Confronting the Number One Challenge to New and Existing Self-published Authors

If you were to ask several new self-published authors what has been their number one challenge since the release of their books, no doubt you will get the same response over and over again.  No matter how they choose to phrase the initial lack of book exposure and visibility, it all amounts to the same answer; difficulty in getting people to read and review their books.

Speaking from first-hand experience, I’ve had an extremely difficult time myself (with all my books).  I sell about a handful of different titles every month.  But for some reason, I fail to get any type of responses or feedback at all, let alone genuine book reviews (on Amazon or anywhere else).

I know and understand how prevalent a problem a lack of book reviews can be on Amazon.  For the most part, self-published authors typically hope to become Amazon best-sellers.  Yes, most of us understand that Amazon is not the only viable resource available to indie authors.  But many of us still find ourselves relying on our Amazon status and exposure, as a way to measure readership success.  On Amazon, this status is indicated by book reviews (or a lack of them).

A Question to Readers

This article post is part of my “Ask An Author” series that I promote on my website. My statements address what I believe to be the number one challenge to new and existing self-published authors.  Unfortunately, I can’t provide the remedy or solution to this challenging problem that is common among self-published authors. I don’t have the answer. I do, however, believe that the readers out there in cyberspace can truly help articulate what prompts them to leave a book review.  So my question to readers is:



I’ve personally engaged in a number of different book marketing activities over the years.  With each new release, I managed to improve on, and step up my marketing and promotional practices, with little to no results.  In some instances, I tried pre-marketing and promotion, before a title was even released, but in spite of any book sales obtained, still no one left reviews.  I’m more than willing to accept the possibility that the problem is somewhere in my actual writing, but how on earth will I know, unless I ever get reader feedback?

If you’d like respond to this article post, or have something in general to add, please add your comment below. You can also respond in the  QUORA forum, along with these related questions.

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Showcase Your Instagram Posts with an Attractive Landing Page

Being new to the Instagram community, I’ve been taking all kinds of advice from people who’ve been using the platform effectively. One of the things that I decided to do was create an attractive landing page to house all the links to my Instagram posts. Doing this has allowed me to provide some kind of order to the posts that I publish, and make them more visually easy to follow.

In all honesty, while the page looks super cool (to me anyway), I don’t really see the need for it right now, since Instagram does such a good job of showcasing the images. But just in case I discover how useful this page could be to me in the future, I set it up now, so it will be easier to manage and maintain.

Feel free to take a look at the page that I have hosted on my author website at and don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. The link is: http://charmbaker/instagrams.htm and you can leave a COMMENT BELOW.

Don’t forget to go to the actual Instagram site and follow Charmdbaker

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Instagram or Pinterest: Which Platform is Best for Undiscovered Authors?

Instagram and Pinterest can be useful tools for new black authors who are not that visible on the social media scene.  Speaking as an undiscovered black author myself, I am always in support of new and aspiring authors, no matter who they are, or what shade they happen to be.  But during this year of empowerment for women all over the globe, I especially look for creative ways to support black women like me. 

My two novels (Lights Out at the Moulin Rouge and Skipping Childhood) are as different as night and day.  One is a black entertainment novel, based on historical events and the other is a coming-of-age, dark suspense story. Yet both still have all the flavor of a good urban drama.  I’m looking forward to connecting with other new female authors of color, who can relate to writing this type of fiction.

So I’m glad I finally got smart this year, and have decided to become more active on social media, and hopefully, more visible.  Instead of my usual auto tweet storms on Twitter, I’ve elected to activate and begin posting on both Instagram and Pinterest.  The answer I hope to discover is which of the two is better for new authors.   

Instagram for Authors

Now that I have a few posts on Instagram and managed to snare a few Followers, readers will be able to find me among the other black authors of Instagram.  According to a recent web article in The Writing Cooperative , “In 2018 Instagram announced that user numbers had exceeded 1 billion, over 500 million of whom log into the network daily.”  In fact, the article went on to explain the studies that suggest Instagram users are “58 times more likely to comment on, like, or share a post than Facebook users and 120 times more likely than Twitter users. With stats like that (and climbing), there’s no doubt that Instagram is turning into a valuable platform for authors, whether they’re new or just undiscovered.      ”  Here’s what another source had to say about the use of hashtags on Instagram

One really notable thing about Instagram is the ability to use as many as 30 hashtags in one post.  This is a plus, especially since studies show that having at least 11 or more tags can earn you a much higher rate of engagement.  2019 Instagram features even allow you to add clickable hashtags (and usernames) to your bio!  Going forward, I plan to take advantage of this option, and get as much mileage out of this activity as possible.  For instance, to locate and FOLLOW Charm Baker on Instagram [#charmdbaker] here are some useful links:

#blackauthors  | #blackauthor  | #supportblackwomen  | #blackauthorsofinstagram

Pinterest for Authors

Up until this week, my Pinterest account (just like my Instagram account), lay dormant and with little to know previous activity.  Once I decided to get more vested in other social media sites besides Twitter, I began combing over online advice about Pinterest for authors.  Based on the search query that I used to conduct my research, I determined something interesting.  The most recent conversations I found about the benefits of Pinterest for authors were written in 2017.  I don’t know if this is a true indication of whether the benefits of Pinterest is on the decline for authors or not. 

Since my search wasn’t all that detailed, and I still found lots of positive advice about the site, I concluded that Pinterest is still a good option for authors.   On one site, I actually downloaded the “Louise Myers Pinterest Basics for Business eCourse” and put it in my follow up later folder.  I came across the information when I was searching, trying to determine the best size to use for my pins. 

I spent a little time going through some of my photos and potential pins, and resized most of them (600/900) based on Pinterest’s 2-3 ratio, quoted on the Louise Myer site.  This information was really useful, in addition to the two common tips that everyone kept mentioning:

  • Don’t underestimate the value of adding a “Follow Me” button to your pages.
  • Don’t forget to include a “Pin It” button to your website, blog, or content.

Apparently, some Pinners decide to do either, or, when it comes to providing a “Follow Me” or a “Pin It” button.  But the experts encourage you to use BOTH.  While you definitely want the viewers to Follow you on your other social media platforms, don’t just leave it at that.  Take advantage of the potential followers you can get when you make it easy and convenient for others to share your pins with a “Pin It” button.  Doing this could really help an author gain a whole lot more visibility.

#undiscoveredauthors  #selfpublishedauthor  |   #blackauthors  | #blackauthor  | #supportblackwomen

Social Media Benefits

Whether or not Instagram turns out to be better for this author than Pinterest is, still remains to be seen.  Going forward in the coming months, I plan to monitor both sites closely.  My goal is to analyze and compare the results from week-to-week, after a full week of posting and engaging with members.  Please be sure to return to this site and check out my ongoing progress so you can determine for yourself whether Instagram or Pinterest is better for an author.


Be sure to share your own views after reading this article and tell us whether you feel Instagram or Pinterest is better for new authors.

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Nipsey Hussle: His Community Will Not Forget

Nipsey Hussle’s funeral and memorial services were held today at the Los Angeles Staples Center, located just a few miles from where I live.  This was of interest to me, as a #blackauthor and also just as a person of color. According to an article in The Grapevine, the free tickets to the 21,000 seat arena ran out in minutes.  So while some people opted for hanging around, outside the Staples Center, paying their respects over there; his other fans, friends, and mourners took an alternate route. 

Black Community Support

I’m a resident of South Central Los Angeles, and sometimes I forget just how interesting this city can seem to people who don’t live here.  So much goes on in Cali, and the black community where I live, that much of the time, it’s like background noise (or music, depending on what it is).  Anything dealing with sports and entertainment in the black community where I reside, is usually notable by the numerous tee-shirt sales and whatever the particular message is. 

One thing about the black community, regardless of what others think: we really can come together when we have a common cause.  Since this is the case with black celebrities who aren’t necessarily from around here, it’s doubly the case when it’s all about one of our own.  Today I walked through the South Central, Crenshaw District where Nipsey Hussle was known and revered. I assure you, this man’s community will not forget him.

