Marketing Book About Adult Siblings



czlko6iw8aucqzoBublish, the distributor of my book The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives, decided with authors’ okay to discount ebooks to $.99 for the holidays.  (The original price:  $7.99.)  Not a bad idea!  Everything else on the planet is discounted for the holidays.

Now at .$99, there’s little chance of making any money, but there is the opportunity for authors to expand their reader base.  With a revised edition of Dead Serious: A Book for Teens About Teen Suicide slated for publication in 2017, I need all the readers I can round up.

So, discounting the sibling book made a lot of sense.  We authors are usually not very good at marketing, but, in this age of online public relations and high fees for “professional” publicists, we’ve had to suck it up and learn the tricks of the trade.

Before the discount, the sibling book’s ranking on Amazon was a dismal 72, or something like that.  I’d stopped checking months earlier but took a peek just before the holiday sale.

But then the good stuff happened, and the book shot up to #4.  That wasn’t without some help from a number of online book sites that feature free and discounted books.  Sites like and  (Cute name, eh?)

I was riding high there for a time and looking forward to the next week or two when a host of other sites would be featuring my book.  Many of the sites promote a title for free but usually just for a day. Sometimes, for an additional $7.95, the marketing can be extended for a week or more.  And then there are sites like and that can cost up to $49 with “promises” of reaching thousands of readers via their Twitter and Facebook accounts and sometimes with direct emails.

By the time I finished doing my due diligence, I’d signed up for 9 sites and waited to see if my book was “accepted” by another 2. (I’m still waiting.)

To date, it would take selling 220 copies of my book to break even.  Granted, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but my book sales have been sluggish and far below what I’d expected.

So, did I spend my money for naught?  What now?  Well, I’ve got new marketing “campaigns” lined up until the end of the month.  Who knows: maybe there will be a holiday rush when all those last-minute shoppers realize that they will be going home to spend time with family and need some help in surviving the potentially rocky connections with their siblings.  What with the election and all, there are bound to be even more hurdles this year.  Sister Sally may have voted for you-know-who.  Or Brother Dan may have pulled the lever for Jill Stein.  Or maybe the Bernie supporter decided to stay home.

Oy vey!

Stay tuned: when all the hoopla is over, when siblings have returned from whence they came, and the $.99 discount and online marketing have expired until the next go-round, I’ll tally up the numbers  and maybe even have a few bucks to spend on my book club’s next book for January.


Pros and Cons of the $.99 Book

Well, here it is holiday time—time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Shop Your Local Stores . . . The list continues.

So, what’s an author to do?  The goal, of course, is to expand readership and sell books.  When the standard social media PR seems to have turned into a steady but unimpressive drip, the author faces a dilemma:  sell your book for full price (in, my case, a whopping $7.99 for an ebook) or discount the book to a meager $.99 for a limited time in the hopes that a new cadre of readers will plop down their change and buy the book.

I decided to take the plunge: my book is on sale now for $.99.  My rationale?  There must be folks out there who want to better understand their sibling connections.  There must be brothers and sisters out there who think gifting an ebook during the holidays makes a terrific (and inexpensive) gift.  There have to be potential readers who’ve held off downloading the book but may be motivated now.

Alas, slapping a $.99 sticker price for The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives is just the first step.  I mean, who will know about the sale?  You’ve clubbed followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin . . .  By now, after a year, they are sick and tired of tweets and posts about everything sibling.  Believe me, I’ve had to dig hard to find new takes on a single theme.

So, yes, I’ll let those followers know.  But it’s time to spread my wings.  What’s next?  What’s next is signing up—sometimes for free, sometimes not—for as many recommended online book sites that promote discounted and free books to what they promise are thousands and thousands of potential readers.  Finding the best sites isn’t always easy but, as is often the case, there are sites like “Best Promotion Sites 2016” geared toward authors.

So, I’ve spent hours filling out forms, writing my biography as a writer, descriptions of my book, online bookstores that currently sell my book . . .  And who knows what the increased sales may be?  Sure not me.  The #1 site on this list is BookBub.  Yes, listing there which, I read, is not a guarantee costs money.  Lots of money.  The estimate to list/promote my non fiction book about family relationships is almost $500.  Are they kidding?  I’ve only made $500 in royalties so far after handing off 10% to my distributor, Bublish.  So, BookBub is out!

