Today at DeeScribe Writing, we welcome Tania McCartney who has successfully self-published a number of books. Tania is here to share her tips on how to market your new self-published book. She is joining us on her blog tour to promote her new book, Riley and the Curious Koala.

There are many challenges that face the self-publisher, but, without question, the toughest is marketing and publicity. I’m not the best saleswoman in the world but I do love marketing, and thank goodness I do, as my Riley books would never have succeeded if marketing was a bane for me.

When you’re only one person, marketing a self-published book is pretty much full time work. There’s no team of professionals behind you, no well-established network of media and book seller contacts. It’s all down to you – and you need to work hard and ceaselessly.

Many self-published authors set up a website and sell directly from there. They don’t even approach book sellers or distributors – and if they do, many are put off by the sky-high percentage cut.

But selling a book isn’t about what kind of percentage return you make. It’s about carving a niche into the market for yourself… and getting your name and work known and respected. Money, if it ever comes at all, is certainly secondary (and on that note, if you want to self-publish to get rich, you might as well bow out gracefully now).

There’s a wonderful saying: if people see your name once, they may notice. If they see it twice, they wonder where they’ve heard that name before. If they see if three times, they often think “this must be important, I’d better take notice”.

I live by that mantra when I market my books. Selling copies, frankly, is a bonus – and people often make the mistake of allowing marketing and sales to blur into one. Sure, sales are a result of clever marketing, but these two elements are actually totally independent of each other, and if you can detach them, you will be far more successful in marketing your work. Marketing often has no immediate or direct financial payback. It’s a slow build.


Marketing is, of course, multifaceted, but there are several things I do to approach the marketing machine when it comes to my self-published work.

The first thing I do is make sure I have web presence. I have an author website, a personal blog, Kids Book Review and also a blog dedicated to my small publishing company, that features only book information. I keep these sites meticulously updated and I also refresh their look quite frequently. Not only do the sites feature info on my work – they also offer the reader something, like lesson plans and fun activities for kids.

The second thing I do is network within the industry – online and in person (say – at events or conferences). This is absolutely vital because not only do people get to know you – you learn an incredible amount, and you’ll truly reel at the incredible support from a plethora of amazing people in the industry – from authors to publishers.

But networking is reciprocal and you also need to offer others your support. I do that with great pleasure via Kids Book Review (http://kids-bookreview.com) which is dedicated to supporting literary talent and offering a site stacked with fun and resources for our readers. Forming Kids Book Review has also allowed me to get to know publishers and marketing professionals in the industry – which has been priceless for my own self-published work.

For me, employing a distributor is the smartest thing I ever did. Sure, I earn less money on each book sold, but we’re not talking sales here, we’re talking marketing. Dennis Jones & Associates have helped me saturate my books all over the country. I could never have achieved this saturation without their well-established aid, and it’s been worth every dollar lost… a) because I’ve sold more books and b) because I’ve managed to connect with so many more potential buyers.

My first Riley book – Riley and the Sleeping Dragon – was featured in the Australian Booksellers Kids Reading Guide 2009/2010 thanks to Dennis Jones; something I could never have achieved without them.


These things form the basis of my presence as an author, but when it comes to actually marketing a new release book, there are several things I do.

I create events for my new book. I don’t spend a fortune, but I spend a lot of time on a really sensational book launch. I approach local businesses to sponsor by offering prize giveaways or services (like a photographer or entertainer) or food. It’s amazing how supportive people are, especially if you showcase their logos on your marketing material. Sponsoring is great exposure for them, too.

I write a really good press release (google how to do it professionally) and send it to anyone and everyone I can think of. I contact local media with it and also offer book giveaways, which they love. You can contact newspapers, local free mags, radio, even television to say you have a new book out. As you get to know these contacts, they will be more willing to support subsequent books.

I send copies of the book to media, Australia-wide, mostly magazines. Think outside the square when it comes to who to send books to – it doesn’t have to be just kids or parenting magazines. If you do this, you cannot expect anything in return. You have to just cross your fingers and if you get lucky enough to have your book featured, that’s a bonus.

I approach like-minded websites and blogs and send them review copies or ask them if they would host a blog tour. I have never been knocked back – people are so supportive.

I support charities by doing free readings or donating books. I always give books to people who ask – for fund raising events. Not only is it important to support charities, but it’s also great exposure. I rarely say no to any event that asks me to attend – either with my books or without, like when I was asked to judge the Miles Franklin Writing Competition at a local school. I even do local market stalls and often sell loads of books – and if I don’t, it’s still great exposure.

I set up heaps of school and library visits and read my new book. I never charge for these, as I do feel they are a marketing technique and schools should not have to pay for them. Many schools are willing to send home a flyer offering books for sale, so kids can have books signed by a visiting author. Some won’t do it but many do – and it’s a really lovely bonus. Don’t expect it (but there’s no harm in asking).

If you have the time, you can extend your ‘brand’ by offering educational courses or workshops, either through schools or writing centres. I did a writer in residence programme with one school that was very successful and was great exposure, not to mention an enormously rewarding experience.

I contact local bookstores about hosting a reading and signing, plus I always give away a book or two and hand out goodie bags to the kids who attend. Most bookstores are really proactive and will help you advertise the event. Unless you’re Andy Griffith, you can’t expect masses of kids at these readings and sales may not be huge, but once again, it’s the exposure that counts.

