Publishing and Marketing a Book: It's a Marathon

When you’ve written and endlessly polished a manuscript, all you can think about is publishing it.  It becomes an obsession, really.  You do the necessary research and spend long hours seeking the appropriate recipient for your query.  Then, after months or even years, the impossible happens.  You land your dream agent and eventually sign that book deal.

Suddenly, there are new hoops to jump through: content edits, copy edits, line edits, revisions, cover art, proofs, deadlines.  But the big day, the launch of your book, finally arrives and… and… 

You realize you aren’t even remotely prepared for the amount of work it takes to market it.

Unless you’re John Grisham, James Patterson, or J.K. Rowling, your shiny new book won’t sell itself.  Not that there aren’t new stars rising everyday, but for the majority of us, writing is more of an avocation than a vocation—we typically keep our day jobs—which makes it even harder to find the time to market our books, not to mention the skill it requires.

Fortunately, we don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on promotion any more.  The days of flying around the country to hold book signings are virtually gone, though, to be honest, I think that sounds kind of cool.  Today, there are many new tools, all free, that make marketing easier than ever:  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon, Google+, Tumblr; the list is endless.  The trick is to build an online author platform and connect with readers, not writers—a mistake I learned early on, but took to heart too late.  But still, the audience is so vast, it’s hard to target exactly the right people. 

Between flitting from one social media outlet to the next, you obsessively check your Amazon ranking, like eight times a day.  Will it be up or down, will you cry or rejoice?  Ugh!

Luckily, this isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.  It’s not like a TV show that has to cull an immediate following just to survive.  As readers read, they rate and review; they tell a friend or gift a family member.  Then those people do the same.  Regardless, you can’t sit back on your laurels and wait. 

You have to hunt down book bloggers and Amazon reviewers willing to invest some time in your little-known title.  You have to find virtual book tour companies that specialize in your genre, especially if that genre is not the flavor of the day.  You tweet reviewer quotes, make connections and comment on Facebook, post photos of people who remind you of your characters, and share links to songs that make up your playlist or inspired a certain scene.  And even though more experienced writers have told you their sales increased substantially after the release of their second title, and you’re ready with a completed outline for your next book, at this point, the marketing for book one takes precedence.    

But you know what?  It’s okay.  It’s all good.  It’s what you always dreamed of, publishing your book.  It’s not fame you’re searching for, and the money isn’t really enough to make much of a difference.  It’s the fact that people out there, total strangers who know nothing about you or your struggle, are actually reading the words you so lovingly and painstakingly wrote.  They’re reading it and loving it.  You can’t buy the feeling that comes with that.  And at the end of the day, for a writer, that’s what truly matters.        

Nancy Thompson makes her fiction debut with The Mistaken. She is an interior designer and California transplant, currently living with her husband near Seattle, WA.

Genre: Psyshological Thriller
Published by: Sapphire Star Publishing
Publication Date: October 18, 2012
Number of Pages: 409
ISBN: 978-1-938404-13-9


  1. WOW! This is a great post. Thank you for sharing. Great job!

  2. Thanks for having me over today!

  3. Nancy, what a great post! Now you're a pro who can teach the rest of us what to do :)

  4. Nancy, you have written words of wisdom. An excellent post!

  5. Find readers not writers - very smart advice!

  6. It is a marathon. I liken it to pushing a very huge boulder up a hill. As a friend of mine says, keep in mind we're in this for the long haul. We just have to keep chipping away at it -- with new ideas and new plans. Some work. Some don't.


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