Book Marketing Case Study—Baby Ecology by Anya Dunham PhD
Learn how scientist Anya Dunham turned just 25 contacts into two speaking engagements, nine podcast appearances, four testimonials, 480 subscribers, and more than 750 followers.
Book Marketing Case Study-Baby Ecology Anya Dunham

Book Marketing Case Study—Baby Ecology by Anya Dunham PhD

In Baby Ecology, scientific researcher Dr. Anya Dunham applied her 20 years of experience studying and writing about ecology to analyze scientific studies on infant sleep, feeding, care, and play through the lens of ecology.

In this interview, Anya shares her marketing experience and advice after releasing her book in January 2022. Since then, she entered and won seven book awards and slowly grew her online connections, such as engaging with Reddit communities in her niche. She was also a guest on several small podcasts and on one podcast with a sizable audience.

Noteworthy to me is that much of her success began with contacting just 25 people. Nearly half replied positively to her query, and the results of that initial outreach (and beyond) are shared below.

1. David Wogahn: What type of research did you do for the topic of your book before you decided to write it? And how did this shape your thinking about writing and marketing?

Anya Dunham: My timeline was somewhat unusual: I intentionally spent almost 10 years researching and writing Baby Ecology. I first thought about writing it when my eldest child was born and I realized that a whole-picture, grounded-in-science, practical book to help parents during baby’s first year didn’t exist.

I spent a year refining the concept and thinking about the book’s structure; seven years reading, carefully analyzing, and summarizing hundreds of scientific studies on infant development, sleep, feeding, and play; and two years writing, editing, and getting the manuscript ready for publication. I mostly worked on my book late at night, when all the tasks of my day job as a scientist were completed and my growing family was asleep (luckily, I can drink coffee in the evenings and still function the next day!).

This process and timeline might sound tedious, but it allowed me to carve out a space where my mind and heart could intersect fully, to dive deep into the research, and to grow as a parent, scientist, and writer gradually and simultaneously. It also allowed me to understand the shifting trends in the parenting book market and to learn about the publishing process.

Anya Dunham-author of Baby Ecology

2. Did you establish a budget for marketing? Can you share those details?

I did not have a formal budget at the onset. My goal was to prioritize time-sensitive opportunities (such as book awards that only recently published books are eligible for) and then to experiment with different marketing approaches.

Foreword Indies Finalist AwardI entered Baby Ecology into eight book award competitions and won five, receiving a finalist status in the other three. I also ran a NetGalley promo before release date and a Goodreads giveaway a few months later; both resulted in only a couple of reader reviews. Finally, I ran Facebook ads for a few months to increase visibility.

At the moment, my only investment is the cost and time I put into growing my website, which I manage myself.

3. To what extent did you reach out to authors of similar books or to other professionals about reading your book and possibly offering a testimonial?

I reached out to 25 authors who either wrote parenting books or were scientists publishing primary papers in the field; 10 said they’d be happy to read Baby Ecology.

  • Four wrote testimonials
  • One wrote a testimonial and invited me for a speaking engagement
  • Three became social media contacts who regularly share my work and whose work I share
  • One became a social media contact and invited me for a speaking engagement
  • One recommended a colleague for me to reach out to, who subsequently wrote an Amazon review and interviewed me on an Instagram broadcast

4. Can you give us an idea about your use of social media and an email mailing list?

I created my website ( and became active on Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit just before I began marketing my book. On my book launch date, I had a few dozen followers: certainly not what most would consider a sizable platform! My approach has been, once again, to go slow and steady and to learn and experiment as I go.

I expanded and turned two chapters of my book into PDF guides that I offer on my website free of charge to anyone who subscribes to my email list. I’m enjoying creating short soundbites for social media channels and longer-form content for my blog.

I now have about 770 followers on social media and 480 newsletter subscribers. It’s not a very large number, but my newsletter open rate hovers around 70%, which tells me that most readers are actively interested in my work.

5. Can you point to one or two events or strategies that resulted in more sales or awareness than you expected?

As I mentioned, two of the authors whom I asked for endorsements offered me speaking engagements. One was an invitation to teach a workshop at an early-childhood education conference, and the other was an opportunity to be a guest on a top parenting podcast, Janet Lansbury’s Unruffled.

Both opportunities came up just over a year after my book was published, and both resulted in new professional connections and sustained increases in book sales. I am looking forward to presenting at the same conference again this year.

6. What other marketing, advertising, or promotional tactics have you tried and what were the results?

One of the most impactful things I did before launch (following the advice from The Book Review Companion) was offer free copies of Baby Ecology to an “early reader group” of local parents and professionals, asking them to post honest reviews on a platform of their choice.

I didn’t know anyone on my early reader list personally, but everyone knew I was local to them, and I hand-delivered the ARCs just before the winter holidays. Most readers left detailed, interesting reviews that, I think, are still helping my book find new readers who are most likely to enjoy it.

I wrote three articles for a local parenting magazine, West Coast Families. I also appeared as a guest on podcasts, nine so far, dedicated to various aspects of parenting, education, or family life (in other words, not specifically author- or book-centric).

All brought professional connections and book sales, and several conversations with hosts gave me new ideas for blog articles.

7. Now that the writing and publication process is behind you and you are actively marketing the book, do you think you would do anything differently the next time around?

In hindsight, I would start a website and become active on social media at least a couple of years prior to the book’s release. A sequential approach (write first, market after) is working for me because my book’s content is “evergreen.”

Although science always evolves, the concepts and studies that formed the foundation of my book—what human babies need from their physical environment and from people in their lives and how we can create the most nurturing environments for them—are well-established and unlikely to change in a significant way.

Yet, developing a platform ahead of time would have likely made marketing—something that doesn’t come naturally to me—easier.

About Anya Dunham

Anya Dunham has a PhD in biology and over 20 years of experience studying and writing about ecology, a discipline that explores how living organisms relate to one another and interact with their environment. She has published over 35 academic papers and book chapters, spoken about her research on radio and television, and taught university courses on study design. In Baby Ecology, she uses her research training to analyze scientific studies on infant sleep, feeding, care, and play through the lens of ecology.

Anya lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children, who inspire her to grow and learn every day.

Visit Anya at

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