How Marketing Helps Your Book Sell:

Book Marketing Basics for Writers

Writers need to take charge of book promotions

More than ever, writers nowadays need to take control of their book marketing strategy. Over and over, agents and editors tell us that publishers have shrinking budgets and staff devoted to marketing and promoting books. And yet, distressingly, I keep encountering writers who stubbornly refuse to do anything to help their books sell.

This is what I see all the time when a new (and even experienced ones!) writer has a book coming out. First they make a post on social media about the book title and cover reveal. Then a few months later, there’s another social media post about the publication date. And even more months later, on publication date, it’s an announcement that basically states: “Please buy my book.” The tone varies from hard selling to begging, neither of which are effective at all.

To many writers, this is the most they’ll be involved in their book marketing, so it’s no wonder that they think marketing doesn’t work when it comes to selling their books. However, what they don’t understand that what they’re doing isn’t book marketing at all. These are more like desperate measures.



A big reason that writers feel so uncomfortable with book marketing is that they don’t know what it actually is. They’re terrified at the thought of asking people to buy their book, but that's not marketing. That's sales. But there is a huge difference between sales and marketing. And whole most people can handle marketing, not many are equipped for sales.

The simplest and easiest way to distinguish between the two is to look at all their goals. Sales is about closing a deal and ensuring that a purchase is made. Marketing is about creating awareness and building relationships. While marketing is about you and your book, sales is about the customer and what they want or need.

A good book marketing strategy ensures that the right people know you and your book exist. It gives your supporters and fans a chance to feel invested in your success, because your success validates them.

Marketing takes a long-term view of things: you’re building relationships and connections that will help you for the rest of your career. You should consider your book as a way to invite others to connect with you. After all, has there ever been a fandom of a piece of writing or music that hasn’t also connected with the person who created them?

You need to tell people not just about your book but about yourself as a writer. It doesn’t mean sharing personal things about yourself (unless you want to) but it does mean letting people know what they can expect from you in terms of writing. 


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What are the typical marketing tools that you can use to promote your book? I've listed the most common and effective ones below. You've probably seen most, if not all, of these book marketing tools in action, and here's why they're used.


Direct marketing through e-mails, blogs, and social media

This is why everyone wants to collect e-mails, and it’s not to hard sell you into buying something. Instead, direct marketing is about building familiarity and trust: two of the most powerful marketing tools ever. This means providing content that people love, whether for its usefulness or entertainment value or emotional connection.

If you have a connection like this with your potential readers, they’re more likely to support you when you have a book to sell. Neil Gaiman is a pretty good example of someone who, whether consciously or not, relies on direct marketing to get people to buy his books.

Using influencers or people who are authorities

If you were ever on the debate team in high school, I’m sure you remember the fallacy “appeal to authority”. That may be a bad debate tactic but it’s an effective marketing one. This is why editors try to get blurbs or publicists try to get celebrities and respected bloggers to promote a book. Influencers (what a term) don’t sell your book for you, but association with people who are famous helps your book become more familiar and spreads awareness.

This is why books that got on Oprah’s Book Club always ended up selling well, it’s the power of Oprah’s authority.


Closely related to using influencers, this is one of the most effective ways to market your book: you get others to do it for you. There are studies showing that most people make their purchases based on recommendations from friends or trusted review sites. This is why musicians have street teams or fan clubs who do a huge part of their marketing simply by telling people they know. Beyonce could surprise launch her album and expect the Beyhive to help her spread the word and excitement.


One of the most basic marketing strategies, this is pretty self-explanatory. Advertisements can educate, inspire, or anger, but their main purpose is to spread awareness and familiarity, hence their need for ubiquity. The more familiar we are with something, the more we are likely to buy it.



However, it’s very important to remember that doing these activities without a proper book marketing strategy or marketing plan will NOT get you results. You’ll just be wasting time, effort, and money on isolated activities that may get you attention, but likely not many sales. I’ll be writing a future article on the importance of a strategy so subscribe to our newsletter now to get an alert when it comes out.

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To get started in your book marketing strategy, you need to have a personal brand. A personal brand will help you find a focus and direction for your marketing plan, so that each activity and event builds on the foundation of goodwill, support, and attention that the previous one creates.

If you don’t have a clear idea of your personal brand, you can download our free personal branding guide for artists and writers below. You can also contact us for a free 15-minute consultation if you’ve got specific marketing-related questions.


Personal Branding Basics Guide

A practical and informative guide that explains the importance of personal branding for artists, writers, and other creative entrepreneurs, with a step-by-step process to uncover your personal brand! Sign up with your name and email to download it right away!

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