Writing a Book – Marketing And Promotion

Vintage Ad #1,193: We've Kept Our Promise! Here They Are!

Earlier posts in this series:
Writing a Book – Finding Time
Writing a Book – Discipline
Writing a Book – Structure

Writing a book doesn’t stop when you’ve handed in the last of your edits. Oddly, most authors think that it’s the role of the publisher to market their book, but this is fairly far from the truth. I’ve worked with two mainstream publishers and one widely-published-author-turned-publisher, and in all cases, they’re more like “air support.” It’s still your job to be the primary marketer of your book. So, here are a few thoughts that might help you get into the spirit of that.

Marketing Isn’t Bad – Bad Marketing Is Bad

What we as creators tend to think about marketing relates to the bad stuff we have experienced. For every “now how much would you pay?” that you’ve seen on TV or for every ham-handed email you receive from marketers (or worse, friends), who are trying hard to sell you something you don’t want, just accept that these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. The marketing you want is another kind entirely. Bad marketing is bad. We’re going to talk about ways that you might do some interesting things that will help.

Social Media is Your Friend

One day, I knew who Greg Pak was, and the next day, we were all kinds of chums. The difference? Greg’s presence on Google+. You see, Greg shares interesting things there, sometimes about his work as a comic book writer, and other times about things of interest. This interesting connection made me suddenly more interested in his work. Suddenly, I found myself visiting several comic book stores to find issue #1 of a new mini series he’s penned, simply because of how friendly and back-and-forth he was using social networks like Google+ and Twitter.

The same super powers are in your possession, or they can be.

On Twitter, Search is your friend. Are you writing a book about archaeology? See who’s talking about it. Looking for Buddhists? Oh, they’re there. Look for them. Start following them. Start seeing what they’re talking about. That’s the first key to using social media to market and sell your book. Learn about them first. Say it with me: learn about them first.

Talk about what they’re doing. Learn what’s interesting and find them information about that. And then, after all that, share a bit about your stuff. 12:1 their stuff to your stuff. Does this make sense?


Blogs are such great ways to promote your books, but not by talking all blah-di-blah about your book. People really don’t care much about the secret underpinnings of how fascinating your research was; they want to learn something that feels “secret” or “behind the scenes.” It’s not easy to give them this sometimes, but you’ve got to give them that, or it just will feel like you’re still promoting yourself. The best way you might look at blogging for promoting your writing is to use your blog as a place where you can grow connections between people who might eventually love your book, and/or who might eventually share that work with other people.

Shoot Video

Books are an experience, but they don’t have to stay in textual format. Shoot videos of yourself talking about what’s going to be in the book. Shoot interviews with people talking about topics that will be in your book. Do everything you can to make some interesting video happen. Put it on YouTube, but share it also on your blog, and/or on the outposts like Google+ and Facebook and Twitter. Or post the video on YouTube and your blog, and point people back to your blog via those outposts.

Guest Posts Go A Long Way

Interviews and guest posts help people find your work. If you’ve written a nonfiction book, swing by Alltop and figure out where you should post. Connect with people. Do what you can to figure out some interesting audiences. For instance, if you wrote a book about fly fishing, people who fish will probably know about the book, so where could you get a guest post or do an interview that isn’t your core audience? That’s the gold. Make sense?

Offers Actually Help

When Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents, we both came up with ways to make offers. I did things where I’d trade a speech for 200, 300, and then 500 books. You don’t have to do that exact offer. Maybe if you’ve written a fiction book, you could include a “secret chapter” that you make available to people who buy 3 copies, etc. Get creative and have fun with it. You could offer dinner with someone who buys 10 books to give away to friends.

You know, secretly, you could just look back on years and years of Seth Godin’s blog and see how he promoted all his books. LOTS of those methods are fun and work well. Believe me, you could have worse mentors in this one.

Promise Not To Be That Guy

I’ve put out a few books. I have a bunch more in me. I’ve also had the pleasure to meet some of the best authors in the world, as well as some of the most annoying people who somehow managed to publish a book in the world. And here’s a hint: I think we all are both at some point. I think at some point, we tend to get really excited about our books and then we want to shake everyone down who can’t run away as fast as they’d like, and we want to talk about how this book will be really useful to them, etc.

Here’s a request. Don’t be that guy. (gender unspecific, mind you) It’s okay to promote your book, but as best as you can, try to do it in that way that lets you be helpful to them. Share what you think they need. Help them. Connect with them. That’s way better than trying to sell your book, because people will come to really appreciate that you’re in it for them.

It makes a world of difference, I promise.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about making money.

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