Let’s talk about something most of you would rather not talk about.


It’s the “M word”……  Marketing.


(cue the sound of wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth!)


Now, deep down you know that, to succeed as a writer in today’s environment, you have to market yourself and your work.  And you’re probably not too thrilled about that.


Look, I get it.  You want to write, not promote.  If you’re like a lot of writers, you view marketing as being pushy…inauthentic…kind of “icky”.


And when you add to it all the stuff that’s been thrown at you about social media and blogging and author platforms and all kinds of other things, I expect you end up looking something like this:




So, I’d like to help you out a bit, and see if I can change your mind about marketing.


Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some thoughts about marketing that will help you see things in a  new light.  One that will hopefully get you inspired to go out and spread the word about you and your work.


Before I launch into my first set of thoughts, a bit of background about me that you may not know:


Before partnering with Laura on Children’s Book Insider, I was the creative supervisor at a major NY public relations firm.  I then co-founded my own PR agency (we helped promote clients like Pictionary, Ertl and Little Golden Books).  For the past 25 years, I’ve been consulting with and mentoring entrepreneurs on marketing and promotion.


But I have one big secret weapon:  you guys.  Because I spend my life helping writers, I understand your unique issues with marketing, and why it can be so difficult for you.  In other words, I get you. And I think I can help bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be.



OK then, let’s begin….





This is a major hangup for lots of folks.  They say “I don’t want to be pushy” or “I don’t want to hawk my wares”.  Well, that’s good. Because that’s not what you should be doing.


The point of author marketing shouldn’t be to sell a particular book.  It should be to develop a fan base.  A community.  A Tribe.


You can only do that by giving folks the opportunity to get closer to you — not force yourself upon them.


And how do you draw people to you?  By giving them things they enjoy.  By giving them points of connection.   By demonstrating shared values.


To put it another way, it’s about honoring them as human beings and inviting them to be part of something bigger, and wonderful.


That’s connecting.  And yes, it is marketing.






This is one of the greatest secrets I can share.  Most writers think “I don’t have to worry about marketing — I don’t even have anything published yet!”.  What a huge mistake they’re making.


Here’s why:  When the day comes that you first book, app or eBook is released, what would you rather the situation be:


a.  You have no fanbase, no way to reach potential readers (or their parents, if you write for young children) and no one to help spread the word about your wonderful new release.




b. You announce the release to your devoted Tribe, who eagerly buy copies and then start spreading the word.


Pretty obvious, isn’t it?  Start building your Tribe now.  You’ll thank me later.  🙂






There’s so much nonsense surrounding marketing.  Flashy new techniques, the “hot social network of the week”, massive websites with all the bells and whistles that need to be built….




You don’t have time for all that, and you don’t need to worry about it.   If author marketing is really just about building a Tribe, than that’s what you should focus on.  And it’s not brain surgery.


I’ll have more to say about what works in upcoming posts.  But, for now, I just invite you to relax and trust me when I tell you that marketing isn’t that hard at all.  In fact, if you do it right, it’s fun, rewarding and very, very human.


Keep an eye out for more thoughts on this vital subject tomorrow.  And, oh yeah, thanks for being part of our Tribe!  🙂


PS: Please don’t fret about the hows and whys of this kind of simple author marketing, I’ve got all of that covered.  I’ll have more that I can share with you next week about that…..


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    Mel Scheidel
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon,

    You read my mind this morning. I’ve been wondering about marketing a book that’s in the process of being self-published. I have used a pseudo name to protect the privacy of those mentioned in the manuscript. My as you call it, fan base, isn’t very large, but know me under my birth name. Do you have any suggestion(s) on how to market this book? My only thought is to interview my pseudo on my blog and include a link where people, if interested, could purchase the book. Would that be acceptable?

    Deb Hockenberry
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon,
    I always thought that marketing was a complicated thing. I did know to be social and an but mostly on Facebook. I try to do Twitter but don’t really have that figured out and forget to socialize on Google + half the time. I have been posting monthly articles on LinkedIn and participate in the groups there. My book isn’t published yet but I’m wondering if I’m off to a good start. Oh. I do have an author’s page on Facebook too.

    7 years ago

    OK–I’m listening.

    Elizabeth Varadan
    7 years ago

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I have a blog and am on FB and Twitter, but it’s really for social reasons with friends, family, and fellow writers. What I’ve loved about networking is making new friends with common interests and connecting with people I no longer have time to write long letters to or phone. Along the way, friends have developed into support groups, and now they are happy I’m having a book published. Your post encourages me a lot, because the thought of going out and making connections purely to sell, and writing posts purely to market, has always seemed depressing to me. I guess I’ll just keep chugging along and enjoying those who come my way, and hope they do too, when I come their way. (And I do. I’m a really cheerleader for my friends.)

