The Best Way to Market Your Book

imagesI feel guilty. I bet a lot of you clicked on this post thinking I was going to tell you The Best Way To Market Your Book.

But I’m not. Because I HAVE NO IDEA. And the real secret is: No one else does either. That’s not because we don’t know how to market — we know to pitch interesting story angles related to ourselves and the book to local and national magazines and radio shows, to work social media (Twitter, FB, etc) like it’s a second job, to do guest posts with the fabulous book bloggers that are great at getting the word out about books they love, to do launch parties and interviews and readings and signings and book clubs and giveaways and to talk, talk, talk to anyone who will listen about our books until we are blue in the face.

The problem is that the efficacy of the efforts in unquantifiable. I have no idea if that picture I posted on Facebook of my adorable son holding a copy of my book in Costco caused one person to go buy it or 10 (or … none). I don’t know if the 30 minutes I spend on Twitter every day is actually helping me sell books or just helping me amuse myself with how funny I think I am.

(I should interject here that my publicist is amazing. Because of her my book was in People, Good Housekeeping, In Touch Weekly, Us Weekly and a host of other big name magazines and newspapers. But again, I have no idea what that translates into as far as sales go.)

But this is what I think— there is so much noise out there that you have to fight through to get people to hear about your book, so every little (and big) thing you can do counts. I don’t think one review on one website (even if it’s a huge website) is going to move the needle much (well, unless it’s Oprah, and then I guess you can go ahead and pick out your new 10-bedroom beach house). But if you’re doing five different blog posts and a national magazine review and have a giveaway on Facebook that gets shared 200 times and you do signings and book clubs, etc., then you increase the chances that people will hear about your book more than once, which increase your chances to pique their interest and get them to go out and buy it.

Marketing a book is not an exact science. If we knew what worked, every author would do that thing and be an international bestseller. Until then, just do everything you can to get the word out (and send a book to Oprah).

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Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at colleenoakley.com.

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