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Archives for November 2014

If Your Book Isn’t Selling, Do the Hokey Pokey

Image from freedigitalphotos.net/Vlado

Image from freedigitalphotos.net/Vlado


I popped into one of my favorite blogs recently and read a short post
reminding authors we must constantly build an audience in order to succeed.
It was only 126 words long, but it touched a nerve in one of the commenters
who whined that she didn’t need reminding, she needed to know “how”.

This imagined omission hurled at the blog owner was particularly unfair
since the entire blog is devoted to telling authors how to build an
audience and create effective marketing plans. The commenter clearly hadn’t
read the years of posts giving specific strategies, tips, resources, and
tools. She obviously hadn’t downloaded the free information nor taken the
available courses on this particular blog.

And yet, the commenter’s frustration was real and common. She finally
admitted she had invested in books and coaching, but rationalized that her
inability to successfully market her book(s) MUST be the fault of those
resources. The gurus had let her down because whatever they suggested didn’t
work for her, assuming she even tried any of their techniques consistently.

So, if you’re also wondering what to do to make your books sell I say do
the Hokey Pokey.

What is the Hokey Pokey?

The Hokey Pokey is a song of uncertain origin. Some say it’s an anti-Catholic taunt, while others say it was originally a homage to an ice cream vendor. Still others see sexual innuendos in it or believe it is a Satanic ritual.

The version we know best in America was written by JoAnn Greer and is often enjoyed as a harmless participatory song. If you don’t remember the song or have never heard of it, listen to the original recording by Ray Anthony or watch the kids’videos showing the steps. I enjoyed this song in my Girl Scout days because it was impossible to sing along without being uplifted and having fun. The slow and rhythmic moves and gestures are simple enough for everyone to follow.

How does the Hokey Pokey apply to selling our books?

In spite of its questionable origin, I’m using the Hokey Pokey as a metaphor for making full commitment to your goal of selling your books. Join me in taking a positive look at what we can learn from the Hokey Pokey.

Right hand

  • Identify your target reader.
  • Write the best book you can to help, encourage or entertain your readers.
  • Hire a professional editor. Skip this step at your peril.

Left hand

  • Offer your book in print and ebook versions, at least. Readers want choices.
    (When I’m eager to read a book right away, I don’t want to wait for the print version to arrive.)
  • Employ effective marketing techniques from experts like Joanna Penn.
  • Get celebrities to endorse your book.
  • Get others to help fund your book promotions.

Right foot

  • Capture the emails of visitors to your site with a signup on your website.
  • Stay in touch with your list before and after your book is published.
  • Learn social media marketing techniques.

    Greeting Dan Poynter, godfather of self--publishing, when he spoke at the Publishers and Writers of San Diego meeting.

    Greeting Dan Poynter, godfather of self–publishing, when he spoke at the
    Publishers and Writers of San Diego meeting.

Left foot

  • Build relationships with your fellow authors and indie publishers online and offline.
  • Stage your own book signings.
  • Join groups and attend events to build your craft and learn marketing skills.

Right arm

  • Attend book signings and launches of fellow authors.
  • Participate in events like NaNoWriMo where writers from around the world
    gather to write and exchange marketing tips in a supportive setting

    Attending Sonia Marsh’s book signing at Costco. She is the author of From Freeways to FlipFlops.

Left arm

  • Encourage and support your fellow authors by reading their books and leaving reviews for them,


  • Apply what you learn from books, classes, and colleagues. No one can guarantee what will work best for you.
    They can only tell you what worked for them. It’s up to you to test ideas and track their effectiveness.
  • Try some of these 50 ways to promote your book.


Whole self

  • Commit to taking care of yourself so you’ll have the creativity and energy to market your book.
    –Eat a healthy diet
    –Stay hydrated
    –Get plenty sleep
    –Engage in the right exercise for you
  • Surround yourself with positive people and uplifting activities

Take your whole self out

  • Don’t be too attached. Be willing to change the plan.
  • Take a break. Gain a new perspective.

Do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself about


Get help. No one of us is an expert in all the parts of marketing.[/tweet_box]

  • Develop one technique fully before moving on to another one.
  • Seek to adapt and apply marketing techniques you’ve observed.
  • Give yourself permission to adjust your goals.

Do the Hokey Pokey by putting your whole self into marketing your book. That’s what it’s all about.