Authors want an easy fix for marketing their book. Preference is usually for someone else to market it. But both desires would be naive. There is no easy fix, and no one is going to ever market your book better than you. Books don’t sell by themselves and at we spend an incredible amount of time teaching authors (both traditional and self-published) how to get the most mileage out of their published works. Authors have to get the word out about their book. No one else is going to do it. Not even the publisher—traditional or not. And sales certainly do not happen by accident. It’s up to you.

There are three variables to determine an effective marketing plan. We’ll discuss each one over the course of the next three posts. We’ll start with the big picture and then, in future posts, we’ll break down individual components of each of these three.

The first consideration is your book.

Your Book

No two books are the same, so no two marketing plans are the same. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and genre specific books are all going to be marketed in different ways. Note that each will have a different audience. You’re not after readers. You are after specific readers who want to read your type of book. Focusing on all readers is a waste and unproductive use of your time. Drilling down even further, even when you have written, for example, a mystery, you must decide what kind of mystery you’ve written and what audience will read it. Readers of noir and readers of cozies are different, and they mix as well as oil and water. Decide specifically who would read your particular book. You will find the answer to that within the pages of your book itself. To target to an audience that is not likely to read your book is a waste of your time and an annoyance to those you target. Your time is better spent writing the next work rather than chasing readers with whom you never have a chance. Think of the rifle approach, not the shotgun. The shotgun might sound appealing and the best, but it is not. In future posts, we’ll break this down further. I and my media relations firm have provided publicity for Universal Studios, Stephen Spielberg, PBS, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Stephen King, and more, and I’m happy to share my advice and experiences with you here.

In the next two posts, we’ll be looking at the other two big elements. In future columns we’ll be drilling down on specifics of each of these three. With each post, we will build.

Bestselling books do not happen by accident. Your book is original. Your marketing plan will have to be, as well. And it may need to be different from your previous marketing plans of your previous works. Look at each project afresh. Don’t follow anyone else’s plan. Do the work. If someone guarantees a preset plan without reading your book, run. Follow the three considerations we’ll be mentioning here, and you’ll be miles ahead of other writers. Why? Because you’ve taken the time to get to know your readers.

As an assignment, look at your current work-in-progress or the book you are currently marketing. Write down what kind of person—being as specific as possible—would read this book. Look at age, gender, economic class, marital status, religious affiliation, interests, etc. All of these traits are important to narrow our focus as tightly as we can. We will use this information in upcoming posts.

See you in the next post…


Clay Stafford is an international bestselling author, but also a former publicist for Universal Studios, Stephen Spielberg, PBS, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Stephen King, and more. Sign up for his newsletter here.