The Absolute Basics of Book Marketing

When I started writing my book, I had no idea that I would have to market it. Wouldn’t that be the publisher’s problem? Absolutely not!

While I had no idea how to market and sell books, I was able to start from what I had learned about marketing from a prior job in health care marketing.

The place almost everyone starts when thinking about how to market any product is with the four Ps:

  • Product
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion

Your product, of course, is your book. The quality of the content, cover design, and layout go into creating a product people will want to buy.

Place is where your book is sold. Traditional bookstores and online outlets are the obvious ones.

The Price of your book will impact buying decisions. Some authors offer free or 99 cent copies just to get some sales going, and raise the price once they get some buzz about their book.

Promotions are all the ways you get your book noticed. Book signings, speaking engagements, giveaways, blog tours, press releases, media appearances and interviews and advertising are ways to promote a book.

The first thing to notice here is that marketing is much more than advertising. Placing ads is just one way to promote your book.

Thinking about the 4 P’s will help you put together your marketing plan.

Let’s start with product. The first thing is to write a quality book, so you have a product you can be proud of and want to sell. But like with any product, the packaging has a big impact on buying decisions. Your book cover is your packaging, so make sure it works for you, catching the eye of potential buyers, enticing them to pick up your book (or click on the image) to learn more. In the same way, your back cover copy has one job: to sell the book.

Place is more than the traditional book store, and it’s even beyond the online retailers. Place can be a church basement, where you give a talk about your book. Or if your book is about the life of a famous ski champion, the local ski supply store might be interested in selling your book. A little creative thinking about place could generate lots of sales.

With more electronic options out there, fewer people are willing to pay $15 or more for a paper book. You will have to think about different pricing for different versions, or even discounts and giveaways.

Which brings us to promotions. The possibilities are endless. You could offer (for a limited time) free or 99 cent copies. You could start speaking about your topic or book, and sell books at the end of your talk. Some authors have done very well with book signings; others think it’s a waste of time. You won’t know unless you try what will work for you.

Most independent authors look for promotions that won’t cost much, which leaves out most advertising. But there are plenty of other ways to promote a book. One great resource I’ve used is John Kramer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Books (1001 Ways to Market Your Books: For Authors and Publishers). Use his book as a springboard to help you come up with other ideas and keep trying. You’ll get sales from some of the most unlikely places.


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