If you are a self-published author, there is often some confusion about the difference between marketing and promoting a book.
In essence, marketing should start after you’ve written your first draft, and well before you publish. Promoting occurs after your book is published and available for purchase.
To give you an example of how marketing works, allow me to entertain you with a very relevant short extract from one of my favourite authors.
As an aside, if you haven’t already, you should read this book.
What is marketing?
This is what Douglas Adams wrote about marketing in chapter 32 of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Alright, Mr. Wiseguy … if you’re so clever, you tell us what colour it should be.
“Well, you’re obviously being totally naive of course”, said the girl, “When you’ve been in marketing as long as I have, you’ll know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them.”
The crowd were tense. They were expecting something wonderful from Ford.
“Stick it up your nose,” he said.
“Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know,” insisted the girl, “Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?”
“And the wheel,” said the Captain, “What about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project.”
“Ah,” said the marketing girl, “Well, we’re having a little difficulty there.”
“Difficulty?” exclaimed Ford. “Difficulty? What do you mean, difficulty? It’s the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!”
The marketing girl soured him with a look.
“Alright, Mr. Wiseguy,” she said, “if you’re so clever, you tell us what colour it should be.”
To take a hint from the passage above, book marketing is about where you will make your book available. Also, what the title will be, deciding on your target reader demographics. And of course, like the wheel, deciding on what colour your book cover design will be.
Clearly, all these tasks need to occur before you bring your book to market and can be defined as your marketing strategy.
Once your book is published, it is too late to market your book.
Promote your book, or advertise to spread the word?
The key difference to understand here is that promoting is passive and long-term. Advertising is aggressive and short-term.
Promoting a book is best described as the process of encouraging potential readers to take an interest in your book by methods such as content marketing or offering a free copy.
Advertising, on the other hand, has the sole purpose of encouraging a potential reader to immediately click the button and buy copies of your ebook or printed book.
This is not restricted to paid pay per click (PPC) advertising. Social media marketing campaigns are also often designed to call for instant action.
Another key difference is that advertising can become very expensive. But effective long-term book promotion can be put in place for very little outlay.
Don’t think that one is better than the other though because the world would stop spinning if there was no paid advertising.
But understanding how to achieve a balance, and use both passive and aggressive techniques in unison, and within your budget, is the key to successful book promotion and marketing campaigns.
Back to the beginning
Write, market, edit, market, proofread, market, publish, promote.
These are the 6 basic top of mind steps in self-publishing a book.
Judging by the popularity of articles related to book promotion on this site, the last word, promote, often proves to be the most challenging for new authors.
One important step that many new authors forget to do is to start marketing well before you think about publishing.
To save repeating previous advice articles, here is a short selected list that you can read before I move on to more passive forms of book promotion and book marketing.
Now let’s look at other ways that you can effectively market and promote your book, and mostly for free.
Become a guest writer on relevant and popular blogs
You might be surprised how easy it is to get your writing published on a blog with a lot of traffic. This is because high traffic blogs usually have and need a lot of content.
Look for blogs that invite people to write a guest post for them with a Write For Us page. It is rarely found in the main menu, so hunt in the header and footer of sites. You could also try a Google search.
While your own blog is essential, you may not be getting a lot of visitors. So by writing for a popular site, with links back to your site, you should see an increase in your own blog’s traffic which will help your personal branding.
As the saying goes, rinse and repeat. The more articles about you, your writing and your book that you can get published on high traffic sites, the better. In fact, it is one of the very best book promotion means you can get. And it’s free.
Comment on other blogs
While not as effective as guest articles, adding your comments to articles gets your name around, and can help increase your social media footprint a little. You can also get backlinks to your blog or website.
Book blogs are a good place to start because there is a better chance of connecting with readers. On writing blogs, you will naturally find mostly fellow writers.
I’m a big fan of Pinterest because it takes up absolutely none of my time. But I get a decent amount of traffic from it. Just create a couple of boards and add images from your blog posts and articles.
Pinterest is all about eye-catching images. If you have great images on your blog and killer book covers, give it a try.
Use landing pages
I wrote an earlier article about publishing landing pages, and since then, I have been tracking the analytics for my new pages. Interestingly, while some work and some don’t, which is normal, the few that do work, work brilliantly well.
It is really trial and error to find out what images, text, keywords, titles and SEO descriptions work best. But it is time well invested in building valuable organic traffic.
Invest in promotion, not advertising
Buying PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising such as Facebook, Google, Twitter or Amazon Ads is a very expensive way to sell books. The cost per click can range between $0.35 to $3.00 depending on which PPC service you use.
For a $2.99 ebook, or worse, a $0.99 ebook, this could well be pouring your hard-earned money down the drain. Although you can have some success, you will most often lose money on your campaign.
Far better for you to buy book promotion that will be long-lasting and much more cost-effective.
Many blogging sites offer economical paid promotion in the form of sidebar banners, or embedded text links that will continue working for you in the long term.
If you are unfamiliar with embedded text links, they are links that are created in a text to link to your site. As an example, look at the link in the following line of text.
Many readers are on the lookout for a great romance novel during the summer holidays.
The link text will take you to one of my books, so click only it if you wish. But now you can see how embedded text links work, and why they are of such long-term value to help book sales. You should add them to all your guest posts and some of your own blog posts.
Facebook Likes are a good investment for long-term promotion because people who Like your page rarely disconnect. So you can build a good following for a modest investment.
On average, if you pay for Facebook Likes, the cost is approximately $0.10 -$0.15 per Like.
You can also get long-term book promotion, as opposed to book advertising, from a number of specialist book promotion sites.
As an example, our sister site Whizbuzz Books offers one year of book promotion for a very affordable one time fee.
If you are ready to publish your book, you should be working hard on your book marketing and understanding how to position your book and access your target readers.
Have you started building a mailing list? Your email list could prove to be a great way to promote.
However, if your book is already published, it is time to get to work on developing your long-term book promotion strategies.
Concentrate on what you can do today that will last, and still be working for you in one or two years time to sell copies of your book.
If you understand when to market and when to promote your book, you will have a much better chance of success.