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Marketing & Selling: The Same?

"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." ~Cicero, 106-43 BC

Many people mistakenly think that selling and marketing are the same - they aren't. Selling is the “instant gratification” we all like—you hand someone a book and they hand you money. I sell about 90% of my books in person, by hand. 

Marketing is a little like planting seeds in your garden. You put them out there and water and fertilize and you hope they will bear fruit (or vegetables.) With marketing you are putting your name or your books out there and maybe some people will buy it right away and maybe two years from now, someone will come across your name and decide to buy. You may not be able to tell how many sales you make from a website or a virtual book tour until you receive a royalty check from your publisher or from Amazon.

Global management consultant Alan Weiss says, "There is no music if you don‘t blow your own horn." Like it or not, these days authors HAVE to get involved in the business side of publishing.

Selling is one activity of the entire marketing process. And Marketing activities support sales efforts. Some authors are good at promotion and some aren’t. You have to decide what you can do yourself or if you want to hire someone else to do it for you.

Hundreds of little things contribute to success, not necessarily one big thing. Here are some basics:

  • Create a platform: Build an expertise in the subject matter, write articles or short stories.
  • Create a website to showcase your book, with excerpts, reviews, and additional information about the topic.
  • Write a blog. Blogging is the “new” journalism and an important part of your marketing strategy. Your readers will get to know you, your books and characters, and again, you can provide subject matter expertise.
  • Find your niche. My books are about old-time cowgirls, so I’ve sold books at feedstores, rodeos, concerts, even a Cowgirl play.  If your book has an historical aspect, do school presentations, talks at service clubs, etc.Does your book have recipes in it? Do a talk at a kitchen store, prepare a recipe to share.
  • Get over the fear of public speaking. It is easier to pursue a subject for which you are passionate.
    • Do a radio talk show or a TV interview.     
    • Do a virtual book tour. Find blogs that are of similar interest to your topic or theme, follow them, comment, and when you’re ready, ask if they will host you. Write an article, do an interview, have giveaways. Make it fun!
And, of course, you must add social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest.

Pick one tool or technique you’re passionate about and take one action on it right now. Today. And every day. Find what is fun for you, persist at it, track your results. Then try something out of your comfort zone. Keep trying new things to find what works for you, and you will become a super marketer.

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona where she blogs, teaches writing, and edits. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreamsis based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. The next book in the series, Dare to Dream, has just been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism and a certificate in fiction writing.


  1. My greatest weakness is that I love the work. I'll sit in a room and spin gold from straw from dawn til dusk. Just don't ask me to leave the room and address the crowd about why they should love my gold. LOL.

  2. Marketing obviously includes selling, but it's only one piece of the multi-faceted picture. Selling is a facet of marketing, but standing alone it's a single color, not the vibrant plethora of shades and hues that paint the overall picture. This is a great comparison, Heidi. I never separated the two; but then I don't like marketing or selling, so I haven't given either nearly as much thought as they require. As soon as my revisions are completed, both need to be a priority—along with the completion of book #3. Great post!

  3. I'd rather be writing than marketing. But all the things you've listed in your post help get your name out there, which is the bottom line in marketing, I think.

  4. I'm with the others, only I'm going a step further. First, I have never done much to sell my paper books, and I probably wont. I'll keep concentrating on ebooks. Other than Facebook, which I love, I'm cutting back on Twitter. Never did Pinterest, hate LinkedIn, and my blog is on Goodreads and consists of recycled blogs, some from here, which reminds me it's time to post another one. I'm convinced the best thing a writer can do to sell her books is to keep writing good books. Period, end of story.

  5. I agree--keep writing good books! And yes, for creatives, marketing is very difficult! We are forced to become a different personality to do it! I was an extremely shy person when I was younger, but as I've "matured" it has become easier for me to get out there and be a "ham" and sell my books! Good luck to you all!


  6. Comfortably, the article is in reality the greatest on this noteworthy topic. I concur with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your upcoming updates
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  7. The Cicero quote has made my day. As for marketing, my experience and practice are quite off from the norm. I find my efforts have paid off the most when I maintain a presence elsewhere rather than in the standard social media.

  8. Addendum: Much as I like the quote, further digging strongly suggest that it is spurious. No actual source seems to have ever been located or cited. Both WikiQuotes and David Brin have expressed doubts about its origins. Seems to have been a modern concoction attributed to Cicero to lend authority to plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Still, I like it.

  9. Thanks for the great advice. I loved the quote and mentioned this blog in my own blog that I just posted -- and stole the quote, too. .


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