Top 10 Items On My 2016 Marketing Plan

by Molly Greene, @mollygreene

Top TenI recently posted my disappointing 2015 author earnings, and declared that I would pursue an enhanced marketing plan (meaning not solely dependent on BookBub and KDP Select) over the rest of 2016. And that I’d share what I decided to do.

It’s pretty simple, and many of you have done all of this already, but better late than never, right? Here goes.

1. Join a group of authors who cross-promote

I would love to create or join a small group of self- and/or hybrid-published authors who are willing to actively cross promote each other’s books using various clever new methods TBD (haha). My ideal team would consist of authors who  …

  • Write great stuff!
  • Publish titles in Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Romantic Suspense, or a similar genre (for me that means mysteries and crime fiction that are low on the graphic sex/blood/language scale). You need to be in that category, or close.
  • Have at least three titles published (or will soon), with a good quantity and quality of Amazon and Goodreads ratings and reviews. Most of my titles have at least 100 reviews each.
  • Have an active, well-developed social media presence and an active blog.

2. To BookBub and beyond

I will never give up on submitting my titles to BookBub (BB). In fact, I’ve created a semi-aggressive, focused schedule to do just that. I was slapdash before. I got in nearly every time I wanted to, so why worry? However, I will no longer expect an acceptance. If and when I do get to play, that’ll be cool. BB will have to be icing on the cake from here on out.

3. Expand advertising venues

So while BB turns up its nose at me, I will now return to doing what I used to do, and utilize the biggest of the “smaller” book promotion sites, advertising one title every six weeks or so. These bigger/smaller sites include eReader News Today, Book Gorilla, Books Butterfly, Robin Reads, and, on the opposite end, Book Marketing Tools’ “free” ebook submission portal, which allow authors to blast your promotion out to a bunch of tiny little sites. (Readers, have any “larger” promo sites to add to this list?)

I believe the secret to best success on these sites is not to overuse them, which means limit exposure by not appearing on their lists too often. Their subscriber lists are smaller. If/when a subscriber purchases or downloads one of your titles after seeing them there, they’ll cycle through your backlist and won’t be buying the next time you appear. Make sense?

4. Revive and rev UP social media

A fellow author recently asked me if I thought social media was a necessity for book sales. And the answer, given by much more successful and knowledgeable industry pros than I, is … yes, and no. Social media is not a direct-sale approach, it’s a long-term strategy to connect with 1) other authors who can and will support you, 2) potential future readers, and 3) raving fans.

This quote, recently posted on The Passive Voice blog, sums it up: When I hear people debate the ROI of social media, it makes me remember why so many business fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon. They’re playing the sprint. They’re not worried about lifetime value and retention. They’re worried about short-term goals.

On the other hand, Todd Borg is the perfect example of an author who has been successful completely without a social media presence. But, he did something else in place of that. He met readers and fans one-on-one at festivals and book fairs.

5. Which brings me to …Twitter

I took a loooong break from Twitter the past two years and let my presence dwindle, mainly because all the direct tweets and DMs from authors insisting that I like their Facebook page and buy their books just, absolutely, totally and completely drove me out of my mind. (Need a refresher? 10 Tweets You Should Never Send)

But I was wrong. Now I’m back onboard, just ignoring DMs and aggressive direct-sale tweets. The truth is, a little self-promotion on any SM platform is all right and it works, meaning, you can sell a few books with a practical, low-key plan that won’t make other authors – and potential readers – crazy.

If you’re using a personal profile on Facebook – as I do – you’ll need to be careful about promoting your books. I’m also dabbling on Instagram and making myself spend a little more time on Goodreads, beginning by simply figuring out how to schedule an event. (Yeah, expectations for myself are low here.)

6. Get titles in my local library

This one is completely doable for everyone, and I began by having a chat with my local librarian. You can, too. Getting my books in the local library means they’d be available in the entire San Diego County system, which will be super. I’m finding that things move slowly. If you walk into your local branch and donate a print copy, it seems most libraries have protocols to deal with that.

Ebooks? Not so much. So be patient.

However, the American Library Association’s self-publishing policy states “your local public library or libraries may purchase a copy in a show of support for local authors, something which is usually part of the overall collection development policy. But this will not be the case with other libraries around the country.”

If you’re “wide,” meaning on multiple sales platforms, your books may be available through Overdrive, which is the vehicle most libraries use to purchase titles. But just because they’re there does not mean libraries will automatically buy them. More about libraries in another post.

7. Create boxed sets

Boxed sets offer another product and additional promo opportunities. I’m putting one together now for Books 1-3 in my series … more about this in another post.

