5 Huge Mistakes I Made Marketing My First Book (And What I Wish I Would Have Done Instead)

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The #1 question I’ve gotten over the years during my time as marketing director at Wise Ink Creative Publishing (and as a working author myself), is this one:

What are the biggest marketing mistakes you made with your first book, and what do you wish you would have done differently?

Luckily for everyone who asks me this question, I love talking about the “wrong turns” I made in publishing and marketing my books, because without these mistakes, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I know now about book marketing.

Here are five of my most glaring mistakes, and what you can learn from them:

1. Hiring a publicist without giving them a clear direction on what I wanted them to do

The thought of pitching myself to magazines, newspapers, and TV shows was overwhelming to me as a first-time author, so I did what a lot of people do: I hired a publicist to do it for me.

What I didn’t know was that a publicist is only as effective as your ability to direct them. I ended up paying her to research on my behalf, which is something I easily could have done myself.

I could have saved a lot of money and probably gotten much more exposure had I done the research part on my own, then given her the task of doing the actual pitching when I had my list of potential candidates.

2. Having a huge launch event at a bookstore

I had an awesome launch event at a huge indie bookstore in my city because I felt I needed the backing of a bookstore to feel “legit.”

Though the event was awesome, it wasn’t until I got home and did the math that I realized I could have made much more money on book sales if I’d had the event at a different location.

Even though the bookstore told me upfront that they would keep 40 percent of the profits from my sales, it really became clear how much that 40 percent really cost me once I added everything up from the event.

Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE bookstores and love supporting them! But I wish I had done my launch event somewhere else, somewhere where I would have been able to keep 100 percent of my profits.

3. Not doing a snail mail marketing campaign

This is the social media age, right? No one mails anything anymore, right?


If I could go back in time, I would have found 25-30 key influencers in my genre and popped a book in the mail to them, along with a personal note. A personal touch goes such a long way in marketing—especially in the book selling business!

I consider this to be one of the most under-utilized marketing tactics used by authors, and really encourage authors to incorporate this into their book marketing strategy as soon as they’ve published.

4. Not using social media wisely

I felt like I needed to be anywhere and everywhere when I first published. I needed a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr . . . and on and on.

It was all so overwhelming that I ended up burning out quickly.

If I could go back, I would focus on ONE platform, probably Facebook, and narrow my efforts there. Then, once I had established myself on one platform, I would maybe move to another one and repeat the process.

Trying to be everywhere is a game you’ll always end up losing. I became way more successful on social media when I quit using it all the platforms and just focused on one I genuinely enjoyed spending time on.

One more related thing I would have done differently is creating a content calendar and scheduling out my posts to avoid feeling like I had to be chained to social media all the time.

Since I started using a content calendar for my social media, I’ve been able to grow an engaged following of readers much quicker and with much less stress.

P.S. If you’d like to learn how to use a content calendar to simplify your social media, check out my new course: Bestseller Bootcamp: How to Create a Powerhouse Book Marketing Campaign Without Hiring a Publicist. I’ll walk you through step-by-step exactly how to avoid all the mistakes I made when I first launched, and grow your audience in the easiest and most effective way possible!

5. Taking out print ads

Again, this was something I felt I “had” to do. After all, I kept getting emails about “special deals” for print ads in magazines that seemed credible!

While print advertising can be effective for some authors in very specific genres, it certainly wasn’t for me. I wish I’d used that money for more targeted advertising on platforms like Amazon or Facebook instead.

The truth is, book marketing work is all about taking calculated risks. You will make mistakes along the way, just like anything in life.

But as much as I made plenty of mistakes when publishing my first book, I wouldn’t change a thing about it now.

I’ve learned so much about book marketing over the years from my personal experience and from working with hundreds of authors on their own book marketing campaigns, but the most important thing I’ve learned is this:

Choose one marketing effort to focus on. Learn how to do it well. Then do it.

It really is that simple.

Roseanne Cheng is the former marketing director at Wise Ink Creative Publishing and co-founder of Evergreen Authors, an online learning community that helps authors successfully launch their book and build a thriving business. To see the book marketing courses Roseanne teaches, go here.

