The Value of Marketing Books


Why are you marketing your books?

The wrong reasons are for financial gain or sales. I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell books or earn royalties. I’m saying these shouldn’t be your motivating goals.

Why not?

Several important reasons:

  • Would you rather read a book that was prepared by an author who was passionate about the subject or who was trying to get rich quick? The key point here is that it can’t be the same book. The writing itself will be different based on the underlying motivation of the author.
  • Positive personal interactions with your target audience can get readers interested in your book. If your main objective is money or sales, your mindset is apt to be more businesslike* and less personal. People can sense if you seem to be passionate about your work or come across more as a salesperson.
  • You’re more likely to be focused on quick returns and lack the necessary patience. For example, branding is an important part of marketing, but can take many months to pay off. A blog works best when it is interactive, but tends to start out very slowly. Word-of-mouth sales can make a huge impact, but often not for a long time. When you’re focused on sales, it’s hard to work hard at things that might not pay off for several months.
  • Interacting with others is important in marketing, but a sales-oriented author tends to focus primarily on the book and sales. When you market for better reasons, you see the value of interacting with your target audience, establishing connections with other authors, and other personal marketing endeavors that are quite important. Your underlying objectives also affect how you interact with others, which in turn affects their perception of you.
  • Many roads will tempt you with prospects for quick riches. If your heart desires instant success, your desire can shove logical reasoning aside, distracting you with a variety of ways to invest money with the hope of big short-term gains. Striving to build gradually toward long-term gains tends to be both much more plausible and rewarding.
  • Financial goals can deceive you into bending your natural ethical beliefs. You’re in the public eye as you try to create publicity for yourself and your book. One false step can ruin your reputation. Authors must strive to brand a positive, professional image in order to achieve long-lasting success. Strong character and good intentions are assets.

If not Money, then What?

There are other factors that make book marketing valuable to both authors and readers. These factors can also make the marketing more effective. Here are a few examples:

  • Passion for the subject, book idea, or story. Infuse your writing with passion. View your book as a work of art. Use your passion to perfect your masterpiece. If you can take this a step further and convince yourself to share your passion with others, letting your passion show through implicitly in your marketing endeavors can make a big difference. It also changes your focus from your sales figures to the positive experience you can share with others.
  • For the love of writing. In this case your passion is for the craft itself.
  • To pass your knowledge on. You’re a teacher in addition to being an author. Place your emphasis on what students can learn from you (not just your book), instead of how many books you can sell. Samples of your content knowledge can help you attract students.
  • Helping others. A great story can offer an escape from reality, and a self-help book can help people improve their minds, bodies, or spirits. Focus on what you (not just your book) can do for others.
  • It’s fun. Writing is fun. At least, it should be. Enjoy it.

How Marketing is Valuable

It’s not the money. Sales do come from effective marketing. But there are other rewards that are more valuable than royalties. Again, I’m not saying you should sacrifice your royalties. I’m saying to focus on these other rewards, then the royalties will come on their own and the experience will be more enjoyable and less stressful.

  • It allows you to share your passion with others. People must discover your book before they can enjoy it. They are more likely to become interested in your book when they discover your passion.
  • You can build meaningful relationships through marketing. This is more likely when you’re focused on other rewards besides sales.
  • If your intuition tells you that marketing is about salesmanship and advertising, it may be refreshing to discover firsthand that you can market effectively on a more personal level.
  • The sense of belonging to a supportive author community is a reward in itself. The author community can be highly supportive (in a positive, ethical way, of course). Interact with others in a positive way, build meaningful relationships, and support others. Share your passion with other authors, not just with readers. (But also manage your time wisely. Don’t get lost in your blog. Save time for writing, your family, and yourself. You have to learn to juggle.)
  • Interact with your readers. Not only will your readers benefit from this and see your passion for your work, but you can learn about your readers this way, too.
  • Have fun with your writing and your marketing. This way, it isn’t work. You might feel more creative and passionate, which can make a positive impact. More importantly, you may feel better. Writing and marketing can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. The power to change this lies in your perception and motivation.
  • Make gradual improvements. Strive for long-term success. Grow your online platform and selection of books. Start out with a few basic marketing ideas and add to this. Eventually, if you develop a complete, professional author package and much improved sales, you may find such long-term success to be more rewarding than any short-term gain.

Ask not what your readers can do for you (i.e. how can they find and buy your books). Ask what you can do for your readers (provide an amazing reading experience).

*Business vs. Art

You must balance this wisely. It’s smart to research books already on the market before you write to assess your book’s chances. It’s smart to learn about your target audience before you write and before you market your book. But when you do the actual writing and marketing, feel like an artist.

Who Am I?

Chris McMullen.

I’m not just a name. I’m a person, too.

I have a Ph.D. in physics, but don’t let that scare you. I love to read and write. If you just look around my blog or at the books I’ve published, you’ll see that I love to write. I’ve come to understand and appreciate the marketing aspect, too. I didn’t like it when I first started publishing, back when I naively thought marketing meant salesmanship and advertising. Now that I realize that marketing is more about branding, showing that you’re a person and not a name, and letting your target audience discover your passion—and more meaningful and subtle things like these—I’ve come to enjoy it. I hope to reveal the enjoyable and fascinating side of marketing—the parts that aren’t so obvious—to other authors. Focus on this side of marketing, and you may find yourself more motivated to do it, the process more rewarding, and hopefully better long-term results.

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

5 comments on “The Value of Marketing Books

  1. Oh I love all your really sound advice! I’m gonna have to hunt for you on FB too. I do have several author friends on there, but you know me… Obviously watched Cinderella one time too many and go off on binges of Scottish love stories… LOL 😀 Hope you have a happy holiday with your friends and loved ones!

  2. This is why writing tends to be a part-time job for most of us for some years until we gain some traction with our reading audience. Very rarely does a first book make it without external publicity which is both rare and expensive. However, you have to stick with it and one day it can click in a moment. Today we are lucky to have social media tools that make marketing our work easier and more pleasurable but you are right without the passion and the belief, it is a hollow victory. I would rather one person came back and said my writing made a difference than 100 people buy and dismiss.

    • Especially, if writing is a part-time job, the writing and marketing are too much work not to make it a pleasurable experience. 🙂 You have an interesting idea there about preferring a smaller, more engaged audience. Ironically, perhaps, striving to find that perfect audience, rather than the largest possible audience, can sometimes even result in more sales.

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