Rachel Thompson: Self Published Authors: You Are Not An Author

Rachel Thompson“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing.”

Authors need to view themselves as marketers, as owners of a business, of a brand. Writing, though difficult, was the easy part! Marketing has a bad name because people misuse/don’t understand the concepts. In fact, tweets that have the word marketing in them are shared less often!

By sharing great content and interacting, you have a better chance to build a foundation, to grow, to expand your reach. But by spamming the same message over and over (and by god, stop with the fracking auto DMs already), all you are doing is annoying people.

Sure, maybe you sell a book here and there, but wouldn’t you rather sell tens or hundreds or thousands?

Let’s deconstruct.


Think about it: say you’re at Starbuck’s (king of marketing, right?) and the person in front of you is ranting and raving about their day to the hapless cashier who just wants to make this squirrelnut’s drink and go have a smoke. Do you wait patiently, looking around to catch the eye of another customer who’s frustrated because he’s late to pick up his kids but is in so need of caffeine he waits patiently for Ranting Person to shut up already, or do you interrupt and say you’re in a hurry?

OR…say you walk in, get your drink quickly, and leave? Which scenario do you prefer?

Let’s translate that to social media. An author accosts you with BUY MY BOOK! REVIEW MY BOOK! spammy tweets. Do you buy or review it? No, you likely unfollow, block, or (new option) mute them. Do they likely make a sale with you? No.

OR said author quotes a line from their new book and it’s amazing. Best thing you’ve read in years. Do you buy the book? Maybe. At the very least, you follow or RT them.

Right? This isn’t rocket science. Use your manners. Be polite. Use your words.


Most people see the word and run screaming the other way. And don’t even get me started on branding! Authors are a creative bunch, in general. We avoid anything ‘selling’ like the plague, right? Then why, why, why are some (too many) spamming their BUY MY BOOK tweets constantly?

I asked a psychologist friend of mine about this. She said that people who consider a behavior to be bad (selling) often avoid learning anything about that behavior and ironically, end up drawn to it regardless (similar concept to eating a jar of Nutella when one is on a diet…doesn’t work, does it?)

The truth is stark: Bowker reported that in 2012 there were 3,500 books published each day in the US; this number does not include eBooks.

The only way to be visible is to stand out. How? Most people don’t know, so they just write up some spammy tweets and leave it at that, wondering in bewilderment why their books aren’t selling any copies and nobody is following them back.

As you read this, you’re smugly thinking, ‘Duh, I know better!’ or ‘What am I supposed to do then?’


I always advise people there is a five-pronged approach to marketing your books, and each one requires constant attention:

1)    Social media (used to develop relationships, not sell!)

2)    Reviews (beta readers, ARC readers, and early reviewers are critical)

3)    An SEO/SMO-optimized website with fresh blog content at least weekly

4)    An eBook version (40% of all books released are eBooks)

5)    Advertising (Google AdWords by someone who knows what they’re doing).

All of these prongs work together and if one is missing, you will not sell (this assumes your book is professionally edited, formatted, and designed and is spectacular to begin with). And these are just the basics.

As a self-published author, you are not an author. You are a business owner. Market accordingly.

Rachel Thompson is the author of Mancode:Exposed, A Walk in the Snark, and her latest, Broken Pieces. Click here to visit Rachel’s website.

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