Self-Publishing Secrets Revealed –
Five Free Ways to Expose Your self Books to Readers

workshop picture 2Over the past year I’ve had the privilege of speaking at writing events all over my little corner of the world. I’ve given a weekend workshop at a writers retreat in Smithers, in Northern British Columbia, I opened the prestigious Whistler Writers Festival, and I’ve made multiple stops in between. By the end of the year I’ll have spent time at fourteen different events. It’s been a phenomenal experience and I’ll share a number of my findings with you over the coming weeks. The major takeaway from all these events is that there are some phenomenal writers out there working on some extremely interesting projects. I’m a tough sell. For me to enjoy a work it needs to stretch beyond the usual tried and true stories. And, the writing has to engage me in a unique way or I’m moving on. Over and over again as I read different book descriptions I found myself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “I want to read that book when it’s released”. If I shared with you some of the ideas that authors are working on it would feel as though I’ve betrayed a confidence, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Some great books will soon be coming your way.

When I teach self-publishing workshops I have the group participate in an exercise where we try to find new methods of connecting with readers. Instead of submitting to BookBub or organizing a Goodreads giveaway we try to think outside the box. I encourage you to try this brainstorming activity among your own group of author friends. You may be surprised by the results. Again, I don’t want to divulge any of the enterprising ideas that have come from my workshops, but I will share with you some of the methods I’ve used that have worked.

1. Blogtalk Radio Appearances

I love podcasts. You can sit in your office or your home and speak to interviewers who ask questions about you and your work. I’ve been fortunate enough to appear on some great shows. Pam Stack, Ann White, and Cyrus Webb have all been gracious enough to interview me. may be looking for you. Remember, when you approach a potential interviewer, the fact that you’ve written a book isn’t enough. They need to be able to sell your story to their listeners. Develop a mini-hero’s-journey type story detailing how you came to publish or write your work, and submit a polite query to a host or a show that you think might be interested in you.

Each time I’ve appeared on a podcast I’ve seen a spike in sales of my books, but more importantly I’ve always connected with new readers who have never heard of me. And, those readers usually stick with me and ask to be alerted when I release a new book.

2. Book Signings

If you have a print book, even if it is self-published book, retail stores may be interested in your book. Once my e-books were selling I produced print copies through CreateSpace. Then, I approached a local independent bookstore and asked if they’d be interested in stocking my books. They agreed and even invited me to have a book signing in their store. So, one Sunday, my significant other stood at their doorway with a large plate of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies and enticed customers inside. The store sold a lot of books that day, some were mine and some were not. Everyone was pleased.

From there, I posted a picture on Facebook of my book on their shelves. A friend of a friend who manages a large supermarket saw my post and ordered some books for his store. He’d heard that I’d published but actually seeing it on a shelf for sale made it real to him. When my books began selling in his store other store managers also ordered my books for their inventories.

This of course has helped me sell print books, but it has also helped me gain readers and reviews. I have my contact information at the back of my books and many of the folks who purchased my print books have asked to be alerted when I have a new release. And, they’ve posted reviews too.

3. Craigslist Postsbooks under Christmas tree

I first wrote about advertising our books on Craigslist in 2011. Others have tried since then with varying degrees of success. When I ran the initial promotions for my first book I promoted the sale on Craigslist sites all over the world. The ads are free so the only cost was my time. My debut novel is set in Scotland and Canada, so I started there. Then, I posted on sites in major cities in the US. And, I kept going from there until I was worldwide. It was difficult to tell whether I truly saw any sales from those ads because they ran while I was advertising elsewhere. So, I tried a Craigslist only ad with no other promotions. This did not result in any additional sales.

I took a break from Craigslist but then re-visited it again last Christmas. I posted on local sites suggesting that a personally signed copy of one of my print books might make a unique Christmas gift for the reader in your family. In the ad I posted a picture of my books under a Christmas tree.

This worked. Several folks contacted me and bought copies of my books. Some of them purchased multiple copies. And, when I met with them to sign the books I stressed that as a new, local author I’d be interested in their input once the books had been read, and if it wasn’t too much trouble perhaps they’d be kind enough to post a review.

4. Donations

KS Brooks put together a group of authors who donated books to libraries whose stock had been depleted due to a hurricane. I was happy to participate. So, I mailed out, directly from CreateSpace, a few books. Then, I sent out a few more. The library was kind enough to send me a letter thanking me.

I didn’t want to keep the exciting information about my benevolence to myself so I shared it. I put together a very simple press release and sent it out to some local newspapers citing the library’s letter in the release. The smallest of all the newspapers responded and interviewed me. That story was picked up by small newspapers all over the province. This exposure resulted in a three day period where my e-book sales spiked.

5. Public Speaking

I know, not everyone likes doing it, but it can be an effective way of getting your name out there. In the course of spreading the word about my self-publishing workshops I speak to a number of different writers groups. I deliver presentations of varying lengths depending on how much time they allow me. I speak about my self-publishing journey and a little about my books. These are writers so they’re interested in the process more than the content.

Each time I’ve given a talk I’ve connected with readers. Some of the writers in attendance purchase a print book, and sometimes they order an e-book.30k ebook print-final-080114 Although I’m there to talk about self-publishing, writers are readers too, and inevitably we talk about my work. And, that’s what I’d rather be discussing of course. Some of those writers have become interested in my novels, and have passed my name and books along to their own followers.

