Online Advertising Versus Column Inches To Market Your Book

Posted at 16:01pm on 21st September 2010

Hands up if you thought writing and publishing a book was all there was to being an aspiring author. Hands up if you’ve ever said, ‘anyone can be a writer.’ Hands up if you’ve ever looked at a successful author and thought, ‘easy peasy, I could do that.’


You’re not alone! Nor are you alone if, with hours of hard labour behind you, hundreds of pounds spent on self-publishing, tens of thousands of words now in print, and thousands of books sitting in boxes in the garage, under the bed, anywhere you can put them, you are now beginning to realise that there’s more to it, and that it’s all rather daunting.

There are things you should have done before writing the book. And there are things you could have done to make life easier for you! But all is not lost.

I wrote, earlier this month, about someone who thought that paying for online advertising was the way forward. But I want to show you that old-fashioned methods, and column inches in newspapers are just as effective, and a jolly sight cheaper. Don’t neglect the real world in favour of cyber space! There’s still a lot of mileage in self-promotion.


If your book has anything that could be construed as local or topical, you must capitalise on it. (If you haven’t yet written the book, now is the time to start thinking along these lines.) It doesn’t matter whether it is fiction or non-fiction, its location or newsworthiness is what will help it to sell.

For instance, a friend of mine is a professional photographer. He is in the process of publishing a coffee table book of photographs taken throughout the seasons in the National Arboretum at Westonbirt. Naturally, he has taken certain steps to ensure publicity for his book. His point of reference – as I intimated in my last article on marketing a book – was, What do your readers want of you?


Above all, readers want to know what’s in it for them. What is it about your book that makes it of interest to me? Is this a subject I’m interested in – either as fiction or non-fiction? Or does your book have some local interest?

Another friend has written The Official Guidebook to Agatha Christie in Devon, timing it to coincide with Agatha Christie week in Torquay, the town in which she lived. In the same town, a local woman, Eileen Nearne, who was a spy during WW2 has died, recently, and is due to be buried as I write this, during Battle of Britain week. I wonder who will write her story and use the local angle in marketing it, as well as the national interest?


Columnists who write specialist articles in newspapers and magazines are readers! Never forget that. They have to produce column inches on a regular basis for their readers – and this is where you can supply what they want.

Instead of writing to them, cap in hand, asking if they will read your book and write a review about it, send them a short piece which you have written yourself, pitching your book, telling them how it would fit in with their column, and (if possible) with some event that’s coming up shortly. In other words, offer a benefit instead of making a request.


Do the same with radio and TV producers. Listeners and viewers are also potential readers of your book. Remember always to think in terms of offering a benefit – but never be arrogant. ‘I think you may find that my book might spark an interest in your viewers . . .’ will be far more acceptable to a producer than ‘My book is exactly what you need to bring your programme to life . . .’

Make sure that you target the right person. If necessary, ring your local station to find out who produces the gardening / art / current affairs programme – whatever it is that links in with your book. My book titled Stepfamilies, for instance, still brings me a certain amount of radio work because it is a topical issue, just as Healed Within did on account of the local interest it prompted. Once you’ve been interviewed for one subject, you’ll find that there’s a knock-on-effect and you may well be invited to comment on others.


It just happens that HRH Duchess of Cornwall is the Patron of Friends of Westonbirt Aboretum. Naturally, my photographer friend, Graham Light, wrote to ask if she would endorse his photographic book by writing a brief foreword. Just as naturally, she was happy to concur, because doing so will benefit the organisation.

Your book may not merit quite so illustrious an endorsement, but you should be thinking in terms of someone who could support your venture. My book, A Painful Post Mortem came to the attention of the Bereaved Parents Network, through its parent company, CARE, to whom I had sent a review copy. As a result – despite, or in fact because of, it being a novel - it is now on their list of recommended books.


Books don’t sell themselves. If you thought that writing your novel was all there was to it, you’re probably in for a nasty shock. Marketing is hard, hard work. Next time, we’ll take a look at what is probably the best way of all. Public speaking!

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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

Related Post: How Can An Author Best Market A Book?

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