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Targeted marketing key to successful self-publishing

Self-published authors need to be more marketing savvy and more willing to dedicate time to the task of marketing, said Jeremy Robinson, author of POD People: Beating the Print-on-Demand Stigma.

“Marketing is really the only way a self-published author can get those first books sold and kick off the word-of-mouth machine,” he said.

Robinson learned this lesson the hard way when his first print-on-demand novel, The Didymus Contingency, initially failed to sell to readers outside his circle of friends and family. However, just one month after Robinson began proactively marketing the book, it became a Barnes& bestseller and the #1 bestselling fiction title at print-on-demand publishing company He also credits his marketing efforts to ultimately landing a book deal with Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press.

After what Robinson describes as “long years of trial and error” experimenting with a wide range of marketing techniques, he found that locating his audience and specifically targeting them with his marketing efforts was the most successful strategy.

“Spending time marketing to a general audience is a waste of time, and possibly money, because only a percentage of them are going to be interested in your book,” he said.

Robinson shares the following ideas for targeting your marketing:

  • Visit online discussion forums related to your discipline and take part in conversations.
  • Create YouTube videos demonstrating physics experiments, for example, and include your book information at the end.
  • Find out where teachers hang out online and join the conversation.
  • Offer free copies of your book to teachers. Getting added to a curriculum means yearly sales you can count on.

“Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to experiment,” he said. “The worst thing you can do for your book is not try.”