Upon reading our prompt for this week, I turned to YouTube and typed in “how to market a book.” Original, I know. A long list of videos, mostly chats like the one above, appeared before me. As I started scanning the list, my eyes caught upon one video. It was Joanna Penn, the author I focused my marketing essay on! I clicked on the link, watched the video, and was good to go.
In this interview Joanna Penn, who writes thriller novels under the pen name J.F. Penn, talks about how she goes about publishing and marketing her books. She self-published her first non-fiction book in 2008 but when it went unnoticed, she determined to learn as much as she could about the publishing and marketing world. She has now self-published over ten books and runs a website, The Creative Penn, that has articles for aspiring published authors.
Toward the beginning of the video (around 3:10), Penn talks about how learning the principles of marketing are more important than learning the tactics. She talks about how the websites and social media platforms will change and evolve over time but she has found that the principles are the same. I think that this was a very good point to make. In her opinion, authenticity, collaboration among authors, and generosity are all essential to the marketing process (4:15). She thinks that these traits are the ones that make readers remember you as an author, and she says that is the goal of marketing.
Another way Joanna Penn has been successful is through the ascetic choices she has made concerning her books (4:30). She stresses the importance of a good book jacket and “Back Blurb,” the short description found at the rear of the novel. These are the few things that can immediately attract readers. Another aspect she finds important is the key words used to describe a book. She calls for “unsexy” titles of non-fiction work, saying that the easier it is for readers to find your book in an online search, the better off you will be. Making sure that the description of your book truly matches the contents of it will make it easier for readers to find and enjoy your book for what it really is.
I have great respect for Penn as a writer. I have read a few of her thrillers and they are the perfect Sunday afternoon read. Through my research for this post and my essay, I have come to have more knowledge of and respect for self-publishers and everything they must accomplish. I think that self-publishing is a great way for authors to get themselves out into the publishing world, and Joanna Penn is a great example of how to do that.