Cristina O'Connell on Building Children's Self-Esteem


Cristina O’Connell always knew that she wanted to work with children. She loved their honesty and their innate goodness. She also knew that she was an entrepreneur and a goal-setter. A dancer for most of her life, Cristina opened two dance studios: On Pointe and On Pointe Too. Shortly after, she started a children’s party company. Now, she’s kept the momentum going and published a children’s book: The Everyday Adventures of Savvy & Ry: My First Day at Ballet, illustrated by Kevin Cannon.


Cristina wrote this book in response to something she noticed in her dance classes. “Sometimes little girls are timid in class, and they almost let it ruin their experience,” she says. “I want them to know that it’s okay to be scared. If you don’t give up, you can succeed at whatever you do.”


The Everyday Adventures of Savvy & Ry: My First Day at Ballet is about a little girl named Savvy who is terrified of going to her first dance class. With the support of her mom, her brother Ry, and her dance teacher, Savvy begins to feel safe. She overcomes her fear, connects with the other kids, and ends up having a great time in dance class. 


Just like Savvy, there are many kids who struggle with fear of judgement, meeting new people, and trying new things. Cristina has observed that “on some level, kids have all the same insecurities as adults. You have to meet kids where they’re at. Remove their fear of the unknown by setting the stage for what they’re going to do.” To get kids to open up, it is crucial to create a positive environment where they know they are welcome, and where they know what is going to happen.


As children carry many of their childhood experiences into adulthood, Cristina knows that making kids feel safe to explore their passions is vital. Self-esteem is a key to success, and Cristina knows that kids will identify with how you treat them and what you tell them. She too was a timid child. She had to conquer her fears to become the entrepreneur she is today. “I was fortunate to have supportive parents,” she says. They helped her establish healthy patterns for goal-setting and exploring her passions, and she hopes to help other children do the same.


Cristina’s drive to help children achieve their goals compelled her to write her book. At first, she didn’t know where to start. She only knew that she wanted to publish independently because it would give her the most creative freedom and control over distribution. After she wrote her manuscript, she began to search for an illustrator. She found Kevin Cannon, and immediately connected with his illustration style. Kevin recommended that she work with Wise Ink, who coincidentally has also published Andy Frisella’s children’s book series, an entrepreneur that Cristina admires. The stars seemed to align, and Cristina was on her way to becoming a published author.


The thing that surprised Cristina most about publishing was the in-depth nature of the process. As someone who is used to working quickly in business, book publishing taught her that good books take time. She learned to trust everyone on the team to work to their strengths, and to trust that everything would happen in the right way at the right time.


As a businessowner, Cristina is using her connections to get her book out into the world. She’s reached out to local children’s boutiques, dance studios, and other businesses in her community to make sure that her work connects with the people who need it most. She also plans to use her book as a tool for parents and children to be able to connect around the child’s sense of self-esteem and safety.


Cristina is looking forward to writing her next book in the series, which will focus on Savvy’s brother, Ry, and his journey in dance class. She wants little boys to know that strong boys dance. She wants to empower everyone to feel comfortable exploring their interests with nonjudgement. She says that “with courage and hard work, you can conquer your fears and achieve your goals.”


Working with children has taught Cristina that there is an inner child in every one of us. She encourages all adults to listen to that child’s voice, trust their own sense of right and wrong, and trust their intuition. Don’t be scared to follow your dreams.


And to any author who is thinking about publishing, Cristina says, “Go for it!”



The Everyday Adventures of Savvy & Ry: My First Day at Ballet will launch on November 24th, 2019 at the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, CA. You can preorder her book here.

5 Dos and Don'ts For Your Book's Crowdfunding Campaign

Today’s blog post comes from Wise Ink author Erin Twamley, who’s latest book Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers, came out this past spring and is a result of an outstanding Kickstarter campaign! We asked her to share some of her tips for how to hold a great crowdfunding campaign with our Wise Ink audience, and she did not disappoint. For more about Erin and her amazing vision, visit

As an author and educator I have used Kickstarter to support other projects, but this was my first time creating my own Kickstarter to help offset some of the book creation costs. The hidden secret of authorship and publishers is that creating a book is a large investment! Not just all of our time and energy, but a monetary one to ensure we have the best team and final printed copy of our new book! Here are some tips about our successful Kickstarter for Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers that we launched in March 2019 that earned $8,087 of our $6,500 goal!

