Best of: Industry Compass: Mark Coker

Posted By on June 6, 2011

Amber Scott, Author and Reviewer

Amber Scott, Author and Reviewer

by Amber Scott
1st Turning Point First Mate
Copyright © 2010-2011 Amber Scott

First published Feb. 25, 2010

Today, I am pleased to feature Smashwords CEO and Founder, Mark Coker, and share his answers to my author promotion questions.

AS: If writing a great book comes first and word of mouth or “buzz” comes second, what is the third crucial promotion component new authors should utilize?

MC: Marketing should start before you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).  Authors should join online writers groups and social networks, network with fellow authors and readers, contribute and add value to their communities, and start cultivating friends who want to support your success.  If you work to advance the success of your community, your community will work to advance your success by opening unexpected doors of opportunity.

AS: Thanks to a great 1st Turning Point article, I learned the difference between a tagline and a brand.  What would you say is the most common misconception authors at any level have about promotion?

MC: Many authors think promotion is all about selling.  I see two problems with this:  1. Most authors by nature are not salespeople.  2.  Nobody wants to be sold to.

AS: Standing out in a crowd is important in an ever expanding industry.  Can you offer any examples of an author’s creative marketing strategy that helped her/him stand out?

MC: One Smashwords author, Alan Baxter of Australia, conducted an innovative blog tour that generated blog coverage for him and his books across over a dozen blogs.  The value of such exposure goes beyond the short term sales of a book.  Such exposure helps build the author as a brand.  In marketing, success breeds more success.  Check out my interview with Alan on the Smashwords blog, where he talks about how to set up a blog tour.

AS: On Smashwords, you offer a wonderful free download, “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.”  What other books or websites on author promotion would you recommend?

MC: I’d definitely recommend Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual Volume 2Dan Poynter is the godfather of self-publishing, and his latest book explores how authors can take advantage of new technologies to advance their publishing and book marketing.  The book is filled with common sense, actionable advice.  You can buy it at Smashwords for $7.97.

AS:  Among the many, many “dos,” like the effective Twitter use tips you offer in the free download, can you offer any illustrative “don’t” example?

MC: Here are a few “don’ts” for marketing and promotion:

1.  Don’t delay the start of your marketing—make it a daily activity.

2.  Don’t spend money you don’t have on marketing—it’s easy to spend hundreds or thousands on marketing, but very difficult to earn it back.  Protect your pennies.

3.  Don’t be selfish—if you help others learn, grow and succeed, they will return the favor many fold.

4.  Don’t beg people on Twitter to follow you—earn their follow instead.

5.  Don’t assume you know it all—never stop learning from other people.

6.  Don’t abuse your social network friends—when someone “friends” you, it is not an invitation to spam them with marketing requests and sales pitches.

AS: Mark, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us!

1st Turning Point Divider

Play Fling

by Amber Scott

Smashwords Edition

Face Your Target…

Brooke Munkle didn’t leave a lukewarm marriage just to flounce into the next warm bed. She is focused on re-creating her life and too young, too hot, Elliott Jovovich has no business distracting her. If only he’d get out of her head. If only she didn’t feel so old and boring. Maybe if she keeps things simple, she can allow herself this one indulgence. Who would ever find out?

Pull The String…

Elliott Jovovich sees through Brooke’s stiff facade. Underneath her struggle to hold it all together, a vibrant woman is waiting to be freed. He tells himself it’s not the chase but the reward he’s after. To win her heart, he’ll even play by her rules, which would be a helluva lot easier if her hostile best friend didn’t fight so dirty.

Steady. Aim. Release…

Playing cupid wouldn’t be punishment if it were easy. The sneaking around, the spying, compatibility issues, blind chemistry. Brooke keeping secrets. Elliott constantly getting in the way. If she doesn’t match her first best friend in two lifetimes with true love fast, Millie’s partner will be reassigned and he’s all she’s got in this life sentence to fight for.

Play Fling by Amber Scott

About the author


28 Responses to “Best of: Industry Compass: Mark Coker”

  1. Thanks for joining us to day, Mark. I’ve looked around at smashwords and you do lots of things right, IMHO. I wonder, what do you think will be the biggest single influence on the publishing industry in the next five years?

  2. JonGibbs says:

    Useful information.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Excellent advice, especially about helping others navigate the business and how to use social marketing appropriately.

