Every Self-Publisher Needs To Be a Marketing Expert
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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Every Self-Publisher Needs To Be a Marketing Expert

Here's the final section of the article on 21 things a self-publisher needs to know.  And once again, I want to thank the source of these suggestions:

About the Author:
James Altucher can be found at jamesaltucher.com and @jaltucher, where he spills his guts and talks about failure, success, more failure, a little bit of death, and hopefully some life. And his latest book, "Choose Yourself!" (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter) comes out this week..




21. Marketing 201
I almost hate the word “marketing.”
It feels to me like, “what gimmicks can I do that will get people to talk about my book and then buy it.”
I wanted to make sure any marketing I did was integrated with the actual message of the book, which is that in order for people to succeed, they need to “choose themselves.”
This is not only a choice they need to make economically, but a choice they make internally, with their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
And the actual message of the book has some marketing possibilities …
The middle class is dead, every major corporation is systematically firing all of their employees, and we all are going to have the choice of whether or not we want to be artist/entrepreneurs or temp staffers.
So on some of the blogs and sites I guest post on, I will be writing up that story.
I’m a big believer in the message. I  give techniques for how I think people can be happier given that the economic landscape has turned upside down. We are all struggling with money, with happiness, with loneliness. Choose Yourself! tells my story of how I failed, got up again, failed, got up again, and then stayed up.
And I wanted to spread that message to others.

I found a post by Kevin Kelly that suggested a marketing idea of paying people back who read your book. Kevin got a bit technical in terms of figuring out if the person actually read the book or not. He wanted an ereader that could figure that out.
I decided to trust the actual reader. So, I put together an offer that would pay people back, those who could prove to me that they read the book. How they proved it to me was up to them, rather than resorting to technical means on my part.
Why not just give the book away for free? And why not just rebate if they bought the book?


  • People — in general — do not value things they get for free. I wanted people to put the money out, read the book, and only then would I pay them back.
  • Most people buy books, but do not read them. This was an incentive to actually read the book.


I don’t care if I make any money on the book.
The message is very important to me. That’s why I’m willing to pay people back … if they can prove to me they read the book.
So this was marketing that wasn’t just a gimmick but woven into the fabric of what the book meant to me. But I still needed a way to get the message out if I was going to do this marketing.

I called Ryan Holiday, who’d marketed the books of Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene (48 Laws of Power), Tucker Max, John Romaniello, all of whom had hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. He literally had 100 ideas for marketing the book. First we came up with several ideas like the one I just laid out above.
One idea that popped up was that I would become the first author ever to  pre-release a book for bitcoin buyers only. We did this, and it was covered by SF Gate, Media Bistro, CNBC, Business Insider, and other places.
Why bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a “choose yourself” currency. It’s not dependent on a government, a person, a country, etc. and its use is getting more and more widespread. The week I released the book on bitcoin, my pre-orders on Amazon spiked so much I became the #1 kindle book for Entrepeneurship, a full month before release.

Prereleasing on bitcoin also means that I now have several hundred people who have (hopefully) read the book, and many of them have already told me they will be reviewing the book on Amazon. Having many reviews on Amazon straight out of the gate helps Amazon know that your book is one they should feature.
In two days I’m going to announce another adventure that is tightly integrated with the message of the book that I think will also generate interest.
Ryan also suggested various joint content plays (a podcast, for instance) I should do with various bloggers who had large email lists.
This is all still in process (the book is coming out today) but compared with my last book, this book will probably be seen by an extra million (or more) people over the next week.

The first step in marketing is what I described above: build your audience. The second step is a cliché but you have to do it: write a good book.
But for a specific book, come up with ten firsts based on the content of your book that nobody has ever done before. And then make sure the media becomes aware of it.
Hiring a marketing expert allowed me to continue focusing on what was important to me — the writing and the message — while he coordinated more than 100 media sources for the various messages I was putting out about the book.

Why are you self-publishing a book?

Because you are an addict. Like me. But there are some other reasons.
Take pride in yourself and in your work. You are all talented and smart people, else you wouldn’t be reading Copyblogger and working on your own art and creativity.
Some of the things I describe above cost money, some don’t, and some can be done super cheap.
Take your work very seriously.
This is your child you’re letting go out into the world. You want to do it right. Enlist the help of a team. Make it team-publishing instead of self-publishing.
Your book will, of course, stand on its own merit. The only way to have a truly successful book is to have a well-written, unique message that stands out among the cacophony of noise.
But everything I describe above will lend credibility, authenticity, and ultimately audience to the effort:


  • Building the platform and trust with your audience way in advance.
  • Writing a strong story while at the same time delivering value.
  • Connecting  all the dots on editing, design, title, print version, audio version.
  • Having many strong  marketing messages and a way of delivering those messages. Making sure the messages aren’t gimmicks, but real ways that show you are living the message you write about.
  • Infusing professionalism into every aspect of the process. The goal here is not to publish as easily as possible. The goal is to publish professionally in a way that leaves the traditional publishers in the dust.


You are your own publisher.
You are the one who believes in the message and your art and now want to share it with others and ultimately it is you who is choosing yourself to deliver that message. A message that, when properly packaged, will be a delight to the reader to receive.