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Don’t overspend on your video, but it is important!

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A video is important and is less than 90 seconds, but don’t overspend. Think of it like an interactive tool to use even after your Kickstarter ends. There are tools like PowToons to create your own or tons of video animators on places like Fiverr and 99Designs. But our success came from our community, a family member of a college friend! He not only was detailed and diligent but because he supported the cause gave us a huge discount and great video.

Besides a video animator, your script is SO important. Our children’s book, Everyday Superheroes: Women in STEM Careers, is non-fiction! We are explicitly trying to tackle a problem (stereotypes in STEM) that is well documented! We wanted to connect the research to our book. We also had numerous people review and edit our script, including ourselves! We had teachers, friends, librarians and marketing gurus take a look! Don’t forget to use the awesome Wise Ink team! Your video is key -- in fact we had nearly every pledge supporter watch our video and at least double that number watch it.

Do use social media advertisements strategically

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Most of our sales were from our 1st network -- AKA people we know. We made a list of over 1,000+ from family, friends, business contacts and education contacts. A little bit of spend on Twitter, Facebook or GoFundMe Ads is not going to get you pledges! What we saw is a large number of clicks, we went from 1,000 to 8,000 clicks, but our pledges didn’t really move at all. If you want to spend the funds on advertisements, make sure you identify where most of your traffic is coming from. We found most of our traffic was through Facebook so we capitalized on posts and ads there -- our biggest advice -- now, in the middle of the KS campaign, is not the time to learn a new social media.

It’s all about your 1st network sharing with their communities

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I have a co-author, Joshua Sneideman and together we have both large communities that are interconnected and separated. What we learned is that it is important to use BOTH communities and make sure that the Kickstarter project is clear that you are CO-AUTHORS! Because Kickstarter has usually 1 project creator, my name appeared first (I am also first author of the book). What this meant was if you looked at a snapshot of our Kickstarter project or page, you saw my name and his was a little more challenging to find. This in the end worked against us, because some contacts of his weren’t clear on his role in the project and we lost a few backers this way! (They told us so, upon meeting in person).

We did discover the following best strategies for expanding from your 1st network:

  • Our families, although often our number one supporters can make all the difference and sometimes forget to do the basics like fund our project or share it on social media. Make sure you send a personal note to family members asking for their initial pre-order of the book from your Kickstarter. They might not know that this is a critical step.

  • Use your book reviewers, your initial number one fans, to share the Kickstarter project with their communities. Get specific, ask them to forward an email or share a link to the Kickstarter project on their social media!

  • LinkedIn Posts may not gain initial attraction, but over time posting your project in a relevant group like “STEM Education Resources” will reach others in your like minded communities.

Go for a bigger goal or a stretch goal!

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Everyone, from our WiseInk team to people who have used KS to run a book launch before advised us to go big! That meant be ambitious for our funding goal. We were nervous! Kickstarter requires that you meet your goal to get ANY funding. We talked with successful book KS project creators to help figure out how to calculate costs, expenses and funding needs. What we underestimated was the compilation of the following:

  • Marketing Material Creation Expenses for the Kickstarter

  • Advertising Expenses for the Kickstarter

  • Kickstarter Fee

Bottom line for a book, it seems your KS creation and launch expenses + kickstarter fees means you lose about $2K right out of the gate!

To ensure you get your calculations right here are some tips:

  • Calculate your book creation costs vs. book printing costs separately.

    • You have to print your book, this is an investment. If you use the Kickstarter to “pay back” your book creation costs you will feel successful! No matter what you have to print and store books (unless you do Print on Demand) so this is an inevitable cost that KS probably won’t touch, you will have to wait for your massive book sales.

  • Identify the MSRP price for after Kickstarter.

  • The Kickstarter book price should be your MSRP + the value you are adding, like a signature or a bookmark.

  • For shipping, don’t forget packaging costs. We estimated our shipping just about right, but forgot all about that packaging cost!

