Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing Workshop

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If you’re worried about marketing with Twitter, Facebook, your blog and your mailing list, but you haven’t fixed your fiction story’s title, cover, and copy, you’re wasting your time and your traffic, because …

“Whether You Send Ten People Or A Million To An Ugly Book With A Lousy Title and Crappy Copy, You’ll Sell The Same Number Of Books… NONE!”

I already know I want this…

Figuring out how to market your fiction is rough.

In every big book-marketing or product-marketing class I’ve taken, fiction writers are the “and, too.”

As in “This class will teach you how sell tons of your books on How to Make Zillions, How to Slice A Better Cheddar, How to Become an Internet Guru, How to Breed Guinea Pigs For Fun & Profit … oh, yeah, and it works great for fiction writers, too.”



And here’s what I’ve discovered about “and it’ll work great for fiction writers, too.”


It won’t.

I write and sell both nonfiction and fiction. And during the last couple of decades (where I’ve been doing BOTH professionally), I’ve discovered that the processes that work great for selling nonfiction don’t work “great” for selling fiction.

Most of the time they barely work at all.

If you already have a good list of people who love your work and who are just waiting for you to email them to let them know your next novel is out, sure …

Then you can write a zippy little email and do a couple of tweets that your next novel in the series has just gone live (and probably notify your Facebook friends—I’m not a Facebook user so I can’t swear to that last one) and you can sell a whole lot of copies of your work very, very quickly.

I’ve done this, so I know it CAN be done.

But that’s if you already have:

  • The list of readers.

  • The backlist of books.

  • The busy blog.

  • The thousands of Twitter followers.

  • The bunches of five-star reviews on Amazon,

  • And other pro-level goodies …

And even then, if you don’t have great Title, Cover, Copy, once the initial rush of your existing fans is gone, the sales will rapidly dwindle to a trickle.

Ask me how I know.

But …

What if you don’t have any of that? Where do you start?

What if you’re just getting started? What if you’ve just finished your first story, in fact?

Pause here for just a moment.

If you haven’t learned to do an in-depth revision, that’s where you start, because if the marketing fairies dumped an eager million-reader mailing list in your lap and all one million folks raced off to buy your unrevised, unedited first story, you’d burn that whole list forever on a book that isn’t ready to be read.

(SUGGESTED LINK: How to do a Pro Revision | ALT. LINK: Revision for Budget Beginner or Killer Deadline)

Writing and preparing a good, finished story is Stage One Marketing. You do that and only that until you get good at it.

Before you dare put your work on sale, you MUST make sure you have revised your story fully, that it has been professionally edited, and that you are absolutely certain it is the best work of which you are capable right now.

There are no shortcuts for this.

If you story isn’t ready for readers, don’t put it on sale. You don’t want the one-star reviews, the angry demands for refunds, the body of readers who promise themselves they’ll never buy anything else by you …

… And who won’t, either.

But if you’ve completed your revision, your beta readers love the book, your editor (commercial or indie) wrote glowing comments in the margins while making your story a bug-free pleasure to read, then you’re ready for Stage Two Marketing.

Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing Workshop 3-Week Intensive Writing & Design Training

Wait! you shout. I have to tell people about the book, I have to gather a list, I have to post to social media … I have to hire a publicist … I have to …

No. You don’t. Not yet.

I don’t? That would be terrific!

If you get Title, Cover, Copy right, the mailing list will build itself (at least once you get it started), the readers will find their way to your blog, will add themselves as your Twitter followers, will start writing reviews for your stories without you having to enlist relatives as shills to make it look like you’ve sold something.

I finally realized I had to go back to my own beginning to discover how I did this.

Title, Cover, Copy was how I built my readership back in the early nineties, before the Internet.

And frankly, because I wasn’t doing the work myself, I just lucked out.

My first novel got a gorgeous Stephen Hickman cover with great action and cover copy that asked a great question—and that first novel sold like crazy for ten straight years.

And readers FOUND me. Which was a very good thing, because back then, there was no way for me find them.

Things may have changed for the better, but if you’re just getting started, you STILL need to have your readers come to you.

If you DON’T get your Title, Cover, Copy right, then that same we-all-wish-we-had-it million-member mailing list will fizzle into the same smoke as it would have if you’d written a bad book.


Because unlike nonfiction, which sells based on readers’ clearly defined needs …

  • “I need to make money…”

  • “I need to sell my house…”

  • “I need to quit smoking…”

  • “I need to lose weight…”

… fiction sells based on your prospective readers’ desire.

Your prospective fiction readers have to …

  • Be in the mood to read fiction

  • See something that catches their eye

  • Be curious about the title

  • Recognize in the cover art a subject, genre, or characteristics of fiction they love

  • And find in the story teaser a question for which they must want an answer

If your title, cover, and copy are just thrown together and if you haven’t tested them to make sure they’ll attract real readers who will be willing to buy what you’ve written, the time and money you spend building a list, flogging social media, writing in your blog, throwing at a publicist, and all the rest are all going to be wasted.

Ahh. That makes sense. I want this.

Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing, Stage Two

It has taken me years to get back to my own basics. The old-school basics didn’t have testing, though—they were “throw your best guess against a wall and see if it sticks.”

Testing is the thing I’ve added now, and it’s a big deal. It will let you know BEFORE you put the book on sale that you have THE cover, THE title, and THE copy that will sell it to the most possible readers.