None of the above methods took me to the upper echelons of Amazon’s rankings but they all had a real grassroots feel to them and allowed me to reach readers. And, they gave me some important data – the reader’s information. When we sell a gazillion thousand books from a BookBub ad we don’t know who is buying our books unless they contact us. With the five methods outlined above it opened a door and helped me communicate directly with my readers. Sometimes we progress with small steps, sometimes with large steps. As long as we’re moving forward we’re going in the right direction. I’ll share more of my workshop adventures in the coming weeks. Please subscribe to this blog if you’d like to be alerted when I post. And, don’t forget my self-publishing guidebook was recently updated and may help with your self-publishing journey. Thanks for reading this!

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This Post Has 16 Comments

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      You’re welcome Wendy. It’s amazing what we can do when we think outside the box, isn’t it.
      Thank you for commenting!

  1. Joyce Helweg says:

    I am slowly working through “How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle”. I try and complete each suggestion as I read it. By spring I expect the book will be “dog eared” and I will have my book on Kindle. I’m still a reader that enjoys holding a book in my hand but willing to let the world advance at the speed of light with e-books. Good work Martin, I sure enjoyed the Smithers classes, loved your native Scotland and now its time to get to work!

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      Joyce, how nice to hear from you! Maybe one day we’ll be able to chat about your Scotland trip.
      I’m glad you’re finding the guidebook useful. Good luck with your writing and let me know if I can help.

  2. Yigal Miller says:

    Hello Martin Crosbie,
    Our case might interest you. Based in Israel, we publish here the works of Shlomo Kalo, a prolific novelist and unique thinker who passed away some 80 days ago. He was long-listed for the receiving of the Nobel Prize for Literature and some of his works have been published in print in 14 languages. We plan to self e-publish him in English. Following your book “How I sold 30,000 ebooks” and your advice on the internet I hope to do it right strategically, having in mind all the apparent author-reader relationship limitation. Thank you for what you give on the net and… see you around!

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      Hello Yigal,
      what an honor, thank you for utilizing my book. I hope it helps.
      I’ll drop you an email and perhaps we can connect. I’d love to know
      more about your project.
      Good luck to you!

  3. Martha says:

    Very interesting article, Martin. I have really enjoyed the first two books in your “Temporary Life” series, and also found your writers’ workshop informative. Thanks for keeping me updated on how to publish my work.

  4. KV Hardy says:

    I got here through The Book Designer newsletter… Some very helpful tips here! Thank you for posting these! 😀 I’ve written two novels previously that are now permanently buried in the backyard, hopefully never to be discovered, while my third book is going through outside editing and a couple of Beta readers. Your suggestions here are very helpful, as I find the marketing aspect a teensy bit overwhelming…

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      You’re very welcome, thanks for dropping by! The “Author’s Tools” tab at the top of the page might be of some help to you too.
      Congratulations on completing your novels, that’s fantastic!

  5. You say,

    “Instead of submitting to BookBub or organizing a Goodreads giveaway we try to think outside the box. I encourage you to try this brainstorming activity among your own group of author friends. You may be surprised by the results. Again, I don’t want to divulge any of the enterprising ideas that have come from my workshops ….,”

    In fact, I have been thinking outside the box since I self-published my first book (“The Art of Seeing Double or Better in Business”) in 1989.

    For example, I discovered that the best way to use social media (Twitter or Facebook) to market my books was to avoid it as much as possible.

    Indeed, there are many creative ways to market books that are much more effective than social media. I have at least 50 to 100 original creative techniques that I have used over the years to sell over 850,000 copies of my books (mainly self-published). I have used similar unique marketing techniques to get 111 books deals with various foreign publishers around the world. My books are now published in 22 languages in 29 different countries. Just a note that you have me beat in ebook sales. Mine are only 12,000 in the two years since I started ebook publishing whereas your sales are 30,000. Congratulations.

    Regarding creative marketing, I like this quip by an author whose nickname is “The Name Tag Guy”:

    “I once saw my book for sale on Ebay. For two dollars. (sniff) So, do you know what I did? I bid $250 on it. Then bought it. That’s marketing baby!”
    — Scott Ginsberg (The Name Tag Guy)

    I always advise that authors who want to be much more effective than 99 percent of authors in promoting their books go against conventional wisdom. Stay away from social media. Also stay away from other things the majority is doing such as the trendy free ebook promotions on Amazon. You will find, as I have found, that you will
    attain greater success than 99 percent of authors attain. As Scott Ginsberg says, “That’s marketing baby.”

    Incidentally, I support you fully in not divulging any of “the enterprising ideas” that have come from your workshops. I have had wanabee best-selling writers contact me asking me to supply my 50 to 100 unique marketing techniques to them for free or $10. I suggest that they instead attend Brendon Burchard’s 10x Publishing Seminar for which he charges $10,000. I then add that as great as Brendon’s seminar is, they still won’t learn the majority of marketing techniques that I have developed for my books.

    These quotations apply:

    “The amount of money you make will always be in direct proportion to the demand for what you do, your ability to do it, and the difficulty of replacing you.”
    — Earl Nightingale

    “The great creative individual is capable of more wisdom and virtue than collective man ever can be.”
    — John Stuart Mill

    “The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”
    — Charles Bower

    One last note for wanabee best-selling authors: The only way to know anything definitely about success and prosperity in the book business is to attain them for yourself by yourself — anything less is hypothesis, idle talk, and folklore. In other words, don’t count on others. Take 100 percent responsibility for your life — 98 or 99 percent is far too little!

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 225,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      Thanks for commenting Ernie, and congratulations on your success. That’s really encouraging.
      I tend to share everything that I’ve discovered unless it’s a technique that someone else
      developed during my workshops. Then, it doesn’t feel right. But in terms of everything I’ve
      done that works I’m glad to share it.
      Continued success!

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