An Interview with Marketing Expert Heidi Thorne

8 Nov

003You are in for a treat today.  I have an interview for you, an interview with Heidi Thorne, one of the best marketing minds I know, a self-publishing and marketing expert, author, editor, blogger, and business speaker.  She is going to share with all of you some tips on marketing your indie books and articles.

But first, a quote…


“People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan.” Dave Ramsey

Here ya go!


Me:  Hi, Heidi, and welcome to Artistry With Word!  I’m so glad you agreed to this interview.  I’ve been meaning to have you on for quite some time now but, as is usually the case, I got sidetracked along the way. Well, you’re here now and I plan on taking full advantage of you.


As I know, and I want my readers to know, you are a marketing expert.  In fact, your name has a “Dr.” before it, and you have your own marketing firm. Where most writers struggle in the world of marketing, you thrive, and in fact you advise many business people on marketing, so that’s what this interview will be about. I’m going to pick your brain and we will all be the better for it.


Before I begin the questions, though, I want to let people know where they can find you.  On HubPages you’ll find Heidi Thorne by following this link, and Heidi’s website can be found here.


First, let me ask you, for my readers’ benefit, what is your background in marketing?heidi



Question 1 – Background

I have been in sales, marketing, advertising and PR for over 25 years, including a decade in the hotel and trade show industries. As well, I was the editor and regional advertising sales director for a trade newspaper for over 15 years. I also have an Masters and Doctorate in Business Administration and taught at the college level for five years.


Me:  Great, thanks!  Since this site is dedicated to writers, let me ask you what is the number one failing you see in most writers with regards to writing?


Question 2 – Number One Marketing Failing for Writers

Not building an author platform. What do I mean by “platform?” It could also be called your “fan base” or “audience.” In the old days of traditional publishing, authors could rely on their publishers to help build a base of readers and fans for them and their books. Today, both self published and traditionally published authors are responsible building a legion of fans through social media, websites and networking. In fact, it’s important to start building an audience even BEFORE a book is complete. That way, when it publishes, there’s already a group of potential buyers available. That is probably obvious for self publishing. But what surprises traditionally published authors is that there may be little marketing support from their publishers other than maybe for the initial book launch. Plus, traditional publishers are looking for authors that already have a fan following. Why? Because the publisher is buying both the author’s manuscript AND access to the author’s community of fans.


Me:  Now let’s get real for a moment.  You are well-aware, as am I, that most indie writers have very little, bordering on zero, marketing budget.  Is it really possible, with few funds, for an indie writer to effectively market a book?  And if so, how?  This seems, to most indie writers, to be akin to Mission Impossible.


Question 3 – Zero Marketing Budget

Thankfully, many of the tools to help build an author platform have low hard dollar cost, even though they might have an expense of time and effort. Take social media for example. Setting up a Facebook page for the author (free) is a great start to building a community of fans. Why the author and not just the book? Well, it’s been my observation that when an author writes one book, they want to do more. That means a new page must be set up and promoted every time there’s a new book. This also creates a mass and mess of pages in searches… and are a lot of work to maintain.


Twitter can also be used in the same way. However, I’ve observed that Twitter, due to it’s fast pace, can often be a bigger investment of time and effort than a Facebook page, even though it, too, is free to set up. But it’s worth considering. LinkedIn could also be considered in the mix, especially for those writing as an authority on their topic. It’s also free to set up on LinkedIn.


Same goes for websites. Authors can pretty cheaply set up a basic website that offers the author’s bio, book info, contact information, etc. Even a simple, quick one-page site is a good start. There are a ton of great tools and hosting available for simple sites. So a big investment and needing to know how to program a site are no longer excuses. While I’ve seen people use their Facebook page as their web presence, it’s better to have a presence on the web that YOU control. Social media is notorious for changing things without warning.


But the most important thing in building an author platform is building an email list. That way, no matter what happens on social media, the author has a way to keep connected with fans. There are a bunch of great programs out there to consider. One of the free services I like is MailChimp’s “Forever Free” program which allows an author to build an opt-in list (VERY important that it’s opt-in so that you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws) up to a certain number of subscribers and emails. For bigger lists and more emails sent, there’s a monthly cost. Worth checking out. NEVER, EVER use Outlook or your regular email account for marketing! That usually violates terms of service and will likely be flagged as spam. Use a service such as MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, etc. to do it right!


Then you have to actually email these people! I’m always stunned at the people I meet through networking who ask me to sign up for their email list and then I never, seriously never, ever hear from them after the initial opt-in confirmation. Weekly is ideal, but even every couple weeks or once a month is a good start. More than weekly can start to get annoying and will cause people to unsubscribe.


Me:  Most writers are introverts, or so it seems to me.  How can a writer, who is introverted, who is reluctant, get over the hesitancy and get out there and market a book?  What magic pill can you suggest that will get my readers to step out of their cocoons and do what needs to be done?


Question 4 – Introverted Writers

Writers, let’s get one thing clear: There is no magic bullet. If you are not willing to be a public figure, you will struggle with a writing “career.” Notice that I didn’t say you’d struggle with “writing.” I think starting on Facebook is probably a less scary way to get started. Then you might want to join an active online writers community for encouragement and marketing. Surprised? Other writers can be great resources for marketing for three reasons: 1) They are typically readers themselves and may be interested in buying, reading and reviewing your book; 2) They have fan bases of their own and may be willing to share your book with their readers; and, 3) They may have found tips and tricks for marketing your particular book genre that they may be willing to share.


