Marketing in a Digital World – Maximizing FREE

By Jordan Dane

After Joe Moore’s interesting post yesterday – More Signs of the Times – about ebooks, online book pirates, & marketing, I thought I’d share what I’ve been focused on with my upcoming Young Adult book – On A Dark Wing (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012) and the advance marketing we’re targeting for this release.

You might assume that targeting younger readers would automatically include a more savvy online promo approach, but more and more adult readers are turning to online resources to discover authors. With the growth in smart phones, having an aggressive online marketing strategy is important to create buzz for your books.
Below are some things I’m doing. I’ve also added promo ideas that I’ve heard lately and hope you’ll find some have merit.
1.)    GROUP Blogs – The Kill Zone is a fine example of how a group blog can draw online traffic, provide a service to its followers and share the workload. I’ve just started a group blog – TEENSHIVER – for Texas authors who write dark young adult books that make a reader shiver. TeenShiver will have an outreach to area schools, libraries & retail stores, as well as to readers of YA in our state, yet with an online presence that is global. Since publishers tend to spend money regionally, rather than on more costly national campaigns (unless you’re James Patterson), this concept has been well received by our publishers since we are optimizing our traffic while featuring our books too. We are offering our publishers a better place to justify spending budget dollars. Our followers will benefit too. Texas has amazing book conferences and the TX book review/blogging community is vital, thriving, and supports homegrown authors.
2.)    Virtual Book Tours – Many of you might be familiar with virtual tours, but I wanted to share a link that I think might help you figure out who to include on your tour stops. Quantcast ( is a site where you can query a domain to see how much traffic they get and their demographics. Many blogs may request a spot on the tour, but since we are all tight on time or on deadline, writing a post or answering questions for an interview take time we may not have unless the site is active. Virtual tours today have hosts, generous bloggers willing to take on the host duties of pulling their community together for an effective tour, plus an author’s publisher can add a budget for a grand prize to generate buzz and participation. There is so much more to say about how these are run today, but not enough space here. Physical book tours are hit or miss as far as foot traffic & how successful they can be, but with virtual tours you never leave home and the blog traffic keeps coming long after you’ve posted.
3.)    Twitter – I’ve found twitter to be a wonderful community to get to know and if you post your blog link or website or stir up a virtual tour, you can actually track the stats on your blog. This is quantifiable data. Social media spots like Facebook don’t have stats on traffic because they are not set up to conduct business well. Twitter is free and can be used effectively to enhance the draw to your blog or other objectives. Cultivate the book blogging & review community. They are truly amazing & avidly into books. We use twitter here at TKZ. If you’re a TKZ fan, follow us at this LINK.
4.)    Blogging – Whether you do a group blog or fly solo with your own, blogging is free and has stats for traffic analysis. If you have an active blog with commenting followers and an even more active lurker community (reflected in stats for your site hits), blogging is a resource that can be especially useful to the self-published author, the aspiring author trying to get their name out, and the pubbed author with “out of the box” promo objectives. Used in conjunction with twitter, this can be an effective way to post interesting articles to the blogosphere without costing you the money that a website domain would.
5.)    Street Teams – This is a concept that may be more prevalent with young adult readers, but there are adults volunteering their time for this too. Street teams started with the music community for people wanting to support their bands. Authors have taken this concept a step further and created clever ways to tie this promo function into their books. You can post a sign up on your website (like a yahoo group) where avid readers can send contact info to participate in a buzz campaign for your next release or an ongoing support group. You set up the criteria they need to be approved (ie must have a blog or post to X number of blogs for an advance review, etc. Publishers’ qualifications are posted on and gives guidelines on what these pre-qualifiers might be.) These avid fans (with special team names you create) are promised special insider information about your upcoming release, sent advance teaser quotes from your book, given swag like bookmarks or other token gifts or signed book covers, sent bookmarks/postcards to hand out—in exchange for help to spread the word about your next book, both online and word of mouth. Again, this is a huge topic without room to expand here.
Bottom line—take advantage of what is free on the internet. Get to know the growing technology that readers are using and come up with fun new ways to get your name or brand out there. Even if you are an aspiring author or thinking about self-publishing, having an online presence is important to develop a solid foundation of marketing your work and exposing your name to the publishing industry and readers who might be looking for you.

If you’re a reader, I’d love to hear how your search for books has changed in this more digital world as newspaper review sections have declined and other resources have dried up? Where do you go online for book recommendations?

And if you’re an author, I’d love to hear any other ideas for online promo that you think might be worth consideration. What has worked for you?

Reckoning for the Dead (HarperCollins, Sept 27, 2011. Book #4 – Sweet Justice adult thriller series)
“Jordan Dane crafts nail-biting thrillers with fully-realized but very damaged characters, and plots that twist and turn and double-back to bite the unwary. Her novels are 21st Noir with guts and heart and a wicked sense of humor.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestseller

12 thoughts on “Marketing in a Digital World – Maximizing FREE

  1. . I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in the subject. Thanks you for the info.

  2. Good tips, Jordan. I tell new authors (who get the shakes about all they think they have to do in the new media) to a) do what they can without b) taking away from the quality of their writing; c) taking away from the quality of their relationships; or d) going into debt.

