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13 fiction book marketing tips from an experienced novelist

When fiction writer Victoria Jayne shared her fiction book marketing tips in the Build Book Buzz Book Marketing Group on Facebook, I knew she had to write a guest post for us. I’m so glad she said, “Yes!” Victoria is a New Jersey native, avid romance reader, wife, mother, and Second Life role player. She is the author of The Prophecy Trilogy, a paranormal romance described as “sexy and enthralling” by one reviewer and “with a lot of action and off the charts chemistry” by One Book More. She began writing at 16 and her debut novel came out in 2018 after she committed to her NaNoWriMo 2017 project. Learn more at AuthorVictoriaJayne.com.

13 fiction book marketing tips from an experienced novelist

By Victoria Jayne

Just six weeks after my debut novel was released, my publisher ended our contract.


I believe it’s because I didn’t have the faintest idea how to market my book. I did nothing the first three weeks. I relied on my publisher to do it all. Major fail on my part.

When I finally got on board, I flailed. Completely out of my depth, it was too little too late. I believe my royalty check for six weeks was something like $80.

I had spent significantly more than that in poorly targeted ads for those three weeks trying to figure out marketing.

fiction book marketing tips

I had to learn about book marketing

Since then, I’ve read blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched YouTube videos on marketing. I’ve joined Facebook groups, polled Twitter, and sought help in forums and writers groups. I even commissioned someone from Reedsy to teach me book marketing.

In that time, I released two more books and have spent thousands on marketing as I fumble my way through the business aspect of being an author (I don’t know about you, but 16-year-old me who dreamed of being an author didn’t dream about spreadsheets and cost-benefit analysis).

I’m not a best-seller. I’m not a marketing guru. I’ve learned more about what not to do than specific strategies that work over the past three years. However, I am an author in the trenches.

Here’s what I’ve discovered

One of the best things I’ve learned about the author community is that we are here to help each other. We’re not in competition with one another. My reader can be your reader, too, and vice versa. The best resources authors have in navigating the business are each other.

In that spirit, here are my top fiction book marketing tips for debut authors

1. Create a website

I use Wix. It has a free option, but I recommend upgrading to get rid of the Wix branding. Most of the podcasts I listen to recommended WordPress, but I found it too complicated to use. It should include a mailing list sign up and a contact option.

2. Set up social media accounts specifically for your author persona.

The thing about social media is that it will not grow your audience. Social media is how you engage the readers you already have. However, if you’re looking to find readers, it’s limited in its uses. However, I do firmly believe you need to be there. Readers, when they find you, will look for you there.

I am a big believer in separation between your private and public selves. If you’re using a pen name, set up social media in this name so your readers can find you.

Here’s my take on the social networks:

  • Twitter – This is for networking with other authors and, in my opinion, will not be helpful in sales. #WritingCommunity is my favorite.
  • Instagram – Book bloggers/bookstagrammers are great to follow and you can build a relationship with them by interacting with them early.
  • Facebook – Join writing/author communities to start networking early. Learn from those who are already there. Join reading communities and start networking with readers early. Once readers see you as a person, they are more likely to support you later when you’re an author.
  • Goodreads – This is more of a reader-based resource, not a marketing tool. You want to be there, but you most likely won’t get direct sales from it. Readers will find you there, but there’s nothing proactive you can do for them to find you, in my opinion.

3. Create a BookBub partner account for authors.

This will let subscribers to the BookBub daily email newsletter find and follow you. As with other social networks, the more followers you have, the better of a marketing tool it is for you.

When you have a new release, BookBub email blasts your followers about your release. In addition, the BookBub deal newsletter for readers is amazing. It’s extremely competitive and expensive, but I’ve heard it’s worth its weight in gold.

4. Use Booksprout (there is a free account option) to get reviews.

You can quote these reviews in teasers later.