Defining Our Own Heroes

As I approached Crenshaw and Slauson, the area where he was killed, hundreds had come to memorialize him. I could only get so close. I was barely able to snap a few photos, due to the crowd and crowd control officers on the scene [They’ll be posted on my Instagram and Pinterest pages]. 

The news cameras all showed up in full force, all eager to get some good footage, and spin the narrative about what they were seeing, depending on their politics.  At first I was a bit irritated, as I looked around at the strong police presence and the thirsty paparazzi.  Then I smiled to myself as I realized how the negative “thug rapper” narrative wouldn’t really fly with the people who matter.  I smiled, because black people are finally getting to a point where we define our heroes.  Regardless of whatever tainted view that others may try and convey, to the community that Nipsey did so much for, he will go down as a black fallen hero.   

Seeing My Community

Instead of sticking around and praying that no violence would jump off (like a few days earlier), I decided to walk back to where I live, taking photos of stuff I see every day in my community.  The more I looked, the more I truly saw.  Along the way, I saw more and more evidence to convince me that although he may be gone, Nipsey Hussle will not be forgotten in his community.


To view more of my images from today’s walk through the hood, visit and follow my Instagram and Pinterest pages. #blackauthor | #blackcommunity

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Author Branding When it’s Time to Re-invent Yourself

There is much work to do, since I’ve dedicated the entire year of 2019 to trying to establish and build my author brand. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is time to re-invent myself.

Like mostly everything else that I’ve discovered in life, I’m learning about author branding all on my own. That’s not to say that I’m above taking advice from smarter and more accomplished writers and authors than me. I’m not. I read, watch videos, and search diligently for tips and advice. In fact, I live for discovering new and better ways to do things in life, especially things that involve being a better writer and self-published author. But even when you’re open and willing to accept help from others in your trade, some things you’ll still have to learn for yourself.

Author Branding Activities

I’m slowly but surely discovering that there are a lot of useful activities that authors can engage in, in order to help with establishing their author brand. One crucial thing I’ve learned is, before you start spending time and energy promoting your brand, you better be certain that it’s really the kind of brand you actually want to promote. For instance, I’ve written some pretty dark stuff in one of my novels (Skipping Childhood), and also in my Amazon short read (One Bad Deed).

Going forward, this is definitely not the kind of stuff I want to continue writing about on a regular basis. My latest novel (Lights Out at the Moulin Rouge) is a much lighter read; the kind I could see myself continuing to do). As far as fiction writing goes, although I definitely plan to continue along these lines, I’ve actually come to a realization about writing non-fiction. I enjoy it, just as much as writing fiction, and there’s no reason I can’t do both.

Re-inventing Yourself

Now that I’m sold on continuing as a non-fiction writer, in addition to writing fiction, I think I need to do a little re-inventing of myself. So how does an undiscovered author go about this in a logical way? How do you re-invent yourself so people don’t get confused about you and your brand? That’s the answer I’ll be looking for in the coming days. Hopefully, I can find a way to bring my writing projects and activities together in such a way, that I don’t end up making my “brand” seem too all over the place.

Self-promotion Branding

I’ve thought of some creative ways that I’ll be looking to do a little self-promotion, as part of my online branding activities. One way is to provide answers to helpful questions on my author website, especially topics related to my preferred categories, like:

The above topics are covered on my author website, in a section I call: “Ask an Author“. Be sure to pop over to the site and feel free to read some of the subjects I’ve covered so far.

New Social Media Presence

One important thing I’m doing for myself this year, as a struggling undiscovered author, is attempting to grow my social media following. To do this, as part of my re-inventing Charm campaign, I’m actually taking steps to create a new social media presence. So don’t be surprised if Twitter isn’t the only place you’ll be seeing @charmbaker and/or #charmdbaker tags. In addition to joining and posting Pins on Pinterest, I’ve also started posting to Instagram.

My reaction to the site? I absolutely love it!!! As usual, I’m the last to get on the band wagon. But I took some smart advice that I found online, and I’ve set up a cool landing page with links to all my Instagram posts. I even organized them, so don’t hesitate to visit and take a look.

