In Which I Ask for Self Publishing Marketing Advice

I’m not giving advice today. I’m also not making a joke. Consider it a stream of thought intended as a question to spark discussion. Basically, I’m trying to decide where I stand on a few things, and I want your input.

I’m about to embark on a major self published work—-specifically, a middle grade adventure series with lots of interactive capacity, such as connecting with the characters, influencing events in future books within the series, and following and solving clues that lead to all kinds of cool aspects to the series. Even the particulars of how interaction takes place will likely be influenced by how the audience reacts to different options surrounding the release of the first book.

My biggest questions are about self publishing. Obviously, in order to really have the versatility I need to make this awesome, self publishing is the way to go. Publishers would never allow me the dynamic I need to make this work the way I want it to. That’s fine, I’m cool with doing it myself. My biggest concern is marketing. A lot has changed in the last two years, and though much is the same, much has really changed. From what I can tell, the authors who have success with things like blog tours, and giveaways are the ones who have already developed a strong audience and have good friction in their market. I want to hear your thoughts, but it seems to me that newbies are really struggling to make a dent in the market with these methods.

That said, the reason authors still push blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and other social media platforms is that they still work——for many. But those who don’t already have much traction through these media don’t tend to get much. It’s like people have decided which authors they like to follow, and don’t have much time to try new stuff. Not that it’s impossible for new authors to make it, it just takes a disproportionate amount of effort to achieve a tiny grain of success. From the standpoint of going from new book to successfully making a living, what once took five or ten years now takes much more, using the methods mentioned (blog tours, giveaways, etc.)

Along those lines, is it me, or do giveaways not work so much anymore? It seems that now, the message, “Get my Kindle book free this week!” is now met with a collective, “Meh.”

I hope I’m not sounding pessimistic. Actually, I’m trying to be strategic. I want to know, especially you who have started new to this game in the last two years, have these traditional methods worked for you? I don’t mean have they helped you meet some great fellow authors (of course it’s done that), but I mean, have your sales been significantly, or at least moderately impacted by them?

If so, how did you make it work? If not, what did you do instead?

What are your thoughts on the modern online marketing techniques, what’s working, and what’s not?

About Chas Hathaway

Chas is an author, musician, husband, dad, and X-grave digger. He's always enjoyed writing. He started keeping a daily journal when he was 13, and that started a pattern of regular writing that has continued to this day.

His first book, Giraffe Tracks, a memoir of his missionary experiences in South Africa, was published in 2010, and in July 2011, Cedar Fort published his book, Marriage is Ordained of God, but WHO Came Up with DATING?!

Chas has been playing piano since 1994, and actively writing New Age piano compositions since 1996. He has long felt that the greatest factor in the influence of a piece of music is the intent of its author. He has also written numerous LDS Hymn arrangements, many of which are available in sheet music, including the favorite hymns, If You Could Hie to Kolob and Come Thou Fount.

So far, Chas has 4 albums out:

Tune My Heart, Released 2012
Anthem of Hope, 2010
The Ancestor, 2009
Dayspring, 2007

While music and writing are his most time-consuming work, he also enjoys gardening, inventing games, and most of all, spending time with his beautiful wife and adorable little kids.

Chas Hathaway
Chas Hathaway

Thanks, Debra! Holly has indeed done an incredible job marketing her book. I should ask her more details about her approach. I like the app idea! I wish I knew how to develop apps. Maybe I should get some awesome apping skills. :D I'm a lot the same, Neil. It's not so much that I'm insecure about my product(s), but it's so against my personality to shout out about my own stuff that the thought of being pushy about them makes me want to barf--not because I'm afraid, but because barfing sounds like a more pleasant experience. That's okay, though. Like I said, I'm not sure the "pushy" methods are working all that well anymore. Maybe I should make it a point to find really effective methods that actually fit who I am.


This has been my impression, too. I'm just entering the market with my first book, as yet unpublished. I'm skeptical of the traditional route and painfully insecure in the promotional aspects of self-publishing. I hope you'll let us all know what conclusions you come to, especially after you dive into the route you choose.


I wonder if you market it as an app, rather than a book, if it will get more attention in the middle grade market.

Debra Erfert
Debra Erfert

Although I don't have my own book/s to speak from personal experience, I have seen Holly Kelly's Rising Series do wonderful things with her strategy. When her second book, Descending, launched, her first book, Rising, was put up for free. With the help of her friends voting for Rising on Amazon, it kept pushing it up higher on their list until finally it hit number one! That made those who saw that list be interested in her second book, and as a result more copies of Descending were purchased. We, her friends and fellow authors, put both of those books on our "to read" list, giving it a higher rating. Holly may have been published by Clean Teen Publishing, but Holly did most of the marketing. She got out there and cheered on her work, and asked us to help her. You can't be afraid to do be your own cheering section, or the cobwebs will grown under your chair. That cheering finally got Barnes and Nobel to call her publisher for books to stock in their brick and mortar stores. How absolutely cool is that? I think your interactive books/series sounds fascinating. Have you thought of using one of those fundraiser programs, like Kickstarter? or Indigogo? You could get people to "buy" your books before you actually have them finished.