5. Sign up for AllAuthor and BookBrush.

fiction book marketing tips 3They have this option where you can get mockups of your book covers. So they will put your cover into a template of an e-book, paperback, or hardcover. They will do mockups for audiobooks and series clusters.

They also offer a bunch of creative art you can use for teasers and advertising when you get to that point later. BookBrush offers a free option that allows for a certain number of mockups per month.

6. Create a Canva design account.

There are free and paid versions. I prefer Canva to BookBrush when it comes to creating teasers and other designs meant to engage my audience. I find it easier to work with and it stores the designs I’ve made automatically and in a better fashion.

7. Use BookSweeps.

One of the most essential marketing tools you will ever have is your mailing list. This is the only way you will be able to directly communicate with your audience without the possibility of another platform’s algorithm filtering you out.

BookSweeps offers genre-specific sweepstakes geared toward either building your mailing list or your BookBub following. I do have to admit, you will get an impressive number of sign-ups (more than 800 both times I’ve done it). The list dwindles down due to unsubscribes and lack of engagement quickly, though. That said, I still recommend it as a starting point.

8. Sign up with Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin.

These are excellent tools for networking with other authors. You can join book fairs and participate in newsletter swaps. This means you will be tapping into other author’s audiences – getting your book in front of readers. Invaluable! Both of these options also offer newsletter building options as well.

9. Research book bloggers/booktubers/book podcasters in your genre.

Ask them to review your book. Make sure you comment and follow the comments when the content with your review comes out. Post it on your social media and in your newsletter when it comes out. Also, repost it a few months later.

Never, ever, ever pay for a review.

10. Research book blogs in your genre and pitch guest posts.

Share them with your social networks and in your newsletter. Also, share again a few months later. This should be free. I have never paid to do a guest post.

11. Sign up for a blog tour.

Silver Dagger Book Tours has a pay what you can option. I’ve used them twice and very much loved the results. Make sure you follow along your tour and post comments on each and engage with those who are there.

12. Don’t waste money on advertising, especially as a first-timer.

You’ll notice something lacking in my recommendations: ads. I don’t recommend them for a debut author who has one book to sell. They are a quick and easy way to spend money with little to no return.

They require a very specific set of skills. If you’re not targeting your audience correctly, you won’t sell anything. If you have the wrong graphic you won’t sell anything. If you have the wrong ad copy, you won’t sell anything. They’re hard.

13. Keep writing. Above all else, keep writing.

That means debut novels don’t earn what it cost to produce them. Self-published and traditional authors who make a living publishing do so after they’ve developed a substantial backlist.

So please, keep writing. Being an author is a marathon, not a sprint.

Market your books!

The reality of being an author is this: The majority of authors do not sell more than 100 copies of their debut novel in the first year.

If you want to do more than that, use my fiction book marketing tips and start promoting your novel. Then, please, report back here on your successes!

What’s your best book marketing tip? Please tell us in a comment! 

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I’ve got nine out of four so thanks for giving me places to grow.

  2. Thanks Victoria for opening my eyes. Right now I have yet to finish my book. Am experiencing a fair amount of fear about networking and marketing. Do you have any additional advice handling these areas?

    John Powers

    1. Hi John,

      Breathe. The first thing you have to do is remember to breathe. It’s overwhelming if you put the cart before the horse. Right now, your focus should be on finishing your first draft.

      While that’s marinating you can start your networking and building your author brand. Once the first draft is done, and resting. You can start tinkering with your website build, your open your social media, and you explore bloggers, authors, podcasters, groups, forums, all the areas where readers are hanging out. The internet is a wealth of information.

      In the beginning, engage as a reader, but pay attention as a writer. Take note of what people around you are saying or looking for. What are trends you notice. What is getting the most reactions and traction?

      Sign up for newsletters, take note of style, format, what is shared, how often, etc etc. This is the time for research.

      1. I have finished my first draft and am revising my manuscript with art.

        It is a?children’s bedtime story picture book
        I will need build a website? As well as follow what you are saying. It’s so hard I think I am listening to too many people? Confusing. There is so much to learn. Would a good place to start be with Sandra Beckwith?

