Basics of Book Marketing for the Beginning Self-Publisher, Part 1

POSTED ON Sep 19, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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Several months ago I was asked by CreateSpace to develop an article on book marketing for a new resource center they were introducing. It’s called Marketing Central, and it’s a great site for self-publishers.

In Marketing Central, (a top-level menu choice from the Free Publishing Resources tab), CreateSpace has gathered together a huge amount of information on marketing.

You’ll find articles by experts like Brian Jud and Maria Murnane as well as CreateSpace’s own writers. I think this is a great idea because it creates a structure within which you can find articles, tips and resources that will help with your own book marketing.

The article I wrote serves as introduction to the Marketing Central portal. As such, it’s kind of a high-level view of the process. While the article doesn’t present a lot of nuts-and-bolts details, it provides a perspective that allows newcomers to get a grasp on the marketing process and see where each piece fits into the whole.

I’ve divided this long article into three parts, and I’ll post them here over the course of this week. This first article focuses on the most important part of book marketing: the book itself.

What lies behind the fantastic success of some of the most high-profile independent authors? You know, the people like J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking, who we read about on the blogs and news sites?

The answer is marketing. That is, communicating the message about their books to a wide audience, in many channels, and over a period of time. Sure, these authors have a lot of other things going for them, but you can’t discount all the time and effort they put into spreading the word, growing their brands, and converting readers into raving fans.

If that’s what you want to do, too, it’s time to get up to speed on the basics of book marketing.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to approach independent publishing:

  1. You write the book, perhaps spending years doing it. You hire an editor and polish the manuscript as best you can. When it’s done, you produce the book and then ask the question, “How do I sell this book?”
  2. You have the idea for the book. You find ways to test the idea, preferably with people who might actually buy it. You use the feedback you receive to shape the book to readers? desires, and then produce the book which they have essentially requested.

Most indie authors, because they are motivated by passion, take option #1. You can market either kind of book, but your results may be very different. With option #1, you’re counting on determination (and a little luck) to make your book interesting to people, marketable, and profitable. If you’re publishing and selling a book you already know your readers want, you’ve taken option #2. Whichever path you’ve chosen, book marketing is essential to helping you reach your goals.

Let’s take a closer look at the basics.

Book Marketing Today

Book marketing is a big topic, so to make it more approachable, let’s break it down into areas we can look at individually. Taken all together, you should have a complete look at what’s involved in successfully marketing your book and allowing it to reach its full potential.

Having said that, the absolute first and most important element of all in book marketing is… the book itself.

Why Books Sell

There is no replacement for a good book. Quality products repay our marketing investment because once other people learn about and interact with the product, they are much more likely to buy it and recommend it to others.

There are lots of different kinds of books, and we can point to a few clear reasons why some books sell better than others:

  • It has unique information that’s in demand, but that cannot be found anywhere else
  • It solves a problem that many people have
  • The story is compelling and/or entertaining
  • The author is a celebrity
  • The book is already selling and people start telling others about the book

This last point is the ultimate goal of our marketing efforts. You cannot force people to buy your book, no matter how much you spend on advertising or how many times you appear in television shows. A friend who tells you that you just “have to read it” is far more powerful than any other influence for most people.

Keep in mind that you also need to avoid building defects into your book, because a book that’s poorly edited, hard to read or awkward to handle is going to have significant obstacles finding a wide readership. For this reason, make sure your book conforms to generally accepted editing and design standards so you don’t cripple your own marketing efforts.

Okay, let’s say you’ve done your research and put together a book you know people will want. It’s been edited, designed, and you’re ready to go. What’s next?

[Next: Marketing is Communication and Creating a Marketing Plan]
Photo by PromoMadrid This article originally appeared on under the title “Basics of Book Marketing.”

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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