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How To Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul: Orna Ross

How To Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul: Orna Ross

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Orna for Showcase imageSo many authors complain about marketing, seeing it as conflicting with their creative work. In this session Orna Ross argues that this is a misunderstanding and that book marketing is just another form of communication with potential readers. The key to creative marketing is to align the words inside the book(s) with the messages you're sending out to the world. This session guides you through, by going deeply into your motivations for writing and applying the same seven stages of the creative process you go through in writing your books to your marketing and promotion.

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Click here to find out more about Orna Ross


Orna is currently working on a new book, “How Authors Create Money and Meaning: A Workbook”, and will be giving away a free ebook copy. This book looks at the opportunities and challenges for writers today in a rapidly transforming publishing landscape, where digital opportunities are changing everything we thought we knew about books. Filled with facts about contemporary writing and publishing, this book also offers creative and practical insights and instruction in how today’s authors can make a living — and a life — from writing.

Orna Ross





Paul:  This session is part of the Indie Author Fringe Conference, a three times a year author conference, fringed to the major publishing fairs, London Book Fair, Book Expo America and Frankfurt Book Fair. The Indie Author Fringe is run under the stewardship of the Alliance of Independent Authors, is organized by writers for writers and is free to attend.

Let’s see who’s sharing self-publishing insights in this session.



Orna:   So, hello, yes and you are most welcome to this session, How to Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul. I’m Orna Ross and I’m an indie author and I’m also Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. So, I see a lot of writers and I see a lot of writers who are facing into this, what often feels like quite a painful dilemma actually. How to actually reach a reader, put your books out there, get them sold, not to put too fine a point on it. Perhaps even, earn a living from your writing and I know some of you are keen to earn a killing from your writing. And how you do that whilst sustaining yourself at the creative level that allows your books to carry on being written and how not to feel like, you know, icky and yucky and salesie and all of those ways that we can feel when we move into a commercial motivation rather than a creative motivation. We writers are very sensitive types and we’re not very good at fooling ourselves so, sometimes, the whole marketing and promotion endeavor can feel really quite difficult.

So, what I’m going to do in this session is promote really, the idea that the way in which you best do marketing and promotion is to very much connect it to the same mission and passion that led you to write your books in the first place.

So, the session will take four different sections. First of all, we’ll be exploring that whole idea of mission and passion and what I call massion which kind of brings them both together, mash-up of mission and passion and looking at that quite closely.

Now, the session is accompanied by a free download of my book, How Authors Create Money and Meaning, a workbook, well a work, rest and play book I call it, because of course, creative rest and creative play are as intrinsic to the creative effort as the work that we very often put so much attention on. So, you will get most out of this session if you download that book and you can go through the various exercises. I will be referring to some of them as we go through this presentation.

And I also will be talking a little bit about a technique that is explained in the workbook, called f-r-e-e-writing. Some of you may be familiar with f-r-e-e-writing already, the way I teach it and the way it works within the Go Creative! books that I am currently producing is f-r-e-e stands for fast, raw, exact and easy. And these are the four qualities that you bring to f-r-e-e-writing which allows it to kind of get beyond the conscious mind and touch in to the creative wellspring that lies beyond the conscious.

So, the main thing to remember, if you’re new to f-r-e-e-writing today, there is a guide at the beginning of the workbook but the main thing to remember is just write fast, write as fast as you possibly can. So, I will be giving you some exercises, some prompts, some ideas, some things to think about because this topic that we’re talking about today is not a small topic. And it’s not something, you know, I give sort of seven tips and off you go and you just click, click, click, apply them and then it’s done.

This is part of who you are as a writer and that’s a constantly evolving thing and even things like mission and passion, that we think of as kind of long standing and permanent, well yes, they can be, it can be a life kind of mission that you’re on but it can just be for the duration of a particular project. And you can bring quite different mission and passion to different projects. So, we can get a bit heavy about all of this and I think it’s best approached in quite a light way.

So, yeah, first of all we’ll be talking about the mission, the passion, the massion. And then how it feeds in to your books, you know, so, you’re getting conscious really about that connection between those two.