If you’d like to help me improve and grow my author brand, feel free to provide comments, feedback, or simply take a moment to share this post, website, or other related Charm Baker links. And of course, buying my books and leaving Amazon reviews would be HUGELY appreciated. Thanks for reading.

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Defining Author Brand and How to Embrace Your Particular Brand of Crazy

What does an author’s brand mean to their readers, and how would that definition involve embracing your own brand of crazyPublisher’s Weekly defines brand in this way:

“A brand is a promise; it’s what readers expect from an author.” 

If you’re the kind of writer who only likes to churn out romance books or crime novels, then you probably won’t have too much trouble when it comes to author branding.  Your writing is so specific that your author brand lives up to the definition spelled out in the article.  But what if that is not the case, and you’re an author who hasn’t settled on a genre, even after publishing three different works of fiction.  How does that affect your brand, if you even have one? 

Defining Author Brand

Author Charm Baker's first 3 self-published novels

Defining your author brand as a fiction writer is not necessarily an easy task, unless you already know (for absolute sure) what you want to consistently write about.  Branding becomes a problem when you publish three totally unconnected novels, not by genre, tone, setting, content, or anything else.  Since 2014, I self-published the following titles:

  • Experimenting With Murder [A novel about a billionaire scientist who discovers mermaids on his isolated New Zealand island.  The murder of a colleague also occurs, in addition to the gruesome experiments he conducts on the aquatic creatures].  This book was listed as a Fantasy/Sci-fi Thriller (more or less).  I’m currently doing a re-write of the book, so I took this title off the market]
  • Skipping Childhood [Actually a blend of an urban, coming-of-age novel, if not for the “serial killer” element it contains, causing me to list it as more of a Suspense/Thriller]
  • Lights Out at the Moulin Rouge [Based largely on true historic events surrounding the first racially integrated Las Vegas Moulin Rouge casino, though the content was delivered in more of a whimsical way, and focused mostly on the entertainment element.  Listing the book was hard because I used a fantasy approach to convey a factual, historical story.]

As you can tell from the book descriptions above, there is no continuity of genre from one book to the next.  About the only similarity in the 3 books, is that each one is based on or inspired by real life facts.  The first novel was inspired by televised mermaid theories and whale beachings.  The second novel was based on actual childhood events related to abuse (though the murders are all fiction).  The third book was the result of tons of actual internet research.  Other than the truth-based elements I like to inject into my writing, nothing else may seem to match.  So the question is, “what can readers expect from this type of author brand?” 

As I began to consider this question, I began to slowly but surely go into panic mode.  I know from experience, it’s hard enough building a readership base to begin with, that is why it is equally important, that your readers have a reason to anticipate your next book.  Does that have to mean that if you write suspense, your next release should be suspense, and everything after that?  Not in my book (pun intended).  

Publishing Expectations

Readers have a right to have certain publishing expectations, when it comes to authors they enjoy reading.  But authors should be able to write whatever they’re inspired to write.  Defining your author brand shouldn’t have to amount to you being a cookie cutter and releasing a slew of similar but different books, or all written in similar ways.  I’m an author who views author branding as learning to embrace your own particular brand of crazy, whatever that happens to be.  For me personally, that spells diversity. 

Regardless of any publishing expectations, I want to be able to write about what I’m inspired to write at the time and not about what I’m expected to write.  I experienced that type of under the gun writing when I wrote freelance articles and did ghostwriting for clients.  The most enjoyable writing for me in the past was when no publishing expectations were involved.  When you’re not careful, expectations can lead to the kind of pressure that interferes with a writer’s true creativity.

Since I’m still an undiscovered author, my views about brand may seem naive to some readers, but I stand by them.  As we all know, times are always a changing, and that includes how things work in the publishing industry.  These days, there is never just ONE right way to do things.  So even if my brand of crazy doesn’t appeal to one type of reader, it will surely appeal to another.  If an author’s brand is known to be diverse and flexible, perhaps all they need are diverse and flexible readers. 

