What’s all this about a book on Author Marketing?

We’ve seen the Indie Author Revolution.

Now it’s time for a new revolution: a revolution in Indie Author Marketing.

And guess what: it’s not going to be easy, or fun, or pretty. There is hope for indie authors, but you can’t be prepared unless you’re willing to swallow a big dose of reality.

You’ll find that reality in my forthcoming book, Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing: A clear-eyed guide to promoting your self-pubbed book. Continue reading

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Speaking of data

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a terrific blog post up that looks at a number of publishing metrics that have been reported by industry peeps lately.

I’ve just added this line from the post to my list of favorite quotes:

There’s an awful lot of common knowledge floating around in the publishing industry, most of which is not based on any reality at all.


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Subscribe to my email list for chance to win e-copy of “Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing”

For Indie Authors:

Today marks the launch of my first promotion to raise awareness about my upcoming book, Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing: A clear-eyed guide to promoting your self-pubbed book.

Getting to the Truth will be unlike any other indie publishing guidebook out there.

It will help you come to an honest understanding of the factors you face when you try to market your indie title.

It will look at data — or the lack of it.

It will shine a spotlight on author marketing services, so you know when to spend your money and when to keep it in your pocket.

There’s a longer description here.

The tentative publication date is on or before May 1, 2015. (I’ll firm up the date as I get closer.)

Along with writing the book, I’m also working to raise awareness about it. To that end, here’s my first promotion:

Everyone who subscribes to my Getting to the Truth email list before midnight, E.S.T., on  Sunday February 15 will be entered in a drawing to win a free e-copy of the book.

Subscribers will receive brief, periodic updates on the book, including links to blog posts like this one that share information I’ve dug up about indie marketing. These will be hard-hitting, extremely useful posts that you do not want to miss.

I will not share your contact information with anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe by using the form below, and please pass along this link to your indie author friends so they can participate as well.

Thanks for your interest and support!

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Why Marketing Indie Books is SO Hard (Part 1)

Getting to the Truth about Indie Author Marketing, by Kirsten Mortensen

Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing: A clear-eyed guide to promoting your self-pubbed book

As a fellow writer, I’m sure you share my fascination with the trickiness of the human mind.

It is, after all, one of the primary sources for conflict in fiction. Pick up any decent book or article on the craft of fiction, and you’ll soon find yourself reading about character motivation: what your characters want or desire.

“Desire drives the action,” notes novelist Carol Edgarian. “It is what makes characters real.”

But characters’ desire is only half the equation. Their desires must also be thwarted.

And very often, the thwarting comes not from external factors but from internal ones. Characters’ desires are thwarted because of their internal flaws and mistakes. Characters become their own worst enemies.

We writers are also, often, our own worst enemies

One of the most fascinating internal character flaws, in my opinion, is what author mentor K.M. Weiland calls “The Lie Your Character Believes.”

A character realizes he has a problem in his life. What he doesn’t realize, subconsciously or otherwise, is the true solution to his problem.

He thinks that if he can just have what he wants, all will be well.

In the the great English novel Middlemarch George Eliot follows a number of characters who are their own worst enemies, because they’re unable to see past the fantasies they’ve erected in their thinking. Their fantasies obscure reality.

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

900 pages later, and she finally realizes it was Rhett all along.

Dorothea, for example, believes that marrying Edward Casaubon will fulfill her deepest desire. It will allow her to align herself with a cause that is larger than herself, that will make a mark on the world. Throughout the courtship period of the relationship, she builds a fantasy in which Casaubon is a man of extraordinary gifts, destined to publish a great scholarly work, The Key to All Mythologies.

Marrying Casaubon is what Dorothea thinks she wants.

But within a few weeks of being married to the man, she begins to realize she’s completely mistaken about her husband’s greatness and destiny. Much of the novel explores the sorrowful consequences of that mistake.

There are a zillion other examples in both literary and genre fiction. Think Scarlett O’Hara’s fantasy about Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, for example. She’s so committed to that fantasy that she fails to understand her true love is right there under her nose. A tragedy for the ages!

But here’s the thing: it’s not just our characters who struggle with this.

All humans do.

Including writers.

We think we know what is “real,” but we don’t.

In Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing, one of the topics I explore is how difficult it is for we writers to really know what author marketing tactics work.

This is hugely important, because if you don’t really know what works, and what doesn’t work, you’re guessing.

You’re gambling.

And if you’re gambling with your money, chances are you’re going to get burned.

One problem is lack of data.

Professional marketers don’t make uninformed bets.

They make bets that are based on years’ of experience — and on DATA.

We indie authors don’t have data.

But we fool ourselves into thinking we do.

We think that by reading what other authors have done, we’re getting a true picture of how to market our titles.


I’m going to be completely blunt here.

That’s a fantasy.

