book research

Free Checklist for “Passive” Book Marketing



No author wants (and needs) to spend hours and hours every day to promote their books via social media.  There are lots of small and (often) quick tasks to show your book to a target audience of potential readers. Best of all: these steps are free and require only a bit research and brainstorming.  Most of the advice in our upcoming book 111 Tips on How to Market Your Book for Free explains in detail how to implement these “passive” book promotion measures (including links).  Here is an excerpt of the most important steps that every author should plan before even sending the book to the editor:


  • Before you even write the first sentences in your book, research your “competition” and learn from them.
  • Find all the best-selling books in your genre / category.
    Make a list with possible keywords that readers can use to find a similar book.
  • Check out the complete categories/genres at Amazon, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Waterstone’s, and so forth.
  • Study all the books that could be similar to your future work.  Search in bookstores, libraries, and all online retailers.
  • Learn about the content of these books, the authors, how they represent themselves on- and off-line, what their writer’s platform is and how they market their books.

Book Layout
“The first pages sell your book – the last pages sell all your other books – past and future”.
Show as much as possible from your book’s content to potential readers – especially for online sales:  Don’t clock the first pages with endless forewords and acknowledgments.  All you need is the title, author and publisher, the copyright page and the TOC’s (Table of Contents).

Add this right after the last page:
Never print a book or format an e-book without a request for reviews (including a link to your online sales pages / Goodreads page, a listing of your website and blog or author pages, lists of all your social media sites and maybe even your contacts email.  Most important: list all your other book titles with sales links, so that readers can easily find more books written by you.



Create a Perfect Author Page
Use all the space Amazon and other online retailers and book communities give you:

  • Add a professional author photo & biography.
  • Add all your books.
  • Add videos (e.g. trailers for your books).
  • Add up to seven additional photos (e.g. you at your desk while writing, all of your books, or scenes from your books).
  • Add images or graphics from your book’s content.
  • Add a biography, and make sure to update it frequently.
  • List events, such as book readings, or book launches.
  • Add your Twitter address, so people can see your latest Tweet and easily follow you.
  • Set up the “Search Inside/Look Inside” feature.
  • Add an RSS feed linking to your blog–a great way to get your blog in front of new people and encourage them to follow you.

Amount of Reviews Plays a Role
As a member on Goodreads, Wattpad, LibraryThing, Bibliophile etc., and to benefit especially from reviews, you must be a bit more active on these sites.  For example, when you shelve the books of other writers, recommend their books too.  Also, participate from time to time in forums, read and rate books, and (most important) review them.  How could someone expect to receive reviews if they are not writing any?  Be a good pal in this book community!

Choose the Right Categories / Genres for Your Book
In what categories/genres are these books that are competitive with yours listed?  When you are picking a category you don’t want one with a broad, busy market, you want a category that’s narrow.  Of all the work you do to place your book on Amazon, this might be the most important piece of marketing.  Use all of the categories that are available to you: two for print books and two for e-books.  If your book is in print and digital, you have FOUR categories you can use!

Place Editorial Reviews on Your Amazon Sales Page
Did you know, you can add all this content under “editorial reviews” on your sales page?

  • Product Detail Page
  • Updated Book Description
  • Author Message
  • From the Inside Flap
  • From the Back Cover
  • Magazine/Newspaper Reviews – and other reviews you received before your book’s launch

You can add several “Editorial Reviews”, and each one is important for confirming the quality of your book.  Read more about editorial reviews.

Use Best-Ranking Keywords in Amazon
Amazon has a built-in keyword search, or long-tail keyword-phrase finder, in their search field. Use Amazon’s help page: Selecting Browse Categories.
There are many tools on the web to help with basic keyword research, including the Google Keyword Planner tool and googling“Best SEO Tools“.  Google’s Keyword Planner is for building new Search Network campaigns, or expanding existing ones.  You can search for keyword and ad group ideas, see how a list of keywords might perform, and even create a new keyword list by adding several lists of keywords together. Use those keywords in specific places throughout your video page.


