The Equation For Book Marketing Success

book marketing success

Here’s a formula to help you make the transition from author to marketer. It is not a scientific, qualitative equation, but a quantitative approach to book marketing success that is adaptable to your personality and genre.

When authors are told they must actively market their books, many say, “I don’t like to promote. I only want to write.” However, when a book is published, the author inevitably becomes a salesperson running a business. It is an abrupt transition that is often not handled well. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve created a formula to help people make the transition from author to marketer. It is not a scientific, qualitative equation, but a quantitative method that is adaptable to any author’s personality and genre.

The equation should lead to Success (S) by manipulating five controllable factors to an individual’s personality and circumstances. These factors are Quality (Q), Fit (F), Knowledge (K), Attitude (A) and Rigidity (R). As the equation below demonstrates, a higher value of S (as defined by the individual) will result from increasing the parameters in the numerator (Q, F, K, and A) while decreasing the denominator (R). Here is the equation, followed by a description of each constraint.

book marketing success

Quality (Q) is defined in several ways. First, it is production quality, including content and editing. Also, the composition, layout, and cover design should be done by a professional. For best results, test different cover designs with target readers and buyers for their opinions.

Quality also reveals itself in marketing. A properly printed and priced book distributed through bookstores (and non-bookstore retailers) by a credible channel partner is essential. Promotion should be implemented with strategies for long- and short-term exposure and sales all directed to the needs of target reader and buyers.

An author may put vast amounts of time into the writing, production, and marketing tasks, but the quality of time invested is critical since action is not the same as accomplishment. There are many marketing tasks that should be performed before and after the book is launched that lead to success.

Fit (F) is the way you organize the interactive parts of publishing and marketing as you would a jigsaw puzzle, creating your vision of success. Initially, match your dreams to reality. Run the numbers to see what is necessary to reach S. Create a cash-flow document for a better idea of where and when to invest your time, money, and energies. Similarly, match your efforts to your definition of success, which could be book sales, a legacy, or to build a consulting or speaking business.

Create the fit between your content and your target readers’ and buyers’ needs. Many authors define them as, “Everybody who likes (my topic).” Be more specific by describing the five Ws: WHO they are (demographically), WHAT they buy (printed books, eBooks), WHEN they buy, WHERE they shop, and WHY they need your content. Apply the same questions to prospective buyers in non-retail segments (corporations, associations, schools, government agencies).

Match your marketing actions to your personality. There are many things that can be done by introverts and/or extroverts. The latter group may perform on television and radio shows, speak at large programs, or conduct retail-store events. Introverted authors could do more social media including networking and blogging. Both groups could write articles, send targeted press releases, conduct interviews in print media, and implement direct marketing (snail mail and email) campaigns. Remember to maintain the quality of each effort.

Knowledge (K) entails an understanding of the craft of writing, the business of publishing, and the art of marketing. Learn all you can about these crucial aspects of success. Join writers groups and participate in local publishing groups and national associations such as APSS and IBPA. Learn all you can about book marketing. Read books and articles. Attend seminars and workshops and take courses from the experts at Book Selling University. As author Brian Herbert said, “The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, and the willingness to learn is a choice.”

Know your competition, too. Before I published my first book (a career guide titled Job Search 101), I went to bookstores and searched their career section. The books were arranged in alphabetical order by author. Noting where “Jud” would be, I evaluated those nearby for content, size, cover design, colors, and pricing. That knowledge helped me publish a better book and eventually sell over 600,000 copies.

Attitude (A) is squared in this equation to emphasize its impact on any publishing endeavor. Without a good attitude not much else matters. Attitude is like a bouncing ball. Each bounce is a little lower than the last, and if unattended, it eventually stops bouncing, rolls for a while, and stops.

Authors begin their marketing trek with high expectations and enthusiasm but experience many obstacles, disappointments, and low periods that reduce their bounce. A good attitude throughout keeps the marketing ball inflated and bouncing. It keeps you motivated as you experience “The REs:” rejection, returns, rescinded orders, reality, and bad reviews. Learn from them and use their lessons to keep yourself bouncing.

Rigidity (R) is doing what everybody else does without considering options. The ramifications of that position are important to consider because the larger the amount of R (rigidity), the lower S (success) becomes. Decrease the value of R with flexibility of thought and action. Do not get caught up with doing what everyone else is doing: the beaten path is comfortable and safe but is the most crowded.

For example, many authors think the only way to sell books is through Amazon and bookstores. They believe returns are inevitable and social networking is the major way to market books. However, rigidity acts like blinders keeping people from seeing many other ways and places to sell books to non-bookstore buyers — non-returnable in many cases. As playwright Diane Grant said, “It’s better to walk alone than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.”

Consider another adage: “If you do what you always did, you get what you always got.” Are you satisfied with the degree of success you always got? If not, work through this equation to increase the parameters in the numerator (Quality, Fit, Knowledge, and Attitude) while decreasing the denominator (Rigidity). The value of your Success may increase significantly!


Free BookBaby Catalog - Your path to publishing


Related Posts
Should you follow the traditional or self publishing path? Numbers point the way.
How To Go From Author To Salesperson
Selling Books to Business Buyers? Think Small.
Make The Most Of Your On-Air Interview
I’m An Author… Do I Need A Blog?



  1. The most intellectually intimate contact we can ever have with another human being is by reading a book they’ve written or having them read one that we’ve written. The mental interior of a thoughtful mind is a journey into a more universal consciousness and language is the touchstone of its common meaning.
    Writing is a precious means of communication but there are way too many books being produced. Most authors (self-published) never seem to ask the fundamental question of why they are writing and whether or not this world really needs another crime story or romance novel or vampire saga. Amazon has democratized the process of having a writer’s work commercially available and so the flood gates are open. I, myself have taken advantage of the opportunity. Yet, it took me four years of daily writing to complete my first book. There are authors who have hundreds of listings of the same formulaic romance stories supplied with different “stud” ornamented cover images who make a nice living selling these books and she has every legal right to do so. The problem is; authors like these utterly flood the commercial book market and bury works that are superior.
    All we can do is read a book and always leave a review.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.