No matter how much time you — as an individual — invest in gathering information about how to market your indie book, you can’t begin to grasp the entire industry. You can’t begin to see the “big picture” information about what authors are doing that works, and what authors are doing that doesn’t work.

Think about it. There are some 300,000 indie titles published every year. In some cases, authors are publishing multiple titles, but even if we account for that, there are hundreds of thousands of indie authors out there.

You could read ten or 20 or 50 or 100 case studies about those authors, and what they’ve done to market their books.

You still wouldn’t have a representative sample of the industry from which you could draw any meaningful conclusions.

There’s a second factor as well: the information you do gather is almost certainly dated.

This industry moves at lightning speed. Factors that influence the effectiveness of specific marketing tactics change overnight. (Just look at the way Amazon’s introduction of Kindle Unlimited roiled the status quo for many authors.)

Third factor: there are so many indie authors out there trying to market their books, that if anyone gets a clever new idea that proves successful, within a matter of weeks thousands of other authors are doing the exact same thing. By the time you tumble to the idea, the novelty has worn off. Readers have tuned it out.

(Blog tours probably fall into this category; I’ll be including a chapter on blog tours in my book, and will write more about my research on blog tours in a future post.)

Last but not least, there’s the issue of cognitive bias. I’ll be exploring that in more depth in a future post, so be sure to come back, but in a nutshell: the human mind is wired in a way that makes it hard to make sense of data, even when we do have access to it.

So Is There Any Hope?

Actually, yes, there is.

However, making money at indie publishing is FAR from “a sure thing,” and if you think it is, odds are you’re going to be disappointed.

What we writers need to do is to approach marketing our books the way experienced, professional marketers approach their consumer products challenges.

We need to use data. We need to cultivate expertise in the principles of marketing so that we don’t so easily jump to erroneous conclusions. And we need to be honest with ourselves.

We need to be clear-eyed about what bets make sense, and what bets are just a waste of money.

More Coming!

Interested in staying in touch with what I post here? Want to know when Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketing will be available for sale? Please subscribe to my newsletter:

Have You Had an Experience with Author Marketing That You’d Like to Share?

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to either leave a comment or click here to contact me using the form on my About page. Anyone who’s contribution is used in the book will receive a free e-copy on publication. (And yes, you can remain anonymous if you like.)

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Calling Indie Authors: Have you been disappointed by an “author marketing service”?

The hypothesis:

These waters are suddenly FULL of sharks.

Well hello, my pretty! Would you like to help me market your book?

Well hello, my pretty! Would you like to help me market your book?

I self-pubbed my first novel, When Libby Met the Fairies, in 2011 — early enough to catch the first happy wave of indie authoring. I didn’t do a lot of marketing. I didn’t have to. I took advantage of Amazon’s KDP Select free days. I listed that book as free. And then I publicized the free days by submitting the information to maybe a dozen or so sites that list free books.

I got over 20,000 downloads.

I might have paid a few dollars here and there for some of the listings, but for the most part, it cost me nothing out of pocket.

Since then, I’ve published three more novels. And like all indie-authors, I’ve watched our little industry change. You know the drill, I’m sure! The market is flooded with indie titles. Traditional publishers are starting to compete with indies on price. Amazon has made big changes to KDP, including the introduction of Kindle Unlimited.

It’s getting harder — WAY harder — to get noticed.

But there’s been another change, as well.

These waters are filling with sharks — and they smell blood.

They smell the blood we authors shed, mingled with our tears, as we write our books and then try to get someone, anyone, to read them.

You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Tweeting services. Advertising services. Blog tour organizers. Promote your book this way, promote your book that way.

Read the fine print, and they all have the same disclaimer. No guarantees! Results may vary! Don’t blame us if you use our services and don’t sell any books!

Well guess what, dear author.

They’re rip-off artists — and YOU are their mark.

And, as you might be able to tell from the tone of this post, I am extremely PO’d about it.

So I’ve decided to write about it.

I’ve decided to write about it long, and hard, and often.

But I need your help.

I’m SURE there are “author marketing services” out there that are honest, and legitimate, and actually deliver measurable results.

But the vast majority are a complete waste of money.

Let’s band together to protect each other from the sharks.

Reach out to me. You don’t have to use your real name. You don’t have to name the service that disappointed you — or outright ripped you off — if you don’t want to. (And in fact, please do NOT mention a service by name in the comments, for now.)

I’m not interested in “outing” specific companies or services at this time.

What I do want is to talk to other authors.

I want to deepen my understanding of what authors experience, today, when they hire someone else to help them with marketing.

As I understand your experiences more fully, I’ll report back what I’ve learned, here, in this blog. And then, when I’ve got enough, I’m going to compile it as a handbook for authors.

Together, we can fight back.

Please share your experiences with me by emailing me at kirsten AT kirstenmortensen DOT com, or use the contact form on my About page, or leave a comment.

Everyone who contributes to this project will receive a free e-copy of the handbook when it’s published.

