Six simple general principles for marketing your book

Your objective, should you choose to acceept it, is to sell more than 40 books. 40 is the average number of books sold by author & title, with skew to a very few bestsellers in their thousands and a long tail with many authors not selling a book at all! Surpisingly, by selling a book yourself, you can easily beat this figure.

1. It is all about You
Picture this - you go into a library to take out a crime thriller; what are you most likely to do? look for a familiar author's new title or someone you have not read before? In most cases, people will go for the familiar author.
Unless you are already famous, your main marketing objective is to become well known and trusted by your future buyers. Ideally, you would like at least some of them to also in turn be ambassadors for you and your book.
This may sound daunting, but you already have one main advantage - you have crossed the divide from thinking about writing a book to having become an author - something that already commands a degree of respect in many people you know or who meet you!

2. Who is your target audience?
Large publishing houses know who their target audiences are and get authors to write for them.
Many authors, however, initially write more out of an inner desire and inspiration. It is once the book is written, that the question of who else might be interested in it receives more serious thought.
At this point, the people close to you (including your publisher!) can be of real assistance as they will have bought the book and read it because they know you personally. Ask them, who else as an audience or group might be interested in your book too.
Some instances are fairly straight forward. Kate Atkin wrote her book "The Confident Manager" (published by word4word) as an encapsulation of her training philosophy. Her audience are her future customers and aspiring managers.
Your subject matter too can give you a good indication. Peter N Brook's book "Nimrod", about his beloved cat, had an obvious audience of cat lovers; Pamela Cotton's book, "Dear Ruth", whilst initially for her family, resonates with former ex-pats from Africa and former colonies and Ann Hales-Tooke's book "The Lost Priory", whilst ostensibly a novel, has a dual attraction of both local history and local community in the present, centered around a particular area of Cambridge, which is clearly hinted at in the subtitle "A Cambridge Story".
In addition to the main chords of your book, there may be minor harmonics and resonances that also suggest other audiences. Peter's book is set in part in Cambridge's academia, another source of fascination for many readers.

3. What is in it for the reader?

Do you always buy a book purely for its content? No! I've alluded to the fact that knowledge of the author has an impact. If you are selling the book personally, this is even more important; whether you are selling to a buyer for a bookshop or a stranger you have been introduced to. Knowing you, meeting you or even just having a personal message written by you in a book they buy, being relevant to their life by writing about their area; these  are some of the valuable things to a reader that significantly impact on whether they will buy a book from or by you.
Therefore strive to find ways in which you can give a potential buyer something more beyond the physicality of the book itself. Invitations to readings and book launches also fall in this category - making them feel that you care to have them there and be part of your book (also see keeping in touch below).

4. Demonstrating credibility
Having written a book immediately gives you some credibility. You will (or should) know far more about the subject matter that you have written about, fiction or factual, than most people. Hopefully your book will have and ISBN and will have been designed and printed to look professional. This again adds to your credibility.
Ray Gambell's book in preparation is on Landbeach Church; and because of the research he has done - he already unconsciously comes across as an expert on the subject.
Build on what you know and expand your knowledge, so that this comes over in conversation. Not boastfully, but when relevant and appropriate. Your credibility will be apparent and lend weight to your book being worth buying.

5. Maintaining a presence
So far, I haven't mentioned the web, advertising, newspaper articles, never mind radio and TV interviews! They are (shock horror!) secondary to your success. What I mean to say is that, again unless you are famous, a media presence on its own is unlikely to result in major sales. In our experience, single radio interviews have not resulted in book sales; A double page article in a local newspaper elicited no more than a couple of book sales. Print adverts generally cost far more than the income they generate.
These tools do however have an important secondary role - reminding people you still exist, imparting information (especially a link to your web presence) and giving you a bit more credibility for when you actually meet people.
Your most cost effective tool with the widest reach is an internet presence, a web page about your book or a blog about your activities. Current practice at present is, that after someone has met you in relation to a potential purchase, they are most likely to look you up on the web to find out more, whether at home or increasingly, on their mobile phone.
To make sure that they DO find you on the web, make sure you give them a link to a website YOU have some control over (made by yourself or your publisher).

6. Keeping in touch
What most people do not realise, including many otherwise experienced business people, is that the most valuable people are people you already know and possibly even have sold to already. Why? Because they are more likely to buy from you, recommend you, want to stay in touch with you.
Build up a contacts list of buyers, potential buyers, interested people and keep in touch. This can be simply by e-mail, letters, leaflets, occasional phone calls, meetings, chatting to them when you pass them in the street, invitations to special events you are organising, like a book launch.
DO keep in touch, DON'T hard sell to them.


This article discusses six general suggestions that could help you market your book more successfully:

  1. It'a all about you
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. What's in in for the reader?
  4. Demonstrating credibility
  5. Maintaining a presence
  6. Keeping in touch


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If you would like more information and assistance in marketing your book, please get in touch with me, Chris Thomas, on 01223 440024 or email