    Thankfully, the best marketing is still the book itself, and the body of work. All the social media attention in the world will not float a weak work for long. But if you can write page turners (notice the plural) you have a chance to catch on with patience and consistency in your marketing efforts.

  3. Thanks for commenting, FT. Each of the bullet points could have their own post. I wanted to share the nuances of what I’ve been learning through my YA promo and apply what might work to my adult books. I’m glad you found something of interest.

  4. Jim–I always love your spot on comments. Bottom line is, your book is the best promo, for sure.

    I adapt my marketing approach with each book, disgarding what isnt working & trying other things for marketing efforts that are cost effective & considerate of my time.

    Although I think new authors should definitely have an online presence, they sometimes get distracted by all the promo & forget that the writing comes first. Thx, Jim.

  5. Hey John. Thanks for your question. This term, virtual tour, has been around but has evolved as we get more digital.

    A virtual tour is an online promotion that “travels” from site to site over a period of time (2-4 wks) that focuses on an author with a book launch.”Tour stops” are blogs or websites where someone hosts the tour and posts an interview they conducted with the author or the site could have an article the author has written, usually featuring the book. Along the tour, visitors to each site make comments or participates to get entered into various giveaways, including advance books or a grand prize.

    The virtual tour is set up similarly to a book tour, but without the travel commitments & cost for the author or the publisher. Each tour stop gives teasers into the book & raises readers’ awareness.
    The one I’ve got coming up for my young adult book, ON A DARK WING, will be hosted by a teen blog, YABound and they line up all the tour stops (selecting active bloggers). My publisher helps by donating free books for giveways plus a small budget toward the grand prize.

    I hope this answers your question. Thanks, John.

  6. The most successful promo I did was giving away a Kindle via KindleNation blog. That drawing put two of my books into the Amazon top ten back in January when I did it.

    Having done that, I am currently trying another Kindle giveaway at my website to see if that helps draw more readers (every entry to my drawings gets a coupon for a free ebook as well so you all should go for it). I have also done paperback book giveaways and am currently doing an audiobook giveaway on the The Big Thrill Neverending Giveaway website” and on Goodreads Giveaways. I have found that doing giveaways like this has increased traffic significantly.

    Of course having my own radio show has helped a bit as well, as has doing narrations of both my own audiobooks and other authors (including our own John Gilstrap) has drawn some attention as well.

    In addition to those methods the whole creation of free podcast versions of my books was for the purpose of drawing in a fan base. While that did work to draw in a rather large fan base, those fans mostly just seem to enjoy the free podcasts and don’t always purchase the ebooks or retail version of the audiobooks. But that’s okay, because there’s more books coming out that will be for sale, and that fan base will probably go for them in the future.

    One thing I have not had success at is the virtual blog thing, primarily because I have not been successful in getting on enough well traveled blogs to make a difference. So if anyone wants to steer me towards a good way of setting up a blog tour I’ll be all over it.

  7. Hey Basil. Thanks for your insight. I’ll ck out kindlenation and I’ve heard Goodreads contests are solid to raise awareness.

    The site I mentioned on my post – – helps analyze specific sites. Not every site will be a home run, but if you can pepper a virtual tour with some solid tour stops (mixed among other less trafficked sites), that’s a way to qualify your site selections.

    Whenever I’ve done these, blog reviewers had contacted me to ask if they could organize one for me or they offered their site for a post day set around your release. No matter which way you go, it takes lead time & networking to set up.

  8. As a self-published author who’s just starting, I’ve just Twitter, Facebook, and my blog to market my ebooks online. I sold over 30 copies of my first ebook within a month, which pleasantly surprised me. I think most of the purchases came from friends on Facebook who were excited that I published something on I advertised the same amount for my second ebook, but the novelty might have worn off, because I’ve sold less than 10 copies in about three weeks.

    I’ll have to check out that Quantcast website–and I’d love to hear more about what people have done with it. This is the first time I’ve heard about it.

  9. There is so much to marketing, Steven. It starts with the book & author craft. Hopefully word of mouth follows, but sometimes it takes having a number of consistently crafted novels before word spreads enough.

    I read a post about setting up your point of sale author pages well too, like on amazon, B&N, etc. A reader has to see a compelling book summary, read praise endorsements from credible sources, or find an interesting bio of the author. I don’t buy this way, but apparently the number of people who “like” your book carries weight or the section “those who bought this book also bought” can be important to some readers. All these things send a message to readers about quality & how well a book is selling. But it takes time & consistency to grow your online business.

    Good luck.

  10. Thanks, Nancy. Free books are always popular if you can get your stuff into the hands of real readers. Goodreads might work well, but when I had contest info on my website, several undesirable websites linked to it–SWEEPSTAKES websites to free ANYTHING. I eventually had to take that mt contest page down. I think people were registering for the free stuff so they could sell it on Ebay. Now some might say that my books eventually got into a reader’s hands, but the whole thing took the fun out it for me.

    I think it’s important to think out of the box on utilizing online marketing, similar to the ideas presented in this post where readers get involved or get to know the author & want to help spread the word. That can put the fun back into this process for readers & authors.

    Have a good weekend, Nancy.

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