I always create posters for any event I do, and make sure the host has some to put up at their school or in their bookstore. I send out emails to everyone I know announcing any readings or launches.

As you become more well known, it’s a good idea to start expressing an interest in speaking at writer’s festivals and events. This can be great exposure for your books. Also, join your state writer’s centre, the Children’s Book Council of Australia and other writing groups like the Australian Society of Authors. Ask the CBCA in your state about becoming a visiting author for Book Week.

Of course, I blog, facebook and twitter my heart out when I launch a book – I have book giveaways on my blog, too.

If you do or can write elsewhere or in other genres, use that exposure to help your books. I am a senior editor with Australian Women Online who really support me with exposure, and of course, Kids Book Review is a great platform for getting my news out there.

The last bit of advice I have about marketing your self-published work is to do things with quality, all the way. I know this sounds like a given but trust me, I review plenty of self-published books and it’s NOT a given… self-published authors need to produce excellent, major-publishing-house-quality books because anything less will bomb, no matter how great your marketing expertise.

Of course, the books also need to be well-written and beautiful! But quality is vital – from the book’s storyline to the printing and all your added extras like websites, business cards, auxiliary products – even the way you deal with people.

For example, if an author sends me a generic review request without a direct salutation or is not polite, I would never consider reviewing their book. Be professional and gracious every time – and if someone reviews your book, why not send them a thank you note? This is how relationships are built and authors are remembered amongst the staggering mountain.


Building a brand for yourself via clever marketing is the way of the future for authors – or those who want to stand out from the rest and/or don’t have a major publishing house and millions of dollars behind them. Get active, stay involved and build your name rather than spend your time hocking book copies. If you can build that respect and renown, selling book copies will be a breeze.


Riley and the Curious Koala will be available Australia wide from 21st November.

About Riley and the Curious Koala: A journey around Sydney

Riley and the Curious Koala is the third in the Riley travelogue series of picture books, taking young children on a journey to far flung destinations. Riley’s first adventure began in Beijing with Riley and the Sleeping Dragon, continued on through Hong Kong with Riley and the Dancing Lion, and now enters home turf, with a fun-filled adventure through the beautiful city of Sydney.

Will Riley find this terribly elusive and quite curious fluffy creature amongst the gorgeous watery vistas of one of the world’s most beautiful cities? Panda, Dragon and Lion from earlier books join this little aviator on his sensational Sydney search… and their discovery is a curious (and funny!) one, indeed.

Tania’s new book features stunning black and white photos, pictures of a real life tin aeroplane and hilarious illustrations by illustrator Kieron Pratt.

Part of the profits for Riley and the Curious Koala will go to the Australian Koala Foundation https://www.savethekoala.com/.

On tour, Tania and Riley are stopping at lots of other great blogs.

Riley and the Curious Koala Blog Tour Schedule

Monday 15 November

Writing Out Loud http://writingloud.blogspot.com/


Monday 15 November

The Book Chook http://www.thebookchook.com/
Crafting a Book Using Photos

Monday 15 November

Handmade Canberra Blog http://canberrahandmademarket.blogspot.com/


Tuesday 16 November

Dee Scribe https://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

Marketing a Self-Published Book

Tuesday 16 November

Reading Upside Down http://www.readingupsidedown.com/


Tuesday 16 November

Australian Women Online http://www.australianwomenonline.com


Wednesday 17 November

Little People Books http://littlepeoplebooks.com/

Reading to Little Ones

Wednesday 17 November

Miss Helen Writes http://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/


Wednesday 17 November

Retro Mummy http://retromummy.blogspot.com/


Thursday 18 November

Soup Blog http://soupblog.wordpress.com/

Story Writing Ideas

Thursday 18 November

Bernadette Kelly’s Blog http://www.bernadettekelly.com.au/news/


Thursday 18 November

Posie Patchwork: The Blog http://posiepatchworkblog.blogspot.com/


Friday 19 November

Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog http://sallymurphy.blogspot.com/

Approaching Publishers

Friday 19 November

The Little Bookroom http://littlebookrm.blogspot.com/

A Conversation with Leesa Lambert on Great Picture Books

Saturday 20 November

Sue Whiting’s Blog http://suewhiting.blogspot.com/

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

Saturday 20 November

Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog http://sherylgwyther.wordpress.com/


Saturday 20 November

Kids Book Review http://kids-book-review.blogspot.com/


Sunday 21 November

Sandy Fussell’s Blog http://sandyfussell.blogspot.com/

An Interview with Riley!

Sunday 21 November

Kids Book Review http://kids-book-review.blogspot.com/


Sunday 21 November, 6pm

Tania McCartney Blog http://taniamccartney.blogspot.com/

Book Launch Party


  1. Tania, you’ve provided a comprehensive and clear guide to marketing for authors, whether self-published or traditionally published. Every writer will benefit from this post!

  2. What a comprehensive and helpful post. Thanks heaps Tania. All of this applies to small press publications too.
    Carole 🙂

  3. Briiliant! Thank you Tania for that very in depth post. Definitely information that can be applied to launching a new poduct as well!

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