Do You Really Need to Do That to Sell a Book?

Saturday, October 07, 2017
Have you noticed how everyone seems to make a big deal about everything today? You just need to see beginning of school photos on Facebook to know what I'm talking about--there's a big business now on those cute chalkboards kids hold on the first day of school to reveal their favorite color, their height, what they want to be when they grow up.

What is inspiring this post and what does it have to do with writing? My friend's son is graduating from high school this year, and he's getting ready to have a senior night. My friend was wondering what she should do for her son--moms are going overboard, ordering huge banners. This made me think of book signings and writing conferences and marketing, which led to this question:

Do you really need to do that to sell a book?

I've seen huge banners, tote bags, ads on Facebook, pins and pens, journals, costumes, t-shirts, coffee cups and more. You can print your book cover and website URL on just about anything. But do you need to do that to sell a book?

I'm not sure.

Recently, we published a great article about spending marketing dollars from authors in the trenches. In this article, which you should read if you haven't, the first and most important marketing tool is a well-written book. We all know this costs time and effort, but it really is what is most important. If you don't have a well-written book, then it doesn't matter how big your banner is or how snazzy your bookmarks are. And that's my point.

We seem to go overboard with so many things today and lose sight of what's important, which in this case, is getting people to buy your book and to write more books to build an audience who can't wait until the next one comes out.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't buy bookmarks or make your table look nice at your book signing, but it really doesn't matter if you have the nicest table, biggest banner, or the coolest marketing materials. What's important is getting your story told in the best possible way. Don't get caught up in the hoopla that seems to make everything bigger than it needs to be these days.

Margo L. Dill is a writing coach, published children's author, blogger, editor, and instructor.  Find out more at To sign up for her WOW! novel course, go here. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I think your friend's son will remember the smaller, warmer moments more than the grand ones. Family/close friends gathering with sentimental gifts/gestures. (How about your friend getting a copy of Dr. Suess' "Oh the Places You'll Go" and have loved ones each choose a page and write messages on it?)

More show and less substance is never good. You've made a great point. We have to begin with a well-written book. If we have that, hopefully word of mouth will help sell it.

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Sioux. :) I'm not advocating no marketing, I'm just advocating we all take a deep breath first...

Angela Mackintosh said...

I agree 100% about making sure your book is well-written and the best it can be all around--edited, interior design, book cover, etc. But I also think there are so many great books out there though that go unnoticed that should be marketed and aren't. I've read little indie books or self-pubbed books that could've been bestsellers because the writing was so good. I've seen movies on Netflix and then realized later that the movie was adapted from a book. I watched Carrie Pilby the other night, which was really cute, but I'd never heard of the book. But it does seem like ones that go overboard with marketing perhaps are trying to make up for some the guy who drives the big red truck.

Great post, Margo! It makes me think about what I'll do when it comes time. I tend to fall on the lazier side (shyer side?) of self promotion, so I'm not sure how much self promotion I'd do. I'd probably hire a book publicist or contract wow staff (blog tour and social media team) to do the marketing.

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