Chip MacGregor

August 20, 2012

Where do I start with marketing my book? (Part One)


I’ve had several authors ask me about marketing their books recently. May I offer some thoughts?

First, your publisher isn’t going to do that much marketing. They’ll do some things, since they want to help your book succeed, but you can’t rely on your publisher to take charge of your book marketing. You know the message best. You understand how to talk about it. You have the most at stake. So that means YOU have to take charge of the marketing of your book. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but if you’re waiting for your publisher to create a great plan that will take you to the next level, you may be waiting a long time. Publishers are relying on authors more than ever, they’re not hiring lots more marketing people… and that means the poor publicist who is working on your title is also working on 20 other titles. Show her some love, and say something about how much you appreciate her work, but plan to do your own marketing. Decide right now that you’re going to take charge of marketing for your book.

Second, you’re probably wondering, How do I do that? Well, you need to become familiar with the process of marketing, so that you can begin to create an actual plan. To start, that means you may have to do some research. Let me suggest a couple books to consider. To understand the basics of marketing, consider reading Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout, or a marketing textbook like Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing. You can also look at a Dummies guide – they have them on marketing, publicity, web marketing, internet marketing, and email marketing. If you want to focus on internet marketing, take a look at David Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR or Mitch Meyerson’s Mastering Online Marketing. For specific marketing ideas, try 1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer, Publicize Your Book by Jackie Duval, and You Can Market Your Own Book by Carmen Leal. These are good when you’re beginning to wonder “what specifically could I do?” If you want to focus on basic marketing steps, take a look at Brent Samson’s Sell Your Book on Amazon, Rob Eager’s Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, and Word of Mouth Marketing by Sernovitz and Kawasaki. For small budgets, Penny Sansevieri’s From Book to Bookseller and John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing are both good, as is Bruce Brown’s How to Use the Iternet to Advertise, Promote and Market Your Business With Little or No Money.  That will at least get you started. You can find any of these books at Barnes & Noble, or find them online. Spend $150 on getting a basic marketing education isn’t a bad place to begin. The principles of marketing aren’t difficult: get your product in front of likely buyers. That means you’re going to need to study HOW to get your product in front of people, as well as figure out WHERE those people are. Then you want to begin to figure out how to get the most bang for your buck in terms of spending your own money on worthwhile marketing ideas.

Third, ask yourself who reads your books. What sort of person (gender, age, interests) can you identify as a reader? Where do they gather? What sites do they visit? If you don’t know, you haven’t done enough research on this yet. Do some research. Ask around. Check out web sites and organizations. Determine where your book-readers might go, especially if you’re writing for a niche. The core of marketing is always the same: Figure out where your audience is, then go stand in front of them. If you don’t know who your audience is, and where your audience is, you’re not yet ready to market your book.

There’s a lot more to say, of course, so we’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. Amanda Luedeke does a fabulous job of covering specific marketing topics every Thursday on this blog, and we did sort of a marketing primer last December, if you want to check out the archives on our Ten Steps to Marketing.



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  • Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

    Fantastic list of resources, Chip. Thank you! I recently realized I need to step up my marketing efforts to reach more of my audience. With 2 little ones under the age of 4 at home, time isn’t something I have in abundance. So, learning how to maximize my efforts is definitely my goal!

    Now, I only need to find the time to READ some of the books you recommended. 🙂

  • Thanks for this post. I am currently working on my first book and this post gave me a couple of nuggets for down the road!

  • Even a few decades ago, midlist authors didn’t get a lot of promotion from publishers, but now it’s even worse. On the up-side I think marketing has gotten a bit easier than it was when the ways you got in front of readers were long author tours, radio and tv interviews and book signings where few people would show up.

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