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The Role of the Author in Publishing and Marketing a Book

Updated on July 8, 2017
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.


There is a huge misconception in the book world on the author’s role in publishing and marketing their book. Many think all they have to do is write the book, and they are done. It will then sell itself and fly off the shelves. Others think they have to have complete say-so in all publishing and marketing aspects. Authors need a reality check! It is nothing like they think or wish it would be. A bed of roses it is not.

Different Kinds of Publishers

When it comes to publishing, you can have a different experience based on the publisher you use. Some ‘publishers’ are just a venue to format and get your book on their website, if they format it at all. Others are the mainstream ones you see sitting on the Barnes and Noble bookshelves.

Before you sign up with any publisher, check to see what your role as the author is in the publishing process. Will the publisher provide the editing services for you or do you have to hire one of your own? Will the publisher provide the cover art of your book or will you have to? Not every publisher will give the author say so in what the final product will look like. Know up front what you have to do.

The roles a publisher and an author play vary from company to company.

Marketing - the Big Misconception

It is in the marketing arena that most authors have those huge misconceptions. They think all they have to do is write a book and wait for readers to flock to them as the publisher will do all the work. That's what all those bestselling authors do, right? Not really. The truth is that most marketing falls into the lap of the author. It is not up to the publisher to the daily marketing. It is up to the author.

The author does all the leg work and pays out most of the money. The publisher is already doing a lot to prep the book. But marketing is directed at the author to get accomplished.

Bad Examples

Now, you probably are wanting to argue that point as you see the ads for the big authors on TV and on the internet. It works for them, and it is obvious that the publishers are paying for it, right? The truth is that very little individual marketing occurs for these authors by the big publishing houses. They have too many authors to do this for all of them.

Most of the authors hire their own publicists who do the work for them and get their name out there. So in that way, they don't do their own marketing, but it comes out of their own pockets. Even the big authors have to do their own marketing. They have to keep their name out there for readers to see no matter how many bestsellers they have had. Yes, the publishers will spend more money on marketing for those books they think will give them a sizable return on that marketing investment, but they won’t do it for all.

Do It Yourself

If you want book tours, book them yourself. Even if your publisher does set some up for you, there are many companies out there who will help you out that your publisher might not use or consider. Some tour companies won't work with publishers. They prefer to work directly with authors.

Want the book in your local bookstore? Contact the store and talk to them. Your publisher will not contact small stores. There are too many out there.

Want reviews, guest posts, and interviews? Contact newspapers and blogs yourself. You have to be active in your marketing. That includes social networking as well. Your publisher will not have all the contacts you will. They are limited in who they can reach. Combine your efforts with that of your publisher to extend the reach of your marketing.

Step Up and Network

Don’t expect the publisher to do all the networking. Readers today expect to see the author active on websites, Facebook, Twitter and more. They want to see the author and not the publisher posting. It makes them feel connected to the author. That means you, as the author, need to let readers know you are networking and willing to interact. Some extremely popular and bestselling authors are out there communicating with fans. That makes me want to know even more about them and keeps me in the loop. Do the same.

Take a lesson from some that don't. I have a big author I love. She does not network. She lets you know someone else is doing all that work. That means she is putting up a wall between us. The result is that I don't search out her latest book like I do other authors. She loses out on sales with me.

Take the Bull by the Horns

Don't wait on your publisher to spend thousands marketing your book. You're going to have to take the bull by the horns and create your own marketing plan. It would be ideal if you work with your publisher in the plan so you are both working together and not against each other. Talk with your publisher and get to work.


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    • RGraf profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Graf 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin

      You are welcome. It's not easy. And so much of it is luck, but you can't say much until you tried it.

      Glad you liked it. Have a good one.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I think the greatest obstacle to writing a book for many writers is the dread of having to market it. But some of your suggestions, like directly contacting local newspapers and bookstores, seem doable even to someone to whom the thought of having to do marketing brings on the shakes. Thanks for the encouragement.


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