And then in the second part of the audio, we’ll look at how it feeds in to your money. So, you have a relationship with money, everybody does. And we’re going to be looking at that a little bit more closely and thinking about how you align your relationship with money and your mission and passion and understanding what it is that you do and how those two can feed each other. So, we’ll be looking at the creative and commercial divide that is set up in our minds and in our society and really trying to dissolve that divide because it’s not useful for somebody who wants to publish, be it an author publisher, be an indie entrepreneur, be somebody who sells a lot of books to a lot of readers.

And then we will be looking at those readers and how you reach them and the difference between marketing and promotion which is something that a lot of indie’s are not clear about. So, we get very clear about the difference between say, your design, your book design, your descriptions, your categories, your key words which is, all which is marketing, letting your readers know your book is there. And promotion which is actually doing active reach outs to them and understanding who they are and also perhaps, understanding some tech, tools and things like that.

And finally we drill down into that relationship that you have with your reader and how they are best reached by you. Because every writer is different and that’s what’s so wonderful about the indie way, is that we can actually carve out our own completely individual way to do this. We don’t have to do what other people are doing. We don’t have to do it the way it’s done by trade publishing. We do it our own way and of course while that is fantastic and gives us so much creative freedom, that freedom can be daunting and it can also, with great freedom comes great responsibility and so we have to kind of step up to that if we’re going to really enjoy all that is possible and all the opportunities and potential that are there for us as indie authors.
So, let’s get on with the detail then.


Paul:  Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul. Passion, Mission and Books.


Orna:  So, let’s start then by talking about passion and mission. These are two concepts that are really widely used now in creative coaching and personal development and they are useful concepts for us to work with as writers when we think about marketing and promotion.

And it’s best, before you kind of dive on in, you might want to just f-r-e-e-write your ideas around both of these concepts before doing anything else, so you’re beginning with your own sort of sense of what that is. And you may already have a very clear idea of both of those things, you know, what your passion is, what your mission is, as a writer for your whole life and indeed as a person for your whole life because those two things, of course, can’t be separated. Or you may not have a clue. Or you may have tried before and not been able to isolate it and you know, it may be a meaningless sort idea to you or it might all be brand new. It doesn’t matter, for the purposes of this talk, just follow through with the exercises and you will definitely know a lot more at the end of this process about yourself and about your books, than you did at the beginning, even if you aren’t able to quite pin down exactly what those two things mean to you.

A good place to start is with an assessment of your values and in the workbook there is a long list of a hundred values that you could kind of circle and say yes, this is important to me. So, things like achievement, adventure, courage, courtesy, dignity, discipline, enjoyment, family, fashion, influence, intimacy, joy, making a difference, professionalism, prosperity, sensitivity, self-respect, and so on. Values, there are literally hundreds of them that we can align with and it can be a useful exercise for you to think about yours and very useful in the context of setting passion and mission.

So, the exercise that’s offered in the download is that you would circle the ones that speak to you and then add a list of any other values that are not already listed, to put them down, anything that’s highly important to you as value. And then go through a bit of a selection process. So, from the lists that you gathered in there, to choose the seven values that are most important to you and then to list them in order of priority.

And, doing that in itself alone, will be interesting for you. And then to look and see, you know, ok, they’re my values, now, how are they reflected in my writing. And to begin to think about the ways in which, and very often, when people do this exercise, they find things there, in their writing that they didn’t even realize were important to them and they begin to make connections between the life and writing that are very enriching for both.

Having done that then, it’s good to start next with the whole passion thing. So, how do you find out what your passion is, particularly those of you who don’t know what it is? It’s very simple, you just ask yourself what do I most care about? What do I most enjoy? What have I always loved to do? So, your passion is very much about enjoyment. Things that you do without even thinking about it. Creative energy just rises in you and you just do them, you know? If you deal with kids, if you teach children, as I did at one point in my life a very, very long time ago, you’ll have that kid in a classroom who just doesn’t want to do the subject that you’re teaching and there can be a tendency among teachers to write them off for that and to make assumptions about their intelligence level, their capability level, their connection level and so on. But, you see the same kid has absolutely no trouble all the football league scores or something else. It’s the passion that’s there in that area. That’s the creative thing that you want to work with as a writer.