Always Get Your Own ISBN
!  Self-publishing authors can list their books worldwide in official databases for book retailers only if they are considered the publisher and have purchased their ISBN at their countries official agency, such as R.R. Bowker in the USA.  If you are not buying it from Bowker, and instead getting it cheaper, or for free, from vanity printers (everyone who poses as a “publisher”, taking money from writers for “services” that authors could get much cheaper elsewhere), or POD printers (CreateSpace for example or SmashWords).  Never, ever exchange your publisher status for saving a couple of dollars.  Where to find the official sellers of ISBN’s in other English-speaking countries is listed in a SavvyBookWriters article.


Bowker’s Worldwide Listing
You may know Bowker from ordering your ISBN numbers, but they are also the provider for “Books In Print and Global Books In Print” that contain listings of bibliographical information for international book titles available in the USA or any other part of the world, in bookstores and libraries.  Setting up a new book on Bowkerlink is easy and FREE.  Read more in this blog post.


Reader Communities
Join at least a handful of book communities in your genre on sites such as BookTalk, Wattpad, KindleBoards, BiblioPhil, KindleMojo, etc. – NOT to sell your book there, but to have an author presence at book lover communities, and to make contacts to future readers.  Find all the links to these communities here.


Sharing and Follow Buttons on Your Website / Blog
Make it easy for them to share what you have written with their social networks – and forward it to their followers and friends, and these also forward it to their friends and followers …. You get the idea!
The best way to start this process is to include clickable buttons to offer the idea of sharing front and center, and make it simple for your readers to post your link to LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and most important: to Google+ and many other social networks.


Add Email Newsletter Sign-Up and Contact Forms
Getting started with an email newsletter is simple and also free.  Keep your newsletter short, useful, and structured.  Always remember that people don’t read on the internet, they just scan the text.  Provide value and interesting content that your readers are looking forward to receive. Don’t spam them with daily newsletters that are reading like sales pitches.  Emails can’t be missed like a social media post that disappears in readers’ feeds within seconds.


Get a Writer Buddy – or a Whole Group
Place chapters of your manuscript to Wattpad and other reader communities.  Join Meet-Up groups (in all cities worldwide) to find other writers, critique groups and often future beta-readers and reviewers of your titles.

Write More!
Present readers with samples of your craft: write short stories, prequels for your next book, blogs, guest blog, magazine and newspaper articles.
Your novel or your non-fiction book is full of keywords and ideas for blogs, guest blogs and newspaper or magazines.  While it takes a long time until you can make money with your books, while you might be paid for your writing within a few weeks or months , and it might turn into a long-term business relation with the editors.

Publish Articles on LinkedIn
LinkedIn allows their members to publish articles on their site; completely new ones, or former blog articles slightly re-written.  It gives you credibility, shows your expertise, and gives you more exposure on their site–thus more potential book readers.  And if you have lots of followers, they all will read your posts because LinkedIn sends them your content via e-mail!

Bundle Your Books
You don’t have to be a multi-book author before you can start “bundling” your book.  One book needs only to be in print and digital format – and voilà! you have a bundle.  At Amazon it’s called “Kindle Match Book”.  Customers will also be able to buy inexpensive e-copies of books they have previously bought in hardcover or paperback.  Benefits of Bundles and Box Sets:
Bundling your books is a great way of creating a higher-priced product, a bulk-purchase – and at the same time offering your readers an attractive deal.
Another benefit for you as the author: increased visibility – readers have at least one more way to find you with every bundle you create.  For example, if you wrote four books – people have four possibilities to discover your books.  If you create two bundles of two books each, suddenly readers get six ways to discover your books – without you writing anything new.  More details can be found in this blog article at SavvyBookWriters.

Create a Bookstore on Your own Website
Sell your books from your own website too.  Install either Gumroad, Shopify, E-Junkie or Ecwid e-stores on your blog or website.  What are your benefits?

  • It drives more traffic to your website
  • Immediate payments
  • You earn 100% from your sales price
  • You will have higher revenues
  • You will know who are your readers

There are dozens of ready-to-go online stores available, called “e-commerce” which can be installed in your existing website or blog – relatively easy and quick.  You have to have your own (hosted) website or blog, the paid versions – not a free website.