8. Write for a Kindle World

Several friends have written a short story or novella for an Amazon Kindle World and say it can boost back list sales. It just so happens I’ve had an unpublished novella in my back pocket for a while, and I’ll try to figure out how to re-work it for this purpose.


I keep saying I’m going to create print copies of my titles, but life got in the way. Now it’s back on the to-do list, because, as I mentioned above, print makes inclusion in libraries and Goodreads giveaways possible. Keep in mind I’m a one-(wo)man band. Everything is up to me. That means I’m responsible for the print version of every cover. Argggh! Stay tuned.

10. Write more books!

Bottom line, since 2013 my major, #1 goal has been to write three books per year. So far I’ve almost pulled that off, which put everything else on the back burner. Now it’s time to take a deep breath and see how much of the above – plus writing more books, plus blogging … I can pull off. No doubt I’ll publish a separate post for each category as they’re attempted, abandoned, or completed. Wish me luck!

Readers, what do you plan to add to your book marketing arsenal this year? What has worked for you, and what hasn’t? Leave a comment and share!

All original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected – did you enjoy the article? Show your support by checking out my Amazon Author Page – and hey, buy a book while you’re there! Or, subscribe to this blog to receive weekly posts. Your email will NOT be shared, rented, sold, or spammed – that’s a promise. If you haven’t already, friend me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Mwah! Thank you so much.

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47 Responses to Top 10 Items On My 2016 Marketing Plan

  1. Kim Wenzler April 11, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    Hi Molly,
    I don’t do a lot of marketing yet, as I’m still working on book #3 and will wait for that to come out first. However, I sell a bunch of paperbacks as well as ebooks, so I definitely recommend print as another vehicle. I use Createspace and IngramSparks.
    I found out through a reader last year that some libraries on Long Island (where I live) carry my book. I had no idea! So, of course, I donated copies to my local library and they took them no problem. They get borrowed often.
    I’ve done the Goodreads giveaway. Not sure how much that boosted sales but I like sending them out to people and readers left nice reviews so it helped somewhat. That’s all I can offer at this point.
    Good luck with your plan!!

    • Molly Greene April 11, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

      All good news, Kim – thanks so much!! How cool that your books are out there for people to borrow. Next on my list!

  2. Lorilyn Roberts April 11, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

    Molly, one thing I’m doing is, in addition to making my books available on CreateSpace, I’m also going to make my print books available through Lightning Source. I have one book published with them, and I have three more to add from my Seventh Dimension Series.

    The reason is I want to try to get my books into bookstores, and you need returnability to do that. CreateSpace doesn’t allow it. Lightning Source does. I can’t say Lightning Source is easy to navigate. It isn’t. but it’s the only way I’m aware of for an indy author to get his/her books into bookstores. It begins with returnability.

    I think also looking long-term is a better approach than short-term. What will work for the long haul? Paying for internet advertising is no longer particularly effective, except for Book Bub,and they have rejected my Seventh Dimension Series, although they did promote my adoption memoir twice. But the second time wasn’t as effective as the first, so I didn’t submit it a third time. Anyway, I think you are headed in the right direction. Smashwords is a good alternative for getting books on other websites, like Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

    I think social networking with other authors is helpful, but be aware: Most authors are poor marketers. So look for those who write in a similar genre and have a large number of followers on social networks. I have come to the conclusion that social networking does not sell books, but it’s a great way to get information, connect with like-minded people, and be a part of a community. I am speaking here mostly of twitter.

    Also, building an opt-in list. But be aware, people will sign up to a list just to try to win a Kindle. That doesn’t make them a fan. Now I’m weeding out those on my opt-in list who really don’t care about my writing.

    Just my thoughts here. I appreciate your posts and always look forward to hearing from you.

    • Molly Greene April 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

      Thanks Lorilyn! I didn’t include things on my list I’ve already been working on and will continue to, such as building a list. I know about Createspace vs. Ingrams Sparks (formerly Lightening Source), but I think bookstores are a longshot for indies and don’t plan to work on that yet. And as for indies and marketing, you can be sure I’ll do my homework. 🙂 Thanks so much for the tips!

  3. Anne Hagan April 11, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    Molly, is your time worth $5.50 to you? For that tiny amount you can get someone on Fiverr to take your front cover and turn it into the full wrap cover you need for Createspace. I’ve done this 5 times now, successfully.

    • Molly Greene April 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

      MWAH! Anne, I LOVE YOU!! Now that’s the kind of info and support we all need. May a thousand blessings rain down on you. Made my day!!

      • Anne Hagan April 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

        My pleasure. Get those books in print!

        • Molly Greene April 11, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

          I will! Odd how I/we always think we have to do it all. Double mwah!

      • Chris Seabranch April 12, 2016 at 4:00 am #

        Me to – you made my day:)

        • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:08 am #

          So glad if it helps!

        • Anne Hagan April 12, 2016 at 11:17 am #

          You’re welcome too Chris.

          For everyone, I use Fiverr to do a lot of the stuff that I would otherwise spend hours of my own time researching and doing. Now I let Draft2Digital do my Createspace formatting but people on Fiverr have done that for me too. They charge more for novel length – I’ve paid between $15 and $25 for my books, depending on length, but it’s worth it.

          When I ran into catalog problems at Smashwords a $5 Fiverr gig solved that headache for me.

          Early on, I paid $5 each for a few covers and picked the ones I liked best. Now I have someone else do them but, to get started, it’s definitely worth the cheap price to get a few decent samples if you pick people that have lots of stellar reviews.

          • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 11:27 am #

            Thanks, Anne – I knew about Fiverr but haven’t heard much about authors successfully using it. This is the vetting we need to know. If you’d like to do a guest post for me on the subject, I would welcome it. No pressure! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  4. Martin April 11, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Perhaps also interesting for you: The biggest promo site in Germany ( has also a section for books in the English language.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:13 am #

      YES!! Another great tip. Thanks, Martin!

    • Anne Hagan April 12, 2016 at 11:20 am #

      Do you publish directly to them? I noticed Kindle, Apple and Tolino links on their site. I publish to Kindle directly and to Apple and Tolino through Draft2Digital.

  5. Elizabeth Ducie April 12, 2016 at 12:24 am #

    Great post, Molly. I’ve been going through the results from the marketing of my first novel in preparation for the second one, later this year. I sell far more books face to face than I do online – and after briefly thinking that meant I had to concentrate more on my online presence, I concluded instead that it meant I needed to make more opportunities for face to face sales. My approach will be to do more of what worked, rather than the other way around.

    • Gil Jackson April 12, 2016 at 6:55 am #

      Hi Molly,
      I have an advertising background, albeit the days long before social media and its like, but inspite of these media changes the rules remain. For a product to keep selling it has to keep being promoted. Books are no different. Good or
      bad, like music, if you can tell enough people, for long enough it will sell. The trick that we have to pull off is can we afford to promote like Mr Delmonti. My own personal view is that we may all have to return to the tried and tested agent (perish the thought), or continue on the path of throwing good writing on the path of good money.
      Your ambitions for writing three books a year is commedable. For myself, with the research and the size of my books it would come down to one in three years. The question I put to myself forty years ago was, am I writing to make money, or for the pleasure of creating characters and situations; becoming a part of their lives.
      Your idea to form a group of like minded authors, although not new, is excellent, and one that I would not be averse to contributing – sometime.
      Cheers for now,
      Gil Jackson.


      • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:01 am #

        Thanks, Gil! I agree that consistent promotion is required, we just need to experiment to discover which promos are most effective and provide the best ROI. And as for me, I write because I love to, but also because I believe I can earn enough to feed myself and the dog and pay the mortgage. I want it all!

        • Gil Jackson April 12, 2016 at 9:51 am #

          Nothing at all wrong with that. We should answer to no-one.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:15 am #

      Hi Elizabeth! Great to hear about your success with face-to-face, like Todd Borg’s (link in the post to his interview). I don’t think there is a single path to success – we each need to find what works for us. Best to you in all you do, and congratulations!

  6. Derek Smith April 12, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    Thank you for sharing this, Molly. Useful stuff. It’s good to to know what works and, in the end, what doesn’t. And yes, the world does not revolve around Bookbub. Get in if you can but there are other avenues, as you say.

    I have a four book crime series, Jack of All Trades, and I am trying the following in the next few weeks with my ebooks:

    Going permafree on book 1
    Creating a box set of books 1,2,3.

    To go permafree you have to leave KDP Select and publish elsewhere. Amazon are then commited to matching the price. The box sets though can be in KDP Select.

    I will promote in much the same avenues you suggest, with the addition of Facebook advertising. The trick it seems is to promote to fans of a well known author who writes in much the same vein as you do.

    We’ll see how it works. And if it doesn’t one can backtrack.

    Thanks for this blog.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:11 am #

      Thank you, Derek. I’m with you, about to go permafree on Book 1, creating a box set of 1,2,3. Yes, permafree requires an exit from KDP Select and going “wide” on multiple book sale platforms (sounds like another blog post!) and would love to hear about your exp w/ Facebook ads and more about your strategy, as mentioned. Keep in touch!