  • Have a stretch goal AHEAD of time. If we would have been ready to say Our Print Books are funded, now fund our ebook -- I think we could have kept our momentum! We didn’t think of this until the middle of the campaign and by that time we were honestly well, tired.

In the end, because we EXCEEDED our goal, we were able to take our initial goal home which nearly covered our book creation costs! The challenge with exceeding your goal is that potential new backers may not back because you made your goal! We made our goal with nearly 10 days left -- had we had a higher goal we could have used that last 10 days for a big push. Once your goal is met, it is hard to get backers -- at least in our experience. We have seen and heard with other products this is not the case!

Is it worth it? YES!

To be honest, I was always hesitant of running a Kickstarter. I had read so much about the time and effort to creating a Kickstarter, yes it is intensive! People had shared stories about losing more money or the expenses of shipping. Let’s get real, in shipping books they are heavy and can have weird dimensions! All in all, it took about 3 weeks to package up all the Rewards and products, we spent time creating labels and doing an assembly line, but we actually also got to touch each book with an inscription and signature. In the end, I think our KS was worth it. We learned a lot about marketing the book, what works and doesn’t work that we have continued to apply to our marketing today! In the end, we got paid back nearly all the book creation expenses, identified new great partners and found that our message of Tackling the Stereotypes in STEM resonates.

Four Momentum-Killing Mistakes Authors Should Avoid

There’s nothing more exciting than finally being at the point where you can launch your incredibly amazing, brand-spanking-new book. You’ve put so much time and effort into this project, and now you’re going to see things really take off.


The truth is, launching your book isn’t a cakewalk - in fact, the work you put in after your launch is every bit as important as the work that came before. And the last thing you want to do is stop the momentum before it even gets going. Here are a few mistakes that might be killing your progress, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: You have an unclear target audience

Of course, it’s natural to want to spread the word about your product to every single person you can reach. The more awareness, the more sales, right? But a lot of times, this just ends up wasting time and money. If you’ve written a self-help book for young entrepreneurs and you’re advertising on platforms that cater primarily to middle-aged parents, you won’t be seeing as many sales as you might hope. By spreading your resources and your time too thin, the audience that is most interested in what you’re selling might not hear about you until it’s too late.

A good way to avoid this mistake is to plan ahead and determine a) who your target audience is, b) where they spend their time (i.e. what online platforms they visit, places they might hear about your book, if word-of-mouth will influence their choices, etc.) and c) the most effective way for you to reach them.

For example, if you’ve written a cookbook filled with healthy recipes that are easy to prepare, you probably want to focus your advertising efforts on stay-at-home parents, since they are a very large audience and are always looking for ways to help their families eat well in the midst of a busy lifestyle. Stay-at-home parents often visit blogs, Pinterest, and the grocery store, so look into options for getting your name spread in these places. Don’t try to cover too many bases at once - just make sure the bases you are covering are relevant and accessible to your target audience.

Mistake #2: You’re over-saturating your social media platforms with launch content

It’s tempting to post every single day about your new book once it’s time to launch. The cover is gorgeous, the blurbs are winsome, and you want to show the world what you’ve got to offer. However, we all know how annoying it is when someone overshares on Facebook; who wants to see 38 individual posts about what your coworker had for breakfast?

It’s the same with books (although, books are decidedly more interesting than breakfast choices). Seeing a few posts throughout the week will keep people interested and will ensure that your audience is aware of your launch - seeing 4 posts a day, on the other hand, will eventually start to annoy your followers, and might have the opposite of the desired effect.

Keep it simple: don’t post more than you need to. Does your audience really need to see a multi-paragraph Instagram post about the title font of your book? Probably not. Think about what things your audience would actually want to know about your project, and favor fewer, better-quality posts over excessive, low-quality posts.

Mistake #3: You’re prioritizing ads over people

While it’s true that a good chunk of marketing happens through ads and the “website algorithm beast”, sometimes authors get caught up in the online formula and forget the importance of real people. Word-of-mouth is one of your best friends when it comes to selling people on your book - and yes, the difference between selling people your book and selling people on your book matters. Any vendor can sell a book, but it takes an author who forms and nurtures relationships with their friends and buyers to really make them believe in the book.