So, yeah, what you care about, you know, what really gets you moving, what you most enjoy, what have you always loved to do? Answering those questions, and again in f-r-e-e-writing is a very good way to do that, so you get beyond the conscious mind, will give you some sort of sense of what your passion is. And, as I said in the introduction, that passion may pertain just to this particular project. So, you might be quite passionate about more than one thing, in fact you probably are. Most of us are, unless you’re very single minded indeed. So, yeah, think about the book that you’re currently working on and think about what you’re passionate about and how that connects.

Mission is slightly different. It’s connected to passion but it is a different thing and I’ve always found that the best way for people to find out what their mission is, is to think about what gets them angry? So, what makes you angry and what would you like to change in this world if you could? And that very often is the quickest way in to understand what your mission is.

Now, if you don’t know what your mission is, I do strongly encourage you to do the f-r-e-e-writing exercise in the workbook because finding that out will make the rest of this session a lot easier to do and make a lot more sense. But, actually it will make your whole writing career a lot easier and make a lot more sense.

So, have a look at that and then have a think about how these two, this passion and mission of yours, how it connects to your writing?

So, speaking for myself, my passion is the healing and the transforming power of the written word. I’ve been a writer all my life. And I have been, practically all of my working life, I’ve written and taught, I’m a writer and a teacher, that’s how I kind of think of myself. And I’ve had lots and lots of day jobs that have incorporated both of those things. So, how I connect, thought, the written word, may be very different to how you connect with it. For me, it’s about that healing power, that transformational power. And I know where that comes from. It’s because the written word has been so healing and transforming for me. It literally saved my life. First, in terms of books, reading them and then in terms of writing, you know, starting with journals and very bad teenage poetry and all the way up to writing novels and indie publishing today and running the Alliance. So, and the whole Go Create! series that I’m working on is based around that whole concept of the written word being not just a healing thing but actually then, once you go beyond the healing dimensions, you’re into its transformative power. It can change us as human beings, more I think than anything else. I think it is the single most important thing in the world. and it’s my mission then to write books and to build communities, online and offline that foster that healing and transforming power. That fosters things like free expression, creativity and what I call creativism which is applying the creative process to everything in life, including money. So, you can very much see where this talk came from and how that feeds into passion and mission.

So, that is the first part of the process, is to think about that very kind of, deeply, for yourself and get an understanding of where you fall on that. And once you have established that, and we are ready for the second part of the presentation where I’m going to look a little bit about how that passion and mission feeds not only into your books but also into money.



Paul:  Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul. You and Your Money.


Orna:  So, your mission and your passion have a point of connection. I call this massion, it’s a mash-up of mission and passion. There’s a point at which they kind of meld and come together and I’m hoping that in doing the exercises, and you are doing the exercises first, aren’t you? Taking a break in the audio and then coming back to it once you’ve done the exercises, is definitely the best way to approach this. So, I’m hoping that in the process of doing the exercises in the workbook to there, you have now some sense of that massion point where the two of those meet.

And before we get stuck into looking at how that feeds into your marketing and promotion, in this section of our talk, I’d like to look at your relationship with money.

So, sometimes our relationship with money is really unconscious. We’re not aware of it at all. But we constantly have ideas and thoughts going through our minds around money. And money is, it’s not a real thing, it’s a very intangible thing. And really, it is a symbol for the energy that we exchange with other people. And so for the context of this talk, it is the energy that we are exchanging as writers with readers. So, we are offering them something that they value, which they are returning in the form of money to us. And that is the exchange that is kind of going on.

Now, if you’ve got ideas about money that are very set, we all have mind-modes and in the workbook we list out a number of mind-modes that you can have around money.

So, for example, wishers are people who yearn for more money. They think that if they only had some, usually, unspecified amount of money that their problems would all be solved. They’d be happy at last. They’re the kind of people who do lotteries and raffles. They go to fortune-tellers maybe? And they also have a really clear idea of what they’d do with that money when their luck comes in but they’re not actually devoted to creating more money. It’s just a kind of wishing, keeping the fingers crossed thing.

