Are You Looking for a Formula?

As Americans, we love prescriptions and formulas to follow. Just prescribe a program for people to lose weight, get in shape, de-clutter their house, or extend the life of their vehicle, and thousands race to put the formula into practice.

Sadly, there is no formula for marketing a book to make it a best-seller. Many authors who have found the right mix of marketing strategies for their own book will try to sell you their formula, but never does one marketing formula work for all types of books. If one formula did, it would have already been patented.

Since books are sold mostly through bookstores (whether online or physical), authors and publishers rarely have the ability to find out how their readers discovered their books. Hence, it is difficult for authors and publishers to know which of their marketing efforts are providing the best results.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) asks on our membership application how the applicant heard about CSPA. Here are the responses from the most recent eight applications:

  • Word-of-mouth and internet browsing
  • The Christian Writer’s Market Guide
  • Christian Writers Conference
  • CSPA was referenced in various online forums
  • A friend who is an editor for various ministries and small publishing houses
  • Referral from another independent author
  • Email
  • Internet

As you can see, there is no one referral source. Other than word-of-mouth from various places, the ways that these authors and publishers heard about CSPA varied greatly.

The same is most likely true for your books. While surveys of readers reveal that word-of-mouth is the number one way people decide to purchase a book, this word-of-mouth can vary greatly from a friend, relative, coworker, a blog post, a social media post, or from someone who knows the author.

Remember, there is no formula. No two books can be marketed the exact same way and receive the same results. You must experiment to find the sweet mix of marketing activities that reaches your target audience effectively.

I encourage you to heed the advice of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

These words, penned thousands of years ago, are still true. In marketing a book, you do not know which activities will succeed, so sow numerous and diverse efforts for the best results. I believe that it is the mix (not one thing) that provides the best results.

Related Posts:
A Good Marketing Guideline
Marketing is Murky
Spending Precious Marketing Dollars

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Each chapter in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace starts with a Marketing Fundamental. These marketing principles are useful reminders to authors and small publishers when promoting books.

Recently, I have been playing with putting these marketing fundamentals into photos for posting on Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook. Studies show that social media users love images. One way to subtly promote your books is to put key principles, phrases, or statistics into photos and post these on your social media sites.

Marketing Fundamental 14

To makes these engaging photos with quotes, I downloaded free photos from StockVault. Then I headed over to PicMonkey, a photo editor, and typed in the Marketing Fundamentals. The final result is what you see here!

Using photos to re-purpose material from your book for use on your blog and social media sites is one good way to promote your book. Engaging photos help you gain a larger presence on the Internet, giving you exposure to more readers.

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Do You Gush or Drip?

A little while ago I read some interesting statistics in a magazine for writers. The author of the article did not quote where she got her statistics, so I could not check to verify, but they sound reasonable.


The statistics had to do with how many books print-on-demand authors typically sell. The breakdown quoted was:

  • 0 to 99 copies: 30.1%
  • 100 to 199 copies: 53%
  • 200 to 299 copies: 9%
  • 300 to 399 copies: 5%
  • 400 to 499 copies: 2%
  • 500 to 999 copies: .5%
  • 1,000 to 4,999 copies: .3%
  • 5,000+ copies: .1%

According to these statistics, over 83% of all print-on-demand titles sold fewer than 200 copies.

What separated the 83% from the other 17%? I believe it can be summed up in two words: Quality and Marketing.

First and foremost, a book must have quality. Quality writing, quality editing, quality layout, and quality cover design. Then, the author must market, market, and market to sell books.
Marketing is not a one-time deal. To sell books, an author must continually engage in marketing.

Many authors engage in Gush Marketing. They turn on the faucet and do a marketing blast. Then they turn it off and wait for a response.

Gush Marketing is not as effective as Drip Marketing. Drip marketing is the faucet that drips. It is not pouring. It is not running. Rather, it is a continual drip that makes people feel thirsty. The drip reminds people that your book is there ready to fulfill a need they have.

Are you gushing or dripping?

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