Understanding Marketing and Publicity

Marketing is an all-encompassing word for everything you need to know and do to get your product to your intended buyers. In the case of your book, we can break marketing down to three key tasks that you must accomplish, no matter your budget, in order to sell your book.

  1. Package your book to communicate the subject and purpose clearly to its intended audience. To do this, see Research.
  2. Spread the word about your book. To do this, see Publicity.
  3. Develop a precise plan for selling your book. To do this, see Sales.

In order to sell a book, you need to have an understanding of the marketplace and how to package your book to fit that marketplace. To do this:

  • Read Bluebird’s publishing guides to familiarize yourself with the current publishing and bookselling environment.
  • Familiarize yourself with new books that have subjects similar to yours. What do they do well? What does your book do better?
  • Put your title to the test. Search your title on Amazon.com to make sure that it is original and won’t be confused with books on other subjects. Make sure that you’ve chosen a title that clearly conveys your book’s subject.
  • Be sure that your plans for your book’s packaging—including your title, cover design, binding (paperback or hardcover), with or without illustrations—matches industry and audience expectations.

Nobody buys a book they’ve never heard of or don’t know anything about. Potential buyers have to be made aware of the book and be interested in the subject or be interested in you. Depending on your book’s intended audience and your budget, there are a number of ways to spread the word about your book:

  • Brand your book. Book branding is the story you create for your book. This story should be with you at all times. It’s on your back cover copy, it’s usually embedded in your title, and it’s in all information about your book—in press releases, in email announcements, on websites and blogs. And it’s the first thing you say when you talk about your book.
  • Send a professional press release to targeted media outlets that may run a story about you and your book.
  • Send email announcements to friends, family members, and key contacts.
  • Add key information about your book, including links to Amazon.com, Bluebird’s website book page, or your personal website or blog, in the signature of all of your personal email communication.
  • Send messages through Facebook and other social media about your book.
  • Send postcards or other mailings to your connections.
  • Create a website or blog for your book, and create traffic to the website through the first five options.
  • Organize a book launch, book signing, or other event. (But remember that events require their own publicity to spread the word.)
  • In the case of a book that is being distributed to retail markets, work with a publicist is recommended in order to drive media exposure and clearly communicate with and coordinate efforts between distributors and retailers.

Who is the audience for your book, and how can you best reach this group? The following sales strategies can be used individually or combined together:

  • Direct selling at book fairs and other events.
  • Direct consignment sales organized by the author with bookstores and other stores.
  • Online through Amazon.com.
  • At bookstores and other media outlets through a distributor. (See the author guide “Understanding Sales” for more information on this.)


Please note for authors handling sales directly:

  • If you are the Point of Sale for your books (beyond simple sales to your friends and family), you need a Sales Tax ID Number for the state that you are selling books in. For the state of Missouri, you can find information on obtaining this ID number online: http://dor.mo.gov/business/sales/.
  • If you are selling in another state, even temporarily—for a book show, for example—be sure to check the state’s regulations. Most book shows provide information on this in their preparation literature.

Marketing Questionnaire: Your Plan for Success

We strongly suggest that all authors complete a Marketing Questionnaire, whether or not you plan to have Bluebird assist you with marketing, publicity, and sales. The Marketing Questionnaire poses important questions central to marketing and selling your book. It is the first step in the creation of your unique Marketing Plan.
Click here to download.