How Can An Author Best Market A Book?

Posted at 12:19pm on 13th September 2010

An interesting discussion arose on one of my LinkedIn forums about the merits of using Facebook advertising to market your book. One aspiring author shared a variety of statistics proving the ‘benefits’ of doing so, by showing the increase in ‘hits’ on his website, or ‘page views’ generated by such measures. In the end, however, he had to admit that sales figures were disappointingly low.

A couple of us – both authors with a track record of mainstream publishing – agreed that there were two particular areas of writing and publishing a book which warrant special attention. One concerns who you are writing for – in other words, your readers. The other, what potential purchasers / readers want from you and how you can deliver it.


Sadly, we now live in an era when many people are not readers! Not, at least, in the sense that their parents and grandparents were. Only two of my seven grandchildren are regular readers, and they are aged just six! Unacquainted (as yet!) with the ‘wonders’ of electronic games and apps, they read primarily for pleasure.


Years ago, when I was regularly taking part in chat shows, I shared a slot on Meridian TV with Eva Pollard. Before we went on air we had a conversation about the necessity of speaking in "sound bites" in order to accommodate the attention span of our audience.

The same is true with the written word - and has been for a very long time. An article in a magazine has to be broken up with sub-titles, info boxes, text bubbles and so on. Few of today's young adults have sufficient attention span to read an entire book, let alone their children. I don't mean that to sound elitist - it's just a fact of life. I know, myself, that when I research online, I scan rather than read and, more often than not, "bounce" before I finish.


As authors, we have to recognise that post baby-boomer generations tend not to be readers. Their world is dominated – and, it has to be said, limited - by what is fed to them via the app-centred world in which they choose to live. With no real need to resort to search engines and browsers, are they ever going to come across advertising for your book? And even if they do, will they buy it and read it?

The fact is that no matter how astutely we may apply SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to our websites, and no matter how much money we may throw at Facebook or Google ads, there is a large section of society whom we will not reach by these methods.


But what about e-books and the electronic devices on which they may be read? Statistics would have you believe that there is a huge increase in this market, that e-books are now outselling hardbacks. Note – that’s hardbacks, not paperbacks! The fact is that, in the last five years, 78% of all books published - published not bought – were paperbacks. The only real purchasers of hardbacks are the libraries, and they are on the decline!

My advice to aspiring authors is:

  • Write for the generation that does still buy and read paperbacks.
  • Convert your paperback to pdf and make it available as an e-book.
  • If you write for younger generations, adjust your style accordingly, to a minimalist approach which can be scanned, not read. i.e. plenty of sub-titles and bulleted points like this article.


We’ll take a look at the second area for consideration: what potential purchasers / readers want from you and how you can deliver it.

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© Copyright Mel Menzies: USED BY PERMISSION
Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. This article, in its original form, can be found at

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