Author Reality: Charles Sterling on Marketing + Audio/Podcast

Marketing, building a platform as a writer… There’s more to being a novelist than most people think…

Photo of author Charles Sterling.
Self-portrait of author Charles Sterling.
Want to listen to an audio version of today’s post? Click the Spotify podcast link above. And please give it a follow.

I’m no expert on how to market fiction writing. Although I’ve produced video documentaries, radio news, published non-fiction articles and a short story or two, I’m still getting my novels ready to publish. What I know for certain is I’m having fun here — meeting you as I build my author platform! Who knew I’d encounter so many friendly people from all over the world, who would open my ridiculously sheltered eyes?

Before I started blogging, I romanticized the role of Author with a capital “A.” No need to lift a finger to sell their books. On talent alone, I believed, they attracted their super-star literary agent and publisher.

Before Author brandishes pen and paper or fires up their computer, there’s a rousing jog with their dog, a refreshing shower, and a decadent breakfast with aromatic teas. Next, Author inhabits their writing worlds from a cushy seat before an incredible desk that faces a spectacular view. For the sake of creativity, there’s a midmorning espresso break with sweets ala the madeleines writer Marcel Proust used as analyze memory.

Throw in more writing, a leisurely lunch, strolls between writing, which culminate at four for a feast shared with famed thinkers. Sleep is restful, peacefully given now and then to inspiring dreams… well, you get the picture…

Alas, that daydream is akin to figuring that all the amazing painters of bygone days did was simply dab at their canvases between tasting the displays of sumptuous meals they depicted and keeping their stunning models warm. Clothed subjects were always famed and genius…

In my fantasies, nowhere does marketing rear its head. Certainly, in my dreams, the fame of great Authors never involves any of them setting aside part of their day to develop an author platform.

For some writers, publicity is part of their process…

The novels I’m working on are comprised as letters to a deceased grandmother. Many stellar authors began by serializing their books. Charles Dickens, who wrote “A Christmas Carol,” and “Oliver Twist,” was a master of episodic, a.k.a. serial, storytelling. His chapters, which were featured in newspapers, garnered so much attention that he bound them into the popular novels we know did quite well!

Another successful writer who worked that way, Helen Fielding. Her film hit, “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” was first serialized in newspapers.

Armistead Maupin did the same with “Tales of the City.” He’d get home from wild 1970s San Francisco parties, mine whatever occurred for his serialized newspaper column, and voila!

The same goes for author/bloggers…

The blog posts of E. L. James “Fifty Shades of Grey” atom bombed indo books, movies, and who knows what else.

Julie Powell’s “Julie and Julia” blog also turned into a book and a movie.

For my books, my plan is to eventually podcast bits of my novel and then get it into print. This blog is the beginning, where I gather a circle of friends who are interested in novels and arts, who spread the word about my writing, and who hopefully will enjoy my books.

Author Charles Sterling wrote his first novel when he was 15 and has published many more since then! He writes and blogs from Russia. Here he shows us how easy the marketing/platforming side of writing is and that it builds upon itself…

Photo of author Charles Sterling.
Photo of author Charles Sterling.

Book Marketing & Author Platform by Charles Sterling


One day at age fifteen I walk into my father’s room and I ask him; ‘how difficult is it to write a book?’ He replies, ‘son, it’s the easiest thing in the world!’ Now, whether he was right or wrong, I believed him, and that belief allowed me to write my first ever 75k book at that young age.

Had I asked him ‘how difficult is it to sell a book?’ perhaps the answer would have been different. Selling a book is a whole other world. When you’re writing, you’re an artist. When you’re marketing, you’re in the business sphere. That’s where book marketing and the author platform comes in!

How to market your book

Having been marketing since 2011, when I made my first thousand dollars I used methods that would never work anymore! As times change, so does marketing. But luckily I adapted my approach and saw a steady improvement and increase in sales. The wonderful thing is, it’s like a snowball that goes down a hill and keeps getting bigger. The more books you sell, the more Amazon recommends your books!

Here’s what I did for my past few books.

  1. Set your book for free and do some promotion stacking through “free book promotion” websites. This will give you thousands of downloads and some much needed reviews.
  2. Pin your book with an inviting image to the top of your Twitter.
  3. Promote it in forums like Reddit and GoodReads.
  4. Have an incredible book cover.

We eat with our eyes first! And we do judge books by their covers. I guarantee you that if you had the best book cover in the world, your need for marketing would be zero. The book cover would do the job for you all the way to the New York Times Best Seller list.

Often enough as writers, after we’re done writing and we get onto promoting we start looking for ways to get more viewers. We forget about what we’ve been working on so hard and begin relying websites and methods to get us where we want to be. I wish to reiterate on this extremely important point, a good book cover sells your books first! And the reviews sell your book second, so make sure your book is wonderful too.

