Author Archives: Kelly Schuknecht

About Kelly Schuknecht

I have over a decade of experience in publishing and book marketing. I post book reviews at Read & Tell Reviews ( and blog here about writing, publishing and book marketing.

Writing Your First Book: Lessons From The Lean Startup

Guest Post by Jacqueline Jensen, author of Travel Isn’t the Answer: Live With a Sense of Curiosity, Passion, and Awe Anywhere and Everywhere.

*This post originally appeared on 

“What is the hardest part about writing a book?”

As I’ve read interviews and talked to writers, their answers range from challenges landing a publishing deal and feeling overwhelmed as a slow writer, to fears around vulnerability and the struggle to shed self-doubt. Will people read the book? Will my ideas resonate with anyone?

Most writers I have come across tell me writing a book is both extremely rewarding and at the same time one of the biggest challenges they have ever taken on.

When I decided to write my first book, I came across an ideation framework that made perfect sense to me as a former venture-backed startup founder. Even better, many of challenges I heard from experienced authors seemed to be helped along with a new approach, too.

The idea is simple, but powerful: Test your idea for a book before investing too much of your time actually writing the book.

In the startup world, we call this The Lean Startup methodology. Tech entrepreneurs around the globe have followed principles introduced by Eric Ries, an entrepreneur and author of the New York Times bestseller The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business.

Rather than create a product – or write a book – in isolation, Ries says that by getting ideas out into the world as quickly as possible, we rapidly see what works and can discard what doesn’t without too much invested effort.

While it may make sense to some of us to start with an idea for something we think people may want and then spend time building it, there’s a better way. What if we publicly shared the idea in its most basic form to hear what people think? What if we chose to create smarter, not work harder?

This rudimentary form of an idea is called an MVP. In the tech world, a “minimum viable product” is a version of a new product that is used to collect the maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort. In this new world of writing my first book, my book’s MVP would take the form of a 30-day pre-order campaign to gather feedback about the idea.

I connected with the team at Publishizer to get started on creating the campaign. We explored how we could move fast and embrace the idea of failing quickly, which for someone new to publishing like me felt both a little scary and incredibly bold.

“We are a NYC-based startup and crowdfunding platform that has helped hundreds of authors get published,” said Lee Constantine, Head of Growth at Publishizer. “Authors have used Publishizer to earn over $1 million in funds. Our goal is to enable exciting new book ideas and help authors land an advance-paying publisher. We launched in 2014 and graduated from 500 Startups Batch 13 in Mountain View, CA. We pride ourselves on working with world-class thought leaders, speakers, coaches, investors, and people doing interesting things.”

Within weeks, I had a Publishizer campaign page ready for the pre-order launch on September 15, 2017. I filmed a video explaining a bit more about the book idea, worked with a designer to create a book cover, and conducted research on the potential market. I even asked a creative I admire to partner with me. Carl Richards, New York Times Sketch Guy columnist, agreed to write the foreword and produce original sketches for the book!

During this process, I have felt the same fears, doubts, and challenges as the experienced authors I look up to. I realized my initial urge to plan every step before unveiling a finished book was because I was stepping into the unknown. I wanted to avoid failure. However, the secret key to creating something awesome is to get the feedback necessary early on to make it great!

During the creation of the campaign, I reminded myself over and over that the goal wasn’t to create a final product. My focus was to share budding ideas, create a space for feedback, stretch my assumptions, and show up with a learner’s eye. Bringing the “experimentation-first” mindset I cultivated at tech startups has been just what I needed jump start momentum in this new adventure.

How have you tackled new creative projects? What have you learned by sharing ideas before they are fully baked? I’d love to hear from you!

Jacqueline Jensen
Jacqueline Jensen is a digital nomad, former venture-backed startup founder, speaker, and recognized community builder. Jacqueline’s next ambitious project ispublishing her first book. Watch her TEDx talk “Playing nicely with fellow entrepreneurs pays off.” Jacqueline’s interests include travel, yoga, entrepreneurism, startups, and learning to code. You can connect with her at@JackieMJensen or on LinkedIn.



Featured Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


5 Ways to Promote Your Non-Fiction Book

In my last post I discussed 5 Ways to Promote Your Fiction Book.  Although some of those tactics will work for non-fiction books as well, I thought I’d talk more specifically about non-fiction book promotion this week.

