How to Find the Magic Key to Selling Books

book9 Years ago, before book tours – virtually, that is – and before Twitter and Facebook even – when an author wanted to promote her/his book, they had very few choices in which to do this namely – e-groups, writer’s boards and forums, and wherever else they could find to get their book mentioned. They bought ads in writer magazines (some resulted in little or no sales), they started websites and later, blogs, and they hunted down websites that they could advertise their book, mainly free listings to save them some money.

When my first print book, Romancing the Soul, came out, my publisher was very supportive; however I know she felt like Octomom with all the authors she had to represent. I pitied her actually because I know it must have frustrated her as she could never do everything she wanted for all her authors and take care of a publishing business, too.

That’s when publicists come into the picture.

You either hire someone to do some publicity for you or you study online marketing and do it yourself.

I have always been a hands on kind of person. Perhaps it’s the frugal side of me, who knows, but maybe I just knew there had to be a magic key to open the door to those huge sales I wanted to be making. I had read every book promotion article there was out there and I just knew there had to be more to it. And I knew the secret had to be somewhere in that vast space they called the Internet.

Not too long after my print book was released, I studied the Internet and, eventually, a pattern was starting to evolve. If I list my book here and here and possibly here, I might see my book climb into the top rankings of the search engines which I believed was part of the equation. But might was a mighty big word.

Like all authors, I knew I had a good book which is the first step in assuring success in the sales department, but it wasn’t enough to have confidence in your book, you must take action to stand out from the pack and the secret I believed was in online book promotion. But the key, the magic key, where was it?

A few years ago, I found the answer and it happened quite accidentally. My online writing group and I self-published several e-books and I knew I wanted to use these e-books as an experiment. If my theory worked, I would have found the magic key. Whether it would open all the doors, that was debatable, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see what happens.

I had a basic formula written down. I would do A and B and see what happens, but I wanted to take it an extra step. What if I didn’t stop with A and B? What I discovered was that it wasn’t enough to do A and B, you had to do the whole alphabet if you wanted the formula to work.

This formula I speak of is a highly guarded secret, but…I do have to tell you in 24 hours all three of our self-published ebooks, and on separate occasions, ended up #1 in the search engines for their key search words. Twenty-four hours.

So what could I learn from this? By using these key search words as my selling tools, I could sell my books just by having the thousands upon thousands of Internet users find my book in the search engines. Today, there’s Twitter and Facebook and blogs, but the old system is only reinforced by this new technology.

Getting back to my story, when word spread about how I managed to get these ebooks into the first position at Google (and which I did later on with a self-published ebook I sold and still sell on my website), I had a woman phone me asking for my help. She wanted her book #1 in the search engines and told me she would pay me if I could do it for her, too.

And that was how Pump Up Your Book Promotion was born. We opened doors with one tour coordinator besides myself and now my staff has grown to five of the most wonderful people on the face of the earth – Cheryl Malandrinos, Jaime McDougall, Tracee Gleichner and Rebecca Camarena.

We started out with one author on tour and now our tours consist of anywhere between 20 – 30 authors a month.

Authors are finally learning it’s not enough to go on live booksignings. They’re learning it’s not enough to put up a website or blog and call it a day. They’re realizing it’s not enough to think for one minute their book is going to sell out of all the thousands of books on the market today. And this is where virtual book tours give them that chance.

Before I go, I would like to take a minute to thank all the book bloggers who have hosted our authors. Without you, all of this wouldn’t be possible. I bow to all of you.

If you have a question about virtual book tours or anything online book promotion related, please leave a comment. I’d be more than happy to explain anything you’d like to know.

Thank you and see you in the blogosphere!

Dorothy website Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion.  Visit to find out about their fantastic “12 Days of Christmas” special.  You can also find out about other virtual book tour packages by visiting You can follow her at Twitter at or Facebook at  Email Dorothy at

7 Responses to “How to Find the Magic Key to Selling Books”

  1. Virtual blog tours are certainly one of the best marketing ventures online. Personally, I’ve gone on two and found during that time my website ranking went up – one of the perks that happens during a tour.

  2. My husband’s novel, A Night Drive, was published by Publish America in December, 2008. They recently lowered the price which is great, but I am frustrated by the lack of any marketing strategy. He has another novel finished and at least 10 quality short stories. Can you explain what a virtual book tour looks like? Also, is there an upfront cost? John’s novel is superb, and I need to know how to get the word out about it. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Gwen Brackeen

  3. rebecca says:

    Being a tour coordinator has been great fun. Looking forward to many more wonderful years for Pump Up.

  4. Dorothy Thompson says:

    LOL, love the little icons that go with the comments…aren’t they cute? Thanks so much Irene…I look forward to your next tour and Becky, I couldn’t do without you! And Gwen, I emailed you!

  5. LeFerna says:


    I am SO scattered. I write, I illustrate, I do voices, I sing, I animate, I do music videos, and mostly for other authors now because I feel like there is a HUGE prejudice against POD authors and “unsolicited” small publishers coming from distributors and publishing houses, so I tried to find a back way onto the children’s book shelves by making the characters popular first. So I am big into character promotion and I’ve gotten so sidetracked, I almost forgot about my own book! I have a self-published novel (By my own corporation, Mary’s Lamb, Inc.) that introduces the world of J.C. Lamb… and in this novel his best friend is a Chihuahua named Angel who just started her singing career this year. She has a single coming out and her first book has been accepted by GAP. Lynda also accepted the first children’s book I ever wrote and illustrated, Peanut Butter Toes. I put it away after it’s first rejection over 20 years ago. I need to pull everything I do together for a book tour… I don’t have any awards or contest wins… nothing to make me special. Where would I start? I have done radio interviews and used the voice of my character along with me. I have already invested SO much money in marketing and I have a few good reviews for my novel but the treatment I got from distributors and stores made me lose heart. I may be too outspoken about “real” publishers if you interviewed me as an author… but my character is as gentle as a Lamb! (smile) Any suggestions for how I would build what I do into a tour and sell my book at the same time?


    LeFerna Arnold Walch

  6. T C Thomas says:

    What are your prices?

  7. Dorothy Thompson says:

    Hi TC…I tried emailing you but it came back undeliverable. If you go to the top of this page, there’s a “book your tour” link…hit that and it’ll show you what our prices are.

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