  3. Love this post. Based on my experience, it’s dead on. There’s so much to do and so much to learn. Victoria – you did a wonderful job outlining it. I would add – build a mailing list – and a blog/newletter so that you can stay in touch with all those wonderful readers who find you on Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin. Make sure your blog reflects your “brand” and that is not about just selling your books.

  4. Hi Brad,

    I mention newsletters in passing. I don’t really delve much into it mostly because newsletters are a completely different rabbit hole.

    I think the Newsletter Ninja odes a great job od introducing newsletter strategies.

  5. This is a fantastic article!

    I read through once, then went back to the beginning and started doing things one by one. It’s a long list and I have a long way to go, but this is the best concrete advice I’ve seen.

    Thank you so much!

  6. So much information. Thank you so much. Just finished my third novel and can’t wait to get started on this list. Pinned it to my desktop!

    Incidentally, I am in Australia, recently had a bad experience with a well-known but struggling POD company which seems two have lost my last two books. Does anyone know of a really good company that is not in the USA. Your tax laws make it very complicated to register there.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Fran. I’m in Oz as well. My debut novel is pencilled in for release in December. I’m probably going to go with Kindle Unlimited.
      As for POD, I believe that being with KU doesn’t preclude me from offering print copies from other sources. If you find the answer to this question I’d love to hear about it!
      Best of luck for your future works.

      1. Hi Thomas, Planning on using BookLocker, but will let you know. Will you go to print after your ebook is released?

        Nice to have a fellow Aussie to talk to. We have a whole set of different problems being so far from any limelight.


        1. I’ll look into BookLocker, thanks.
          Actually, I’ve just made the decision (in the last 24 hrs) to delay pubbing my novel. I need to build my author profile more, and also, I’ve decided to create a 3-book series with my debut work as book 2.
          What genre do you write in?
          Maybe we can engage in a little reciprocal motivation?

  7. You have some excellent suggestions here. The only one I would differ on is whether to advertise your first book.

    I’m a big fan of advertising. I agree that you don’t want to throw money out there without a clue as to what you are doing, and I’ve seen the stories of authors that did exactly that.

    Instead, while writing that first book, on the side learn as much as you can about book marketing, especially advertising–AMS (Amazon Ads) and Facebook. There are FB groups that go into detail on both for free, and there are great books to refer to.

    Study all this, and make a plan to market your first book. And definitely run ads. You don’t need a big budget to do so–there are things you can do that take more time than money but are effective.

    And if you do have some funds to do a bit more, then set an ad strategy for your book, run some AMS ads targeting your ideal also boughts—those books that are most similar to yours, in your niche, big sellers and smaller sellers, it’s all good. This will direct the amazon algorithm to send better traffic to your book–and the more that traffic converts, the more they will help push your book and the more it will sell.

    Advertising on your first book is so important for a few reasons…first of all you get to learn what works for your book. So you can do even better with your next book.

    The marketplace is so competitive that advertising makes a huge difference in visibility and overall sales. It can keep your book visible and stick at a higher rank, leading to more steady sales.

    And it can be fun!

    1. This is such excellent advice, Pamela! The key is to learn before you do — and too many new authors skip that “learn” step. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It’s helpful!


    2. My biggest problem when it comes to ads will be finding comp titles. I still don’t really know how to “genre-ise” my book. It’s what I describe as a Family Saga. It has a 30-year timeframe and my KC is the baddie. It’s sort of like Alan Bond meets JR Ewing.
      If anyone has the time or desire to read it (80,000 words) I’d love to hear opinions on this issue.
      I’ve had great comments so far from all who have read it, so I’m confident you’ll enjoy it. (I deliberately kept away from giving it to friends and family so as to get honest opinions)
      I need honest, informed feedback.
      Thanks in advance, and yes, I’ll return the favour.