And we also have strugglers; these are people who just can’t ever really make ends meet. They want more money but somehow it just doesn’t happen. And they very often know why. It’s the economy or it’s their boss or it’s the education they never got or whatever, their parent’s attitude to money when they were young. It can be anything. But they have that excuse and they’re kind of, a little bit wedded to it but they work hard, they think about money all the time. And this can really get quite intense. It can turn into what we call a poverty addict, who is kind of an extreme version of the struggler. The kind of person who doesn’t actually fully feel alive unless they’re in some sort of money chaos or crises. And if money does come in, they manage to chase it away. They’re very over worked, under paid. They may loose money. So, all of these things are going on and not necessarily understanding why or what’s happening.

A co-dependant is somebody who perhaps manages their own money very well but they’re involved with a spender or you know, a big dealer who thinks money is going to come in some day. They’ll get the big pay off that will show everybody that they are somebody. The co-dependant may be involved with somebody like that and constantly footing the bills for their financial irresponsibility or alternatively it could be the other way around. They could be under the control of somebody who tells them how much they’re ‘allowed’ to spend.

So, we see that relationships with money can really be very intense. The clinger is another type. The worse thing that can happen to a clinger is that they would actually loose money so, they’re constantly guarding against that possibility and these sometimes are people who have plenty of money but they’re always anxious about it. How should they invest it, are they managing it the best way, what if they do something stupid and end up with less?

And that’s closely aligned to the people who feel they never have enough, no matter how much they may like their work, and they have plenty of money. I have known some people who have literally millions and still feel it’s not enough, it’s not enough and they don’t know why.

Now, I’m talking about all these mind-modes and there are lots more in the workbook, as if they’re something, you know, I’m talking here in the third person, as if it’s distantly related from me, no. These mind-modes are within us all. We all have them, we flick in and out of different ones depending on circumstances.

But a mind-mode becomes a mind set, when it’s something that we do habitually. So, it maybe very unconscious, you may have some ideas and faults and filters, and funnels through which you relate to money that were given to you by your parents, that are so much part of the water you swim in, you don’t ever realize it’s there.

And so, there are some exercises in the book for uncovering some of that and getting some sense of an idea. Because when it moves from being, you know, a mind-mode that we have and we all are clingers and strugglers and poverty addicts and co-dependants to some degree, everybody is. But when it becomes something that is very fixed, then it moves out of the creative zone, into the conceptual zone and it becomes something that actually is a restriction.

So, a very common perception within the writing community is that the creative and the commercial are a polarity, that they are miles apart from each other.  And that is an unconscious kind of idea that a lot of creatives carry within. Without even knowing that they do that, and so that they see money as the root of all evil, as some of our religious teachings have taught us and there is a lot of negativity about money in our society.

And we see that the excessive connection to money and some of these mind-modes and mind-sets that we discuss in the work book, the kinds of havoc, that it is reeking in our society and that as writers, as observers we want to distance ourselves from that, so its all very understandable, and money is a tricky area because its so connected to the ego.

It is, very often, where we see a lot of problems arising both at the personal. individual and at the social level and so we carry this mind-set that money is a bad thing, the commercial is crass, the creative is wonderful, almost as sacred space, a place where you can escape all of that and get beyond it. And if we are carrying that sort of mind-set, that’s going to affect our relationship with money and our relationship with putting our books out there for marketing and promotion.

So, again to encourage you do some of the f-r-e-e-writing exercises in the workbook so you can begin to uncover some of the dimensions of your relationship with money and not only uncover them, but because it is a relationship it is like any other relationship, it can be improved and very often just the simple act of shining a little creative attention on that relationship in itself is enough to improve it.

So, we are looking, if you want to do well as an indie author, if you want to be somebody that sells lots of books to lots of readers, has lots of followers and fans, then your relationship with money is something you need to think about, you need to improve it, you need to start welcoming the idea that money can come to you in that sort of way. If you have an unconscious shield up, it’s not going to happen.

