Introduction to Marketing

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In this section:

What is book marketing?

People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it. Book marketing is the art of telling people about your book and convincing them to buy it.

Our rule of thumb is that people usually have to see something five times before they buy it. For a single view to sale conversion, you can expect about 2%. Other than that, no one really knows what marketing works. Marketing is an art as much as a science so find what you feel most comfortable doing – that is likely to generate the best results.

If there’s one pattern we do observe, it's that our successful authors treat their marketing seriously. They market consistently, over time, before and after publication. Their marketing really starts to work when they get known as a “brand,” and can be promoted as an author, rather than by a single title.

  • Treat the promotion of your work as a serious, ongoing responsibility.
  • Read and use this Publishing Guide.
  • Communicate with us about what you do via Marketing Activities on the Author Forum and the John Hunt Publishing Facebook Author Groups.
  • Make sure your JHP Profile is up to date with your correct contact information, bio, and the best author photo you have.

How we market your book at JHP

When we publish together, you receive:

  • A publicist assigned to your book.
  • Our Standard publicity campaign (six hours), delivered by your publicist.
  • Additional publicity for every 500 copies you sell.
  • A review three months after your book is published, evaluating what worked and what didn’t and refining our approach.
  • The option of EXTRA PR packages for authors who would like more time, and a more involved relationship with their publicist.

In addition:

  • Our top sales teams present your book to bookstores and the trade worldwide.
  • We promote your book using our email newsletters to the trade and to imprint fans.
  • We share any publicity on our social media channels.
  • We seek foreign rights.
  • We consider your book for award submissions, specialist marketing newsletters, appropriate press advertising and price promotions.

The Standard publicity campaign

For Standard PR, you won’t have email contact with your publicist, but they will add their plan to the Promotional Plans box a few months before your book is out. They will approach contacts for reviews, interviews (print, online, radio, podcasts etc.), pitch articles, mention you and your book on relevant JHP social media, create memes where appropriate, all the while using and updating our Contacts Database as they go along. All publicity approaches are recorded on your Marketing page as Marketing Activities. This initial push is recorded as Email/Press Release Arranged.

The initial campaign is not, in itself, likely to generate substantial sales. A proper campaign takes months. The purpose is more to get an indication of travel, of directions to follow.

The aim is to get half a dozen or so activities "completed" in the first round, whether that consists of one or two published articles, print reviews, blog coverage – whatever the mix.

Though articles and interviews have long lead times, often months, and printed reviews can take months/years from the time of submitting the review copy, particularly in academic areas. So "completed" might take a lot longer than you will see in initial results.

4 things every author should do when they begin their marketing

  • In Promotional Plans, outline in bullets what you will do to promote your book. Update this regularly after publication. Add your website and social media.
  • Under a separate title add Priorities for in-house PR. Detail the most important activities you think your in-house publicist should do to promote your book.
  • Check your Keywords are the best they can be. The right words and phrases in your title, subtitle, blurb and Keyword box (on your Marketing page) greatly increase your visibility on search engines such as Google, Amazon, Apple and LibraryThing. As most people “shop” for books on line, this is crucial to your book’s success. If you’ve written a book that teaches reiki and someone searches for “book on how to do reiki” and your book does not show up on the first 1-3 pages of results, potential readers are not going to find it.
  • Write down 8-10 interview talking points for your publicist to use in the promotion of your book. Interview talking points focus on the most interesting content in your book that you can share in an interview. Each point should only be a few sentences long. This list is used to “hook” the interviewer to having you as a guest. Upload your interview talking points as a Microsoft Word doc to the Articles section of the Publicity box on your Marketing page.

When should I begin my marketing?

Start thinking about it once your final, copyedited manuscript has been approved by you and uploaded back to us, when we send out our Starting to Market (Key Points) notification.

Marketing your book in earnest can wait until the book is at least available for pre-order, and we recommend six months before publication.

What else can I do?

We encourage you to be your own publicist – there is lots of work you can do by yourself, before and after publication, including:

  • Organizing talks, book signings and events.
  • Order copies for your events from us, (just give us plenty of notice).
  • Write and pitch articles and blogs for internet and mainstream media, (just make sure you record your work so your publicist can see).
  • Post on social media.
  • Create and use an email list.
  • Chase reviews for Amazon and chase reviews for Goodreads.
  • Join Amazon Author Central and start building your online presence.
  • Join one of our Facebook JHP Author Groups, swap reviews and submit articles, talk to people facing the same struggles, and celebrate the same triumphs.
  • Use our system to its full potential we can learn from each other’s experiences, whether it’s with particular shops, or magazines, or more general indications of travel – and share what we find works in marketing, and what does not.

Further useful info in this chapter:

Also, read:

How can I order Extra PR?

Case Study, Kill All Normies, 2017

Kill All Normies – A Marketing Success Story

Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle was launched in June 2017 to a huge wave of interest, online and off. Many reviews were written, and a lot of people discussed the book passionately over social media. At the time of writing, August 2017, there are over 80 reviews on

As a result of this, sales started at several thousand a month. Here, Zero Books publisher Doug Lain talks about the key elements that made this book successful and offers his top tips for authors (especially non-fiction writers) preparing to publish a book:

Tip #1. Build A Strong Author Platform

The marketing of Kill All Normies came together organically. Angela Nagle is a talented writer, well positioned, with a solid network of allies at various publications, and her book emerged out of her success writing about the neo-fascist right.

Angela had spent a lot of time building her platform, publishing articles and essays specifically on the topic of her book (she writes for The Baffler, The Irish Times, Jacobin and Current Affairs Magazine), before it was published. People already knew about who she was and were interested in what she had to say.

Tip #2. Start Pre-Publicity Six Months or More in Advance

Before the book was published, Angela promoted herself as an expert on the subject of the book, without necessary directly promoting the book, including multiple appearances on podcasts and radio programs, as well as many written articles for online media.

Tip #3. Don’t Stop Promoting Once Your Book is Released

Often, authors put in a huge amount of energy promoting themselves up until their launch, and then stop once their book is out there.

Crucially, Angela continued this work after the Kill All Normies launch, and will continue to do so.

This is important advice for new authors, especially non-fiction ones. This kind of publicity should be an all-year-round effort, and will pay off in the long-term.

Keep promoting the book, keep producing new essays on the topic, and keep the interviews coming. The goal should be to get to a point where you have to start turning down interview requests.

Tip #4. Secure Reviews

We were lucky in that Angela’s author platform was strong and that many people wanted to review Kill All Normies. With a sufficient amount of pre-publicity, and if you hit the right topical subject, you should be able to get at least a few people coming to you asking for reviews rather than the other way around.

The importance of securing reviews, both in print and online, especially on Amazon and Goodreads, cannot be overstated.

Tip #5. Hit The Zeitgeist

Easier said than done. Kill All Normies was the right book at the right time, addressing a raw issue in the public consciousness. Obviously, not every book will hit the zeitgeist as Nagle’s book did.

However, if you do the things that Nagle did and fail, you’ll still have sold more copies than otherwise.

A good comparison would be Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism. There was maybe 1/100th the amount of interest in that book as there was in Nagle’s, however, the book sold a few hundred copies at the outset due to Alfie Bown’s hustle and the way he kept on publishing on his topic.