The Best Writing and Book Marketing Plan on the Internet

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That title is not an exaggeration. This is literally the best, most concise, short-yet-completely-sweet marketing plan for books I’ve ever read. Best of all, it was written by a guy who, according to my KDSpy software, is making over six figures a month. 

Those are six figures that all appear before a decimal point.

Six. Figures.


Listening? You should.

The post is over on John Ellsworth’s blog, and it’s called How Publishing Really Works: From an Indie Writer’s Point-of-View

He’s a legal thriller author, and his books have been consistently flying off virtual shelves for the two years he’s been publishing them. As you might imagine by reading the title of the post, he’s claiming a lot of advantages over traditional publishing, and with good reason.

I’ve been saying it forever: Self-publishing isn’t necessarily better than traditional publishing, but there are some distinct advantages:

  • Control over the entire publishing process.
  • Final say over direction/design.
  • Speed.
  • Better royalties.
  • No ridiculous contracts.

John tells the story even better: “The results are astonishing. At one time I was a pretty well known trial lawyer and handled some pretty impressive clients. I never, however, earned as much as I do now with my books. I sell about 10,000 books a month and gather in about 7 million page reads a month, and I’m only just starting my third year. This year I will earn in the mid-to-upper six figures.”

That’s the selling point, the sizzle, of his article, but he also lays out a full marketing plan in the span of a few paragraphs. Here is the bullet-point version:

  • He has a phenomenally simple, yet surprisingly effective research/writing/editing strategy, so he’s always working on the next book.
  • He spends a lot of energy and bandwidth (and probably money) on cover design, as (in his words), “covers are an incredibly important part of book sales, so I have searched around until I found the perfect artist for my novels.”
  • Beta reading happens with his wife and a select group from his mailing list (of around 8,000 people), and this is all to generate early reviews during the first week of sales
  • Mailing list. Need I say more?
  • He uses Facebook ads and BookBub (when he can get them) for marketing.
  • He writes the next book.

If this sounds deceptively simple, you’ve been deceived. Writing good books isn’t easy, but it’s something we can control. We tend to focus on things we can’t control for some weird reason, like why we aren’t being accepted for BookBub, how Amazon chooses to rank your book for certain keywords, and what reviews people leave us.

By focusing on the things we can control, we end up with a much better product. Why? Because all of our energies went into focusing on the right things, not things we can’t change if we wanted to.

Here are the takeaways: 

  1. Focus on what you can control, like writing better books.
  2. Build a mailing list of people who want to hear from you.
  3. Focus on a few key marketing strategies (hint: pick one or two, not ten).

What about you? What are your takeaways after reading John’s post? What are your “key takeaways?”

Nick ThackerThe Best Writing and Book Marketing Plan on the Internet
  • One more takeaway: Be very productive–find a method or system that fits you and optimizes your output. John would still be making squat if he produced only a book a year.

    It’s a great article and so is yours but you have an error upfront. John doesn’t make 6-figures a month. He makes a lot of money a month, but not six figures (according to him). As he says (and you subsequently quote): ” I sell about 10,000 books a month and gather in about 7 million page reads a month, and I’m only just starting my third year. This year I will earn in the mid-to-upper six figures.”

    Keep up the good work.

    😮 )

    • Thanks, Ryan! I’m basing the “6 figures a month” number on my KDSpy software, which collects information from sales and rankings data. I’ve found it to be surprisingly accurate, but I understand he didn’t explicitly state that in his article.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  • Francine Fochler Biere

    Excellent article and exactly what I needed to hear. And John’s story is very inspirational. Thank you so much.

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  • Benjamin Middaugh

    Your link to John’s story is to his website, not his blog. I got an error because of this. He appears to keep different URLs for the two. (Shame on him…) Anyway, I hope that this will help keep the link functional long-term.