    Beth Schmelzer
    Beth Schmelzer
    7 years ago

    I learned do much from the comments to Jon Bard ‘s blog post on Marketing! Yours was the best Elizabeth because it led me to your books, my fav genre and audience, and your blog. You are great at marketing already! I will be following you! Also I will share your Sherlockian book with my favorite bookseller at Mystery Loves Company in Oxford, MD.

    7 years ago

    This thread is right on time. I am in the process of talking to my partners about setting up a website for my YA and MG novels. I wonder what the difference is between owning my website, or going through Google or GoDaddy and them owning my site? Which is best for my novel’s future?

    7 years ago

    I’ve been blogging weekly this year trying to build a platform prepublished. I still have very few followers. I do Twitter and those followers are growing daily. I have a facebook page, but it is for both personal and writer. How do I go about getting one for author and having it connected to my blog?

    Chris Lakin
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon I’m a relatively new writer and i have followed your blog and website now for a while, it’s great the way you and Laura react together. But i made the mistake of leaving my marketing until i had released my first book, and as you say, there is nobody there to read it, apart from friends and family, with there kids,I’m working hard to get the word out now and build relationships on social media, which i did have a little of before, but with nothing to show.
    I’m published it’s out and i need to start selling some books. Oh by the way I’m disabled and live on benefits in the UK so money is very tight. Can you help me?

    Chrstine Cassello
    Chrstine Cassello
    7 years ago

    I can’t get my “tribe”, of relatives and friends to buy my e-books what else can I do to get them found?

    Marcia Berneger
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon,
    First, let me thank you for many years of great resources and support!
    Next–marketing is an excellent topic–and timely! My new PB was released in April. I’ve been trying to figure out how to “get it out there” into the public eye. I do have a platform (Facebook, Twitter and website) but it’s slow to get the word out. I’m really looking forward to your marketing information!!

    Beth Schmelzer
    7 years ago

    Jon: Computer problems on this site have caused me to rewrite my comment 3 times. YIKES!
    Wanted to tell you your message today is a relaxed, encouraging one about Marketing to our TRIBES! Whenever I hand out my cards for my blog or mention my story writing contest submissions, I feel embarrassed, nervous and conceited. No more!
    thank you, Jon!!

    Ronni Ann
    7 years ago

    Excellent post right when I needed it. Just been discussing…and complaining about this dirty word topic. Had gone to a tele seminar that believed the opposite. Have three million followers, lots of numbers, no connections. Felt awful to an introvert like me. Thanks for the reminder. Love the newsletter by the way. Subscriber for a long time.

    joan ramirez
    7 years ago

    Jon: I think your information is very helpful. However, won’t people steal my idea if I start marketing it before it’s in print?

    Please reply.


    7 years ago

    First of all, I do not have a website.

    I already have an ebook published–and am the worst “marketer” there is! My main problem is that I have no idea how to set up the marketing. Yes, I fully agree the marketing I should be doing is getting a “fan base.” I have a Facebook set up–that I am not sure how to get back into. I Do not like the idea for facebooking, as it is very time consuming and has too rotton a reputation.

    I would not mind blogging, which I think I also have set up –but again do not know how to get back into it. I have visited some blogs on the networking connected with my publisher (MIU). I see nice headbands, but do not know how to set up or change. I see topics, and “connections”–also that I do not know how to set-up or change. I would love to be a guest on these network Blogs, but feel it is not fair, if I cannot reciprocate.

    Am I computer illiterate? In social media YES! Is there any hope for me?

    7 years ago
    Reply to  Jon Bard

    Thanks. Really looking forward to next week!

    Julie Dillemuth
    Julie Dillemuth
    7 years ago

    This is great timing! My first PB is coming out in August. My big questions are, how do I know when I’m doing enough? And do I do a lot of stuff right around the time of the launch, or is it better to space stuff out over time? I have this feeling like I’m going to miss the boat, like if I don’t get everything ready by the time the book is out I’ll have missed out on something, but that’s probably not true, right? Should I think about marketing as an over-the-lifetime-of-the-book kind of thing? It’s so intimidating! So, thank you for giving us your wisdom on this!

