Marketing is Murky

There are many good marketing principles and techniques—think product, price, place, and promotion. When promoting a book, I recommend that publishers and authors follow sound marketing practices. However, there exists no proven formula for ensuring sales.


Consistently the top reasons cited by people for buying a book are:

  1. Because it is popular—in other words, the book is a bestseller and everyone is talking about it.
  2. Because a friend recommended it.
  3. Because the reader is already familiar with the author.
  4. Because they read an excerpt and enjoyed it.

The first three on the above list are hard to control. However, all authors have the ability to provide the fourth item on the list—a free sample of their book.

Of course, the problem of how to get your free sample in front of readers is sticky. You can place the excerpt on your website and let your follows on social media know it is there. You can list it on all your marketing materials as well. Additionally, there are plenty of websites around the Internet that allow authors to place stories for readers to discover. These are all great ways to try to get readers to engage with your book.

However, I believe a valuable avenue for getting an excerpt in front of potential readers is to turn your excerpt into an article. Then offer this article to magazines and bloggers for free.
This is something that I have done with my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. I would love to tell you that every article or guest post I have done has resulted in lots of book sales. Sadly, this is not the case.

Surprisingly, sometimes I will do a guest post from my book on a website that I am sure will draw lots of sales, and it doesn’t happen. Other times, I will post a blog on a website expecting not much to come from it and end up being surprised. This recently happened. I offered a guest post to a blog that was looking for articles on book promotion. I didn’t expect much to happen. That month, my book sales quadrupled.

So many authors want to know that any given promotional avenue will reap benefits. There are no guarantees in marketing. Sometimes one avenue will reap many benefits for one book and none for another. The key to successful marketing is to use a variety of avenues to promote your book.

In your marketing efforts, remember the top reasons people buy books. Be sure to have an excerpt potential buyers can read and expect to be surprised!

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