now giving us full commission for all purchases from Canada and UK … as Amazon bows to pressure from International authors, we are thrilled to be able to make it easier for our Kindle customers!

I have owned my own KOBO ebook Reader (Chapters Brand) since March ’11 so I can speak from experience on this subject.  I simply love my Kobo, but it did have some issues early on and I was thankfully able to replace it with the new Kobo Touch which arrived in June. It’s a lot easier to read in bed now (no heavy books) and so easy to turn the page (you touch it very lightly). I even have several books on the go at the same time for the first time in my life. I have now read 3 novels which I would never have done by carrying a book around with me! I never waste time in a doctor’s office etc. anymore … it’s great!

Everything about the New Kobo Touch is superior to the earlier model. They have done a great job. I rarely get time during the day to read, but I have everything from novels (our own included which I have never had time to re-read!), business books, motivational books etc., and with the Touch, it always leaves you the last 5 book covers to easily open next time you turn it on.  It bookmarks your page so it opens to that page when you open each book.

This is also the solution for LARGE PRINT … people are discovering eReaders due to their ability to enlarge the text size and change the font, making it just right for people who previously needed large print books (I make mine larger too). So much easier to hold instead of a heavy book for my arthritic fingers.

Did You Know … you don’t have to own an eBook Reader … there are many FREE programs and Apps. available for computer, Smart Phones and iPods. One I recently discovered is Bookworm for all ePUB formats (not for Kindle). Kindle has their own FREE eReader. Adobe Digital Additions is great and free for ePub versions as well. I also recently found out about the iPod App for Kindle which a friend uses.

Win a Contest – Accelerate your Success!

IppyLogo 1x1HRSelf-publishers … I learned an important lesson in 2007 when, for the first time in 6 years I entered a contest with one of our books. In 1999, I discovered the Independent Publisher Book Awards and entered our first book, Lizzie: Lethal Innocence. In those days, it was a very new contest and didn’t even offer a shortlist. At the time of the award, I spoke to one of the organizers and found out that we had done very well but because it was nothing official I could not use it in our promo.

So the years went by and usually by the time I had the time to think of entering a contest I was either too late or I didn’t think our book would fit the categories (partly because they were all series). I also found myself rationalizing (incorrectly) that the contest was simply too expensive to enter (cost of the copies they wanted + entry fees + shipping). I now believe it was the devil of procrastination that held me back! Then in 2007 after 6 long years, for some reason, I decided to enter the IPPYs again. I think I was feeling a bit more flush and they weren’t asking for as many copies as they had previously … or did I have a premonition … an feeling similar to the one which told me to publish our first book!! No matter what it was, it was another decision that needed making, right then.

Loyalty's HavenWhen they announced the winners, we were informed we had won a FIRST PRIZE , actually it was a GOLD Medal for my husband, J. Robert Whittle’s novel, Loyalty’s Haven … wow and yippee! No, it wasn’t for the best novel of the year or anything quite that prestigious but it was for a Regional Award and a Gold Medal wins lots of attention, no matter what, especially when you can re-print with their sticker on your cover as we did a few years later (in the interim, we purchased stickers to use).

Loyalty’s Haven was our most recent book at the time being an unplanned 3rd title in the series. Because of its historical content (Spanish Flu Pandemic 1918) I believe this swayed me in my decision to enter it despite being in a series. The regional award was to recognize an author who either lived in the region or writes about the region. In our case, we covered both, so the Canada: West category was a perfect fit for us. [2011 update: We won this award again the following year (see below)].

The IPPYs are a very prestigious award for not only self-published authors but independent presses and university presses as well, giving us a bit more competition. This was the contest’s 11th year and it has helped further the careers of many hundreds of authors and indie publishers (indie publisher description is now replacing the ‘self publisher’ misnomer).

Whispers Across Time2011 update: Our 2007 novel won our 2nd Gold Medal IPPY and sales, which were already good, went wild!

So, a recap on contests, if you can find the time, enter as many as you can, but make sure what you enter is perfectly edited. That means you have to get someone else to edit or proofread it for you (we hire a professional proofreader). When you can say you won, were short-listed, received an Honourable Mention etc., people sit up and pay attention. It’s like getting several critics to positively rate your book all in one fell swoop 🙂 It also rewards YOU, because you suddenly feel it was all worthwhile. So go for it!

Until next time, happy writing and editing … and good luck with your contests!