Thank you!!!!

Posted in author marketing services, Getting to the Truth About Indie Author Marketingl: a clear-eyed guide to "author marketing services", Writing | Tagged | 8 Comments

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Leslie F., winner of the 2014 Holiday Book Giveaway!

Many thanks to all who entered. I’ll be sending out an email to you within the next day or so — and, if you subscribed to my newsletter, it will include a little gift from me as well :)

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writers, writers, an ungovernable bunch …

Megan McArdle has a column up about the meltdown at The New Republic.

It’s an interesting read in general for anyone in the writing or publishing business.

But in particular, I chuckled to myself when she began describing some of the reasons running media companies presents special challenges. “You’re not running a normal type of organization,” she writes. “You’re running a professional group.”

And so you encounter a number of problems:

… the difficulty of getting creative types to produce great stuff on demand; the astonishing amount of autonomy that journalists need, because it’s impossible to write hard guidelines, and too expensive to supervise long hours of reporting and typing; the fact that great writers are frequently terrible managers and editors, which screws up the normal management pyramid; the simultaneous need for speed and accuracy; the fact that media employment selects for a cluster of personality traits that resists closer management; the professional ethic that will stymie you when you decide to make a different set of trade-offs between competing priorities such as speed, accuracy, and the need to monetize your content; the fact that writers, especially in the digital age, frequently take their audience with them if they leave, making it even harder to impose discipline …

As someone who has earned a living as a professional writer for many, many years: yep. That pretty much sums us up :)

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Holiday Giveaway!

gift for blog postHi!

I love the holiday season!

And, to celebrate, I’m giving away a nice little prize: signed, first edition paperback copies of three of my books (Santa Hunk, Dark Chemistry, and Loose Dogs) PLUS a $20 Amazon gift card :)

Click here to enter the drawing and good luck!



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Santa Hunk: get ready for my holiday novella!

Santa Hunk paranormal romance by Kirsten Mortensen

Immortal. Gorgeous. And in love.

So if you’re one of my Facebook friends (and if you’re not — why not???) you know that I’ve been working on a paranormal romance novella … with a holiday theme :)

I’m sharing it now with my beta readers. But — assuming they like it — it will be available for Kindle around Thanksgiving.

Teaser copy below. What do you think???

I’m so excited! :)

First of all: forget everything you ever heard about him being a fat old guy who’s never seen a razor.

I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s immortal. A god, basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.
The guy is gorgeous.

That stuff about the goofy red suit and the big jiggly belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his kids. “’Twas the night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a nice poem. It’s a timeless classic.

But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen Santa.

He made it all up.

Me? I have seen Santa.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him—but I’m not the one who found him.

Clare found him.

She found him—then she nearly lost him again . . .

Posted in Novella, Paranormal romance, Romance Novels, Santa Hunk by Kirsten Mortensen, Writing | Leave a comment

“Free Money” is FREE!

Free Money, my Elmore Leonard* tribute story, is free for Kindle today through October 12.

Free Money is a Noiry Crime/Suspense Story…

… set in Rochester, NY. If you know the area you may recognize one of the scenes, Devil’s Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park.

The climax of "Free Money" is set here: in Devil's Bathtub, a kettle pond in Mendon Ponds Park south of Rochester. Only it's at night. Scaaaary!

The climax of “Free Money” is set here: in Devil’s Bathtub, a kettle hole in Mendon Ponds Park south of Rochester. Only it’s at night. Scaaaary!

Rochestarians probably also remember the armored truck heist of 1993 that a key element of the backstory.

But is it any good?

Glad you asked! And it just so happens that Free Money picked up a quick 5-star review when I first put it up on October 1:

Great fun! Kirsten Mortensen channels the spirit and style of Elmore Leonard in a short, sharp tale of crime and suspense. No one can match The Master, of course, but this is the next best thing.

Here’s the teaser.

Please enjoy and let me know what you think!

Jamie Licaro doesn’t want to go home to Rochester, New York.

And he’s got a good reason.

Twenty-plus years after a multi-million dollar armored truck heist, the money’s still missing — and Jamie’s the one person still around who might know where it is.

He knows better than to go back home.

But he’s fallen for a girl who smells like peaches.

And sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.


Path to get to the far rim of Devil's Bathtub pond in Mendon Pond's Park, the setting for Free Money: an Elmore Leonard tribute story by Kirsten Mortensen

This is the path that leads to the far side of Devil’s Bathtub. My dog, Tessa, is not in the story however :)

Stairway to Devil's Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park, setting of climax of Free Money, and Elmore Leonard Tribute Story by Kirsten Mortensen

The main path down to Devil’s Bathtub has steps. But if you’re there in the middle of the night to try to dredge up old secrets, you can’t take the easy way…


*Elmore Leonard passed away a year ago last August. October 11 was his birthday. He would have been 89 this year.

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