Thursday, May 19, 2022

A different marketing idea


Several weeks ago I received an unsolicited email on my website from Ben Shepherd who wanted to promote The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy on his website. We all get lots of those, most not worth the effort. But I read what he had to say and found his idea different and intriguing. It involved no monetary cost to me and since I suck at marketing, I thought I'd give it a go.

The concept revolves around the fact that most authors are readers. It's inevitable that a writer will gravitate toward writing what they prefer to read, which in my case is space opera with romance. As a result, they will have a list of favourite books that have influenced their own writing in that genre.

I was asked to come up with a list of five such books for which I would write a short opinion (not a review), concentrating on what made me pick that book. But first, I had to come up with a label that applied to my own book and my list, prefaced by 'the best'. The exercise required a lot of serious navel gazing, stops and starts, and tossed out examples. It certainly wasn't just a matter of 'here's my book cover and blurb' as is the case with so many of these 'promotion' sites.

There are comprehensive instructions on what your list should look like. Here's an excerpt.

  1. Your title should target the perfect readers for your book. If your book is a history book about World War 2 and you create a list about “the best fantasy books with elves” that is not going to help get your book in front of the right readers.
  2. Your title should attract readers to your book recommendation page. We use your title throughout our website and marketing channels to pull readers into your list.
  3. Your title should be personalized and reflect your voice/personality. 

The title can be very broad, fun, and provocative with things like:

·         The best books to manage bloody depression

·         The best fantasy novels that sweep you into a very strange world

·         The best books that capture the magic of Galicia Spain

·         The best books on why the French seem to be in denial about their own history

Or, around a specific topic but personalized:

·         The best books about World War One that don’t have the same old story

·         The best books about Abraham Lincoln from a fan and historian

·         The best books on the most famous battles of the First World War

·         The best war books that go beyond bombs: how war affects families

All those links will take you to entries on the Shepherd site. They'll give you a better idea of the concept.

Eventually I came up with "the best science fiction romance books filled with action and adventure in the stars".

Then I had to select five books and write my short opinion pieces which took considerable time. You can see what I picked, and why, by clicking the best science fiction romance books filled with action and adventure in the stars.

I think this is a wonderful concept, getting authors to effectively promote each others' books, while also providing readers with a kind of benchmark on where the author thinks their book fits. It's a bit like Amazon's "if you liked this you might like blah" – but with more depth.

It wasn't easy for me to come up with my logline. The list of books was easier, but then I had to write a not-review which described why the book was on my list. So, it takes a bit of time to do the job well. Whatever else I get out of it, it has been a fascinating, illuminating exercise.

The link to the site's 'for authors' page is on the site's footer but there it is to save you the bother. The site earns its money from associate links and authors are not charged.

Have a look. It might work for you.




  1. Interesting concept. Peer reviews and peer support networking is always a good thing, but I'm a little fuzzy on how he plans to drive reader traffic to the site.

    1. As usual, that will be through readers/authors sharing


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