Me:  Time is money, Heidi, and I’ve taken up enough of your time.  Let’s wrap this up with one final piece of advice from you to all writers.


Final Piece of Advice

When you begin to think of marketing as “sharing,” it has less chance of “scaring” you.



A sincere thank you, my friend. I hope . . . no, I know . . . that those reading this are licking their lips, eager to get out and try working your time-tested marketing advice.

And that’s it for this week!  I strongly urge you to take Heidi’s advice to heart.  No one else is going to help you with your marketing campaign.  It’s time you do that for yourself.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

24 Responses to “An Interview with Marketing Expert Heidi Thorne”

  1. Janine Huldie November 8, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    What great advice and I loved getting Heidi take on marketing here today. I actually was a business and marketing major in my undergraduate work way back when. So much of what she said here made sense to me in part due to that, I suppose. But still thank you to both of you for further input on marketing and writing here today. Happy Tuesday now once again!!

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      Janine, we had the same major in college. Very cool, and very cool that you joined me twice this week. Thank you my friend.

  2. ericdierker November 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    Super Duper! Wow that was really interesting. To say this guru is awesome is to sell her short. Thank you Bill for doing this piece.

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      I’m glad to hear that, Eric. Thanks my friend. I appreciate you.

  3. Mike November 8, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    There is a good deal of solid advice in Heidi’s interview. Sending thanks for sharing.

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

      Thank you Mike! This is a goldmine of information and advice for those interested in succeeding.

  4. Nell Rose November 8, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Thanks Bill and Heidi, great advice and something we should all sit back and read before we put a foot wrong, wonderful and thanks again.

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

      Well, Nell, I’ve put the wrong foot forward more times than I care to remember, so hopefully this will help others to avoid that. Thank you!

  5. suziehq November 8, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Sound advice for us all to take stock of thanks Bill & Heidi for a really interesting interview! Have a great week my friend xxx

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

      Thank you Irish! I hope your week is everything you want it to be.

  6. 1authorcygnetbrown November 8, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    Thank you, Heidi and Bill for this post! It reminded me that the most important part of marketing is to use social media, website, and email as a marketing tool and to do it regularly.

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

      All true, Donna! Thanks for dropping by. I’m so happy you found this interview worthwhile.

  7. marlenebertrand November 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    This is a fun and much-needed article. I know I need to develop a presence, but the idea of being a public figure scares me to pieces. Still, Heidi makes a lot of sense. I guess I have to get over myself and begin to think of marketing as sharing. I like that idea.

    • Billybuc November 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

      I like that point too, Marlene. Believe me, most writers are like you…it is hard for us to leave our homes and face the public…sadly, we have to in order to avoid obscurity. 🙂

  8. Christy B November 8, 2016 at 11:44 pm #

    So true what Heidi says about writers providing great encouragement for one another with the marketing process. I have written many book reviews for other Indie authors; I tell them in advance that my review will be genuine. I think Heidi makes many great points here. Great interview, Bill!

    • Billybuc November 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      Thanks Christy! I actually don’t see as much encouragement as I think there should be, so I’m hoping some writers out there start getting a clue. 🙂 Have a great Wednesday!

  9. Michael Milec November 10, 2016 at 4:09 am #

    Disciplined process and stages of this interviwiev guarantee success when systematically and persistently applied given points in order to reach the market successfully.(If I got it allright.) It seems to me that the era of “shake and bake” is distanse memory. Today competition requires dedication in pursuing a vision of becoming an effective writer. Thanks Billybuc and Heidi.

    • Billybuc November 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      Perfectly stated, Michael my friend. I love your line about “shake and bake”.

      Blessings always

  10. Lawrence Hebb November 13, 2016 at 12:43 am #

    As usual from both yourself and Heidi they’re all good ‘sense’ things (I wanted to say “commonsense” but have realized that ‘good sense’ isn’t that common!).
    I know what I need to do, and keep ‘plodding on’ with what I can do, hoping each say to make more time for what I should do!
    I’ve heard about ‘mailchimp’ a few times and might look at it, maybe also a Facebook page for Scorpion team when the new book comes out?
    Good stuff

    • Billybuc November 13, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

      Thanks so much, Lawrence. I’ve found Heidi to be practical and very helpful in her suggestions, and I’m hoping others will find the same.

  11. Cynthia November 15, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    Such awesome tips. 🙂 I intentionally published (and will publish the other) my paranormal fiction books without much marketing. I call it my “Shakespeare” approach: I know these books aren’t going to be as good as later ones, hence the pen names. But…when the one I’m working on now comes out, it’ll be connected to the new website. 🙂

    • Billybuc November 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      Hey Lil Sis, always good to hear from you. The new website is awesome, but I would expect nothing less from you. Hugs heading your way from Olympia.

  12. Shauna L Bowling November 16, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    What a great interview! I wish I’d heard Heidi’s last word of advice when I was trying to market my freelance business. Had I looked at it as sharing, I wouldn’t have been so darned daunted (and scared) by the whole marketing/sales process!

    • Billybuc November 16, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

      That last section of her interview was pure gold, Sha, and I totally agree with you. Thanks, as always, for being here.

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