How to market your book

Writing a book can be one of the best things you can do to promote your business or sell yourself as a business coach or consultant. But how do you go about actually getting people to read it?

As an entrepreneur, there are several reasons why you might want to write a book, from writing a bestselling business manual through to promoting your coaching or consultancy business. But with anything up to 200,000 books published in Britain each year, how do you cut through the noise and market your book?

Writing the book is the easy part

The best bit of marketing advice as to how to market your book is to be able to sum it up in a couple of sentences. What is your pitch? “This book is a soup-to-nuts guide to starting and growing your e-commerce retail business” or “Case studies from the lives of some of the world’s most successful tycoons and how they can be applied to small business.”

You need to be able to sell your book in a couple of sentences to readers.

One of the attractions of writing a nonfiction business book is that you don’t actually have to write the book to see if there’s any market traction for it.

Nonfiction book publishers want to see a proposal first, with a detailed synopsis and some sample chapters.

If you are a first-time author, there is a plethora of freelance editors out there who can mentor you, some of whom work for major publishing houses. You can find them on freelance editor platform Reedsy.

>See also: How to write a marketing plan

Traditional vs independent vs self-publishing

The UK publishing market is trifurcated into three arms: traditional business book publishers, such as Bloomsbury and Hachette; smaller independent publishers, such as Practical Inspiration Publishing and Rethink; and self-publishing your own e-book.


These are the big five publishing houses – Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette – and the only way to approach them is through a literary agent, who acts as a gatekeeper.

Pro tip: To find a literary agent who might be interested in your book, go to your local bookshop, and find titles similar to the book you want to write. The author will always thank the agent in the acknowledgements. That way, you know the agent is interested in your kind of book.

The advantage of having a traditional publisher is that they have a marketing budget and pay an advance. The bigger the advance, the more they will spend to market your book.

The downside of traditional publishing is your lack of control, the long lead time before publication – which can be up to two years – and the narrow recoupment corridor of about 10-15 per cent of each copy sold.

Independent press

These are smaller publishers who often will not give you an advance but give you the cachet of still having a paperback book in a Waterstones or your local bookshop.

Another plus is that book revenue can be split as high as 50/50.

The downside is that, having given away your control, there is often negligible marketing and sometimes independent publishing can seem to be the worst of both possible worlds.


Publishing changed in the mid-noughties when Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader, which meant anybody could self-publish a book. Anybody could publish their own e-book, not only on Amazon KDP but also through rival publishing platform Kobo.

Not only that but as a self-published author you are in complete control, from the book cover to deciding how to market your book. And with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing royalties can be as high as 70 per cent.

However, the problem is how to market your book and get visibility when you’re drowning in a sea of Kindle e-books. Not only that but less than one in five British readers read e-books, with the combined e-book and audiobook market only accounting for 29 per cent of sales.

How to market your book

Even mainstream publishers expect you to market your book yourself, whether it’s whipping up interest through your social media accounts or communicating with readers directly.

Email newsletter

Having an email database is the single biggest thing you can do to help market your book. That way, you can sell to your subscribers directly when the book is publishes.

Add the names of people you meet at conferences and events to your address book. Once you have a reasonable number, start emailing them a regular newsletter detailing your doings. If data is the new oil, then having your own email list really is black gold.

Katie Sadler, a freelance book marketing consultant who has worked for HarperCollins and Quercus, says: “An engaged email list is always a good idea for authors. Social media is great for all sorts of reasons, but you are at the mercy of an algorithm which can change at any given moment.”

Pro tip: If you want to build your list quickly, you can give away your first e-book for free to people you meet at conferences, as a marketing tool. Or you could build a landing page for the book on your website that you direct people to, and people could request the ARC there instead. This whole process can be automated through a service such as Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin.

Paid advertising

Every social media platform from Facebook through to TikTok is hungry for your advertising dollars. Facebook, because of its older audience, is especially attractive for authors – and its ability to micro target customers is very powerful. For example, you can target potential readers incredibly specifically: male > living in the UK > aged over 30 > small business owner > likes Dragons’ Den.

The downside of Facebook et al is that it hoovers up cash very quickly without any tangible benefits. The marketing rule of thumb is that it takes seven “touches” before somebody buys a product. Plus Amazon takes three months to make its first monthly payment post publication, so there’s a lag between you spend to market your book and actually seeing any income.

Speaking of Amazon, the world’s biggest bookseller enables you to market your book directly with Amazon Ads, the theory being that if you want to fish, go where the fish are.

On the other hand, as a business book writer, it may be that the best social platform for you is LinkedIn, which is aimed squarely at business professionals.

Pro tip: If you are running Facebook ads, positive reader reviews consistently deliver strong results in ad images.

Getting reviews

Personally, I would never buy a book on the basis of somebody pushing an ad to me on Facebook. Although personal word-of-mouth is hands down the best marketing tool for a book, good reviews are crucial.

Says Sadler: “Reviews provide social proof that your book is worth reading. If someone comes across your book and they maybe don’t know much about you, plus there are zero reviews, it takes an even bigger leap of faith for them to part with their money to buy it.”

One tool to drum up reviews on publication is to offer Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) either directly to those in your email database or through a paid service, such as NetGalley.

Why reviews are crucial

Because the Amazon algorithm increases visibility for books with lots of reviews, which in turns means you can market your book on sites such as Bookbub, which is a pay-to-play book promotion service for e-books and has a database of millions of potential customers for your business e-book.

Anecdotally, Bookbub only accepts e-books for promotion which already have 50 or more reviews on Amazon so it’s a self-generating flywheel – the more reviews you have, the better your chances of getting reviews = more overall sales.

Further reading

Six digital marketing tools every small business needs

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...