Selling My Books: Deborah Jay’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog

Head and shoulders of Deborah JayMy first encounter with novelist Deborah Jay was on Twitter, and I subsequently discovered that she also writes non-fiction equestrian books under the name Debby Lush – so she has plenty of experience to draw on for today’s top tip – something easy to apply, whatever genre you write in. 

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could just be the one you most enjoy.

Deborah Jay: My favourite is a simple piece of passive marketing: adding the most effective back matter to each of your books. In other words, it’s what you add at the end of your book AFTER you’ve typed ‘The End’.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions.

Kindle screen with note from author Deborah Jay: Ideally, the first thing a reader should see, following the end of the book proper, is a brief ‘thank you’ note from the author, with a request to leave a review. Something along the lines of:

“Thank you so much for spending your time reading my words. If you liked what you read, would you please leave a short review on the site where you purchased it? Just a few lines would be great. Reviews are not only the highest compliment you can pay to an author, they also help other readers discover and make more informed choices about purchasing books in a crowded space. Thank you!”

If you tailor your ebook individually for a specific retailer, you can even insert a direct link to where you want your reader to leave a review.

Following this, add contact information (again, using direct links) for your website and social media sites, details (cover and blurb) of your other available books, and an author bio – many readers like to know more about their favourite authors and where they can find them on the web.

About the author pageFinally, if this book is part of a series, you might also include the first chapter of the next book – a great way to get readers to go and buy the next book immediately.

You can play around with the order of these items, but the review request should always be right up there in a prominent position.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Deborah Jay: I’m a big fan of passive marketing, because it doesn’t take up too much time! Once you’ve written your back matter for one book, most of the wording can just be added to each subsequent release with little change. Admittedly you need to update each book, every time you publish a new one, (by adding cover and blurb of each new release) but that’s minimal time input compared to many marketing efforts.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Kindle screen showing about the next book detailsDeborah Jay: Every book and all the time! That’s the joy of passive marketing, and I know that many of my reviews have come about as a result of adding this simple, polite request.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Deborah Jay: Not now. I have refined what I add over a few versions, changing author photos and cover pictures to look better in print books as well as ebooks, and I’ve learned not to mention Amazon in a version that is going to Apple, as they simply refuse to publish if you name the competition!

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Deborah Jay Like everyone, I think – the amount of time it eats up.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?

Deborah Jay: I’m currently trying to understand a bit more about how Pinterest works as a marketing tool. I enjoy making boards and sharing pictures, I’m just clueless so far as to how to use it.

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Deborah Jay: I’m in the middle of writing the second book in my epic fantasy series, so no immediate release news, but I’ve just added a newsletter sign up page to my website so that I can keep eager readers up to speed. I love to meet new authors and readers on my blog, which comprises a mix of book spotlights, blog tours and reviews in my genres (fantasy and SF) with occasional informative posts on indie publishing subjects. All visitors welcome!

Debbie Young: Thanks so much for taking part today. Lots of luck with your new book!

SPECIAL OFFER: This weekend (21st-22nd June 2014), Deborah Jay’s novel The Prince’s Man is just 99p on Amazon! It’s been described as “James Bond meets Lord of the Rings” – what’s not to love about that? Hop over here to snap it up.


One Simple, Affordable Tool for Marketing Your Self-Published Book: The Bookmark

WP_20130908_002 Here’s an easy, low-cost tool to help you promote your self-published book all year round, wherever you go: the promotional bookmark.

It may seem like an old-fashioned approach, but there’s a reason it’s still a popular device – it works!

How to Create an Effective Promotional Bookmark

If you’re using an assisted publishing service, you may be lucky and find that your chosen service provider will create bookmark artwork as a side-order when they’re setting up your book cover design.

If not, or it you’re taking the complete DIY route with your self-publishing project, it’s straightforward to create bookmarks yourself using online print services such as Vistaprint or your local high street printer. These services generally offer templates which you can adapt to match your book’s design, so it’s only a matter of moments to cut and paste key details from your book jacket and author website.

SavedPicture-201399215338.jpgApart from the obvious details to include – book jacket image, title and author name – add teaser text to whet the reader’s appetite. This might be a potted version of your book jacket blurb, an intriguing quote or celebrity endorsement, or a great review. Add useful information to encourage prospective buyers to make further connections with you (author website address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, etc).

WP_20130908_013 (2)Your bookmark should match or complement the cover and style of your book, so it’s easy to see they’re a matching pair. Ideally it should have the same finish as your book cover – matt, gloss, textured etc. Having seen the bookmark, the reader should be able easily to spot the book in shops, online or in the library.

Although you may be tempted to go for cheaper card or less colourful printing to keep down your costs, I reckon it’s worth paying for a decent quality out of respect for your book. Produce something that’s pleasant to handle and striking to look at, and the recipient is far less likely to throw it away (much less readily than a plain business card too), so it will stay with them, acting as a silent salesman for your book, long after your encounter is over.

Use Your Bookmarks Wisely

Once you’ve got your bookmarks, use them wisely! Unless you are printing them by the thousand, they will be a significant investment per item. Expect to pay around 50p each for decent quality in a small print run. So don’t dish them out like sweets. Instead, use them in a measured way as your book’s calling card.

  • WP_20130908_007Keep a supply always to hand, e.g. in your handbag, pocket or ereader case, (or even in your own reading book, if you read in public places). Then, if you strike up a conversation about your book with someone at a dinner party or on a train, for example, it’s a winning move to present them with your bookmark as a parting gesture.
  • They’re also a useful give-away to provide to your local independent bookshop, should you manage to persuade them to stock your books. Offer a dozen or so bookmarks for the counter to help draw initial attention to your book, and replenish them should the sales justify such generosity.
  • Bookmark for The Prince's Man by Deborah JayEqually, offer a handful to your local public library. It makes a great starting point for a discussion as to whether they have a copy of your book on their shelves, whether they’d like to order one from you, or whether they might like to invite you in as a local author to give a talk, on World Book Night, perhaps, or for their next literature festival.
  • If you ever sell your books at local markets or craft fairs, fanning out a few bookmarks on display is a good way to add visual interest to your table, and it’s a starting point for conversation. People may ask you whether the bookmarks are free, and that gives you the chance to start talking to them about your book and gauging whether they’re a potential buyer.
  • At your book launch event, offer the bookmarks for sale at a price to cover your costs, and you may sell some to shoppers who want an added extra not normally available for sale, or to those who aren’t sure about buying the book, or don’t have enough money with them, or who simply want to support you without buying the book itself.
  • WP_20130908_006If you have friends or relations who have already read and enjoyed your book, take advantage of their enthusiasm by giving them a small supply of bookmarks. They’ll usually be happy to pass them on to acquaintances who they think might be interested in your book . (People always like to have an excuse to tell others they know a real live author!) They’ll feel good about being able to give away this smart little object while making their recommendation. Few people will turn it down and with the bookmark as an aide-memoire of the title and author, they’ll be far more likely to actually go on and buy the book than if they just heard about it in a conversation.

As you can see, though the humble bookmark may at first seem a very humble marketing device, if used wisely, it can also be a powerful marketing tool, opening doors and raising awareness wherever you go.


Oh, and it also comes in handy for marking your place when you’re reading!

If you’ve already produced a bookmark that you’re proud of, send me a jpeg image of it in use, and I’ll add it to this post to show it off for you!


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