What is Book Marketing?

Whether you’ve hired a professional to take care of it or are doing it yourself, marketing is what gets your book seen, bought, and read. Other terms, such as book promotion and book advertising, exist as well, but they all fall under the umbrella of marketing, which involves putting your book in view of those who might be interested in reading it.

Book sales are a combination of three things: traffic, conversion, virality.

Traffic typically refers to foot traffic in physical bookstores, but online traffic has picked up speed in the past twenty years. This involves how many people actually see your content, be it on social media, the local news, or your author website.

Conversion refers to how many of these people who see your book actually buy it (converting traffic into buyers).

And Virality is word of mouth. If someone buys your book and enjoys it, they’ll share it. Leaving a review, recommending it to a friend, sharing it on social media. Good quality books have the highest virality rate, which is how they get popular, and thus get more traffic.

How to Get Traffic in the First Place?

For your book to be successful, you should have a marketing plan in place. But what is that? A book marketing plan is a plan you make to promote and publicise your book. It might include book tours, journalism features, or even just promotional material on social media. Some people choose to hire a publicist to take care of their marketing—someone who will be in charge of in-person events such as launches, panels, or signings, and online efforts such as SEO, webinars, and targeted ads and banners.

Before we go further, though, you must be aware of the dangers of scammers.

Book Promotion Scammer Awareness

Scammers exist everywhere, but in this area, authors are especially targeted. Almost as soon as you create an account with the title of “author” in the name, scammers will be pushing their services on you. Often, this comes in the form of Private/Direct Messages, which may feel invasive, but there’s very little you can do about that other than not allowing anyone to Direct Message you. They’ll start with a simple “hello” or ask you to share your book links with them, which might prompt you to reply.

My advice: If you get a message from anyone you don’t know, check their account first. If it has anything to do with book promotion, tell them you aren’t interested. If they push (any message that further tries to convince you to buy what they’re offering) don’t reply, just block them. Remember to still be polite. Don’t insult them; don’t accuse them of trying to cheat you out of money—that doesn’t work anyway. Write “I’m not interested, thank you” or something similar, and don’t give them anymore thought.

How to Market Your Books

Moving on. If you still have no idea what I meant by SEO above, that means there is still more research in your future. Not to worry; you’ll get there.

When marketing, keep in mind that not everyone will enjoy your book. This can be for a multitude of reasons, be it the book’s genre, the overall storyline, the age of the characters, or any number of things. One size does not fit all, which is why knowing your Target Audience is vital in the creation of ads and in book promotion. If you run a single ad everywhere, you’ll likely get a lot of traffic, but your Conversion will be very low. It’s better to have 1000 people see your book and 50% buy it, than having 10,000 people see your book and only 5% buy it. Same number of buyers, more money spent on ads and unnecessary marketing.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and in marketing, it refers to the process used to make it more findable, relevant, and popular by optimizing a website’s technical configuration, content relevance, and link. Just like targeted ads, SEO allows you to make your website much easier to find by people more likely to read your content, and this will make it more popular.

Related article: What is a Target Audience?

Read the above article for more information about target audiences, but in short, they are the main demographic of your book.

Take, for example, a book like Twilight. Popular, yes? Who is it targeted toward? The main character is a 17-year-old girl who falls in love with both a vampire and a werewolf, so it can be assumed that it’s a supernatural/paranormal romance targeted toward teen girls. That’s one audience, and quite a wide one. You can make your groups bigger or smaller, depending on what kind of ads you post; more often than not, you’ll have different ads for multiple different groups.

Whether your book has enough action and battles that you can target it for one group, and also enough of a romance going on that you can target it toward romantics. A mysterious loner character is appealing to both girls who love the mysterious bad boy, and boys who like the cool, older guy. If the book showcases LGBTQ characters in the forefront, you can also use that as a way to market the book in those circles. If your main character is a POC (a person of colour), you can market toward people of the same ethnic background, and people who aren’t but are interested in that perspective. The internet is full of different communities, and while people exist in multiple of these, your most successful ads are those that are targeted to specific groups.

