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How Not to Market Your Novel: A 12-step process

by Alyssa Schwarz

How (not) to Market Your Novel

Congratulations, you’ve written a book! You spent months, maybe even years, pouring your heart into your characters that they feel as real to you as your next-door neighbor. Your heart nearly skips a beat as you type those final two words every author dreams about writing, The End.

Phew, the book is complete (cue happy dance), and you can finally relax.

But now what?

Maybe you’ve already taken the next steps and given your book baby to beta readers or

even an editor. They’ve given their feedback. You’ve rewritten your story and rewritten it some

more until you feel it’s finally the best it can possibly be.

Now you’re finally done! (time for a celebratory coffee and that new notebook you’ve

had your eyes on)… But the you realize you still have to somehow jump that publishing hurdle

and get your book in front of potential readers so they can fall in love with it as much as you


Whether you go the traditional publishing route or indie publishing, each will require you

to do your own marketing on some level. No, marketing is not a bad word, but it can feel like an

intimidating one. That’s why I’ve made a simplified list of what NOT to do when marketing your


1. Do NOT, under any circumstances, talk about your book.

You’ve written a book, but you’re terrified to hear what people think of it in the off

chance they don’t like it. Or maybe this whole being-an-author-thing feels intimidating, and you

find yourself comparing your book to the NY Times best seller list and immediately tell yourself

it’s not good enough.

80% of Americans say they want to write a book, but only 3% ever finish. You wrote a

book. That’s something to celebrate right there! And your family and friends will want to

celebrate with you, so don’t be afraid to talk about it.

2. Don’t make a website

“Is that really necessary?” you might ask. “Only multi-published authors like Francine

Rivers or Karen Kingsbury need a website.” Or maybe you plan to build one as soon as your

book is published, but not yet.

Anyone can make a website, and companies like Wix and WordPress make it easy and

relatively inexpensive to create one on your own. Once you have a website, you can start

building a brand, promote a new book release or your backlog, engage with readers, and start

building an online presence. So, whether your pre-published or have twenty books out, having an

author website is a win-win.

3. Leave building a newsletter until after you launch your book

You’ve heard people, other authors, and agents say you should have one, but why does it

matter so much? Isn’t word of mouth and social media enough? Maybe you’ve found yourself

asking, “What would I even put in it?” or “I’ll wait until after I’ve published my first book to

build it.”

Unlike Instagram or Facebook that are owned by another company, your newsletter is

completely yours. It might have a smaller number of subscribers than your social media

accounts, but those people will be far more committed to the success of your books.

4. Don’t worry about your target reader

You want everyone to read your book, so why would you focus on marketing to only one


If you can figure out the types of people who will read your books, you can know: which

social media platform they spend their time on, what book interests they have, what will make

them want to try a new book or a new author, and lots more. A lot of authors struggle with this

idea of designing their ideal reader avatars, so why not take it one step further and write/market

your book to a specific person.

It can be a beta reader who has loved your work from the beginning, or a new super fan

you connected with over Instagram. Find a real-life person who loves your book… and then put

your marketing energy into places you know that person would be interested in. Your goal is to

connect with other readers who will also love your book for the same reasons, so marketing to

that one fan will ultimately reach others that are just like them.

5. Don’t blog… or do

Wasn’t blogging something people did fifteen years ago? Is it really such a big deal


Yes… and yes. While blogs have been around for a while, they are still going strong. As

of this year, nearly a third of all websites contain a blog.

So what does that mean?

A well written and consistent blog can start bringing in readers before you even publish

your first book. You can talk about your research, interview other authors, host blog tours, talk

about life and your writing process… The sky’s the limit.

On the flip side, though, a bad blog can give readers the wrong impression from the start

and convince them not to read your books.

So what’s the takeaway?

If you decide to write a blog, great! Find a theme that works for you and represents your

personality and writing style and stick with it. Your books, as well as your social media,

newsletter, website, and blog are all part of your brand and you want them to work seamlessly


6. Don’t optimize your book cover and description

You’ve all heard the phrase, Don’t judge a book by its cover.

While the sentiment might be true, a book cover is often the first thing a reader sees that

will determine if they chose to pick up your book or the one next to it. In 2022, over 4 million

books were published. So how do you make your book stand out from the masses?

Design an attractive cover that fits with your genre, and write a killer description. You

can either make your own cover with programs like Canva or BookBrush, or you can buy a pre-

made one or hire a designer for a custom cover. Like your book’s description, the cover should

reflect your story as well as your brand.

And as for descriptions… give it a good hook, include a story question or universal

theme, introduce the main characters, a brief summary of the story, and a hint at what the main

conflict will be.

7. Don’t use social media to build a platform

Maybe you’re not a fan of social media, so you wonder if there’s a way to connect with

readers without having to create a new account. While this is absolutely possible (see newsletter

section above), you might be missing out on connecting with some amazing readers, reviewers,

and other authors.

