Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer

Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer, guest post by @katelevanauthor @iReadBookTours

I thought I left the world of marketing 20 years ago to do what I do now:  help other business professionals be better seen and heard through my communication training and coaching.  How I ever made a first career out of marketing, I’m not sure.  Personally, I don’t opt in on promotional games and invariably ignore calls from telemarketers who always seem to ring at dinner time. Nevertheless, now that I’ve put my pearls of wisdom in a book for more general consumption, I have found that early experience to be quite handy.  It turns out that writing the book was the fun part.  Now that the book is published, I’m back in marketing again.

The following may only be of interest to those who aspire to be newly published non-fiction writers. For those who don’t fall into this category, I look forward to swapping stories with you once I finish navigating this book promotion stuff.  I’m sure there’s overlap.

Whenever I give feedback as a communication consultant, I use a 3-part model that is also used in marketing:  first consider your strategy, then consider the structure or packaging of your message, and finally its delivery or implementation.  The idea is that any tactical decisions you make should proceed from your stated strategy and be “on target” for your intended audience.  What I’m finding is that I need to take my own advice when it comes to the backend business of publishing a book.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

-Have one.  Generally, to have a strategy means to be thoughtful and have a plan.   Amazon is a great and robust retail platform available to new authors, but your book can die on their algorithmic vine just as easily there as if you marketed it one independent bookstore at a time.  The big retailers are an important part, but only a tactical part of your plan.  So, don’t start with the goal “to have a book about X that I can sell on Amazon.”  That’s not a strategic plan.

-Profile your target reading audience in as detailed a way as possible, because everything—even your promotional materials—will proceed from this.  I thought I was being strategic when I wrote that my book was "for business people who make their living, or their mark, through presentations long and short.”  Why limit it further, I thought?  But it wasn’t until I wrote a description of my typical training participants—their gender, age, schooling, areas of expertise, career level, leadership aspirations and the specific words they use when asked about their strengths and areas for improvement—that I could choose a concept for my website, determine the category listings for the bookstores, and confidently edit a press release.  

-Your book’s promotional strategy is your responsibility.  Not your book coach’s or publicist's or even your publisher’s, if you have one.  They are there to advise you on tactical things about “how it’s done” and to give you access to channels and avenues that will put things in motion.  You however, must hold the North Star direction so that they can better assist you.  


-Seek out feedback.  When you don’t have access to professional focus groups to determine whether you’re on strategy or not, seek out complete strangers at networking groups and (good) friends who won’t necessarily tell you what you want to hear.  I did, and I ended up changing the title of my book because of it.  

-In a world of pay-per-view and niche marketing, you don’t need to have a New York Times best-seller to be successful.  If I’m honest with myself, this deep, unconscious desire was probably the source of my original broad and grand target audience descriptions.  Finally, I realized that I just have to find the people who need to hear my message.  That means I get excited about mentions in obscure association newsletters these days.

-Consider timing.  For many non-fiction writers, this could mean getting your book released or reviewed in time for a big industry conference; otherwise, you’ll be last year’s news.  For me, it meant getting out there before Memorial Day when business people (stateside) go into vacation mode until September.  Whoops.


-LinkedIn gets a bad rap.  It’s not the most social of media, but it is a highly targeted choice for me.  One good post to a former client’s list of 8000 followers and I netted an international (and iTunes rated) podcast.

-Avid reader blogs (like this) create an internet “buzz” that’s indispensable.  Thank you!

-I’ll probably go the publicist route come September when my audience goes back to work and into conferences.

-I already figured out the holiday promotion:  Give the gift of success to your team!

-I’m still in this phase, so wish me luck!


Advice (and Confessions) from a Reluctant Marketer, guest post by @katelevanauthor @iReadBookTours
Kate LeVan trains, coaches and collaborates on business communication effectiveness with major corporations worldwide and as an instructor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Her training consistently receives top ratings from executive development program participants for its simplicity, applicability and career-changing impact.


  1. Thank you for hosting me today! I look forward to connecting with you and your readers more in the future!

  2. thanks for the review and the opportunity to win.

  3. Oh this is something that would really help me alot!


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