Your Book Won’t Sell Itself! (Learn What To Do About It)

Do you know your book won’t sell itself?

It seems to be a well-known fact among published authors that selling a book is much harder than writing it. I often tell my clients that marketing a book is like having a part-time job. But if you think of the time and effort you’ve already invested in writing your book, marketing becomes more of an investment than a chore. And if you think about the publishing process logically, your book didn’t write itself. Therefore, the same consideration (and time) should be given to selling it.


Almost every week I have the unpleasant task of telling a newly published author this truth: “Your book won’t sell itself.” It’s disheartening, to say the least, and I take no delight in it. But it’s the truth.

Unless you are a well-established public figure or local personality, you won’t have instant book sales. This is a facet of publishing few authors investigate before completing their book. Sure, you may get your friends, family and colleagues to buy a copy or two, but that doesn’t go on forever. Instead, you’ll have to set up a marketing plan to sell books like the rest of us.


Ideally, an author should build a tribe of targeted readers BEFORE they publish. But it seldom happens. As if the first half of the publishing formula [writing + promotion] isn’t difficult enough, now you are hit with an undeniable truth: “Your book won’t sell itself.”

It’s not that authors dodn’t know this all along. Its just that the task of completing the project – writing, editing, formatting, book cover, and more – dominates your attention. And now you have to plan a marketing campaign or see your labor go down the drain.

Now that you’re over the shock, the next thought is what you should do now.


Since your book won’t sell itself, you’ll need to promote it. My clients are offered three marketing plans. By this time, Plan A (Build While You Write) has already sailed. This plan required them to start promoting their book 6-9 months prior to publication.

Next, we move to Plan B. This plan begins the day we meet. It involves a massive visibility campaign where the goal is to be seen by large groups of people without focusing on sales. This involves an update of all social media channels to include the book cover and a brief blurb. In addition, emails are used to strategically connect with friends and colleagues where their new author status is announced. These are soft sell tactics that have proven to be quite profitable in the long run.

Plan C involves a budget-sensitive book launch, both online and offline. The launch involves several people and it must be strategically planned to move beyond exposure to capture mega sales. This plan uses some of the features of plan A but from a different angle.


Here are just a few of the suggestions I offer my clients. First of all, do something NOW! It is strongly suggested that you do something everyday – whether 5 minutes or 5 hours – to promote your book. Focus on visibility over sales. This means you should search out ways to be visible to groups of people who are your ideal readers. This could be at a networking event, a book club, a speaking engagement or any gathering point for your readers.

Although I’m not a big believer of free books, when used strategically, free can prove to be quite profitable. For example, if you write a book series, you can offer the first book on a permanently free basis and sell the other copies. This strategy works well for lots of new authors.

Another strategy is to donate a book or two to a public event. This kills two birds with one stone. You connect to the host and you have access to their audience. You may not know who is in attendance and what influence they have with other readers. The possibilities inherent in this strategy are endless.


If you can establish a regular schedule of marketing activity, you’ll create opportunities for your book to be purchased. Take time to create a list of actions you can take, then get them on a calendar. Start with two days a week and build from there.

It’s more important to establish a regular promotions schedule than it is to market vigorously for two weeks then taper off for two months. And by all means, set a schedule that works for YOU! Remember that visibility gives way to credibility, then credibility generates profitability.

Sandee Hemphill is an author, publisher and speaker who works with other authors to create their publishing success. She is the founder of Work Your Book(Learning to Think Outside the Book). If you’d like further information on this topic, join here for a free tele-call February 19 & 26, 2017. You can register here.

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