With my own ducks finally in a row, and the tools at my disposal to go through my backlist and fix the mess that’s in there now, I’ve built this workshop to teach you what I’ve learned, and what I forgot until I asked the question that let me remember, and what I’m doing to get my own badly presented work in shape to start selling itself.

This is a three-week one-lesson-per-week workshop, and it’ll probably take you longer than three weeks to do the work. I’m not easy on myself, and I’m not going to be easy on you. I see my job as showing you how to get your work into the hands of your readers, so I’ve gone all-out to make sure you know the necessary skills to do it.

Every lesson is a lot of work, and while I’ve done everything I can to make this simple and clear, building the skills is on you, and that is going to take you a lot of practice.

I’ve built the practice into the workshop, just like I’ve built the testing into the workshop.

This is the sole Advanced-Writers-Only workshop I currently offer.

Are you an advanced writer? You are if you meet the following three criteria:

  • You have completed the story you want to sell. (Trying to do this workshop with a half-finished first-draft of a novel won’t work.)

  • You have revised the story. If you define revision as “removing excess adjectives and replacing forms of the verb “to be” and passive voice with stronger verbs and active voice,” you have not yet revised your story. (You need How To Revise Your Novel first.)

  • You have your story in a clean, edited-by-someone-else form. You can use free crowdsourced editing, an indie editor, or a pro editor, but never put a book on sale that hasn’t been debugged by eyes other than yours, no matter how meticulous you are.

I qualify as an advanced writer…

If you’re not done getting your story in shape yet, but you want to get the workshop now to get the best price, that’s fine.

Your class membership buys you permanent access as long as you keep your email address current. So your workshop will wait for you as long as you need it to, with no extra charges.

Just don’t get sucked into doing Stage Two Marketing until you have a finished Stage One Marketing:

  • Writing the best book you can right now,
  • Revising it to professional-caliber quality, and
  • Putting it through Qualified Third Party Editing.

But if you are ready, what will you get in the Title. Cover. Copy. Fiction Marketing Workshop?

In WEEK ONE, you’ll Build Better Fiction Titles in a complete start-to-finish step-by-step workshop.

You will:

  • Learn quick, efficient idea generation for titles that will connect with what your readers truly want

  • Use my stress-free process for building titles that will whet your readers’ desire

  • And effectively discover which of your titles will sell books, and which won’t BEFORE you put the wrong title on your cover, only to watch your story languish without sales for months

You’ll get the big PDF lesson with my step-by-step instructions, printable PDF worksheets, and the private workshop-only forum where you and fellow workshoppers will test your work and make it shine.

(By the way, you don’t have to complete this in Week One. There is, in fact, NO time limit on the lesson, or on the class.)

That’s a relief. Let me get this…

When you have your final round of six or seven battle-tested BEST titles, you’ll move on to…

WEEK TWO, where you will Create Eye-Catching Covers.

Whether you’re suffering from the budget constraints that mean you’ll be doing your own $5 covers for a while (and I do a lot of my own cover art, too) or you’re ready to hire an artist to paint original work for your book, you have to know:

  • What makes a cover good

  • What makes a cover bad

  • How to tell the difference

  • How to build or commission covers that will work for YOUR readers

  • And how to test them BEFORE you put your work on sale

It’s a lot to learn, but to make sure you do, you’ll receive:

  • The clear, step-by-step PDF lesson with cover-design explanations and examples

  • Idea and layout worksheets, with my before, during, and after demos

  • Hi-res and standard cover layout and design templates

  • In-class and out-in-the-wild cover-plus-title testing

  • The workshop forum with discussions, feedback, and help

  • Links to software and services that can make this process easier

I’ve seen HORRIBLE covers. I don’t want to make one!

Once you know you have the right title match with the right cover art, you’ll move on to …

WEEK THREE, where you will Write Kick-Butt Cover Copy.

This is the last step in Stage Two Marketing, and it’s a big one. You need to know how to create in your reader a driving need to know what happens next, and you have to be able to do it in 150 words. This is a killer skill, and you’ll have to practice hard to nail it. But I’ve made sure you’ll have:

  • A lesson that covers in step-by-step detail the breakdown of what—exactly—goes into killer fiction copy
  • And how you build it
  • Along with a stack of practice examples to let you work out the bugs in sample copy before diving into your own
  • The workshop forum where you can post your copy for help before testing it
  • And both private classroom and out-in-the-wild testing to give you solid proof on which of your copy will work, and which won’t

By the time you finish this workshop, you’ll have built the single proven title, cover, and copy that will sell your story to the most readers.

You’ll know that readers in your genre will step up to buy your story, because you’ll have the live test results from readers in your genre to prove it. So, once again, don’t do THIS step until you’ve made sure your story is as good at it CAN BE, or you’re going to get angry reviews from readers.

Title. Cover. Copy.

IMPORTANT: This class is specifically for writers who:

If your manuscript is UNFINISHED, or in RAW FIRST DRAFT, you’re not yet ready for this class.

This class includes: 

  • Live, ongoing, in-class workshop
  • Ebook in printable PDF format
  • Downloadable, printable PDF worksheets
  • Always-available Classroom* (retake this class alone or with other writers as often as you like)
  • Private, in-class Split Testing group
  • Forum Discussions, Brainstorming, and Help

You Can Do This!

Title. Cover. Copy.
Single Payment
Fiction-Marketing Workshop
Single Payment, Permanent Classroom Access
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Holly Lisle

Novelist, Writing Course Creator

Course Information

Course Instructor

Holly_Think Holly_Think Author

Novelist. Writing-course creator.