While your newsletter following is necessary, social media outlets like Instagram,

Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest are great resources for building your platform. Start with just

one or two that you know you can do well, be consistent, keep to your brand, and have fun!

8. Only use social media to promote your books

As mentioned in the newsletter section, Facebook could crash tomorrow, and you could

lose all your followers in a blink. Diversify your platform and marketing, and you’ll reach an

even wider audience.

9. Launch your book and forget about it after the first week

Book launch week can be magical and exhausting all at the same time. Many authors

only focus on that single week like it’s a spring, when in reality, your book’s marketing should be

a marathon.

How many books have you picked up and read years after they were published? Did you

love them any less because you’d waited to read them? Neither will your readers. But if you stop

all marketing efforts the week or month after your book is published, it might get buried under

all the other millions of books before they ever get the chance to read it.

10. Launch your book without creating a marketing plan

You’ve never launched a book, so how could you be expected to know what a marketing

plan should look like? Let a lone a good marketing plan.

Thanks to Google, there are tons of resources online to help with this. It can be as

minimal or detailed as you like, but the practice of sitting down and writing out a plan will help

your launch feel so much less stressful than if you did it all off the cuff.

11. Don’t utilize ads, promos, and paid advertising

This one might sound scary, but you can tailor your advertising up or down as much as

you like. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to have a few lesser-yielding ads in your search for the big

one that draws in readers by the hundreds. This is a great way to keep your book launch

momentum going long after that first week.

Run a discounted sale before Christmas, use keywords to promote your beach-themed

book at the start of the summer, pay to be featured in a large book-themed newsletter, join multi-

author giveaways, take a class on Amazon ads and try out a few different designs…

Think of advertising as a creative extension of your writing and be open to


12. Keep to your writing space and never engage with other authors / readers

All authors know how isolating writing can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

Part of the joy of writing is getting to share it with others. The highs and the lows. To

celebrate when a friend’s book hits the best-seller list and to comfort when life seems to

overwhelm. A community can answer questions, be a sounding board for story ideas, provide

feedback and edits, give encouragement…Community is also a place where you can offer the

same things to other writers.

Maybe your book will touch someone’s life in a way you never imagined. Wouldn’t it be

amazing if that sparked a conversation that then turned into friendship?

That’s what books are all about, connecting us to others via story. And fortunately for us,

those relationships are not limited to the page.

in other relevant news...

Fields of Glass released this week! I'm so excited to share this story with you all! It has been my favorite book to write to date, and has lots of humor, intrigue, and heart to keep readers turning the pages.

A little more about the book...

Micah Prescott will do anything to save his family's sheep ranch, even if it kills him. With a city-based firm pressuring him to sell and the bank threatening to call in his loan, he has less than a month to figure out a solution to keep the property his father strove so hard to protect. But when a storm rolls in, washing out the only bridge to town and bringing with it an unwanted visitor, he finds his options quickly dwindling.

Sales associate Francis Grace Riley will do anything to prove that she belongs. Convinced she can secure a deal where others had only failed, she takes to the mountains in search of one stubborn rancher, only to realize there is much more riding on the outcome of this trip than her job.

From the moment Micah rescues Grace on the side of the road, sparks fly—that is until he learns who she really is. Stuck together until the bridge is repaired, the two of them must learn to work as a team if they have any hopes of achieving their goals. But when things start to go wrong on the ranch, and sheep begin to disappear, they're left questioning who they can trust ...

... and what they're willing to sacrifice for those they care for.

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  • alyssaschwarzautho

Raise your hand if you enjoy running.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a runner. Like a lot of people, I ran track in school. I have a very clear memory from one of my early track meets. We were on the bus heading into the mountains when my coach came over and asked if I’d step in for the 4x400 relay. I’d never done that length of relay before, but how hard could it be? Without a second thought, I agreed and promptly shifted my thoughts back to my other events.

Once at the school track, I went through my normal routine: high jump, long jump, triple jump (see a trend there? I was definitely more of a jumper than a runner). At the very end of the track meet, the announcer called the relay contestants to the starting line. Baton in hand, I waited until the whistle blew, and I raced ahead as if running down the long jump runway.

For anyone who didn’t do track, an entire lap around a football field is MUCH longer than a long jump sprint. Half way in, I looked back to see a large gap between me and the next runner, and that’s when the fatigue hit. Ask any runner, and they’ll say to watch your pacing. Otherwise, you’ll burn out too soon. I had never ran this race before, and it was all too evident in that moment that I’d chosen the wrong pace.

My legs began to cramp, my lungs were burning (did I mention we were in the mountains?). I wanted to quit, but that’s when I heard the excited cheers of my teammates. My body told me to slow down, take a breath and relax … but their encouragement was enough to redirect my focus. Even if we didn’t win, I’d finish my length of the race for the sake of my teammates.

Exhausted, I reached the starting line and handed off my baton to the next runner moments before I downed half a bottle of water and collapsed onto the grass.

Now raise your hand if you’ve ever worked toward a goal?

