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Friday, February 2, 2018

Naked News 4 Indie Authors: How NOT to Invest Your Marketing $$$ in 2018



If you consider publishing with a small (not famous) publisher you owe it to yourself to google the publisher’s name and the word “scam,” like so:

“...publisher’s name” AND “scam.”

It’s one of the great advantages of our time that we can google facts and snoop around to protect ourselves. So – please, do it!


A general rule is – If the “potential publisher” wants to charge you any kind of fee – Hands Off!

Why would they charge you any fees?

Do they believe that your work will sell, or not?

Are they aware that every day thousands of people self-publish books at practically no cost?

If their answer is that they “need to” charge you for marketing services, please ponder the following. Any successful publisher is making money. Hence, if they are really making money by publishing best books and further book sales by running great marketing campaigns, why do they need your money to do it?

The big idea of authors and publishers working together is that authors write because that’s what they do best and publishers publish because that’s their m├ętier. The concept is not that authors finance publishers’ business operations.

The other truth is that you can do your own marketing and learn a lot about the industry – information that will help you to

  • become a better writer
  • win friends and fans (gain a following)
  • learn what kind of books your friends and fans want to read
  • learn how to market books
  • win more friends and fans
... all of which makes you a more attractive author who might get signed on by a serious publisher, in the future.

Today, the best traditional publishers want to meet authors with a big fan community. The immense success of “Fifty Shades of Grey” showed The Big 5 (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) that unknown authors who have a huge fan community can succeed and write a bestseller. Hence – do everything you can to become that author.


As you embark on your journey as a self-publishing author, you might get to a point where you feel, “What happened? I did not sign on with this publisher who wanted eight hundred bucks from me. Why am I am now surrounded by other people who all want money from me. Who should I believe?”

You need to believe your own smarts! (Because it’s YOUR money.)

Did you ever buy a car or a house? – I am sure that when you purchase big ticket items, you check every little detail.  Before you buy a new car, you read consumer reports. Before you buy a used car, you get it inspected by your trusted mechanic. And, before you buy that house that looks like your dream house, you hire a home inspector to make sure it really is.

You can do the same when contemplating the purchase of any kind of book marketing related services.

Though you cannot hire an “inspector” to examine marketing products, you can find out facts. It’s relatively easy.

Since practically everything we do on the Internet is being tracked lots of data is out in the open. 

Additionally, you can and should ask questions. But, don’t ask “everybody,” ask your target audience, the people who are most likely going to buy your book.



The biggest fiction of 2017 is that garnering a good number of reviews in reviews clubs, then advertising a book on Twitter, will lead to substantial sales. 

This system used to work till around 2016. That year, authors published one million books in addition to the already published 20+ million books, which is an increase of five percent, but of course the number of readers did not increase proportionally. Hence, more authors compete for the attention of the same numbers of readers.

Ask any of your author friends and they’ll confirm.

So, what really sells books?

TALK – good, old word of mouth, amplified by social media chatter. 

Of course, ideally, you’d have Oprah talking about your book but that’s probably not going to happen. So, who else could talk about your book?

  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Online friends
  • Writer group friends
  • Media
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
  • Guest blogs
really any kind of communication...

Unfortunately, as explained in the opening chapter, even some of your friends and acquaintances will begin to take your work seriously only when “others” talk about your work...

Now you might say, “Which others? I am talking to “others” all day long but they aren’t buying my books and not all of them are spreading the word.”

Remember Ann? When Ann tweeted that she bought my book, I didn’t know that Ann was writing her own book, that she was interested in other books that told autobiographical stories. Ann responded because in contrast to my doc, she was really interested in finding story books.

To find others who want to buy our books and also spread the word, we have to identify our target group of readers as precisely as possible.

Whereas tweeting to “everybody” will return limited results regardless whether you do it yourself or you hire somebody to do it for you, speaking to your specific target audience will get results. This includes the media.

As mentioned, my work was featured on Bloomberg. However, it wasn’t featured in the book review section but by the reporter who writes about “everything Amazon,” including Amazon reviews. Even within the same organization not “everybody” will be interested to spread the word about our books.