Solidify Your Brand

When new and emerging authors have representation by an agent or traditional publisher, they usually get the right branding help they need.  But when and if that happens, you may have already written and self-published multiple titles (like in my case).  My solution for myself, and suggestion to similar authors; keep working to define, establish and solidify your author brand.  Diversity in your writing output doesn’t have to be a negative. 

This past November, when I began to truly consider what author branding meant to me, it caused me to hit a road block in my writing.  I questioned whether or not I should have been working on the writing project that I was involved in at the time.  I wondered did it make more sense to try and write a sequel to one of the previous novels, or at least something along similar lines.  In the end, I stopped what I was working on, and didn’t write anything at all. 

In hindsight, I realize the best thing for me, is to just write.  Fantasies, suspense, whatever…  As long as I connect with the right type of reader, someone will be there to appreciate my particular brand of crazy.

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us

Publishing Industry Professionals Connecting With Undiscovered Authors

Book marketing is a crucial element in the publishing industry. I’m one author who has come to appreciate that good author branding (or lack of it) will directly relate to your book sales. This is true whether you’re a self-published author, or your title(s) have been published through traditional means. A Publisher’s Weekly article on the subject, defined author branding this way: “…brand is a promise; it’s what readers expect from an author. “

Book Marketing Takes Many Forms

One all important thing for new and undiscovered authors to know about book marketing is that it takes many forms. Obviously, actually selling books is a big part of marketing, but it also includes other important activities. Networking, advertising, and self-promotion is all par for the course when you’re a serious author. You have to take action if you don’t want to remain undiscovered.

For my future titles, I’ll be seeking professional help with author branding and book marketing. Branding and book marketing experts can provide valuable insight that authors tend to overlook, like the need to commit to a genre and stay in one lane. But whether you have an agent or publicist representing you or not, you still need to be brand aware. As an author, you must be just as committed to the marketing and branding of your books, as anyone you hire. Unfortunately, many authors (myself included) learn this fact the hard way. We tend to want to do everything ourselves when we’re just starting out. But all your activities and hard work will usually be in vain, unless you already have connections to publishing industry influencers.

Publishing Industry Influencers

Publishing industry service providers are typically professionals with some type of influence. New and undiscovered authors are always looking to connect with expert service providers who can help with their writing careers. Now authors and providers can get together right here and make it happen. I’m even looking for a variety of service providers for my own current work-in-progress. Just notice my author’s “WISH LIST“.  I hope to make some useful connections that can help me do a better job of defining and establishing my author brand.

Do you fall into one of the service provider categories listed below? This is just a small list of publishing industry related services that aspiring and undiscovered authors need. If you provide any of these quality services, you’re invited to join the Author Branding Club so your business can be included in the Member directory being created.

  • Agents
  • Editors
  • Publishers
  • Publicists
  • Graphic Artists
  • Proofreaders
  • Beta Readers
  • Book Reviewers
  • OTHER Related Service Providers

This is a great place for publishing industry professionals to help more authors with book marketing and other ways to develop their brand.


Author Branding Strategies

Author branding should mean more to you than just a marketing term when you are a new or undiscovered author. If you’re trying to step things up in the publishing industry, you have to learn how to stand out from the crowd so you can be noticed. That means being prepared to try different activities, to help promote yourself (your brand). 

This club is for you, whether you’re a newbie, or you’ve been around for awhile and you’re just frustrated.  As the list grows, you should be able to find useful resources related to the self-publishing industry. I plan to respond to any Questions and Comments posted, and offer helpful tips, specifically about Amazon. I’ve learned a whole lot about publishing with them over the years, including topics like:

  • Using Amazon Publishing Tools
  • Book Meta Data
  • KDP Pre-orders
  • KDP Select
  • Amazon Author Pages

But even if you plan to use traditional publishing, JOIN the Author Branding Club today. The right Editor, Agent, or Publisher could be looking for you right now.


Don’t forget to make a little time to post COMMENTS and SHARE your thoughts on the page designated as the NETWORK BOARD.

PLEASE: Remember to Share & Like Us