Your First Novel – A Goal and a Valuable Marketing Tool

I remember that feeling when I finished my first novel. It was a mix of emotions. I was excited, nervous, anxious and curious simultaneously. Would people read my book? If they read it, would they like it? Then perhaps, the most scary question of all emerged. What’s next?

Now that five books in that series have been published and two others outside of the series are out there with two more books completed and ready to go, I know the answer to the ‘what’s next’ question. I also know how valuable that first book is as both an accomplishment and a tool to bring in new readers.

This post will list some of the ways I used this first book to help attract more readers and set up marketing for the books that would follow.giveaway_1_


– Giveaways are an important way to gain some exposure from your writing. Whether you do them through Amazon, Goodreads, Rafflecopter, or some other platform, these giveaways get your book into the hands of readers and hopefully will encourage them to buy your other works. You might be asking yourself about the lost revenue that results from simply giving your book away. While that might be a slight downside, from my perspective, that is a minor consideration. I did my first giveaway of Frankly Speaking on Amazon when my second book, Let Me Be Frank, was about to be released. When I did this, I carefully timed announcements for the book and I also updated it to have the first chapter of the new book at the end of the first book with a purchase link for the second book (in the eBook version). This resulted in readers that liked the first book clicking on the link and checking out the second one. This seemed to work fairly well. In my three day giveaway, more than 3,000 copies of Frankly Speaking were downloaded and about 30 advance copies of the new book were ordered. Additionally, the number of reviews on Amazon went up for the first book. mailing-list

Building your mailing list

I use Mail Chimp for my mailing list and newsletter. It’s a very effective, inexpensive tool that, with a small subscription fee, has some great automation features. I have my newsletter subscription set up to give subscribers my first book as a gift if they sign up. Then, through the automated workflow, an email goes to new subscribers after a couple of weeks thanking them for signing up and asking them to review the book, if they’ve finished it. Finally, after an additional week, a reminder email is automatically sent telling them about the rest of my back catalog. This has resulted in some sales, but the best part is that it takes no action on my part. I’m leveraging the automation inherent within Mail Chimp to do the work for me and, again, I’m using my first book as a way to reward readers and immerse them in my writing.platform

Other Platforms

Once the first book was established on Amazon, I expanded the distribution to other platforms. As a free download on Smash Words, the book has seen another 3,000 readers download it to date. I don’t have a way to directly correlate this to potential purchases of my other books, but my view on sharing the first book so freely is that no exposure is bad exposure. At first, I worried about piracy and unauthorized redistribution. Upon reconsidering this, I decided it was best to let this go for the first book and police it tightly with the subsequent books. This has worked thus far and, as I watched the number of reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble and Smash Words top 100, I thought that maybe I was headed in the right direction.

The message of this post is to, first, celebrate your accomplishment, but, then, quickly move on to your next book and use the first to bring in readers. I’ve had some degree of success with this and wanted to share my methods.

If you have other ideas or want to share in the discussion, please do so.

12 thoughts on “Your First Novel – A Goal and a Valuable Marketing Tool

  1. First, congratulations on your achievements, 7 books published is quite something! I can’t fault your strategy because it’s obviously worked well for you but, I have to admit, I really balk at the idea of giving something away for free that I’ve worked so hard on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your ideas very much, Don. Those are great ways to use one’s first book as ‘leverage.’ I also think it’s important to maintain an online presence, either with a good blog, like yours, or in some other way. Reminding readers of who you are and what you do is helpful.


  3. Reblogged this on Suburban Syntax and commented:
    This is a great post from author and blogger Don Massenzio. I think some writers don’t take enough advantage of utilizing their existing work as a marketing tool, and Don has some great tips about how you can use your first completed novel to expand your audience. Plus, most of this advice is applicable to both indie and traditionally published writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

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