  7. Jessica April 12, 2016 at 6:19 am #

    My earnings have been pitiful, and I’m not talking low four-digits pitiful, but my best month has still been less than $200. I write under a pen name and my real name, but have been focusing solely on my pen name books, which I have four. Granted, I’m pretty new (first book published August 14 of last year) and I’m still learning the nitty gritty of great storytelling, but my reviews (what few there are) have all been great and mostly organic. (Friends snuck a few reviews in, lol!)

    Any tips for newbies like myself on developing a solid marketing plan to push my sales up? I’d be happy with earning ten bucks a day at this point!

    I’m supposed to be freelancing to pay for my marketing (and help with the household bills) but I’ve got the fiction bug so bad, I’m struggling to give up that time to go find new clients. Of course, I realize that not every author makes a liveable wage, but I know several who do or who are very close to it. I *think* I’m good enough to do it, too, but if I’m not yet, I don’t plan on giving up until I’ve honed my skills enough to make it happen!

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:07 am #

      Good for you Jessica, sounds like you’re on the right track! There are several posts on my blog (use the search box) about 99 cent promos and getting reviews and things like that, but as far as a solid plan for newbies, it depends on your budget and your genre and a ton of things. Write new material, gather reviews is the best thing to do in the beginning. Best to you!

  8. Jennifer Jennings April 12, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Hey Molly,
    This post has inspired me to look at social media in a different light. And yes, by the way, I think we are a good fit. Since we both write in a mystery series, both have a female lead character/private eye, and are open to creative ways of promoting.

    I admit, social media hasn’t been a priority because I have been putting out novellas every three months for the past two years. Writing takes up most of my free time. As you know, I try to snag a Bookbub/Ent promo every other month, which works wonders. But I think I am ready to expand. If you are open, I have an idea on how we could cross promote our book series. We can chat about that.

    Great post, as always! I think getting the box sets in order will be helpful. If you need help with the boxset covers, let me know. I have a great program I use for mine.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 9:04 am #

      Jennifer, I have also put my focus on writing new material, and am now playing catch up w/all the rest. And YES!! Please share the program you use for box set covers, either here or in email. I’ll do a post soon about prepping a boxed set and include it – I will also email you soon about all the rest. Can’t wait to swap ideas. Sorry, slammed today!!

  9. cindy April 12, 2016 at 7:24 am #

    I want to do Book Bub again, and I’m going to follow your ideas for that and other advertising. I also did a little something easy with iBooks, per your “Trends for 2016” post. 3 of my titles are available on iTunes so I made a little iBook dropdown and put them there with links and short tag lines.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 8:57 am #

      Yaaay, Cindy! I need to hear more about this iTunes drop-down, maybe for another post??

    • Anne Hagan April 12, 2016 at 11:28 am #

      I’m debating this myself. I recently built individual pages for each of my books as some are exclusive to Amazon so I can take advantage of Kindle Unlimited and others are ‘wide”. I had too many ‘buy’ links floating around on a page with all 8 books, my release that’s due out soon and the two boxed sets that I have.

      I’m wondering though If I shouldn’t have a vendor drop down menu instead sort of like you’ve done. All the Amazon books on one page, The iBooks on another etc? Something to think about, going forward.

  10. Renee Benzaim April 12, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    Hi Molly,

    I was wondering how someone would contact you to possibly become part of your small group of authors who self-promote?

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 8:56 am #

      Hi Renee, I’ll check out your books on Amazon and shoot you an email later this week. THANKS!

  11. Sue Coletta April 12, 2016 at 8:00 am #

    Thanks for the shout-out, Molly. You caught me totally off-guard. Too funny! I’m absolutely game as you know. I’ve had great luck with FB ads (not boosts) that run continuously (no idea what’s happening this week, though). It’s like putting the marketing on auto-drive, which frees up time to write.

    What a cool tip from Anne Hagan! Wow. That’s what’s so great about these posts. 🙂 And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!!!

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 8:54 am #

      Thanks Sue, I adore you, we’ll talk more. And yes, simple, timely, inexpensive tips like Anne’s remind me of the value of this community. Mwah!

      • Anne Hagan April 17, 2016 at 4:19 am #

        Sorry to put this here but it didn’t give me a reply button on your last response to my previous comment – we must be down to many levels in the conversation flow. You don’t seem to have a way to contact you on your site.

        Anyway, I’d be happy to do a guest post for you about Fiverr but can we target it to mid-to late May or even June? I’ve got a book coming out this month yet to promote and a Kickstarter campaign for another venture entirely going on right now that will tax me into early May.