I think most everyone can relate to this one: get that promotion, buy that house, finish this degree, make it through the workweek until the weekend … We are constantly striving after goals, whether they be big or small, short-term or long. It’s amazing how much we mark our lives by reaching certain milestones, as if they are the medals we wear around our necks.

What are you racing toward?

Sometimes, the race seems smooth and uneventful, but other times, it can feel like we’re in over our heads. We’ve chosen the wrong pace for this race we find ourselves in, and the idea of continuing down this path sounds terrifying and exhausting. What then?

We shift our focus.

Not to the momentary discomfort, not to the growing to-do list or the hundreds of questions and worries around us. But to the author and perfecter of our faith.

Like when Jesus asks Peter to walk on water … When we focus on Him, He will lead us in ways unimaginable. To walk on water. But the moment Peter turns his focus toward the waves, he begins to sink because he’s already forgotten who he is walking with.

Is there an area of your life you are struggling to get through? Look toward Jesus. Are you in a season of doubt or worry? Look to Jesus. Are you pressing on toward that goal, and all your plans seem to be going as planned? Continue to look toward Jesus.

“...I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

-Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

The Glass Road (A Prescott Family Romance, #2)

Austin Wright had bigger dreams than to inherit his grandfather’s old property, but with the help of his nephew and a few volunteers, he decides to reopen the idyllic summer camp of his youth.

Following her accident at the first triathlon of the season, Tess Prescott’s dreams of the Olympics are shattered, and when her brother volunteers her to work at his friend’s summer camp, she is anything but pleased. Determined to make the best of a bad situation, and to keep herself busy while she recovers, she reluctantly agrees, and ultimately learns the joy of being part of a team.

In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, two people must learn to work together if they have any chance of making it through this season of change—even if it means sacrificing the dreams they once strove so hard to protect. But one unexpected secret could have the power to unravel it all.

Available October 11, 2022

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  • alyssaschwarzautho

I love family traditions—the way they link present and past and bring people together. These unique little traditions can be tied to birthdays, anniversaries, holidays… Maybe your family decorates the house a certain way for Christmas, or maybe there was that desert your aunt always makes for family get-togethers. Whatever it may be, it is the love behind these practices that makes them so special.

There is one such family tradition I look forward to every year, and it’s the Loveland, CO valentine re-mailing program. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember receiving a Valentine’s Day card from my grandma with the iconic Loveland stamp in the top corner. She’d pick out every card, address it, and drop the sealed envelopes in a red box at the grocery store. From there, they’d be taken back to Loveland in early February, stamped, and sent off from there.

Every year, I’d wait for that letter and marvel over the unique stamp and the poem chosen to go along with it. Most of the time, they were cheesy and cute, but that only made me love them all the more. To this day, my mom and I still wait until February to send our Valentine’s Day letters up to Loveland to share the new love-inspired stamps with the rest of the family.

Now, this tradition goes back much farther than my grandma. In 1947, Elmer Ivers, the Postmaster of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, received some interesting mail. Around February, he was sent a few dozen letters with a note to stamp them with Loveland’s postmark. Thinking it a grand idea, he rounded up the Loveland stamp club and began the letter re-mailing program, complete with its own cancellation stamp. Below is an example of one of the many poems that have been incorporated into the stamps over the decades:

Our sweetheart city has a magical way

To brighten up your valentine’s day

When you open your card it will reveal

The spirit of friendship and the love we all feel

After a shaky start, Elmer partnered with Ted Thompson, the owner of the Rialto Theater in town and the Chamber of Commerce, and they formally declared Loveland the Sweetheart City. Ted and his wife Mable, the real Sweetheart Couple of the city, breathed a new life into the program than had ever been seen. Now, over 75 years later, it’s as big an event as ever. Still going after all these years, the re-mailing program sees mail from over 110 countries (spanning from Denmark, to China, to Japan), employs 50 volunteers every year to sort and stamp all the letters, and there is even up to a ten-year wait-list to become a stamper.

So while I continue this tradition because of my grandma, I can feel a part of a larger tradition spanning the years of Colorado’s history. And thus, began the inspiration for my latest novella, Dear Beth, a sweet Valentine’s Day story set against the backdrop of this real-world Hallmark-ish Colorado town.

Dear Beth (A Prescott Family Romance, #0.5)

After finishing his veterinarian training, Tye Prescott is back in Colorado and ready to give his relationship with Beth another chance, only she's made it very clear she wants nothing to do with him.

Beth Walsh is a hopeless romantic, except when it comes to her own love life. In her opinion, love is best left to the storybooks. But when a few nosy octogenarians decide to play matchmaker, she grasps for the only excuse she can think of to avoid another set up.

Set against the backdrop of Loveland's historic Valentine's Day letter re-mailing program, Tye and Beth must work together to convince the town of their rekindled romance. But Tye has his own plans of winning back the woman who got away.

Might it finally be time for Beth to risk her heart again?

Available January 25th, 2022

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