So, take a look at some of the exercises and in the next section then, we will start looking more specifically at marketing and promotions, the differences between them and how you can actually reach out to your reader.



Paul:  Sell Your Books, Without Selling Your Soul. The Difference Between Marketing and Promotion.


Orna:  So, now you have some sense of your passion and mission, your massion. And you have some sense of where that connects with your relationship with money and you are presumably and probably or possibly, always were wide open to the idea of lots of people buying your books.

In the work book, there is information about lots of other ways in which writers can earn money. All the ancillary activities that go on around books, so, you know affiliating-cum-subscription models and various other ways to earn money.  I’m not going to go into that today, in this session.

This is very much about marketing and promoting of books. But they will connect because they’ll connect on your website which I’ll be talking about in a moment.

But first just to draw the distinction between marketing and promotion. So, they are not one and the same, and it is helpful to separate them in your mind. And we completely separate them out in ALLi, and in all the education and information and advice that we give. We look at seven stages of the publishing process. Editorial, design, production, distribution and then marketing is another, and promotion is another. The final one is right sales.

But marketing and promotion are distinct from each other. So how do they differ? Marketing is essentially letting your reader know that your book exists, that you exist as a writer. That your book exists, and what sort of genre it’s in, and what’s roughly contained within, what they can expect. And so marketing is very much imbedded in, and its absolutely key part of reaching readers. It’s imbedded in things, like your book design, that it is genre appropriate. That it actually does what it says on the tin, that a reader looking at the book gets a sense of what this book is about. It’s imbedded in your book descriptions, how you actually put your books across. It’s imbedded in the categories that you choose to enter your book in on the on-line retailers, and the key words that you associate with your book and the other authors. Of course, author names now, and other book titles are viewed as key words. So, the other authors that you would align with, you know, the kinds of writers that your readers are also interested in, probably people you read yourself and admire hugely. And your book falls within the same sort of general section as theirs does.

So, these are all really important for you to get an understanding of and it doesn’t happen quickly, this, and it doesn’t happen over night. You can be writing for quite sometime before you actually fully understand where you fit in the market place. It can be helpful to think about it in terms of a physical book store. Where you can walk in and where would your books be found? Under what section, and you know, which authors you associate yourself with is something that you really need to think about and which categories your book falls into.

So, you will use categories in a certain way to try and ensure that your book scores well, you will probably put it into lots of different minor categories. That’s a slightly different thing, but for the purposes of thinking about your marketing, as oppose to your promotion, for the purposes of thinking about your marketing, I’m talking about the main category, what your book is. And so, if people stop and ask you, you know, what kind of books do you write, you should have a very clear answer for them. And I know for years I didn’t, and I know lots and lots of authors don’t. And it’s something that it really does kind of benefits us once we begin that sort clarity about our marketing. So, getting all that kind of clear in our minds is really important.

Promotion then is a different thing, and I think this is where authors trip up, and where this whole concept of, you know, if you listened this far in the recording, you are the kind that are, there are lots of writers who don’t have any of these issues at all, but if you’re still here then it is very likely that you are the kind of writer who doesn’t like saying buy my book. And there are extraordinary numbers of us that feel that way. And this is book promotion, as distinct from marketing.

So, most of us are comfortable enough with the idea that we, you know, we get a book cover that’s appealing, we put our books in the right categories, you know none of that causes a problem. What causes a problem is when you begin to call attention to yourself, and this is where you can begin to feel uncomfortable and salesie.

So, I just want to talk about the various promotion and options that are now available to us and that are really moving books, where this doesn’t arise at all. So, technically selling books on an on-line retailer is a completely different experience to selling it through the book stores.

So, the traditional way that books were sold, was as we all know, through distributors first, who then sold on to retailers, who then sold on to books. So there was a long supply chain between author, publisher, distributor, wholesaler, retailer, reader. Now on-line stores, it’s direct. It’s author, on-line store, reader. And, the way in which books are categorized and found are now very different too. So, the job that is, now needs to be done is what we were talking about there, categories, key words, understanding where your book falls in the market place and crucially, understanding the psychology of a reader who comes on to an on-line store, probably Amazon, and keys in the book they are looking for. So, understanding what they are seeking when your book comes in as an answer to that seeking. So, your book is the answer to somebody else’s problem. Either they want to be entertained and some escapism to take them away from the daily drudgery or they want to be informed about something that they are interested in or they want to be inspired and brought to a different place to connect with that deep kind of font of creative inspiration that leads you to write in the first place. They’re also seeking that and these will be people who read poetry and literary fiction and for whom language is important.