Personally, I design my covers myself because I’ve been graphic designing as long as I’ve been writing. Essentially one must look at the top selling book covers in your niche create something thematically similar. The reason being that, readers out there already know what they’re looking for, so it’s your book cover’s job to accurately portray that.

Now, I chose to market my ebooks exclusively through Amazon for its KDP program allowing you to set discount prices as well as put your book out for free. The free book part is important to get some reviews going early on. Amazon is also a good focus point because by putting all your effort into your book, the algorithm helps push your book forward by placing it in the “Recommended Books” section of your potential readers, which is what allows you to sell books even when you haven’t marketed for months.

I’ve tried publishing in Barnes & Nobles and SmashWords, but so far really enjoyed focusing on purely Amazon.

The Author Platform

It’s super easy, but super important to have! Once you have an author platform you’ll be proud of yourself and even feel a little famous when you appear in Google searches.


I believe Twitter is perfect for a few reasons; most authors and readers are either on Twitter or Facebook. Instagram is an image based platform, I tried it for a while and didn’t quite like it.

On Twitter the hashtag game is a lot stronger than on Facebook, making it easier to fit into a specific niche and target specific groups of people. The retweet function is nifty as well, as others retweet your stuff for more people to see!

So if you do decide on Twitter, get a photogenic picture of yourself and write a short and sweet bio. No need to be too long. Pin your book to the top of your page, and spend the rest of your social media rants about yourself, things you find funny and your opinions on things. If your Twitter is filled with nothing but your book, people will turn away.

Your book will already be pinned on top, so every single person that comes onto your profile is forced to see it before they see the rest. “The rest” should be inviting things and things that people can relate to and understand you better as a person. You want them to say “wow, I like this person. I’ll follow them and take a look at their book.”

To get followers is really easy; go around your niche and comment and put likes on people’s stuff. Thirty minutes of twittering a day and you’ll have a thousand followers in two weeks. I did just that with no complications!


Get either a Wix or a WordPress website going, use a free template to make it look nice, and fill it up with your stuff. Have a page for your books, have a page for your author bio, a page for your short stories or poetry, or even a page for pictures of your pet.

Images you use on your website will appear in Google Images, so make sure to keyword them with your name.

Words that you use in “Heading” format will appear in Google Search, so make sure they’re your book titles or your name. Then add your website to your Twitter and you’re basically set! A website might seem like the hardest part, but once you did it, you no longer need to worry about it.

My own website is as easy as that, yet has all my work neatly laid out for people to see, and it took me just about two days to fully complete.

Amazon Page

Aha! An Amazon page is an author platform too! Make sure all your books are listed in your Author Central. If you have a blog, you can link it to your Author Central as well. Then in your GoodReads account make sure all your books are linked to your Amazon page, because often people write reviews and comment there.

This part is not difficult, and if you have some problems (like I did) just write them an email and they fix everything for you.

It’s a good time to mention that, Amazon has over 3000 different categories for your books, but you only get to see around 250 when you’re actually publishing. If there’s a specific category that you need (like mine was Young & Adult Pirate Adventure eBooks) then you’ll have to contact Amazon and they change it for you.

Reap the Benefits!

As a few final thoughts, I’ve only started using Twitter and adding things onto my website about five or six months ago and the benefits that came with it were enormous.  I was discovered by authors and readers, invited to do podcasts, got free book reviews on other people’s websites and most importantly… I emerged from the shadows and began connecting with people!

Book marketing is usually a slow and steady process that gets faster and faster the more you do it. I started off with numbers like 2, 5, 13 and some months later they turned into 900, 1500, 3000, and are still on their way up.

At first things might seem like they’re not working out, or you’ll get tired or you might feel like it’s a waste of time, but the longer you go on, the more the puzzle pieces start fitting together, and the more the grind seemed worth it.

My final tiny advice that I wish to share applies to anything and is based around the principal of ‘compound effect’. Much like going to the gym or eating healthy, it’s about doing something small every day. This gets multiplied by hundreds of days, and the effects become massive.

This was the case with me; my first books back in 2011-2012 kept bringing me paychecks (despite the books being clearly written by a teenager) and then the books that followed were stranded in a desert with no activity. I was left wondering what was going on and what I had to do to make it work again, and ended up committing a huge portion of my time to learning on promoting and marketing.

I had to change my old fashioned book covers, market in different places, create better keywords, and I started seeing my numbers grow again. As of recently, the author platform I built has greatly helped!

How do you discover your next books to read?