Sell From all Major Online Retailers
Sell your books, e-books and audio-books not only through Amazon but as well on Barnes&Noble, Apple and Kobo websites, to have your “eggs in more than one basket”.  And don’t forget the potentially huge potential market for hardcover books, selling them to libraries all over the country!
If you don’t want to upload your book yourself, get help from this aggregator for one yearly fee and reap 100% of your books revenue:  Aggregators will handle distribution, sales, accepting payments, and are managing your account with the online retailers.  Avoid aggregators who take a 10 or even 15% commission for every book sold. Get more tips here.

There are many more steps you can do as an author to promote your book.  Get all the latest info here on this blog and on the upcoming book:  111 Tips on How to Market Your Book for Free.



If you would like to get a mentor and our support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer for three months all this and more for only $179 – or less than $2 per day!  Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting / Book Marketing for your success:

To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”

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First Things First! What to Research Before Writing?



“How to Research the Competition Before Your Write Your Book” was the title of a blog post that Stephanie Chandler wrote years ago.  I remembered it when I met a group of writers recently, talking with them about the book-writing and marketing process.

Imagine you build a house: You buy a property, but don’t care about zoning, you start building your home without any architectural or static plans, just erecting the beams or setting one stone over the other. The roof? The windows? You don’t care about these details, they will eventually fall in place … You may laugh to read about such a stupid way to start building a home – but it is equal to the way how some writers start their book, their publishing and book marketing.

Research Is Not Popular
The word research is often not very popular with authors – but unfortunately many writers can relate the lack of success for their book to the lack of research before writing, publishing and marketing. There are millions of books published every year and chances are very high that a similar one – not matter if fiction or non-fiction – is already published. But why would anyone not care about:

  • Keywords and title for your future book?
  • Similar books that are published already (your competition)?
  • Prices of similar books in your genre?
  • Cover design of books in your genre?
  • How do these authors describe their books on the Internet?
  • The popularity of the genre and potential readership?
  • Which forums about your topic are on the internet?
  • Where on Social Media do you find readers of your genre?
  • Which magazines / newspapers write about / in your genre?
  • Who is your preferred reader / book purchaser and how can you reach them?
  • On which reader forums can you post single chapters of your book?
  • Websites / blogs of writers in your genre?
  • How does your competition promote their books?
  • Which tags / keywords / hashtags do they use?
  • To which magazines / newspapers / blogs could you offer short stories to promote your book?

More Questions
If you want to go with a trade publisher:

  • Do you have a large amount of followers on Social Media / you blog or website?
  • Do you have a marketing plan for your book prepared?
  • Where can you find a critique group for your book before you offer it to agents?
  • Do you have a perfect query letter / proposal written? (to be send out BEFORE the book is finished

All this research is necessary, no matter if you write fiction or non-fiction. For fiction you have to do even more research: locations, times, characters for your book…

Where to Find All This Information?
Number one source is certainly the Internet. Just type in your genre or your future book title, keywords that readers would use to find a book like yours. Go to Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Sony, Apple and other online retailers and search for similar books and in the genre. Compare author websites and book sales pages. Find out how many books are in which categories, and what reviewers are writing about these books. Check out their books sales numbers, their covers and book blurbs.

Visit bookstores and libraries and check out your competition. Create a mock-up of your future book and compare its cover and spine, placing it among the bestsellers in your genre. Does it stand out? Ask sales personal which book is the most popular in your genre and find out why when reading it.

There is No Such Thing as Too Much Research
Sheryl Clark gave this useful advice in one of her blogs: “No matter what information you find or where it is, record the source. I keep a big notebook and I put book titles and authors in it, as well as websites and journals. You never know when you might need it again, or might need to verify where you found it.”

Could you answer all these questions that I listed?  What did YOU do to research your future book, it’s competition and marketing possibilities?  Do YOU care about the success of your upcoming books?



If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers:

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Tagged: book research, competition for your book, forum and communities in your book genre, potential readers for your book, similar books already published?

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