    7 years ago

    The word marketing always brings to mind my years in Amway—”network marketing” as they call it. That was back in the eighties and I did it only because my husband wanted to. After all, you are supposed to support your spouse/partner! We were constantly told how easy it was. For me it was sheer hell. You couldn’t have found a worse job (or business, whatever you want to call it) for someone like myself if you’d gone out of your way to find the worst. You might as well have had me climbing Mount Everest without any climbing gear.

    But what you’ve said makes sense, Jon, and I look forward to reading more helpful tips. I could sure do do with tips on how to use Facebook. Accepting friend requests from strangers has already landed me with at least one fellow trying techniques on me that are usually designed to con money from gullible women.

    Wendy McLeod MacKnight
    Wendy McLeod MacKnight
    7 years ago

    I’m in – your timing, as always, is impeccable!

    7 years ago

    Jon, you read my mind as well! (This keeps happening…hmmm)

    This post is so timely and I’m excited to read all your thoughts about marketing for the “yet to be published!” I need it!!

    I have a website and a Twitter account but have questions on how to build a base with them, and what to blog about since it seems every topic I think of is already “taken”. I’m in the beginning stages of writing an MG novel and just started what I think is an early reader.

    So yeah, Jon, bring on the marketing! Just like Beth said above, no more feeling “embarrassed, nervous or conceited.” It’s time to own this writing!

    (As always, thank you for your superb newsletter and constant support. 🙂 )

    Lori Eaton
    Lori Eaton
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon, First of all, thank you for all of the information you & Laura so graciously provide to us bookworms.
    I’m wondering….will we learn how to market in the sense of being able to have an “ad” like the ads that pop up on the side of my email page or the ones I see when I go to Amazon or many other sights? I think one type of ad is called a banner ad. Will we be able to do something like that??

    Thanks a bunch!


    becky hall
    7 years ago

    Hi Jon.

    I feel like I am not tech savvy enough to be good at marketing myself. I have a web site but don’t know how to update it. I have a blog but I don’t write in it enough. I have Lined in and Twitter accounts but never post. I use Facebook and that’s about it.

    I feel like I need to figure out my shtick, to present myself as unique and interesting to kids. Will you be talking about this?
    Thanks. You always make me think more deeply about what I am doing.

    Catherine DePino
    7 years ago

    HI, John,

    You already know how much I enjoy reading what you and Laura write. I also love writing for your newsletter!

    I enjoyed what you said about marketing because I feel exactly the same way. I hate being pushy. However, I still keep people informed about my books on social media, but I try not to overdo it. I also like to talk informally about my books to people I meet at Zumba class and in stores. Often, they want to know more about my books, so I give them a card with my website so they can find out more. I’m looking forward to learning more from you tomorrow. Thanks for all of your great information and for your wonderful newsletter. May your business thrive and prosper. Regards to Laura.

    7 years ago

    Yea we get to talk about book marketing!
    have no list, have no tribe, no followers I find this makes it really difficult to let people know your book exists. I would love to know how to get people to view your facebook fanpage, website,or even acknowledge you on twitter. Hope your course covers all of this.

    7 years ago

    Your words were very informative and challenging – you have dangled the carrot after though three so…….I wait patiently – thank you for the time and effort ‘to help others’.

    Goldie Alexander
    7 years ago

    Even after 85 books- most of these written for children- I am still asked by strangers ‘what book did you write?’ That is so disheartening when I run a website,and write a fortnightly blog about reading and writing. I find facebook annoying as it seems mostly to consist of what people eat for dinner. I handle twitter rather badly. I get countless emails from companies wanting ‘to promote me’ at a vast cost. Perhaps the problem is that my books are of many different genres, and reading levels. Those writers who do best appear at many literary festival, but one needs to be invited to participate. To get a bigger fan base would be wonderful so Jon, I am waiting for lots of tips.
    In the end I suspect the market is just too crowded? I would be interested to hear others respond to my last comment.

    7 years ago

    I totally agree with you about starting a tribe. I have been a teaching artist for over 20 years and
    I’ve written all of my programs based on books I have written. I have a huge fan base.
    All of my clients are daycare centers, elementary schools and libraries.

    It never fails – every time I present a program or concert, I am asked by someone in the audience where my books or cds can be purchased.

    Deborah Inanna Krenza
    7 years ago

    Dear Jon,
    I am a newby to CBI, and am so excited to be a part of this tribe!
    I have created a blog for a children’s picture book that I have not completed writing. I have not yet done any marketing because there are so many decisions I have not yet made regarding specifics about the book.
    I have received many different viewpoints regarding what I need to complete before sharing my blog on social media, etc.
    I would love your perspective on how to proceed.
    Many thanks!