Marketing 101: Never (Ever) Sell Your Book

by | Mar 29, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics

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So you’re all ready to promote your book. You’ve got a great press kit, a polished bio, and a letter-perfect press release. Now you’re ready to sell, sell, sell, right? Wrong. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is selling their book. Remember it’s not about the book; it’s about what the book can do for the reader.

Finding the benefits to your book might seem like a pretty simple task, but touting that “It’s a great read!” won’t get you very far. To determine what your book will do for your reader, you’ll have to dig deep, sometimes deeper than you thought. Especially if your book is fiction, this task of finding benefits will require some serious brainstorming. The key here is, be different. If you have a diet book, don’t offer the same benefits a million other books do: you’ll lose weight. Instead, offer a benefit that is decidedly different than anything that’s out there. Or, try to couch a similar benefit in a different way. At the end of the day, it’s all about the WIIFM factor: what’s in it for me? If your reader likes what’s in it for them, they’ll buy your book — otherwise they’ll just move on.

The idea of not selling your book also holds true when you’re doing an interview. Never, ever answer an interviewer’s question with: “You’ll find it in my book.” Because the fact is you’re an author, of course the answer is in your book, but right now you’re there to help them with their interview — save the sales pitches for another time.

The uniqueness of your benefits can also directly relate to the particular audience you’re speaking to. For example, if you have different levels of readers or readers from different backgrounds, it’s a good idea to work up a set of benefits for each of them. Then any interview you do (or speaking engagement) will offer benefits with that audience in mind as opposed to a more generic form of, “Here’s what my book can do for you!” Creating a list of benefits for your book can aid your campaign in a number of ways: first, it’ll help you get away from a more “salesy” type of approach, and second, it will help you create the tip sheets that can add substance to your press kit. If you’re working on the benefit angle of your book early enough, you can incorporate these into the back copy of your book.

The point is, never, ever sell your book. Be a step ahead of the competition and sell what your book can do for the reader, and let them know why it’s better than the competition. In the end, that’s all anyone will care about.

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  1. Shelby Snowder

    This is great post with lot of info. Thank’s from healthy dieting team.


  2. Mary Jane Hurley Brant


    Everything you said is so right on. Nobody wants to hear some author go on and on about his or her book. It’s just a turnoff.

    I remember the first interview I heard with Amy Tan on NPR. The callers were madly in love with her. I had never read any of Amy’s books but I was so engaged with her personality, authenticity and her callers that I bought her books one-by-one falling in love with every one of them.

    Yes, that’s me standing in line and waiting for her next one.



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