Top 5 Marketing Tips for Indie Authors

This blog first appeared on The Huffington Post

My fellow writers often ask my advice on various aspects of writing and publishing, not because I've enjoyed great success (though I have enjoyed moderate success), but because I've tried just about everything. I've run discount promotions, blog tours, and pricey print ads; participated in television interviews, spoken at book clubs, and performed on stage at comedy events. Every step is a learning experience. Different strategies work for different authors, but here are my top five. Some of these relate more to the sale of ebooks than print, because when it comes to sales, that's where I've had the most success. There are many aspects that come into play, and these are just a few, but assuming the content of a book is decent, of course, here's what I recommend for increasing sales.

1. Kick Ass Cover. Your book is already out, so this doesn't apply to you, right? Wrong. If you have a good book with a mediocre cover, it would be worth your time to redo the cover and re-release the book. Your cover must be eye-catching, intriguing, and a little edgy. Those were my main goals (along with a cover that shows well as a thumbnail) when speaking with my graphic design artist for my first cover.

What You Need to Know About the Boob Hair

  • To be clear, the Boob Hair is not a hair that grows from the boob. On the contrary, it is a hair that originates from the head of the owner of the aforementioned boobs. 
  • At some point, the hair detaches from the head and migrates south toward the cleavage. This is where the hair makes the transition to official Boob Hair. 

"I know where I'm headed," said the Boob Hair. 

How to Properly Celebrate Making the NEW YORK TIMES Best Seller List

Last week I saw a post on Facebook congratulating Jen Mann for hitting the New York Times best seller list for her fantastic book People I Want to Punch in the Throat. I adore this book, but it really should be banned. You can read more about that HERE.

Dear Little Boy, Stop Farting with Your Mouth

Some days I like to get my failure out of the way early. It feels good to really suck at something in those morning hours and know that I have a chance (albeit slim) of finding some measure of success later in the afternoon.

This morning I sucked at dropping my kids off at school. It started with trying to park in a space too small. I felt like this:

Interview with Author Bonnie Dodge

AK Turner: Thanks for joining me, Bonnie. Let's talk about your latest book Waiting. Is it about leaves?

Bonnie Dodge: You would think so, wouldn’t you, by looking at the cover. Actually, the story takes place in a small fictitious town called Aspen Grove. The leaves on the cover are aspen leaves, so bright and colorful. Also, some of the characters in the book leave, but you’ll have to read it to find out where they go and why they leave.


This essay first appeared in the anthology Little White Dress

I’m not the frilly sort. 

I’m bling-free in a sparkly world. 

I do not own a set of pearls. 

The first dress I bought was a hot little number.  White, simple, short, tight.  If I’m going to suddenly believe in marriage, I reasoned, I might as well also believe that this dress is appropriate.  It was not.  

Why We Must Ban Jen Mann's Book

If you know me, you know that I'm a tireless warrior in pursuit of an improved society. The first step should be requiring people to pass a simple written test before they are allowed to reproduce. The test would include such questions as:
  • Is it okay to sell drugs while running an in-home daycare?
  • Does appropriate parenting include yelling at my child to "Get me a fucking beer!"?
  • Is the best way to keep a baby from screaming to shake them really hard until they stop?
If the applicant answers yes to any of the above questions, then the answer is: No, you may not reproduce. In just a few generations, we could have a vastly better world.
But here's another thing that might help - we need to ban this book...

If we don't, here are the penalties we'll face for our lack of vigilance.

Swingers will take over the world.

Everyone will want to become a swinger, which could result in an additional population from people who shouldn't be spawning. That's what will happen when people read this book, because the irresponsible author makes swinging sound irresistibly attractive. Example from page 48:
Holy shit! This was no ordinary Fourth of July party with co-workers. These people were swingers! And not hot ones. God, why are swingers always so gross? Why is it always fat old men with ponytails and wrinkled women with fake boobs? ... I ran into the house and quickly found the Hubs hoovering appetizers off the food table. "They're swingers! They're swingers! Red alert! They want to have sex with us!" I grabbed the Hubs' plate and threw it in the trash. "Stop eating their food! We can't owe them anything. We cannot be in their debt. They will want to be paid in blow jobs!"

Jitter Glitter. Or, Shitty Things to Give to the Parents of a Kindergartner

Last week I was introduced to Jitter Glitter. I’m sure compulsive Pinterest crafters already know what this is, but I was a Jitter Glitter virgin until a recent kindergarten orientation. My husband and I accompanied our five-year-old to her elementary school before the official start of the school year. She had the opportunity to meet her teacher, explore her classroom, and see the environment in which she will spend the next nine months learning, laughing, crying, and giving and receiving a variety of germs and ailments. But hopefully not lice. I’m just not ready for that.

We were sent home with welcome packets and what I thought was an impressive amount of swag for a five-year-old in the public school system. I was less impressed with the Ziploc full of glitter that was stapled to a crappy poem called “Jitter Glitter”.

The night before school is exciting and fun
With so many things that just have to be done

No shit. And why do I get the feeling this is going to add one to the list.

An Open Letter to DB

Dear DB,

Please don’t think that by referring to you as DB, I’m calling you a douchebag. That’s not the case at all. I just thought you would want your identity protected, and what a happy coincidence it is that your initials are, in fact, DB.

When I saw a Facebook message from you, I wondered how we know each other. I clicked on your profile to find that we have no mutual friends and no geographical connection. Normally I don’t accept friend requests from such people, but I think at the time I thought you looked like a nice older lady who wasn’t trying to engage me in some sort of online sex cult. I figured you were a fan who sent a friend request to my personal page, which happens from time to time, so I accepted. A closer look at your personal page would reveal that you are a fan of the Raiders, Bruno Mars, Nascar, and Bingo. And by the way, your post asking God to teach the parents of mentally ill and disabled children to be patient and show them how to love their kids was more than a little offensive. So many red flags. Such colorblindness on my part.

 And then I read your message…

First Grade Field Trip: A Story of Survival

When I agreed to chaperone my daughter’s field trip, I hadn’t quite thought it through. My initial reaction when asked was, “Ooh! Field trip!” But that was me channeling my inner first grader, not the adult me who fears chaos and dirt and is therefore less than an ideal pick for this type of situation. And I assumed that the field trip would be to one of two destinations, the zoo or the aquarium. I made this assumption because those were the places I most wanted to visit.

I didn’t ask for too many details, even when I heard the word “farm” being thrown about. Because a farm is just a less exotic zoo with no concession stand, right? And maybe I’d get to pet a bunny or a baby pig.

A few days before the trip, I fell ill. I’ll omit the gory details, save for the fact that I was on a steady diet of Dayquil, Nyquil, and Imodium. “You should cancel,” my husband said. I ignored him because as craptacular as I felt, there was no way I would let down the first grade teacher. If the woman ever needs a kidney, I’ll be first in line.

I arrived at the school, put on my happy face, and suppressed panic as I boarded the bus. It was a crush of children and snot and noise. Stifling hot.

I looked at all the tiny faces and pictured their families and thought of every school bus tragedy I’d heard of. Heads brushed up against me and I surveyed them for lice. Children tattled and taunted and I managed to croak “Sit on your bum, please” while inside I screamed “Hands to yourself and sit the fuck down!” I looked to my daughter who looked up at me with adoration and joy. She was having the time of her life.