How To Market Your Book? What Readers Really, Really Want

Posted at 18:49pm on 28th September 2010

I know I shall be bucking the trend when I suggest that internet marketing is not the only method of selling books. Nor, dare I say, is it necessarily the best way to market your book. Especially for an aspiring author! The fact is that old-fashioned methods may work best for you, for one simple reason. Readers want to know authors!


Think about it. When you choose new curtains for your sitting room, your choice is determined by colour, style, design, quality and price. When you pick up fresh produce, a sell-by-date may influence you. But when you buy a designer outfit, although all those factors may be relevant - even the bang up to date requirement of fashion - your purchase may have as much to do with WHO designed your suit, as it has with anything else.

When it comes to the point where you have to market your book you, its author, need to bear all these things in mind if you are to attract buyers and readers. Just like the curtain example above, appearance matters. The content of your book, its plot or, in the case of non-fiction, its benefits - need to be visibly appealing in the blurb. The colour and design of the front and back covers have to stand out from the competition, yet be bang up to the minute in style. Quality and cost are also major factors when it comes to persuading potential readers to part with their money.


But the sad thing is that even if you have all these features in place, your book may never have a chance to shine. Because what influences a reader more than anything in their choice of book, is the feeling that the author is their friend!

Two facts lead me to believe that readers want to think that they know their favourite authors. First of all, establishing a sense of relationship and community is built into the human psyche. Call it a herding instinct, if you wish; I prefer to believe that were made in the image of our Creator. This ability, or urge, to co-operate is what has made us so outstandingly successful as a species. By working together as friends, we encourage and empower ourselves and others. It is this, above all, that has made Facebook such a phenomenal success. It's also what has led to developed nations acquiring a skilled work force, rather than each member being a jack of all trades. You have a service I need; I'm prepared to pay for it. And vice versa.

The second, sadly, is that we live in a celebrity culture!


So what are you to do? Is the only answer to become a celebrity? In a manner of speaking, Yes.

Think of an aspiring author as you would a blogger. New bloggers are urged to establish themselves as an expert in a niche. This means that if the niche is health issues, then every article should be about health. The narrower your niche, the more defined and refined the information you will be offering. Thus health might be narrowed down to arthritis, or cancer care.

By writing solely on this topic you will be offering a benefit to your readers. They will know that every time they come to your blog they'll get what they've come for. The same quality of information; the same style of writing; the same integrity and assurance. And it is this certainty that will inspire your readers with confidence; that will make them see you as an expert in your field; and that will make them want to subscribe to your blog.


It's easy to see the relevance of the comparison above if you are writing non-fiction. If, for instance, you write regularly about tourism, then that is your niche and your expertise. The same would be true of a cook, sharing recipes. Or a fitness guru selling gym equipment. But what of the fiction author: the novelist? And how does this translate into sales?

There are two ways to tackle this. The first is to think of your novel as you would a non-fiction book. When I authored Stepfamilies, every magazine article I wrote subsequently, every radio interview and TV chat show on which I appeared, focused on this topic.

You can do the same with your novel. Ask yourself what research you had to undertake in order to write it? The plot of my book, A Painful Post Mortem, focused on drug addiction and bereavement. Its theme is about righting a wrong - in this case, justice and truth.

This, then, is my expertise and, ideally, my blog niche should centre on these topics, meaning that all the articles I write should support my niche. In commercial terms, this niche and expertise would be described as a USP (Unique Selling Point). To an aspiring author, its the key to awakening interest for your book in potential readers.


What works in cyber space began by working in the real world! Theres nothing new about it. Presenting yourself as an expert on the subject of your book begins the process of establishing a celebrity status. As I said, earlier, this is easy enough to do if you are the author of a non-fiction book, such as gardening, cooking, tourism or the like. But it can be achieved, too, by the novelist.

If your novel has no specific handle on which to hang the plot (such as the drug addiction and bereavement of mine, above) then you need to think of yourself as either an entertainer, or an educator. Learn all you can about public speaking. Go to night classes, if necessary. Then offer yourself as a Speaker to your local library, Probus, Mothers Union, Creative Writing Groups, radio and TV, your local book shop.

Provide these groups and organisations with a CV stating your expertise. Create a talk in which you answer the questions that you think your audience would like to ask. Start with small beginnings: running a Book Club or a Writers Group. Build on this by starting a Creative Writing Course. Offer to run a course at your local Technical College. Gradually establish yourself as a Keynote Speaker.


Share something of yourself as you speak: your journey as an author. This adds entertainment value. Always, always, have your books to hand. Give VIP discounts on sales to your audience. Remember that to them you have celebrity status, merely by writing and publishing your book. They want to feel that youve confided in them, befriended them, allowed them to have inside knowledge of your writing journey. If you can create readers from your audience and if your book is good enough your celebrity status will spread by word of mouth. Just remember, that what readers really, really want is to know their authors.

Apologies: my editor is playing up and has omitted punctuation. I've tried to correct it all manually, but forgive me if some is still missing.

RELATED ARTICLES: Public Speaking As A Means To Enlarge My Vision

  • Share this article with friends: hit the social media button in the sidebar on the right.
  • For regular reminders of new posts, click the button on the right, or read What It Means To Subscribe.
  • Take a Personality Test, sign up for Mels News, Views & Muse and receive a *Free Download* on Creative Writing Techniques - available ONLY to recipients of this Monthly Ezine.

Your Comments:

Post a comment:

No HTML allowed. Web URLs will be auto-linked. Please stand by your comments; anonymous posting is permitted but not encouraged. Your email address will not be published, nor will it be distributed. Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the editor has approved them. They may also be removed without notice or explanation.

Related Posts

Posts on related themes:

My Latest Book

Picked for a Purpose

Available in paperback from my books page
Buy Your Copy

Find the Real You...

Start Now
Take a FREE
Personality Test

BBC Radio Devon Interview

Listen to me chatting to Dave Fitzgerald about my latest release, Chosen, on BBC local radio.

Recently On Twitter

Wedding Journal:Part 7 via @wordpressdotcom Lovely memories of a special event.
tweeted by MelMenzies
on 7th July at 02:30
Need something encouraging to read? Try: via @wordpressdotcom
tweeted by MelMenzies
on 3rd July at 22:00
We all have a tendency, at times, to hide the real Me behind a mask. And now, here we are, with the reality of havi…
tweeted by MelMenzies
on 3rd July at 17:49
Follow Me on Twitter

Who's online?