One person who read and enjoyed your book can be more effective than a dozen costly online ads, if they decide to share their love for it with their friends and family. Given time, you might find yourself with a whole network of people who recommend your writing to others for free, simply because you took the time to reach out and connect with them personally about your project.

In other words, don’t fall down the algorithm hole and then wonder why you’re only receiving a handful of reviews or comments about your work. Remember that books are bought by people, and people are who you want to impact most, during all stages of the launching process.

Mistake #4: You’re taking shortcuts

Ah, shortcuts. Those ever-enticing sirens who sing of “cheap” and “easy” ways to sell your book. Some shortcuts are worthwhile, but most of them will only serve to stab you in the back.

Some of the more notorious shortcuts are skimping on the editing, spamming your email subscribers instead of taking the time to plan and schedule your emails, and not serving refreshments at book launches. These might save you time or money in the moment, but in the long run they’re going to hurt your success more than bolster it. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.

Making mistakes is inevitable, and it can be scary to go all in without knowing how things will turn out. But book publishing is a learning process, and as long as you keep moving forward and being thorough in your endeavors, you’ll become more and more skilled at launching your books, and the effort will pay off!

How to Market Your Book in the Summer: A Quick Guide

Summer might seem like it would pose challenges in the book marketing process, but if you get creative, it can be an incredibly fruitful season. Here are some “hot” tips and tricks for marketing your book during those warm summer months.

Marketing to Vacationers

Everyone loves a good beach book! And everyone going on vacation during the summer wants to find that perfect story to keep them entertained while they sit back, relax, and soak up the sun. Focus on using pitches to highlight how your book is this perfect story.

Phrases like “steamy romance novel,” “thrilling mystery,” and “feel-good story” all conjure images of enjoyment for readers, and will make them more inclined to bring your book along if they want to be engaged while reading on the beach. Figure out what makes your book stand out from others in the captivation department and watch your sales jump!

Marketing for Holidays

Another way to fit your book into the summer season is to connect it to summer holidays, primarily the Fourth of July. Got an in-depth investigation of Washington’s time at Valley Forge? Sell the Independence Day side of the story. Does your main character have an affinity for pyrotechnics? Emphasize how much they would love to see fireworks during the holiday.

You can also look at how your book might connect to popular events during summer months, such as Pride Week in June, or the Summer Olympics. If you’ve got any control over the publication date, try to have your book launch line up with the timing of relatable holidays or events.

Marketing for the Climate

Certain activities are much more accessible during the summertime, such as gardening, swimming, and cookouts. There are a lot of ways you can market your book by showcasing its relevance to these activities. Cookbooks for the outdoors, stories about mermaids or ocean life, guidebooks on urban agriculture, memoirs that reflect on the beauty and joy of camping -- the options are endless.

One last note - don’t be afraid to promote your book wherever you are! Bring along a copy of it to the restaurant you’re eating at; someone might ask about it. If you’re traveling, be sure to bring some promotional materials along, just in case someone asks what you do. You never know who might be interested.

4 Steps to Creating the Perfect Author Bio

Bios - where to start? Literally and figuratively, author bios can be difficult to figure out. To help you out, we’ve laid down four straightforward steps you can take on your personal journey to craft the perfect author bio.

Tell a story

Your author bio is essentially an elevator pitch about your life; in order to be effective, it needs to get the relevant information across in an engaging way. So don’t start listing facts and expect readers to care for very long!

Look up examples of author bios, keeping in mind which ones inspire you and which ones have you falling asleep after three words. Think about what you’ve accomplished, and figure out how much you want to include in your “story.” Chances are, you’ve done some pretty amazing things already, and if you incorporate them as a good writer would, you’ll have readers coming back for more before they’ve even read your book.

For example, try starting with a strong intro sentence, then tell the reader what you do, why you’re qualified to do it, and then add a personal touch that makes you stand out from the rest. If you want, you can include a call to action at the end to give readers a way to continue learning more about you and your work.

Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about your readers

This may seem counter-intuitive. It is your bio, after all, right? Well, yes, but you already know all this information about yourself -- you’re not writing this bio for you. You’re writing it to address what your readers want to know.