  8. Hi Pamela,

    Learning advertising is essential. There are a million and one nuances to it, I know I was overwhelmed by it when I was already overwhelmed being a new author.

    What works for AMS doesn’t work for Facebook doesn’t work for pinterest doesn’t work for google doesn’t work for youtube. Also, what works for children’s authors doesn’t work for romance novelists. Where you place your ads when you place them what you put in them, all that is such a refined skill, it would take a series of blog posts to truly be of any use.

    And even then, the second it’s posted, it’s obsolete. The field changes that quickly. The danger with new authors, debut authors is the ease in which they can spend hundreds of not thousands of dollars on the steep learning curve that is ads. I know because I did. Facebook has over $4000 of my money. I have not earned $4000 of sales from Facebook. And that’s just one platform I’ve run ads on.

    The learning curve is extremely steep. I’ve paid people on Fiverr to set up my ads, I’ve paid for ads courses. I’ve read blogs, listened to podcasts, watched YouTube videos, I’ve taken free ads courses. The problem I run into is often the generalization of the information provided. It has to be. The audience they are speaking to is broad. The help I need is specific to me. The only way to truly get that help/information is through trial and error — which requires either an excess of time or funds. Quite honestly, I haven’t seen the it work where you spread out a test over time.

    I’ve tried to test audiences/ad copy/ad images. Cost per click is either super high – with no ROI (over $3 per click and no sales) or cost per impression is super low with no clicks. I’ve had lots of clicks at around 30c a click but a high bounce rate and 1 purchase after $50 spent over 5 days.

    I’ve re-tooled my blurbs
    I’ve changed to using a landing page rather than retailer pages to improve data collection (and to prevent ads from biding against one another)
    My covers are professionally commissioned
    My books are rated reasonably well.

    This is my long winded way of saying — ads continue to perplex me

  9. Wow, Victoria, this was an impressive response. In fact, the amount of work you’ve had just selling your books reminds me of the amount I did approaching agents. Three novels sent to around 200 agents, if I recall. Couple of nibbles, but I didn’t like the changes they were asking for.

    Thank you so much for staying in touch with me. I will keep you updated with my own PR attempts.


  10. Hi Fran,

    I queried quite a few agents myself. Im sure I can find a spreadsheet somewhere. But I also queried small publishers ( which is how I got the small Publisher — 3 asked for fulls, 2 offered me contracts. I accepted the one that had some marketing to offer )

    I very much would love to day connected with you on your journey. By all means shoot me a message on my website or via email and we can exchange emails

  11. Thanks so much for this! Would you say most of this applies to non-fiction writers as well? What do you think may be different?

    1. Absolutely, Ronni. I’d say all of them, but BookBub (#3) is more useful to novelists than nonfiction authors.


  12. Just a head’s up regarding WIX, which I wouldn’t recommend because of the following:
    “Your Wix site and all of its content is hosted exclusively on Wix’s servers, and cannot be exported elsewhere. Specifically, it is not possible to export or embed files, pages or sites, created using the Wix Editor or ADI, to another external destination or host.” A friend got caught by this.

      1. Hi Joy,

        I think each web host has its pros and its cons. And being able to export content is a huge deal. So, I think when choosing your web host, you should do your due diligence and research and look at everything.

        I tried others and wix worked for me. I tried WordPress and I couldn’t figure it out. So, when choosing any provider or any service make sure you read every term of service and make sure it not only works with your budget and skill set but it meets your needs.

        Wix has a lot of cool features and is constantly improving. When I was researching which provider to use to manage my newsletter, turns out, wix had that function included.

        I could send up to 3 newsletters a month to up to 5,000 subscribers. They also included automatic responses for onboarding emails that didn’t count toward the 3 newsletters a month.

  13. Great post. So in Silver Dagger’s plan, where you set the price, how do you decide what to pay? As a freelancer myself, I’m not looking to shortchange another entrepreneur. I’ve been considering them, but I have no idea how to value the results.

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