I studied mass media at the University of Vienna; among the many theoretical exercises we students had to do, one stood out. A professor asked us to envision a situation in the fifteenth century, when only one book existed the Bible. The Bible was the first book that got printed on Gutenberg’s printing press.

In the 15th century, this only book was not the only form of mass media. Wandering theater troupes entertained people, rich and poor. However, before books were mass produced (instead of being copied by hand), poor(er) people had no way of acquiring entertainment and taking it home. They could only remember what they had seen and heard and tell others about it.

Naturally, then as today, people want to own items that entertain them, in the furthest sense of the word. That’s why we buy the books and videos we buy and why we record moments we want to remember, forever.

Supply & Demand

Because people want to own entertainment, printing presses were a rousing success. By 1500, more than twenty million books got printed and during the 16th century an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. Soon, all over Europe, people could choose what kind of book they wanted to read.

This situation literally exploded in the 21st century because today everybody can also publish their writings.

In other words, the original situation, “only one special book for everybody who can read” turned into “millions of books for fewer people than the ones who can read.” Today, people choose to acquire entertainment in different formats.

That’s why today’s self-publishing authors need to market their books to the specific readers who want to read their specific books. 

My university courses covered this topic as well; my professors’ answer to all related questions were two words data collection and statistics.

Most artists do not like to hear these two words. They sound boring and everybody knows that doing this kind of work is boring. Still, it is more important than ever. In this century, every influencer hoards data; but, if it’s flawed it doesn’t help.

Flawed Data

A well-known example of flawed data collection is the US presidential election 2016.

Based on the data she saw, Hillary Rodham Clinton thought she’d win. Maybe even Donald Trump thought she’d win and certainly most reporters thought she’d win.

The reason was most of them looked at the same flawed data. HRC’s team did not examine the “real data” from the Rustbelt states, the voice of voters who eventually helped Donald Trump win the election.


Authors looking at “flawed data” means pursuing “everybody”, including people who prefer to watch the movie made from the book. Asking fellow authors about their opinions of books they would not buy also leads to collecting flawed data. 

In contrast, zooming in and learning about your real readers’ preferences will help you in designing everything from the book cover to your marketing campaign.

Here is how it matters:

As I am writing this book, I am already testing three potential covers for this book. Obviously, the target group is indie authors. So, I posted three potential covers to Facebook author friends, asking them to pick their favorite.


After 24 hours, 48 authors had weighed in. 18 male authors and 30 female authors. That’s approximately 37% of male respondents and 63% female respondents.

27% liked cover #1.
56% liked cover #2.
16% liked cover #3.

Though the choice seems to be clear, there is more to this topic than we can see at one glance. Best data research requires more effort than adding up numbers and figuring out averages.  

Of the 30 women:
5 had voted for cover  #1, which equates to 17%.
23 had voted for cover #2, which equates to 77%.
2 liked cover #3.

However, the 18 men voted very differently.
50% liked cover #1.
27% liked cover #2.
33% liked cover #3.
Though the female authors had a clear preference, the male authors did not necessarily go along with it.

What was to be learned from this?

To make a best decision, we need to examine industry trends as well as personal data.

My personal data included the fact that previous editions of this book had been reviewed by twice as many women as men. 

Important industry information from reputable organizations instructed that in 2017 “Women Rule in Indie Publishing.” Here is one of the many articles.

Hence, I did not have to run a complicated data analysis to figure out that I needed to give preference to the opinion of female authors (77% liked cover #2) which was also supported by 27% of men. Also, notice that two times as many female authors responded to my query which supports the article’s findings.


In short: This is not complicated math. You can do this too!

(End of excerpt)

What are some of the ways you collect data and make it work for you? 


Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist and a top reviewer. 

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show - a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, "The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling"-podcast, and Austria's Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. 

Gisela is a graduate of the University of Vienna, Austria. 

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, she globe-trotted almost 100,000 kilometers on three continents, including to the locations of her favorite books: Doctor Zhivago’s Russia, Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia. 

Her motto:
"Don't wait. The time will never be just right."-Napoleon Hill 

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Gisela tweets @Naked_Determina

© 2018 by Gisela Hausmann 

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