Other recommended sites such as Book Reader Magazine, Discount Book Man, Book of the Day, Just Kindle Books, Your Book Promoter and more are often happy to list your book for one day for free but offer other paid programs for as low as $7.95.  For example, Book of the promises the following:

  • 3 times as much traffic as Unfiltered.
  • Your cover and description will be included in our newsletter.
  • Posts will be sent to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • Your book gets a full page on our main site with no external ads.
  • Displayed in the category of your choice.
  • Your book page can include video and links to Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo.
  • You’ll be featured on the Front Page for at least one day.
  • You’re eligible for the Trending and Top Ten displays.
  • Your book will appear in our slider at the bottom of every page.
  • If you have more than one book on our main site, they’ll be cross-referenced at the bottom of each book’s page.
  • You can post an author profile with links to social media and your website.
  • You can use our automatic interface to announce a sale on the Special Offers page. (Also adds a sticker on your book’s page.)

You’re eligible for our Native Advertising Program, a 21-day tour around our site. (Additional charge.)

Of course, it’s an additional charge,  I have no idea what a “Native Advertising Program” might be (selling to Native Americans?), but I’m going to take a pass.

So, what the heck?  I’ll have to sell 8 books to break even, but it’s worth a shot.

While I can’t monitor the success of this listing and others on most online sites, I can check my ranking on Amazon.  Alas, when I looked this morning, my ranking had dropped since last week before I signed up for these free and not-so-free book promotion sites.  Not an encouraging start.  In fairness, most of the sites have not yet listed my book.

This is just one more wait-and-see stabs at selling books.  Authors who dreamed of sitting in some delightful, peaceful space and just writing, have another thing coming.  The work of a successful author is never done.  Unless she is lucky enough to have an aggressive publisher who thinks it can make some money off of your book, you are stuck:  Either do the marketing or settle for a job well done but one that floats out there in the ethernet all by itself.





So, you know the rub:  Adult only children are spoiled, bossy, selfish, dependent, and grow up too damn fast.

Well, it ain’t so.  At least, that’s what leading sibling researchers like Toni Falbo, author of The Single-Child Family, have found.

“When a person finds out that someone is an only child, they make certain assumptions about them, perhaps that they’re antisocial, shy, or egotistical. Yet when looking at hundreds of studies, I was able to conclude that, on average, only children are like other people. If there are any differences, they are that onlies are more human-motivated and have more self-­esteem.”—Toni Falbo, The Single-Child Family”


Excerpt From: Jane Mersky Leder. “The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives.” iBooks.









Now, I’m married to an only.  My son is an only child as well.  And I must admit: There have been many times when I’ve tried to rationalize some . . . well, rather unbecoming behavior . . . by blaming it all on the fact that they didn’t grow up with brothers and sisters and missed all of the sibling stuff that molds our characters and so many important decisions we make in our lives.  I mean, why wouldn’t an adult only child be spoiled when she was the center of her parents’ undivided attention?  Or, pray tell, wouldn’t an only child grow up to be a rather awkward adult herself without having benefited from those social skills we hone growing up with siblings?

Toni Falbo, the above-mentioned author and professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and faculty research associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin, helped me set the record straight.

“A lot of people,” she said in a phone interview, “see life as a zero-sum game, in which there is only one answer, one winner, and many losers. So if I say that only children grow up to be like the rest of us, they see it as if only children have won and everybody else has lost. Or, conversely, if somebody says that having siblings is great, then not having sibs is terrible. In fact, life isn’t like that at all; there are many ways of living and growing, of having social networks.”

After decades of research, Falbo concluded that only children were not markedly different from children with siblings. In fact, only children were slightly more verbal, were good students and were not the arrogant centers of the universe.

So, though it’s unscientific to state absolutes about adult onlies, there are stereotypes that are, for most, unfounded myths.




Myth: Only children are aggressive and bossy.

Fact: Only children want to be included and well liked. They learn quickly that being aggressive and bossy pushes potential friends away.

Myth: Only children are spoiled.

Fact:  Researchers have found that only children are not particularly spoiled and that there is no difference in only children’s relationships with friends when studied with children who have siblings.

Myth: Only children are selfish.

Fact: At one time or another, any child can be selfish and think of only himself/herself. Yet parents with one child help cultivate the tools of sharing and feeling for others and can be the best early teachers.

Myth: Only children are dependent.

Fact: Only children are often more independent and self-reliant than children with siblings because they don’t have siblings to depend on.

Myth: Only children grow up too quickly.

Fact: Children with siblings often talk to their siblings more than they talk to their parents. But the most important role model for only children are parents. The result is that only children copy adult behavior, speech patterns, and behavior. This often helps them handle the ups and downs of life more easily.


Do you have anything to add to the conversation?

Excerpt From: Jane Mersky Leder. “The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives.” iBooks.