Note: Marketing, unfortunately, runs on stereotypes, so please take my labelling with a grain of salt. Whether the ad changes based on culture, country, or genre, they are very simple in what strings they pull. While trying to be sensitive of everyone all the time doesn’t work, being overall supportive and accepting of everyone is fully possible.


Most generic marketing strategies don’t work as well with your first book as they will with your third or fourth, but that’s only because people don’t yet know about you and your writing. You haven’t built up your following yet. Don’t let that discourage you.

Start with a press release. Self-published authors obviously won’t get big in the papers or news on their first go, but social media platforms are an amazing way of getting your name out there. If you don’t already have one, create an author website, an author page on Facebook, and accounts on the most popular sites you use—such as Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, and/or Twitter.

If you’re adept at these already, good for you; figuring out what to post and keeping up a schedule should be easier for you. For those of your who aren’t so savvy with social media, you should come up with a strategy to help you keep on track.

If you need to make a schedule, make it. Try to post something every day of the week, but don’t overwhelm people with just posts about your book. Talk about book- or genre-related things: your writing process, tips you’ve heard or learned, things about the genre or books you enjoy reading, etc. Give back as much as you expect to get from the communities you’ve joined.

The advertising sweet spot is 33-33-33, meaning 33% promotion, 33% educational, and 33% entertaining.

One third of your posts can involve the book itself—now available posts, sales posts, buy my book posts, and the like. However, if people get too many of these, they won’t see the point in following you; they’re only getting promotional “spam,” after all. That’s why you need to give them value in following you.

The next third of your content should be educational, which means tips and tricks you’ve learned over the course of your writing career, fun facts you may have come across in your book research, and other things to help everyone around you to learn new things.

The final third of all content you post should just be straight-up entertaining. Memes, jokes, and other funny things are appreciated, but even I’ve found that an account that only posts or reposts memes isn’t that interesting. You can also intersperse this with a book trailer video or other fun activities for your followers to participate in.

Combining these sections is also possible. A book trailer is both promotional and entertaining. A poll about writing is educational/information, but also something fun to participate in because it sparks discussion. A book cover reveal is promotional and entertaining as well, when your fans have been highly anticipating it.

How will you engage your audience?

Getting Reviews

Beyond getting traffic and converting that traffic into sales, how will people know that what you have to offer is good? They only have your word, and as the author, you’ll obviously say that your book is amazing, so buyers turn to others for their opinions as well. Books with high public opinion will only get more and more popular, while books with low public opinion will remain unknown.

That is why it’s so important to get your book to the right people the first time. If your book is not for them, of course they’ll leave a bad review; a lot of people don’t see the difference between a bad book and a book that’s just good for other people.

Related article: What is a Book Reviewer?

Of course, if your book is low quality to begin with, there’s not much marketing can do unless it’s super high end, which is why hiring professional editors and designers is so important before you begin promoting.

But, let’s assume that you’ve done all the proper things and your book is an amazing product just waiting to be discovered. If no one has read your book, how will you get reviews, and without reviews, how will anyone want to buy your book? Some people don’t read reviews, but a lot of people will only buy a thing that has good reviews.

Start by getting ARC readers. Advance Review Copy readers receive the book before it comes out—typically a free digital copy, though some authors even send out special physical copies to ARC readers—so that their review will be ready for the book the week (or even the day) of its release. This will give your book 5-500 solid reviews that will catapult your book’s popularity up the charts and give it a top reputation.

You’ll be giving away quite a few free copies for this to happen, of course, but many ARC readers (if they absolutely loved your book) will buy the book after the fact just to have a copy of it. Time and effort put into a book is its own reward, but a nice paycheck from sky-high book sales never hurt either.

Hopefully, these tips and tricks have helped you with your own marketing, or have pushed you to further your marketing research in the right areas. Best of luck to you and your book sales!

Related Articles:
What is a Target Audience?
What is a Book Reviewer?
10 Strategies to Promote Your Book for Free

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: