Using The ABCs of Journalism to Market Your Book

by Melissa Tagg, @Melissa_Tagg

My reporting days may be behind me, but the ABCs of journalism are still embedded into my brain:

  • Accuracy
  • Brevity
  • Clarity

When it comes to marketing ourselves and our writing, those ABCs come in handy.

Accuracy: Are your marketing efforts, well, accurate? Are they professional and well-crafted? Think of each marketing piece—whether it’s your website, a bookmark, a business card, even a YouTube video—as a potential reader’s first introduction to you. Make sure what they see is exactly what you want them to see!

Brevity: We live in a fast-moving, constantly on-the-go world…which means brevity is always a bonus. See: Twitter. J But it’s totally possible to say LOTS while saying little…whether it’s in a blog post, your author bio, or even a Facebook status. Learn to be pithy and brief in your marketing efforts, and you’ll likely see an uptick in response.

Clarity: This one’s simple. On your website, printed materials, social media, etc, make sure it’s clear who you are, what you write and what you want the person on the receiving end to do. Do you want them to buy your book? Then be sure to include links to Amazon and! Do you want them to comment on your blog? Then end with a question. The best marketing efforts prompt an action—so be clear about what action you want your reader to take.

There you go, the ABCs of journalism applied to author marketing!


When it comes to marketing ourselves, the ABCs of Journalism come in handy @Melissa_Tagg on @NovelRocket #writing

Think of each marketing piece as a reader’s first introduction to you @Melissa_Tagg @NovelRocket #writing



All This Time (Walker Family Book 4) 

Bear McKinley’s past refuses to let go.Ten years ago, Bear gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him once again. Suddenly he finds himself back in Maple Valley, charged with the care of his missing brother’s children, convinced he’s out of second chances to make his life count. And yet, with every day that passes, these kids, this quirky town and the woman he never stopped missing help patch the holes in his heart. Maybe this is the fresh start he’s been longing for all along. But as his newfound hope grows, so does the mystery surrounding his brother’s activities—and when the threat reaches into the lives of those he loves, it’s clear he can’t run away this time.

Fear holds Raegan’s future captive.

Raegan Walker is fine. She’s happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more than fine. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending?

Award-winning author Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publisher’s Weekly to one of their spring 2016 Top Ten lists. Her most recent releases include Keep Holding On (Sept 2016) and One Enchanted Eve (Nov 2016). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. Connect with Melissa at or on Facebook and Instagram.

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 1: Intro

by Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg here. Today and for a few posts to come, I’d like to talk about the components of the marketing plan you include in your novel’s proposal. And make no mistake, you NEED to include one.

The fact is, agents and publishers are looking not just at our writing, but at us. And if they’ve got three or four equally stellar proposals representing equally amazing books sitting in front of them, then at the end of the day, if they can only choose one, they’ll pick the author with the best platform and the best marketing plan.

In other words, they’re going to go with the author who is willing to work the hardest…not just at the writing of the book, but at the marketing of it.
As fiction authors, it’s hard to build a great platform when we’re pre-published, but that doesn’t mean we can’t WOW agents and editors with our marketing expertise. Which is why I’m all about creating a marketing plan that goes beyond a few paragraphs about social media numbers and actually presents a solid marketing strategy that lets your prospective agent or publisher know you mean business.

So for my next five posts, we’re going to look at the various components of a good marketing plan. The goal is to put together a plan that isn’t just impressive—but doable. That reflects both your book and your personality. And that proves you truly want to partner with the publisher when it comes to getting your book out there.

If you follow along and maybe even do the work as we go, by the end you just might find yourself with a robust plan of your own. The pieces we’ll be discussing include:

  • Media
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Internet Presence (social media, website, blog tours, web appearances)
  • Libraries
  • Launch Team
  • Cross-promotional opportunities
  • Book-signing and Events
  • Printed Materials
  • Bonus Material
  • Endorsements

Before we get to all that, though, I’d like to offer some personal encouragement for authors who hear the word “marketing” and instantly shrivel inside. I’m still learning so much about what it means to be an author and participate in an ever-fluctuating industry. In all honesty, in the past couple years, I’ve made a concentrated effort to get back to a place where writing is simply fun…and believe it or not, that’s extended to marketing! I’ve learned to see marketing as relationship-building. Yes, we need and want to sell books. But we also have this wonderful opportunity as authors to not only reach people through our stories, but through our engagement with readers as we interact on social media, put together launch teams, send out e-newsletters, etc. And as I’ve transformed my thinking in that area, it’s given me a whole new appreciation for marketing as an opportunity, not a chore.

I hope that’s encouraging to you! See you next month with more marketing plan talk. 🙂


Award-winning author Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publisher’s Weekly to one of their spring 2016 Top Ten lists. Her most recent releases include Keep Holding On (Sept 2016) and One Enchanted Eve (Nov 2016). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. Connect with Melissa at or on Facebook and Instagram.

Title Photo Copyright: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

What Marketing Is…And Isn’t

by Melissa Tagg @Melissa_Tagg

So, February is sort of a lovey-dovey month with Valentine’s Day and all, so it’s only fitting we continue talking about something I love: author marketing.

(If you just groaned at those two words, no worries. You’re normal. I’m the weird one.)

But here’s the thing, marketing doesn’t have to be a moan-inducing. It can even be, get this, fun. The key is understanding what good marketing is…and isn’t.
For the first Mondays of each month, we’re going to talk about some very practical tips for marketing your book (and you!)…even before you’re contracted. But I didn’t want to skip ahead to those ideas without first laying the ground work and making sure we’re all on the same page about what marketing really is.

Good marketing is not:

  • Beating people over the head with talk about your book 
  • Lurking on social media and blogs looking for each and every chance to link to your own site or book 
  • Using others and their connections for your own gain 

All of the above tend to have that shoe store effect. You know what I’m talking about right? It’s impossible to walk into a shoe store without feeling stalked by an employee. (Who, I realize, is only doing his/her job. No judgment here. Just observation. J)

Good marketing is:

  • Building relationships with potential readers 
  • Knowing how to tell your story 
  • Knowing how to tell your story’s story 
  • Discovering where you and your book(s) fit in 
  • Being present where your readers/audience are 

Good marketing is also genuine. It’s knowing who you are as a writer, what your stories have to offer, and letting that—not some inner Billy Mays—shine through. I believe we live in a day and age, thanks to the interwebs, when it’s easier than ever to be inauthentic…which makes authenticity that much more valuable to people. Bait and switch is old school. Sincere is in.

That probably sounds like a lot of theory, but I promise the practical application is coming up starting next month. Having a good understanding of what marketing is will help us build on the tips and ideas to come.

Bottom line: Marketing isn’t selling your book.

But selling your book is usually a sign of good marketing.


Award-winning author Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publisher’s Weekly to one of their spring 2016 Top Ten lists. Her most recent releases include Keep Holding On (Sept 2016) and One Enchanted Eve (Nov 2016). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. Connect with Melissa at or on Facebook and Instagram.

Marketing Our Books by Theme

by Dan Walsh

A few weeks before Christmas, I had the privilege of sharing the podium with Jaimie Engle, a novelist of children’s and young-adult fiction, at a Saturday morning workshop
for writers in Mount Dora, Florida. I was there to share some of the
things I’ve learned about transitioning from traditional publishing to
the indie world. Jaimie was there to share some tips she’s learned about
marketing books. In my column this month, I want to talk more about what
Jaimie shared.

Specifically, one theme. That is, getting better at marketing our books by their theme.

It’s something I’ve believed in for some time and have even practiced. Hearing Jaimie, reminded me how important and effective this kind of marketing can be, especially for an indie or hybrid author. What is, “Marketing by Theme?” Let me define it by sharing a little of Jaimie’s story.

She writes in the children and young-adult fantasy, sci-fi genre. Jaimie shared how, at first, her book sales were okay but not great. Then she got the idea, rather than to just keep pitching her books the old fashioned way, she would zero in on the main message or theme of her story. Her first novel, Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light, deals with the subject of Bullying. She actually wrote the book to help her young son who had been bullied at school.

As you know, bullying is a HUGE problem in schools today, public or private. It’s a topic constantly in the news and a challenge most parents of school-age children will deal with at some point in their children’s lives. Jaimie began to market the book and herself as a speaker, focusing on helping children (and their parents) deal with bullying. Suddenly, she began getting all kinds of opportunities to speak about this in a variety of venues, including public schools. AND…not surprisingly, after hearing her speak a lot more people wanted to buy her books.

If you’d like to check out Jaimie’s story for yourself, or her books – CLICK HERE.

What’s My Theme?

Some fiction novels may not have a strong, central theme. Some of us may simply write books to entertain and tell interesting stories. But I’m sure a lot of us do have strong themes in our hearts: topics, messages, maybe even scriptural truths we want to communicate through our fiction stories.

The idea is to spend some time focusing in on that theme(s) and figure out who our best target audience is. Who really needs to hear the message, or theme, unveiled through our story? What would be the best way to make those people aware of the reasons why this is a book they would absolutely enjoy. More than that, a book that might even benefit their lives in some significant way.

I’ll use my novel, Rescuing Finley, as an object lesson. At first glance, someone might think, “Oh, what a nice, heartwarming dog story.” If you read some of the 343 Amazon reviews (4.8 Star avg, in case you’re curious), you will see lots of people saying this about the book. But if that’s all the book was, I could only market it to dog lovers.

But that’s not all Rescuing Finley is about. It also talks about some major, cutting-edge themes going on in society right now. For example, did you know that–on average–20 Iraq/Afghan war veterans are committing suicide every day in the US? Most of them dealing with severe PTSD issues. It’s a horrible tragedy. Millions more vets and their family members are struggling with PTSD-related challenges on a daily basis.

I became aware of this through my wife’s experience as a certified dog trainer, through a program at our local prison. This program takes dogs from a rescue shelter and pairs them up with inmates who train the dogs. When the training is done, they are given absolutely free to military veterans to serve as companion dogs. It has been proven that these dogs literally safe veterans’ lives. Programs like these are popping up all over the country, because of the amazing and life-changing results.

As I researched this, I got a great idea for an inspirational, romantic novel. So, I wrote it. But Rescuing Finley is not just for dog lovers (although dog lovers are clearly loving the book). It’s also a great book for millions of military veterans and their family members, especially those wrestling with PTSD. The novel even includes themes that would really encourage people who work with rescue dogs or in programs that help rehabilitate prison inmates.

Think about your novels. Are there any central themes you could zero in on that would provide fresh marketing opportunities for you?


Marketing Our Books by Theme by Dan Walsh (Click to Tweet)

Who really needs to hear the message~ Dan Walsh (Click to Tweet)

Are there themes in your books that provide fresh marketing opportunities?~ Dan Walsh (Click to Tweet)

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 17 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Reunion and When Night Comes.
He has won 3 Carol Awards (finalist 6 times) and 3 Selah Awards. Three
of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book
Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his
wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and
spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.