Marketing with Integrity: 5 Tips On What Not To Do

Most writers prefer to focus on craft instead of marketing. But let’s face it. These days, authors need a platform to jump from in the publishing world. Without flexing the mammoth muscle of the internet, our publishing goals may not materialize.


I’m new in the business. I’ve written a memoir about having a baby with Down syndrome while living as a missionary in Ukraine. I’ve landed an agent. I now participate in the shaky step of pitching my project to editors.

And I’ve already committed marketing blunders.

Here are 5 tips on WHAT NOT TO DO in marketing.  

1. Don’t use your kids to get ‘likes.’ 

After my amazing agent Sarah Joy Freese encouraged me to attract more likes on my Facebook Fan page, I went a little nuts. I hosted a giveaway on my blog in exchange for Facebook likes and Twitter followers. I then convinced my four children to write and perform a “likes rap” video. They were cute. It was fun. It killed an afternoon at our house.

Giveaways and videos are great marketing tools. But I went overboard. I posted the video, and re-posted, and re-posted until my kids were even tired of watching themselves perform. My idea morphed into a “look at me” festival until a friend sent me a gentle message saying, “Really, Gillian? This isn’t you.”

2. Don’t spam.

Spam is no longer just canned pork.

According to, “Spam is any unsolicited commercial advertisement distributed online.” If you post links repeatedly on social media without engaging in community and conversation, you may be considered a spammer and people are going to find you annoying.

3. Don’t just ask. Give.

It is better to give than to receive. Let’s face it. People don’t care about us. Readers want a takeaway. They want perspective, a lighter mood, encouragement, escape.

In marketing, it is essential to give. Share links. Retweet. Interview people on your blog. Ask questions on your Facebook page. My writing tribe is best formed through reciprocal interaction and authentic interest.

4. Don’t market without a plan.

My marketing blunders have stemmed from too much excitement and lack of preparation. At first, I had no marketing plan. It’s difficult to have integrity at high-speed. Now, I try to step back and see the big picture. What marketing strategies will best utilize my schedule, gifts, and goals? I am no longer allowed to dream up an idea and run with it before a time of reflection, planning, and prayer.

5. Don’t forget to write.

Marketing pursuits easily swallow work hours. When my time is not structured, I blog, tweet, update statuses, and read about marketing. But I might not write.

Thus enters the need for limits. Some writers allow a half hour in the morning and again at night. Others (insert ME!) require a little extra help. Turning off the internet is a great tip. Author Media, a website dedicated to help writers build their platforms, has a post providing seven apps that assist a writer’s occasional lack of self-control.

What’s your marketing strategy? Do you have a blunder you’d like to share? Where are your boundaries when it comes to marketing integrity?

And would you like to use my children in a rap video? If so, contact me. (God’s still working on me.)

9 Replies to “Marketing with Integrity: 5 Tips On What Not To Do”

  1. Great article, Gillian! Gosh, marketing is so hard isn’t it? I feel as though I try and try and sometimes I make absolutely no head-way. It’s crazy but something we writers continually have to work on. I have found that once community and relationships with other authors is established, you have to consistently “feed” that union. Like you said, you have to “give,” and once you do so, you’ll also receive a lot in return. 🙂

  2. Great post, Gillian. This marketing thing is so hard to get right. I appreciate your transparency and your tips. Do you have a link to that video of your kiddos? I admit it, I’m a bit curious. 😉

  3. Super tips, Gillian. I’m in the middle of re-evaluating how I spend my time, and these are all on-the-nose important tips. I for one can’t wait to read your book–my second book involves a Ukraine immigrant, and I think I’m going on a mission trip to Ukraine in January. My roots run deep there. So I think I feel a bit of a kindred spirit with you. 🙂 Writing mercies and blessings!

  4. Great post, Gillian. These days, I feel a bit schizophrenic. One part family, one part new writing projects, one part social media, one part day job, one part editing current WIP, and a teeny part for writing. Pile on another part for studying the art of marketing, and I’m all over the place.

    The only thing that keeps me sane, and helps me juggle this crazy life I’ve come to love, is my relationship with Jesus Christ. I try to start and end my day focused on Him. If I don’t, then none of my parts work smoothly. But with Him, miracles happen.

    Congrats on your writing journey, I hope great things come of your book. Blessings!

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