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Book Marketing for Authors Who Hate Book Marketing

Updated on May 22, 2016

"I have to sell my book again today?"


The Book Selling Process can be Humiliating

If there is a single issue that dominates the current world of self publishing, it’s book marketing. Actually publishing a book has become extraordinarily simple. Whether a book is published through IngramSpark, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords or a subsidy publisher, bringing a book to market has never been easier. However, self-published authors quickly learn there is a huge difference between publishing a book and selling a book.

Amazon currently has 2.3 million eBooks in its Kindle store alone. If you naively listed your book on Amazon with the expectation of strong sales, you’re not alone. There is something about seeing your book on the internet that conjures up visions of quickly reaching the New York Times bestseller list. Unfortunately, when you realize your book isn’t selling, and has a rank of one million or lower on the bestseller list, it becomes painfully apparent you need to create a book promotion plan.

That sounds great, except for the fact that most authors would rather endure a colonoscopy than become a book peddler. No matter how much you read about book promotion and marketing, it always boils down to the same thing: awkwardly selling your book to someone who probably doesn’t want it. If you’re a person who avoids the friend or relative who pushes cosmetics, vacation packages or cookware, you probably don’t want to be the one who everyone runs from when you approach. “Oh no, here he comes again with that darn book….Run!”

The Traditional Book Marketing Game Plan

If you do a search for book marketing or book promotion planning, you’re going to pretty much find the same game plan over and over. Essentially, it goes like this:

  • Start an email list: Ok, exactly how are you supposed to do this? Once you’ve cornered all your obligated family and friends, how do you find these people who want to sign up for emails from an unknown author? It takes an extraordinary effort to build an email list, which likely includes a lot of cold calls.
  • Networking: The word that causes creative types to break out in a cold sweat. Plaster a fake smile on your face and show up at writers groups, writers conferences, bookstore events and breakfast clubs. Volunteer for a reading at an independent bookstore or beg a radio station to do an interview. Are we having fun yet?
  • Social media: The internet version of networking. Look, setting up a Facebook page, joining social media groups and sending out tweets isn’t a bad idea, but just take a look at some of the groups related to self-publishing. Nearly every entry is from someone looking to plug their own book. It’s a vast sea or self promotion, and you inevitably find yourself scrolling past these entries without a second glance. Ask yourself this: Has Facebook or Twitter ever made anyone famous, or do they simply magnify the presence of those who already have a high-profile?
  • Carve out a niche and brand yourself: I have heard this one many times, but I still can’t really figure out what it means. Think like your reader; hang out with potential readers they say. I suppose that makes some sense, but every time you cross that line from fellow reader to author with an agenda, expect your relationship to change.

How to Sell More Books without Losing Your Dignity

The real key to selling more books while preserving your dignity is to let others do the palm pressing while you work on your next book. You may have to spend some cash, but for those who cringe at the thought of putting on the salesman’s hat, it can prove to be a very worthwhile investment. Pick and choose your business partners carefully, and look for quality and duration of service.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Authors Marketing Club: $149/year. AMC offers a free service, but the premium service provides all the great perks. This includes video marketing courses, professional consultations and promotional opportunities that will put your book in front of tens of thousands of readers.
  • The Hidden Author: Promotional offer of $19 for a lifetime listing. The Hidden Author is a relatively new startup that harnesses the collective purchasing power of the self-publishing community. Authors list their book and agree to provide four reviews annually for other self published books listed on the website. This virtually guarantees that good books will enjoy higher sales and better reviews.
  • P.J. Boox: $15/online, $20 for a four month premium online upgrade, $80 for a four month shelf space rental. P.J. Boox is an online and brick and mortar store that caters exclusively to self published authors. Place your book in a physical store and let their salespeople do the selling.

The point is, if you have a few hundred dollars to spend, you can get your book in front of potential reader with much less effort, embarrassment and humiliation.


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      William E Edwards 22 months ago

      I think you offer excellent advice. Any activity that helps promote your book without creating an expense is extremely valuable.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 22 months ago

      Thanks for offering up to date advice on marketing a self-published book. My first book was self published, and my second and third books were published by a traditional publisher. Since traditional publishers publish so many books, after a year they don't much time marketing last year's books. One piece of advice I would offer, especially if your book is a non-fiction niche book, would be to offer to speak to groups on some aspect of your book topic. I never push book sales, but if you can peak interest in your topic, I usually sell books when I speak.