Understanding that your bio is for your readers will keep you from putting in those little details that no one really cares about, like where you went to middle school or how many states you’ve visited. Of course, if you can find a way to make those facts interesting or humorous, by all means put them in. But try to approach your book and your bio from the reader’s perspective and ask yourself, “what would I want to know about the author after reading their book?”

Find the line between over-selling and under-selling

While it’s important to brag about yourself in your bio, you don’t want to make wide, sweeping generalizations that make it look like you’ve got a puffed-up ego. On the flip side, you don’t want to undersell yourself either! This is the space where you get to show off everything you’ve got, and you should take advantage of it. So the question is then, how do you find the balance?

Naturally, dancing this fine line can be a little difficult. One way to make it easier is to change the names and pretend you’re reading someone else’s bio. How does it come across to you? Another way is to get a second or third opinion from an unbiased party. What do they think? Imagine you met someone at a cafe and told them your bio out loud - how does it sound? Typically, writers are quite good at picking up on these kinds of things, so as long as you’re the one crafting your bio, chances are you’ll avoid over- or under-selling yourself.

Keep it short and sweet

One good tip is to treat your bio like a business card; use it to impress readers, to show off what you can do, and to keep your name in people’s minds long after they’ve tucked the card (or in this case, book) into a drawer or briefcase. You can’t do these things if you’ve written five paragraphs and a postscript for your bio. As awesome as you are, and as wonderful as your accomplishments look in writing, your bio isn’t supposed to be a full-length memoir.

So keep it short, and keep it sweet -- well, as sweet as you want. Everyone loves when a writer throws in a funny tidbit at the end of a bio, so don’t be afraid to spice things up with humor! There are a lot of creative ways to put one final spin on your bio, so put your pencil to your brain and start cracking some eggs.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Your Book on Amazon

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No matter how you personally feel about Amazon, it undeniably has power in the publishing industry. Amazon is the number one bookseller in the world. For that reason, authors need to make sure they are using Amazon to its full potential. Below we have assembled some tips, mostly drawn from our Buzz podcast episode, about the do’s and don’ts of selling your book on Amazon.


  1. Complete your Amazon author page. Your Amazon author page is a separate page from the book’s page. This is a good way for readers to learn more about you, and it also keeps all of your books available on Amazon in one central location. Give the same amount of attention to your author page as you did to your book page.

  2. Consider a KDP ebook. It can be incredibly beneficial to publish an ebook through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This will give you the opportunity to run ads through the program, allowing you to directly reach your readers. For more information on how (and why) to use KDP, explore the resources offered on Wise Ink’s Marketing Director took the Amazon Masterclass for Authors and learned important tools and tricks to optimize an author’s Amazon presence.

  3. Actively seek out reviews. Because of Amazon’s algorithms, reader reviews are incredibly important to making your book easier to find. Most readers click through both positive and negative reviews before purchasing a book, so reviews are also important in convincing people to purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews or interact with people who have left reviews on your Amazon page. Do what you can to make sure your book has reviews.


  1. Don’t approach Amazon from a place of resignation. For some people, Amazon can be intimidating. It’s difficult to fully understand the website’s algorithms, and you want your book to stand out from the rest of the books on the market. Don’t approach your time on Amazon as a chore that needs to be completed; remember that this is another platform for you to spread the exciting news about the incredible book you published.

  2. Don’t let Amazon be the only part of your marketing plan. It’s dangerous to rely on any one marketing strategy, and Amazon is no exception. Although Amazon is very important, it can’t be your only marketing strategy. Make time for other (potentially more personally engaging) marketing strategies.

  3. Don’t rely on any marketing strategies that don’t feel right to you. Authors are sometimes told to ask every friend you have to buy your book at the same time and leave 5-star reviews, or even told to pay a company to work behind the scenes to make your book rise on Amazon’s rankings. While these things might have value, especially if it’s important to you to become an Amazon Bestseller, think about both the ROI and your own personal sense of ethics before you take that route. These could be good strategies, but check in with yourself before you do anything that might potentially make you uncomfortable or might not pay off financially in the long-term.

With that, we hope that you are feeling more confident in your ability to maximize your Amazon presence. For more information about marketing your book, check out Wise Ink’s podcast, Buzz: Book Marketing Made Easy.