Classes & WorkshopsMarketing and Promotion

5 Valuable Marketing Lessons I Learned in the Produce Department by Deborah Riley-Magnus

I had a career as a marketing expert for over thirty years. Then I became a chef. Yep, a cooking, measuring, wearing-a-tall-white-hat chef. These days I’m an author and an author success coach. Funny how all things seem to merge together while joyfully living life. It’s a tasty world, and strolling through the produce department in my favorite grocery store, I realized that I had learned more about marketing right there than anywhere else in my life.

Think about it. Everything we choose is chosen because it is marketed to us. Every purchase we make, every movie we see, every pair of socks, or earrings, or concert tickets we buy, was strategically presented and poised for us to salivate over and want. This is the core of real marketing. Knowing what the buyer will love, and making it as delectable as possible. It’s the primary difference between selling, and allowing people to buy.

But I digress. Oh, wow… look at those beautiful apples!



Questions to always ask yourself as you embark on marketing your book are critical to sales success. Start with a basic question about your strategy. Does it look good?

Let’s focus on the humble Macintosh apple. The displayed apples are beautiful because they’re set up under good lights, stacked carefully, polished to a glorious red sheen, and strategically sit beneath a sign stating a fair price for high quality. When thinking about your book’s marketing, all those things are extremely important. People DO buy a book by it’s cover… and by its perfect blurb, and the wonderful 30-word branding pitch, and the presentation elements surrounding it.

There are many ways to assure your product looks good to prospective buyers. Be especially diligent about typos, low quality cover art or ad design, mistakes or inconsistencies within emails, promotions, ads, blogs, or anything related to your book. Things like that tell a prospective buyer that the value of your product (book) may not be as high quality as they’d like. Always make sure your marketing look’s good, enticing, inviting, and exciting.



Our eyes say those apples are fresh, and so does our nose. When it comes to creating a marketing strategy, it’s also important to be fresh! With so many authors doing the same things to market their books, be sure to go rogue, stand apart and above, and do something fresh and different. It WILL get the attention of the prospective book buyer because, I guarantee, they are all tired of hearing, “Buy my book!” There are better, more creative ways to make your book enticing and allowing them to buy without sounding desperate while trying to sell it to them. We all react to a new approach to anything. Make sure your marketing is fresh.



I love apples, but what about buying those gorgeous pears instead? This is the point where you think bigger and broader than any other cook … and marketing author.

Standing apart and above from your competition, which is every other author in your genre and the world, can seem impossible but it’s not. Think about being unique. Think about locating unique locations and target audiences for marketing your book. Instead of purchasing a spot in the biggest book promotional website on the internet, imagine choosing a special unique hook from your book and moving in that direction to seek out a strong, new, fresh (there’s that word again,) audience.

For example, if your book’s main character teaches yoga, why not connect with yoga groups all over the country? Email a special discounted offer for their clients, offer to do a live speaking event to yoga groups, write a brief article for their newsletters and have the owner include your book cover and buy link. Locate yoga lovers on Twitter and Facebook and connect with them through your blog entries about, of course, yoga. This is unique thinking, and it is a technique that presents your book where no other authors are shouting for attention.

It’s far more unique than even, let’s say, a pear tart!



As a cook, I know that the texture of an apple and a pear are similar, but Bosc pears are not as sweet as Macintosh apples. I might alter the spices and sugars I use for a pear tart in the apple tart recipe. Maybe replace the cinnamon with cardamom. Perhaps replace brown sugar with honey.

Every element of your marketing strategy has ingredients just like a tart. The yoga focus will work well with a targeted email list, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even the YouTube ingredients of a marketing strategy. So, that’s a go.

However, there are many, many unique elements in your book that lead to interesting audiences best found in unique locations. Some of those may not be so effective with as broad an array of media. Let’s imagine that your yoga instructor character is recovering from loss.

Trying to focus on sad, negative, or unpleasant unique hooks may not give you as sweet a sales result. Always remember to imagine yourself as a recipient of your marketing strategy. Would you buy that book? Are you enticed? Or is it just too sad to deal with? If you put yourself in the buyer’s position, you will see a lot!



And finally, how does that steaming, perfectly baked pear tart make your lunch guests feel? Hopefully, itching to get a forkful.

How you present your marketing is far more important than you might think. If those apples in the produce department weren’t segregated carefully, but just mixed up with yellow apples, green pears, and purple plums, how would anyone ever notice how perfectly red they were? How would they catch your attention?

If your marketing is presented to large gatherings of people who love yoga, audiences collected through speaking engagements at yoga schools, in your carefully built yoga-focused twitter following, and found in yoga-lover Facebook groups, it’s only the first step to success. You’ve located the right people in wonderful unique places and ways, now it’s all about the presentation.

What works for other authors will not work for you because only you wrote your book! There’s no shortcut and no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for books, even though a lot of the world wants you to believe so. Target marketing is always more powerful, but you can’t join a yoga-focused Facebook group and simply repeatedly post, “By my book!” That’s one sure way to get yourself deleted.

To truly connect with prospective book buyers you must post, blog, and talk about what they love, which is yoga in this case. It feels counter-productive, sort of like using pears for an apple tart, but this technique has great power. Real, strong, lasting connections with book buyers creates something every author needs for ultimate success… FAN LOYALTY.

It takes a tiny bit more effort to make a pear tart when starting with an apple tart recipe, and to connect with book buyers based on the unique hooks inside your book, but the results can be positively delicious!


Love this?

Join me in February, March, and April for the PRISM MARKETING SYSTEM Webinar workshops series right here at SavvyAuthors! Check out the first class in the series:

Prism Marketing – A Power Author Marketing System with Deb Magnus ~ February 4 – April 28


[box]Write-Brain_thBridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author

Marketing is a very scary prospect for authors. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land without an embassy to help explain the culture. None of this is true. It isn’t marketing that’s the issue—it’s a fear and general misunderstanding of marketing in relation to an author’s talents and skill set.

Authors are creative people who solve problems within their imagination. Just because they’ve never been creative within the marketing universe does not mean they can’t. In fact, the more creative a marketing author is, the further they step away from the competition, and the more book sales success they will find.

Write Brain/Left Brain is the goose with the golden egg. These pages open doors to thinking outside the box and away from the noisy competition. It encourages authors to see the bigger book buying world, imaginatively seek out broader audiences, and always trust their creative nose to accomplish their book sales goals. This book is designed to remove an author’s fear of marketing and replace it with the inventive possibilities specific to the book marketed.

Authors, open your mind and take the empowering leap into the astonishing, imaginative marketing playground.[/box]


Awesome, heart-centered help from someone who really knows what she’s doing.

Demi Stevens, owner, Year of The Book Press


Before spending time with Deborah Riley-Magnus, I thought marketing was the devil—or at least beyond my capabilities—so I did little to promote my books. The proof was in my sales which were great with my friends, and friends of friends, but did little more than that. After working with Deb, I have a whole new outlook, realize there are many creative ways of marketing, and am excited about my next steps. I write books I know my readers will love… now I’m ready to go find my audience.

Gloria Baer Bostic, Author


Deb’s marketing advice made a world of difference in how I described a book I was querying. Using what she taught me in my query letter got agent attention immediately. I started getting requests for my manuscript where before I wouldn’t hear anything. I’ll always consult with Deb before querying. She’s a treasure!

Jen Sako, Author

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach with forty-plus years professional background in marketing, advertising, and public rela...