And they’re whole wealth’s, you know genre’s, jumping up all over the place, meeting the narrow needs of readers who, you know, readers are sectioning off into evermore narrow niches and genre it seems. And that is very good for us as writers who want to reach readers. So, the more niche and narrow we are getting, because an on-line store has a global reach and we are talking about writing in English to a global audience, there is enough readers in almost any niche for us to make a living from our writing. Provided of course, that the books are good enough, all this advice is premised on that.

So, yeah, you can now actually, without having to do any of the social media stuff which I’m going to come onto in a moment, which says I am here, look at me, buy my book. You can actually, by careful use of categories and keywords on the online stores, and by investing some money into paid advertising for your books, you can actually escape all that kind of going out front, and reach your reader directly without ever having to jump up and down and say buy my book, buy my book.

It’s completely possible and becoming more and more possible. Indie authors are getting better and better at doing this and there are some good courses that are available out there that teach you how to do this and all of that information is available through ALLI, where we vet courses through our watchdog desk and are careful in who we recommend.

So, understanding, getting to understand digital marketing and how it works and how it differs from traditional marketing, which is very much about PR and getting your, you know, getting your face in the paper, getting a feature interview about yourself, getting your book reviewed in the books pages of the newspapers and magazines. That way of marketing and reaching readers is, you know, not the most effective way and it doesn’t work for Amazon, it doesn’t work for on-line retailers, it doesn’t work in the main for indie authors.

So, just to be aware of that and that brings up a point where by, sometimes what we’re uncomfortable about, and why we feel we selling our soul and it comes to promotion of our books is because we are actually attracted by the ego trip of, you know, going out there, being famous, being in the paper, you know, being on T.V. or whatever.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Hello, human beings. And, as writers, we have ego’s and that’s for sure and it can be an enjoyable thing to do that but it is that sort of ego led activity is the complete opposite of the activity at sitting down and getting the words right for you reader. Of being in service to the creative spirit that delivers the words in the first place and the reader who will read them. That’s a very different act, and it’s a very different situation and it’s quite likely that you are a writer because ultimately you value that more. But it’s also quite likely that you have an ego, and that you are attracted by the idea perhaps of fame and money at the more superficial level.

So, there’s nothing wrong with it, once you’re cool with it. It’s very much what you allow, accept and enjoy for yourself. But it’s really about understanding where you fall on that spectrum and where you want to fall on that spectrum and being true to yourself.

So, if that’s it on the marketing and promotion and ideas. So, it’s really about working out what is your marketing, and what is your promotion. How are you going to reach you readers? And the other way in which people are kind of promoting their books and putting it out there, and the kind of advice that we’re given an awful lot up to now has been about building a platform which embraces social media because it’s one of the few ways that people, and certainly when Indie publishing started out, social was much easier and a much easier root through which to reach readers. And we are all encouraged and publishers are now encouraging their writers to get involved with social media, to be on Facebook, or Twitter or one of the other platforms, Instagram, Pinterest, you know, there are so many. There are new ones popping up every day. There’s Supremely Popular that you haven’t heard of yet.

And here I think is where a lot of discomfort arises because we see people who go out there and you know, buy my book. Buy it now, please buy my book, please promote me, please tell your friends about me, please, please, please. And you know, it’s a very difficult thing when you written a book, particularly your first book, it takes so much of you and you put your heart and soul and, you know, your entrails into creating this, this thing. And you may start of thinking you want an Agent or a Publisher and you find that’s not so easy, and you’re not making it on that route and then you consider self-publishing or the opposite, you know from the start you want to self-publish because you like the creative freedom of that and the direct relationship with your readers. Whichever it is, you know, when you written a book, you are a in a post-natal scenario and like mothers in real life, you can suffer from post-natal depression and post-natal mania, you know, most mothers, particularly first mothers, fall crazily in love with their baby and genuinely think that it is a better looking child then any child was ever born before. We are like that, with our books, especially, the beginning of our writing journey. But it comes as a bit of a shock, to find out that, actually, nobody else cares all that much. And then you begin to realize, well kind of, why should they?

