Chip MacGregor

July 9, 2012

Marketing Made Simple — A Guest Blog


For many authors, the term “marketing” seems as complex and confusing as learning to speak a foreign language. Fortunately, the process of promoting a book doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use this proven approach to sell more books based on answering one simple question.

The problem for many authors is that they view marketing as explaining what their book is about, who they are, or why they write. However, this perspective contains a counterproductive thread – the marketing is all about you. The reality is that nobody cares about you or your book. Instead, readers care about what you can do for them. And, they won’t give you their money until you answer their internal question, “What’s in it for me?”

For example, a non-fiction author is asked to explain why he wrote his book. So, he describes what his book is about or the content inside. A novelist is asked to explain why she wrote her story. So, she explains her writing style, plot line, or characters. These are legitimate pieces of information, but none of it tells readers what they really want to know.

To make matters worse, authors put these self-focused explanations all over their important marketing materials, such as websites, book cover copy, social media pages, newsletters, etc. Thousands of dollars are spent on marketing. Yet, the most important question in the public’s mind never gets answered: “What’s in it for me?”

Book readers don’t care about your topic, genre, or background. Their primary concern is how you can make their life better. Therefore, they want to know the results that you can create for them. To avoid confusion, I define a “result” as any positive outcome, life change, or tangible improvement that you create for someone who reads your book. In addition, the description of a result must be specific enough to generate emotional interest. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. For example, consider the difference between these statements:


·       My book is about how to do home organization.

·       My novel is a story about a woman who endures an abusive past. 


·       My book helps you experience the soothing calm of an ordered home.

·       My novel shows how to trust others with a painful secret and no longer feel alone.

Maybe you think your marketing materials tell people the results that your book offers. To be sure, try this test: Ask someone who is unfamiliar with your book to visit your website or read your back cover copy. Give them 60 seconds, and then ask how they would explain your book to a friend. If they don’t identify the results that you offer, then your marketing isn’t as effective as it needs to be.

Too many authors expect prospective readers to do their marketing job for them. They think others will naturally answer the question “What’s in it for me?” on their own. But, readers will not take the time figure out the results your book offers. That’s your job and the purpose of your marketing efforts.

When people cannot discern how your book will improve their life, then they will hesitate to purchase. We all make decisions according to our self-interest. Marketing is the process of telling people you have their self-interests in mind. When you stop describing what your book is about and start describing the results you offer, you overcome skepticism and build the trust required to create a purchase. In other words, don’t tell people the topic of your book. Tell them the results that it will create.

A results-based approach to marketing simplifies your efforts by focusing solely on the most critical elements for success. You no longer need to worry about what language to put on your website, what kind of articles to write for your newsletter, or what to say during a media interview. Tell people about the results that your book offers, and give examples of readers who have experienced those results. When you concentrate on appealing to a person’s self-interest, you light the sparks necessary to sell your book like wildfire.

Rob Eagar is the author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, a great new resource on book marketing. He is also the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell more books and spread their message like wildfire. He has trained over 400 authors and consulted with numerous New York Times bestsellers. Find out more about Rob’s book and consulting services at: 

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