57 thoughts on “Author Reality: Charles Sterling on Marketing + Audio/Podcast”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these tips! It is extremely challenging marketing a book, especially as a new author and an introvert.
    This guide is very useful; it has practical tips and is easy to follow, but it is also down to Earth, which means it’s readable and relateable.
    I am surely going to try these tips: twitter (which I haven’t spent much time on) and sprucing up with wordpress site, then go from there.
    Again, many thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for sharing!… I had thought about writing once in history’s past but after careful research I come to the conclusion that with all the hoops I needed to jump through, I would lose the very reason I wished to write… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s definitely a pit-fall many of us fall into. When you take into consideration all the extra things you need to do besides just writing, it can take away the fun from it.

      The way I personally cope with it is, when I write I mentally only focus on the writing, and when I sell I’m taking a break from writing anyways, so I only focus on selling. By dividing my attention into bits and pieces it stops feeling overwhelming.

      And that is a lovely Irish saying you got there!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Charles, for generously sharing your marketing strategy. You’ve stated many terrific ideas for promotion of one’s books.

    Da’Al, I really enjoyed your introduction to this post – much fun to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear del-Al, I really enjoyed reading your post. If you don’t mind I have a few questions for you. A friend of mine and me are trying to self publish a book, she wrote beautiful poems inspired by my photography images. Our book is almost ready to be send out to a publisher, So far she has picked the company Outskirt, do you have any experience with that? And what is your opinion about Smash Words? What about Amazon do they edit and publish books? I know , that I am throwing a lot of questions at you, but maybe you could shine some light on my questions, I would be so grateful for that. Thanks so much in advance. May you have a wonderful inspiring weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Cornelia! I’m not da-Al, but I could answer some of those questions.

      While I don’t have any experience with Outskirt, I did try out Smashwords. Smashwords is smaller than Amazon and is rather popular for Romance books. Publishing there is easy, and people can get your book for any price of your choosing.

      If you’re looking to make money out of the poem book, Amazon might be more helpful because of their wider reach of audience. Publishing a hard copy version on Amazon also allows you to order your hard copies and have the physical books delivered to you.

      For a poetry book, I might suggest publishing it everywhere! Publish it on Amazon (do not enroll in KDP Select), publish it in Smash Words, Barnes and Nobles, Google Play Books, and even Outskirt (if they’re okay with your book being published in multiple places).

      Most of your attention will still be coming from Amazon in my opinion, but you will be incredibly searchable through Google for having your book in so many places at once.

      Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Charles, I really thank you for spending your valuable time for such a great response. That’s such a great help to read all your information. I am assuming that you are talking more about the publishing sources, or better to say the distribution of a book, which is great to know, yet if I may ask you another question , does like Amazon do all the editing work, also like choosing the font and color for the front pages etc. ?
        My friend has the entire book put into WORDS editing on her computer.
        Thank you so much for your kindness to get in contact with me. Have a great weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello again Cornelia! Amazon does not do any of the editing or formatting, they expect you to do it yourself, and so does Smashwords.

          For publishing in Amazon, I recommend a program called “Kindle Create”. It’s a part of Amazon and they recommend using it! You can paste all your text into Kindle Create and the formatting is extremely easy in there. That way you’ll get to see your book the way your readers will see it.

          Additionally for formatting as a paid option, I would recommend the website “Fiverr”. You can find lots of people that would format the manuscript for you, usually for about $5.

          As for fonts and colors, the fonts and colors that you pick in your original manuscript (and then upload to Amazon) is how it will show up to the readers.

          If you have any more specific questions, please feel free to ask! I’d be happy to help any time 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Charles , I really thank you again for your helpful information you share with me. I think you answered all my questions in depth and I can discuss with my friend how we will further approach the publishing of your book. Thank you for your amazing effort to educate me on this matter. Wish you a great and inspiring week. Cornelia

            Liked by 1 person

    2. thanks for reading & your your question, Cornelia. am so glad Charles answered it because I don’t know as I haven’t published a book. wishing you the very best of luck whatever way you choose. please share what you learn with us 🙂


  5. In my fantasies, nowhere does marketing rear its head. Certainly, in my dreams, the fame of great Authors never involves any of them setting aside part of their day to develop an author platform.

    Exactly. They never had to market themselves. That’s because the publishing house did it for them. That again, is because there were few “authors” back in that. Today, the number of “authors” has grown exponentially.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Getting well-published is still the dream, isn’t it? I say well-published because if a small publisher publishes you they’ll still expect you to do all the promoting. These days they say “it’s all easy because the internet allows you to do anything” but it still requires some wit and devotion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Charles – there’s benefits & expenses whether one is traditionally or self-published. there’s luck as well as education involved, too


    1. Thanks for reading, Rosaliene! Keep it at it in bits and increments and you’ll be seeing your results multiply exponentially. There’s no need to experiment or think of things yourself, read about the trial and errors of others and apply them to yourself 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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