But a lot of authors start off with a very sort of entitled position. I have written a book, you should care, you should do this, you know, and they want their book to get the attention that the feel it deserves. And so, that leads into behavior on social media, where you kind of crashing in and just saying, look at me, look at me, look at my book, look at my book. But you know, buy my book, buy my book. And, that is not an effective strategy for people who want to sell books, never mind people that don’t want to sell their soul.

So, social media is something that should be used as part of a wider mix of, it’s really about communication with your reader and there are a few ways to do that. Now again, allowed by digital social being one of them. You should not do social media unless you enjoy it, you should not do social media, in terms of being social and engaging with people with the ulterior motive of selling them a book. It just doesn’t work. It comes across very easily as just what it is. You can use social media as a broadcaster, contrary to what a lot of people say, you know that you should, engagement is necessary in [00:41:56], in actual fact there lots and lots of writers who don’t engage all that much, and just put out there information that is useful, that is connected to the world of their books. So, they’re not saying buy my book, buy my book. They’re actually serving the community with information or with inspiration or with entertainment, the three great reasons why people purchase books.

So, they are aligning the messages that are going out on social with the message that is imbedded in the book. The same heart and soul that went into the book, goes into writing a tweet, goes into writing a Facebook update. They’re not approaching social media with what can I write here that is going to actually get a sale? They are serving the community that their books serve. And when social media is used in that way, it’s really, really successful.

So, that’s it, in terms of promotion. In the final section I am just going to look at the most direct way of speaking to your reader, reaching you reader. Which is email, and then putting it all together.



Paul:  Sell Your Books Without Selling Your Soul. Reaching Your Reader.


Orna:  So, really it all hinges on the reader, and your relationship with the reader. So we’ve talked about the passion and mission, the massion, the fires, your books, and how that also connects to your own relationship with money and making that more expansive.

But the real thing that happens with money in this sort of transaction is that it is a side product. The real key relationship is your relationship with your words obviously, but also and equally your relationship with your reader, and what they are seeking in the world and how you two connect imaginatively. And it really is a magical transaction, that connection across time and space and we are in service to that as authors. And the key to selling your books without selling your soul is to put your attention on the reader and what you are offering.

So, we spoke at the beginning about your values, and what you value, and that will be imbedded in your writing and that will be what your reader values also. And all of this is going on at a subterranean level, nobody is actually going out there and talking about this. Nobody goes into a book store, or goes on-line to Amazon thinking in this way. But this is actually the deeper down transaction that is being enacted when somebody hands over money for a book and when somebody receives money for having written a book.

And so that point of connection between you and your reader is something to which you constantly give attention as a marketer and as a book promoter. Embracing that, that is what you are, if you are an indie author, you are not just a writer, you are also somebody either you like to say, you know, we’re also somebody in business and that is absolutely true but I don’t think it’s a very useful way for a lot of us to think about it. I think it is good for us to embrace the terms, marketer and book promoter and, you know, the pictures that rise in our mind when we think those terms. And then how we fit ourselves into that picture. And where we fit the reader into that picture. And the only way we can do that without, as we say, selling our souls, is to be genuine. To be in service to the writing, to be in-service to the reader and to genuinely approach it in that way.

