Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cupcake Dreams! Marketing Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, the Novel

When I signed my contract with indie publisher Krill Press in late July 2010, I realized I had about three months until my first novel, Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys would actually be out and available for lovely people to purchase and read.

Krill is a legitimate indie press but I knew that there were teeny-tiny marketing dollars on both our ends. And no one, (except friends and family,) would buy this book because of my name. So the question was, How in Holy Hell Could I Market my Novel?

Statistics conclude most indie and self-pubbed books from first time authors sell between 100 to 1000 copies. But almost eleven months after Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys was published, it has sold approximately 8000 copies, (most of them e-books.) Confession: While I’m not Amanda Hocking, I still consider my sales numbers to be pretty good.

Thanks to Jeffrey Marks, fab author, blogger, and marketing guru, I’m happy to share a few crucial ideas that I think helped attract readers to my book.

 Catchy Title. I cannot tell you enough how I lucked out by including the word, “Cupcakes,” in my title. When I wrote this book, I vaguely realized cupcakes were trendy. I did not know how trendy. Readers love my title, which has helped sales. 

I’m not advocating chasing ‘trendy’. I am encouraging you to research, Google, check Amazon, B&N, Wikipedia. Advice: Take some time and effort to find the best title for your book. A publisher might change it. But they might not. If you self-publish, you can pick your book title.

Crossover Market. Envision connecting your book to a wider audience than just other book people. This will help you find more readers. Once I realized cupcakes were popular, I realized I had a crossover market. I contacted approximately 600 hundred baking and cupcake baker sites and gently pitched them my book. I went to Cupcake events that were charity related. I met awesome wonderful people who loved cupcakes. Guess what? A bunch of them bought my book. Who could be your crossover market?

Visible, punchy Book Cover. Unless you are picked up by one of the Big 6 publishing houses, realize that the majority of your sales will be online. Your book cover will be about the size of a postage stamp on a computer screen. Potential buyers must clearly see your book title, your name and a catchy book cover. Book cover graphics should trigger something in readers’ brains that says, “Buy. Very inexpensive. Costs about as much as a frappachino or a bagel with schmear. Buy. Now.”

Again, unless you self-publish you don’t have control over the book cover. Your publisher does. I loved my first book cover more than the one I ended up with. But, my Author Success coach, Deborah Riley Magnus, pointed out that the title was “unreadable,” on a computer screen. I mentioned that to Krill Press. Goodbye exquisite tiffany blue background. Hello dark purpley blue with a readable title. Hey, it pops.    

Do Not ask people twenty times a day on Twitter, FB or your blog to buy your book.  Honestly, I tune those people out. Instead, give potential readers information and entertain them.

 How can I entertain potential readers?

I have a Google Alert for Cupcake news. Everyday Google sends me cupcake news, I pick something interesting and repost on my book’s FB page, which I’ve automatically linked to Twitter. Other kind people on Twitter include my news in their “Follow Friday” links.

I have a Facebook page for my book instead of a separate Author Page. This is because until I have several books out, most people don’t know me as an author. But they might check in for some Cupcake news or a shout out that I have posted for a Cupcake bakery.

Which is another note. Give people shout outs on Twitter and FB. Tell them they’ve done a great job. Link to them. Kindness is key. A friend of a friend wrote a novel about a dog. On their book’s FB page, they asked people to send in pictures of their dog. They’d pick one dog to be ‘Dog of the Week,’ and put its picture and caption on their website. Who doesn’t think their dog is fabulous? They were flooded with fans, the book became a best seller and DreamWorks picked up the movie rights.

Videos. Before I even had a copy of my paper book in hand I decided to shoot very short funny videos related to the title. I filmed “Cute as a Cupcake,” and “Scarier than a Dead Guy” videos in which I always said, “Pamela DuMond reporting for Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys.” I used a Flip camera and I didn’t edit any of the videos. My goal was to let viewers know I was willing to be silly, which meant my book was probably silly as well.

Do mention your book on occasion. Link on FB or twitter, your blog, or your website if you got a great review that tickled you. Mention if you won an award. Got a shout out. I noticed Mystery Scene Magazine was asking readers to email them about new books they enjoyed. I asked several readers who liked my book if they would find time to do this. They did. My book got a great mention in the magazine.

Book Trailer? My friends did an awesome book trailer for me. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped sell more books but it certainly didn’t hurt. If you want a professional book trailer, watch this. If you’re as impressed as I was, call Mike Snyder at 818/300-5152.

Last but not least – Hang out online or in person with groups of people who like the kind of book you wrote. I found The Sassy Girls Book Club on FB. They are a loving kind group or readers that love funny books and support the authors.

  Good luck and enjoy the ride.


Pamela DuMond
Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys - a comedic mystery published by Krill Press is available in trade paperback, Kindle, and Nook.


  1. Such practical and useful advice. This is a lesson that the creativity doesn't end with the printing of the story.

  2. Thanks, Ramona. Coming from you, an amazing editor, that is a high compliment.

  3. These are great tips, Pam! And your book is well worth reading, even if it was buried beneath a 1000 bushels and no one ever tweeted a word :) PS: I agree--those numbers are to be proud of.

  4. Thanks Jenny! I can't wait to read yours - Random House in early 2013, right?

  5. Great, Pamela! Your success speaks for itself and I am so very happy and proud of you, my friend. xoxoxo

  6. Great post! In fact, it had so much valuable information that I'm going to print it out. Thanks!

  7. What a wonderful post, and terrific ideas! Enjoyed your book trailer. Cute! :-)

  8. Thanks for sharing all this. It's great information. The Celeb video made me laugh out loud, and the trailer was fun to watch. Really one of the best I've seen. Okay. 8001. I'm buying your book. :-)

  9. Excellent blog! We might all be including the word 'cupcakes' in our titles from now on - whether or not the books contain cupcakes! Also, your cover is wonderful. Congratulations and thanks for the practical tips.

  10. Thanks Rasana. Thanks, Ellis! I loved the celeb video. I didn't even add that music, it was blaring in the background. Funny, Linda. You're welcome. Krill Press did a great job with the cover.


  11. One more thing - Since this book did well and I like writing the characters, it's going to be a series. I've decided to brand it by keeping "Cupcakes" as the first word in each book. So... the novella that's coming out around Christmas will be "Cupcakes, Sales, and Cocktails." Obviously the covers will be different colors, the body in the middle will be different according to who I 'kill off,' and the cupcake in the middle will be different as well.

    I think this makes it easy for a reader who liked the first book to connect.


  12. Wonderful suggestions for us struggling writers.
    Think I'll go now and eat a cupcake.

    Jacqueline Seewald

  13. Great post.
    Thanks for the insightful marketing tips. I'm always looking for new angles. I love that you are running the cup cake angle.Awesome.

    AM Burns

  14. Pam is an absolute guru of out-of-the-box, doesn't-feel-like-marketing marketing. Thanks for putting it all down here, Pam!

  15. Nicely written - I may not want to eat a cupcake, but I definitely want to read about your cupcake murder. I strolled over here from Jeffrey Mark's blog on MMA ~ the one about the book, which I'm glad to see you touched on as well. Thanks!