  4. Great information. Off to download your Twitter tips…then a spot of daily author marketing. :)

  5. Devin McKee says:

    Thanks, Mark, for a great interview.

  6. Miss Mae says:

    Good points, Mark. Thanks! :)

  7. Ann,
    Excellent questions and Mark’s answers were to the point. Both were interesting and useful. Thanks to both of you.

  8. CL Coons says:

    I love Mark Coker! He’s totally my hero!

  9. Jaime says:

    Great interview and very helpful information. Thanks for sharing!


  10. Thanks Mark and Amber. Very helpful interview. Mark is one of the most helpful people I’ve ever met and Smashwords is a fantastic site. Both the Marketing Guide and Style Guide he wrote for authors are filled with good information.

  11. robin cain says:

    I had checked out Smashwords out a while ago and thought it was an incredibly ‘author friendly’ – which seems to be a rarity for a great many sites that claim to want to help authors and, in reality, are just about their own bottom line. Thanks, Mark AND Amber!

  12. Celia Yeary says:

    Mark and Amber–Your article was very informative, interesting, and concise. 1st Turning Point is one of my favorite sites–I always learn something I can use immediately or tuck away for later use. I only just learned of Smashwords a short while ago. I’m traditionally published, but I’m dying to try Smashwords publishing–I downloaded the guidelines and I’m ready to go–when I get up the courage. Celia

  13. Jen Hooks says:

    Thanks for this, Amber and Mark! I truly appreciate the words of wisdom, tips and suggested reads for more information — you’ve helped point me in a direction that I need to travel!

  14. Thanks so much, Amber and Mark! This was very informative and useful.

  15. Rita Hestand says:

    I’m a Smashwords author and I can say that Mark is always there with answers and help and he is appreciated by all his authors. Great article especially the marketing end. Thanks to the Style Guide I learned something new in Word the other day that really helped. Thanks again Mark…
    Rita Hestand

  16. Holly Holt says:

    Excellent questions… yet, the answers were just as amazing. Some of the most impressive comments were those about not being selfish, continuing to learn, and earning followers.
    Great advice given with a tone of humbleness and ambition – well done!

  17. Ann Charles says:

    Amber and Mark–Thanks for the great interview and informative answers. After reading this, I feel optimistic that there are opportunities out there for authors in addition to being published by the bigger houses. I’m just going to have to work hard for success–but that will make the success celebration even bigger. Let’s get to work!

    Ann Charles

  18. Evie Alexis says:

    What a wonderful and inspiring piece. The online industry has opened up a huge world for authors and has created such access for people to network and collaborate without leaving the home.

    Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and comments.

  19. Mark Coker says:

    Hey everyone, thanks so much for your generous comments!

    @jacqui – I think the single biggest influence over the next five years will be the rise of independent ebook publishing. More and more authors, both self-published and previously commercially published, will opt to be their own publishers now that they have the tools to gain widespread online distribution where readers buy books. Ebooks represent only about 3% of the overall book market today, though they’re growing so quickly (+~170% in 2009) their impact will amplify in the next couple years.

  20. Thanks for the interesting interview… I vacillate between this being the best of times for authors, and this being the worst of times, with the industry being in such breakneck changes. It is so different today than it was even a year ago.

    And it’s not like I’m an optimist by nature…

    But I love stuff like this, at least I can say I’m staying informed.

    Thanks Amber and Mark

  21. Kris Tualla says:

    Thank you, Mark, for your insight. From all I hear, I agree that independent publishing looks to be the most hopeful path for authors today. Lord – give us strength!!!
    Kris :)

  22. Mark, thanks for the insights you offered. Lots of wisdom in those “don’ts.” And thanks, Amber, for the terrific interview!

  23. Erin Quinn says:

    Really great information! Thank you for sharing!

  24. Amber Scott says:

    Thank you all so much for stopping in and commenting. Thank you to Mark, too. The coolest thing about this segment is how much I learn. :}

  25. Mark, thanks for sharing your expertise! And Amber, thank you for moderating. I totally agree with the do-unto-others approach to social networking and promotion in general.

  26. Kim says:

    Thought provoking questions and wonderful answers to assist an author in branching out their reader base!

  27. Evan Foster says:

    book marketing offline is quite time consuming but if we talk about online book marketing, it is a different story-;;

  28. self-publishing is a nice way to promote your stuffs both online and offline:.;

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