        • Molly Greene April 17, 2016 at 8:46 am #

          Hi Anne! My email address is under the “About Me” tab. Yaaay! about the guest post and the timing is up to you, but I will pencil you in for early June and email early next week. THANKS!

    • Anne Hagan April 12, 2016 at 11:36 am #

      You’re welcome Sue. Glad I could help. These folks on Fiverr take your original cover, Pantone color match it using Adobe or whatever software they prefer, do the spine and the back cover with your description, photo and short bio and leave space for the ISBN for the measly price of $5.50 and you generally have it in a day or two. If something’s a little off, they’ll adjust it.

  12. Rob April 12, 2016 at 8:21 am #


    There are more than a few reasons to enjoy writing. One is to make a few dollars. Another is to enjoy your sharings, Molly, which I always do. But also I thoroughly enjoy hearing from my readers. I write non-fiction, mostly to young parents. The letters make it so worthwhile.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 8:52 am #

      Yes, Rob, I agree – I love hearing from my readers, as well, it’s wonderful. Thanks!

  13. Geraldine Evans April 12, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    Molly, I’m, in the middle of the Facebook Ads Course by Mark Dawson. It really teaches you the nitty-gritty of Fb and how is the best way to create ads, monitor them, etc. It’s very comprehensive, and I’m dying to try it. But as the bank is taking ages to send me a new bank card after some pesky fraudster targeted me, I can’t. Grr! I write mysteries, too. If you think I’d be a fit for a cross-promo, let me know. I’ve been off the radar for the last year, because I had a stroke. But I’m now firing on all cylinders, bar my right side, which has given up the ghost. 🙁

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      Oh, Geraldine! I’m so sorry to hear about your health issues. You must have grit, which means more – in life and in this industry – than many other characteristics. That and perseverance pretty much rounds out the necessities, and you obviously possess that, as well.

      I’ve heard about Mark Dawson’s course, almost added info about it in this post. Facebook Ads are on my list, too, although not immediate. Will check out your books on Amazon and be in touch!

  14. Geraldine Evans April 12, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    Grit I’ve got in spades. 🙂 Just wish those darned slings and arrows of outrageous wotsit would give it a rest.

    You mind your health, too, Molly. It’s likely my outrageous working hours made me cop for this lot, and looking at all you’re going to do this year, makes me concerned for you.

    Take a break now and then, unlike me, and just have fun! You’ll come back refreshed from the break. All the plans in the world are no good to you if you’re six foot under.

    Definitely put the Mark Dawson Course on your list. Make it a priority and you can cross off most of your list or even hire a VA from your earnings. Because from a few sales to thousands, Mark Dawson’s got it sussed. Just take a look at his Amazon sales pages.

    • Molly Greene April 12, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

      Mwah! Thanks for thinking about me. I took time off mid-February and visited friends in Southern Baja … and did nothing for a week. I think that trip regenerated me enough to take a deep breath and tackle it all again. Will check out Dawson’s course now for sure!

  15. Geraldine Evans April 12, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Glad to hear you enjoyed your rest. Doing nothing for an entire week! Such decadence. 🙂 Well done for having the sense I lacked.

    I’m delighted you are reconsidering Mark Dawson’s Course. I don’t think you’ll regret it. It certainly worked for him.

  16. Connie B. Dowell April 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    Looks like a great list, Molly! I also like your author group idea and would really love to join one, but right now I’m focusing on putting out the books and thus being the kind of author someone would want in their group (hoping to get books 2 and 3 out by the end of the summer), as well as expanding into audio via fiction podcasting.

    • Molly Greene April 15, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      EXACTLY, Connie. Blogging, releasing more books, getting reviews. That’s the Big Three for every author – including me! Best to you in all you do.

  17. Liz Crowe April 17, 2016 at 6:18 am #

    A solid list, Molly. I too am writing my tail off, joining 3 Kindle Worlds, pitching to agents and continuing to build my social media presence by adding Instagram to the mix. I also wrote 3 books, gave 2 away to newsletter subscribers (built it from 700 to almost 1200 that way) and posted them all on Wattpad. One of them, a sexy, funny, chick lit style romance has become pretty darn popular over there! Keep up the good work.

    • Molly Greene April 17, 2016 at 7:07 am #

      Wow, Liz – you’re on fire! I’m working on freebie giveaways, too, and I thought I would hate the distraction but have found that writing a short story seems so easy compared to a full-length novel, that it feejs like taking a break. Thank you so much for sharing!