Why Wait? Start Your Marketing Campaign Now!


“It is never too early to develop a marketing plan. The important point is that the

earlier you create one, the better equipped you’ll be to sell your book.”[1]

Darin Jewell

Unfortunately, many authors think all they need to do is write the book, and they forget that writing is only part of the job. Marketing and selling your book are as integral to the process as writing, especially today when it’s more challenging to discover books you want to read. It wasn’t that long ago that publishers and authors could rely on readers browsing the shelves of both national book retail chains as well as thousands of independent bookstores. It seemed every city had several outlets for people to find our books. Today, however, there are fewer physical bookstores, both chains, and independents. So there are fewer places for easy shelf-browsing. Yes, we have Amazon, but browsing and finding books is more difficult when the customer isn’t strolling through physical shelves. Consequently, readers tend to be using more targeted searching than browsing and finding gems among the millions in their inventory requires much effort.

It also wasn’t that long ago that the local and nationally syndicated talk and news programs regularly featured new books and their authors. Unfortunately, this way for readers to discover books has nearly disappeared, as these shows focus more on political and the latest hot topic news and stories. As a result, these programs do not frequently interview authors to talk about their books, making discovering new books much harder for readers.

The loss of these two practices of book discovery has put a more significant burden on the author’s ability to market their books and sell them. Therefore, writers cannot make the mistake of neglecting marketing as they begin the book-writing journey.


Ask anyone, and you’ll probably receive varied responses to this question. Is marketing advertising? Promotion? Publicity? Selling? Branding? The answer may be, “Yes.”

Marketing is a generic term used to describe a whole grab bag of ideas. To many, it is confusing; it may sound complicated and expensive and could take hours of your time (when you could be writing!).

Marketing, in its simplest term, is matching what you have to offer to a reader’s needs and wants. It involves a process of:

  • discovering who you reader is (see #1 above);
  • finding where your readers spend their time;
  • creating strategies or plans to reach them where they are; and
  • letting them know about your book and how it can help them by filling a need they have.


I can’t say it enough—good marketing starts at the beginning of the project. You are identifying your customer and why they want to purchase your book. You are developing an idea of who your reader will be and what needs they have that your book’s content will satisfy.

Once you know your reader, you can then begin to make a list of people and organizations that might be interested in your book’s content. For example, let’s say your book is titled How to Hit a Baseball. The potential market for your book will include:

  • Parents of children who play baseball or softball
  • Baseball and softball coaches at all levels—high school, college, professional
  • Little League districts
  • Softball leagues
  • Frequent shoppers at sporting goods stores
  • Regular purchasers of baseball equipment
  • Baseball enthusiasts
  • People who want to learn the game of baseball
  • People who follow baseball teams and leagues on social media
  • People who read books or watch movies about baseball
  • People located in a city where there’s a Major League Baseball team

Once you have your list, you can begin to prioritize the market and also start to find out how to reach out to the people who have some affinity to your topic, as well as the organizations.

Once you determine potential readers and organizations, it’s time to look at individual strategies and tactics to generate awareness and sales.

Marketing planning encompasses several paths:

  • establishing a budget
  • reaching the best customer/reader targets
  • developing new customers/readers
  • expanding your author brand
  • differentiating your book from other books on the same topic
  • using available resources to your advantage

Once you’ve outlined your path, then it’s time to create marketing tactics (or steps) to achieve your plan. The following should provide you with an example.

Social media is a good starting place. In our above example, you could find people and organizations who are active on social media. You can follow them and also make something free available that helps them learn about hitting a baseball. Speak into their posts with comments that support and encourage them. Your goal is to build relationships.

As you build the relationship, let them know about your forthcoming baseball book. Keep your followers up-to-date with fun posts about the writing process. Let them speak into your thinking. You can ask questions. Offer them a free chapter if they sign up on your website (more on that in our book, 7 Tips for Marketing & Selling Your Book).

Then, you could establish a marketing budget for social media and begin an advertising campaign that boosts your posts to targeted readers. Most social media outlets offer ways to tailor your audience and provide economical ways to test what’s working and what isn’t working.

This short example shows the process:

  • Set the strategy (reach new people and build relationships)
  • Use various tactics (regular posts, free downloads, contests)
  • Determine and stay within an advertising/marketing budget

Social media is a relatively easy marketing tool, but you can’t put all of your marketing eggs in that basket. You can also set a strategy for talking with local media and other possible outlets where you could speak about your upcoming book and gain new friends who will promote your book as well. Libraries, local newspapers, reading groups, church groups, and other places will often welcome a guest speaker to talk about their upcoming book.

Even if a well-known, global publisher traditionally publishes your book, you still need a marketing plan. Depending on the publisher to do your marketing for you is akin to depending on a teenager to clean up their room. Yes, a publisher will do a modest amount of marketing and publicity for you, but candidly, you are in the best position to do what needs to be done to help people discover your book, drive sales, and attain ultimate success for your book.

Don’t let time slip by without developing a marketing plan that complements your book writing and gets your book noticed, and when it’s released, purchased by the people with whom you’ve been interacting.

This blog post is an excerpt from Wayne Hastings’ book, 7 Mistakes Writers Make available from Amazon.

[1]Darin Jewell, How To Sell and Market Your Book (London: Legend Business, 2010), an e-book edition


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