This should go without saying, but I’ve seen a lot of bad titles and a lot of bad covers out there.  Choose your title carefully and don’t settle for an ugly cover.  These two things are extremely important when it comes to a potential reader’s first impression of your book.

Once you have a great title, an amazing cover and killer content, you’re ready to launch your book!  Here are five ways to promote your non-fiction book:

  1. Reviews — Getting reviews for your book will help increase its ranking on Amazon. Offer the book for free through KDP for a few days.  During that time, contact your email list to let them know about the promotion and ask them to review the book.  Use to get the word out to “free kindle” sites.  For more on this tactic, visit CreativINDIE with Derek Murphy.
  2. Pricing Strategy — Another great tactic Derek Murphy mentions is having a pricing strategy.  Offering your book at a low price point (i.e. $0.99) for a period of 30 days will encourage sales and build some momentum.
  3. Press Release Distribution — Put out a press release and distribute it through PRWeb. I am not a super big fan of the old fashioned press release approach (don’t expect news about your book to hit the front page of a major newspaper), but as Cathy Presland shares in her post “50 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Promote Your Book,” PR distribution can help create some backlinks to your website.
  4. Book Launch Party — Schedule a book launch party at a local coffee shop or bookstore.  Be sure to bring plenty of copies of your book so you can sell signed copies, and have bookmarks or business cards on-hand with all of the information about your book and where to buy it.
  5. Guest blog posts — Seek out bloggers in your field.  Follow them and connect with them on social media.  Reach out to them and ask if they accept guest posts for their blog.  You can write posts on topics related to your book (if not specifically about the book) and include a link to your website in your bio.  Beth Barany shares some great tips on on running a blog tour.

Again, these are just a few ideas to get you started.  Networking with other writers and published authors is always a good idea no matter what phase of the process you are in. Get involved in a community of writers, whether it be a local writing group, a national organization or an online forum so you can network, get tips and advice and swap ideas.

Not sure where to start?  WritePubChat is an online Slack community just for writers who want to discuss writing, publishing, book marketing with other writers.  Join us!

Featured image courtesy of James Barker

5 Creative Ways to Promote Your Fiction Book

When it comes to writing fiction, you may love the writing process but not know where to begin when it comes to promoting the book once it’s published.  Hopefully you already have a website and have established your presence on a few social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).  If you have all of those things going for you already, it’s time to get an outside perspective on the appearance.  Ask a friend to review your sites and give you feedback on how they look.

  • Do they look professional?
  • Is the branding consistent?
  • Is it clear to visitors that you are an author?
  • Is it easy to find a link to the book?

Kimberley Grabas, founder of, offers an awesome tutorial on building your author brand, including a “Brand Identity Checklist” for more things to consider as you polish your online presence.

Once your presence is perfected, here are five creative ways to promote your book:

  1. Run a Goodreads giveaway — Kate Tilton, founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC, provides an excellent guide on how to set up a Goodreads giveaway, including paperback, hardback or ebook copies.
  2. Create a Book Video Trailer — You can create your own video or have one created for you.  Once you have a book video, BookBaby offers 15 tips for promoting your book with a book trailer.
  3. Try Facebook Advertising — Surely you’ve noticed ads on Facebook.  Facebook makes it very easy to set up ads, boost posts, promote likes, etc., and all while targeting your specific/unique audience.  Joanna Penn, indie-author, speaker and entrepreneur, shared a helpful post on 5 ways authors can use Facebook Advertising.
  4. Get interviewed on a podcast — According to Katie Wyatt, podcaster and speaker, “a podcast is a supreme opportunity to maximise the launch of your book.” Start by reading Katie’s tips for promoting your book with a podcast, researching podcasts that might be a good fit for your book, and writing a pitch letter to send out to podcast hosts.
  5. Leverage your book reviews — Post your reviews in the Editorial Review section of your book’s Amazon page, on your website and social media.  This post on provides more advice on leveraging your review to promote your book.

These are just a few things to get you started.  Networking with other writers and published authors is always a good idea no matter what phase of the process you are in. Get involved in a community of writers, whether it be a local writing group, a national organization or an online forum so you can network, get tips and advice and swap ideas.

Not sure where to start?  WritePubChat is an online Slack community just for writers who want to discuss writing, publishing, book marketing with other writers.

Featured image courtesy of Lou Levit