Book Marketing Basics: Advice for Authors


by Megan Morrison
Want to get your next book not only published and reviewed but actually sold? Marketing plays a key role in that goal.

But, you don’t have to be a marketing expert. You just need to apply marketing basics.

The four pillars of marketing are product, placement, price, and promotion. Here’s how you can use them to accomplish your publishing goals.


The first pillar of marketing is simple: Create a phenomenal product. In this case, the product is your next novel, short story, poetry collection, or whatever you might have in mind. Here are a few key tips to help you on your way.

1. Seek Out a Mentor

Finding and investing in a mentor relationship with another writer is crucial. Mentors help support and encourage you through the writing process; they are also indispensable in helping you find the direction you want to take your writing and giving you time-tested advice.

2. Engage in Writing Events

Discipline is one the most important aspects of writing any type of work, and there’s no better way to learn discipline than by engaging in writing events where you have a community to keep you accountable. Writing events such as NaNoWriMo and others provide you with a clear set of goals and helpful tips that will teach you discipline that you can put to use throughout your writing career.

3. Invest in Editing

Although this step in the writing process is, by far, the least enjoyable, editing your manuscript is essential to creating a well-crafted and ready-for-publication product. Editing helps make your content more interesting and clear. When editing, keep an eye out for grammar and flow issues, as well as other sentence-level concerns. Check out The Creative Penn for some tips. Better yet, hire a professional editor who can bring a knowledgeable outside perspective to your work.


Now that you have an exceptional product, the question is, simply, Where do I sell it? Twenty years ago, the answer would clearly have been a major publishing house, but today the publishing world is full of other opportunities for writers to get their work into the readers’ hands. Whether you choose to go the traditional route or embark on the adventure of self-publishing, knowing and understanding the benefits and downfalls the places and mediums through which your work will be distributed is vital.

1. Electronic Distribution

It’s official: The Internet has taken over the world, and so has electronic publishing. Today e-books are hot, which is unsurprising considering that Amazon makes anywhere between $265 million and $530 million per year just on its Kindle e-book sales. Barnes & Noble and Apple have also made electronic publishing an increasingly appealing option when considering product distribution. Moreover, e-books provide the widest potential reach for your product, and for self-publishing e-books are an extremely accessible option.

2. Chain Bookstores

We love our chain bookstores. With a wide selection of works and significant discounts that make buying books a little less detrimental to consumers’ pocketbooks, places like Barnes & Noble and Half-Price Books are almost a must for placement. It’s “the promotional and marketing clout of the chains that [brings]…relatively high-quality works to a mass-market readership,” writes Brooke Allen, and they can bring your next book to the masses.

3. Independent Bookstores

Who can forget our neighborhood holes-in-the-wall? Usually owned by knowledgeable people who have a genuine love of literature, independent bookstores are endlessly charming. They also appeal to a close community audience as well as lovers of literature who wouldn’t be caught dead inside a Barnes & Noble. Visit your favorite bookstores in your community to see how they attract readers, or visit Indie Store Finder to help you track down those places unknown even to you…


The next decision to make is regarding price, which in the case of books is relatively straightforward—you’ll need to price your work similar to what other, similar works, whether paperback, hardback, or e-book. So, let’s instead consider something related: your revenue—how you intend to sell your book and how to set the groundwork for sales.

1. Attend Writing Conferences

Although it’s much easier to create significant recognition and engagement at writing conferences if you’re an established writer, you can still have a presence at writing conferences. Come prepared with good questions and interesting topics to discuss with various authors and agents, and bring along a few copies of your book to give away to prospective consumers or publishers. What can be tricky when attending writing conferences is the cost. Many conferences have admission fees, and there is also the cost of travel and hotels to consider. Check out this list of writing conferences by Poets & Writers Magazine.

2. Engage in Book Readings/Signings

Some people love meet-and-greets with authors, and book readings and signings are a great way to engage with your readers. Go to your favorite local bookstore, whether an independent or a chain, and discuss having a reading and book-signing. Bookstores look for ways to get people in the door, and hosting authors is a great way to do that. But don’t forget to use proper etiquette and thoughtful strategies to fully embrace this opportunity.

3. Sit Down for Interviews

Readers like to hear what writers have to say and your work is more likely to be purchased if consumers find you interesting and personable. Many book sites and publications run author interviews. You can check out places like and You can also contact your local radio stations. However, how you approach the media is crucia. Visit Wildfire Marketing’s article for tips on how to get author interviews.


Spreading the word is the final step in marketing your work. That likely means engaging in advertising, social media, and guerrilla marketing. Doing so may or may not come natural to you, but they are imperative to helping you and your work become known. And because we live in a digital age, promotion easier than ever because of the accessibility afforded by the Internet.

1. Hiring a PR Agent

For handling traditional advertising and managing numerous social media (think Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram…) whether you have a PR agent starts to matter. Do you want to manage all your promotional media yourself, or are you willing to pay someone to represent you and help you manage it? Hiring PR agents does come at a cost, but their expertise and professional presence can help you immensely to get the word out.

2. Personal Social Media

Although your agent might manage the majority of your media presence, having a personal presence on social media is also important. Unless you use a pseudonym when publishing your work, the public will know who you are; that will affect your book sales. Is your latest Facebook status positive or negative? Are you friendly and encouraging toward fellow writers?

You should be authentic in social media, but know that the implicit and explicit attitudes you reflect in your posts are important. The Harvard Business Review offers a helpful article about formulating your own personal brand through social media, which is crucial to all professional settings.

3. Embark on Guerrilla Marketing defines guerrilla marketing as “an unconventional way of performing marketing activities on a very low budget.” So, it has two huge advantages—unique and, therefore, eye-catching strategies, and low cost! This type of marketing is different from your average advertisement, which is why it is so effective. Put on your thinking cap or turn to Google to find effective guerrilla marketing tactics that will catch readers’ interest.