And that makes building up our website, our Tweets, our Facebook updates, you know, whatever we are doing at those levels become easier, when everything gets aligned. When we understand what we’re doing as writers and what value we are bringing to the reader. And the most, the closest connection that we can have with the reader is an e-mail. Again and again it is shown that e-mail marketing as the marketers call it, is that e-mail connection, is one that is one that is really valued, and it is the only way that us, as individual writers who need to put time each day into writing, can reach a very wide group of people in a very meaningful way. So, yes we can have followers on social media if we’re skilled in that way. But, that connection, that private off, you know, still on line, but off-line from the attention of the rest of the world, that one to one connection in an e-mail is very similar to the one to one connection that happens with a book. It is the most similar connection we can have. So, that is the place to put most of your promotional attention. To looking after those people that have given you their e-mail address and given you permission to turn up in their lives, in their e-mail inbox. They may not, in fact they definitely won’t, read everything you send them, but you have permission to arrive into their lives, and, you know, they are going to give you attention every so often. And that is a wonderful thing. And something to think deeply about, in terms of what you are going to put in your connection, in you e-mails, in your connection with you reader, how you’re going to reach them and how you are going to create within them the feeling that you want them to have when they read your book. That’s the thing you need to kind of think about. So, that we’re all in the business of selling emotion. That at some level you want to make them feel something, what they want to feel. And so, you’re thinking about how your e-mails can be reflected off the content of your book, is also a very useful thing to do.

So, I hope I’ve given you some ideas and thoughts around this whole thing of how you sell your books without selling your soul. There are lots of exercises in the download that accompanies the session, some please do download that and get stuck in and do some of them. Again, you probably won’t do them all, but pick and choose something that seems meaningful to you so you can deepen and grow the connection between yourself, your books, your money and your readers and bring it all together in a way that really works for you.

I wish you millions of book sales, and if you want more advice, along these lines you will find all sorts of self-publishing advice at selfpublishingadvice.org which is the Alliance of Independent Authors, self-publishing advice centre. We have all sorts of information there, broken down under editorial design, marketing, distribution, promotion, production, everything to do with creating books and reaching readers. We also have watchdog ratings there, of good services you can use to do some of this marketing and promotional work for you and any other work that you need done as an indie author. Because you won’t be able to do everything yourself, you will need to out-source some of it and there are lots of other things going on there at selfpublishingadvice.org and you are warmly invited to join the Alliance of Independent Authors. We are a group of people who take ourselves seriously as author publishers and a fantastic group of people who are so supportive and so helpful to each other and there are lots of other advantages to being a member of ALLi also, including lots of discounts and deals and various others. There are 21 benefits if you want to have a look on our website and have a think about that. You’ll find it at allianceindependentauthors.org. We are a non-profit organisation for self-publishing writers.

So, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought at a minimum, and I hope that I am going to help you to sell lots of books and in a way that also feeds your soul. And thank you for being here today and enjoy the rest of Indie Author Fringe.



Paul:  You’ve been listening to another great session brought to you by the Indie Author Fringe and the Alliance of Independent Authors. ALLi, you can find out more about both by visiting Allies Self-Publishing Advice Centre, www.selfpublishingadice.org. Now, go write and publish.


Author: Indie Author Fringe

The Indie Fringe Author Conference takes place three times a year, in line with London Book Fair in April; Book Expo America in May and Frankfurt Book Fair in October


This Post Has 21 Comments
  1. So for those of us who are running behind on our podcast listening, now that the giveaway promotion has ended, are you still offering the workbook?

  2. I would love a free copy of the workbook! I hope I’m not too late to have missed the opportunity. Or please let me know when it is available for purchase. Thank you.

  3. THanks for offering the book/workbook. The system also told me I had one more activity to complete. I’m not willing to leave my email in the comments, although I filled it in on the other form. This sounds like a very useful workbook and I plan to buy the actual book when it comes out, too.

  4. Thank you! This was very informative. You mentioned a download that accompanies this session toward the end. I’m probably looking right at it, but all I managed to download is the mp3 of the talk. ?

    1. You enter the giveaway above, Kamila, and give me your email address so I know where to send the download link. Thank you so much for your kind feedback

      1. Hi, I keep trying to submit my name/email, but I keep getting a message that I still have to complete one more action?? I have also clicked the link to follow the group on facebook, and I have already subscribed to your Youtube page quite some time ago! Please help!! thanks.

        1. This software seems to glitch every so often Karon. if you leave your email in the comments, I’ll make sure you get a copy. Thanks so much for your interest!

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