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Book Marketing Is Not the Same as Marketing With Books

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Wrong Question, Wrong Answer

Business Author Wannabe: "I'm thinking about writing and self publishing a book to help market my business."

Me: "Awesome! How do you plan to use your book in your marketing?"

Business Author Wannabe: "I'm going to use Facebook ads to get book sales."

At this point, I just start shaking my head since I realize that either I didn't ask the right question or I'm talking to someone who doesn't really understand this important distinction:

Book marketing is not the same as marketing with books.

What many authors do is confuse the marketing of their books with the marketing of their businesses. Two completely different efforts!

What's the Difference between Book Marketing and Marketing with Books?

These two terms relate to two separate aspects of the business book publishing arena.

Book marketing is a term that describes marketing and promotion efforts designed to increase sales of a book. This can include tactics such as social media, email newsletters and promotional giveaways.

Marketing with books can describe using a book as part of a content marketing program to help build the author's or the author's business' status as an expert resource. Using books in this way is designed to help build sales of the business' regular products and services.

Is One Better than the Other?

No. Both of these efforts have different objectives and both can be beneficial to a business. However, business authors need to be extremely clear about how they will use both functions to benefit their bottom line.

Once business owners or entrepreneurs get the book writing bug, they often go into book marketing mode to turn sales of the book into another profit center for the business. That's certainly an added benefit of writing and self publishing a book. But the danger in putting too much faith in this revenue stream is that royalties and sales can be limited due to heavy competition from almost everywhere, thanks to the Internet. And, as is often the case, book sales can be low dollar volume sales. So these authors end up chasing pennies which can drag a business' revenues down to pitiful levels.

Book (or blog!) writing can become a hideout activity for those who don't like selling. Book writing can make them feel like they're "working." They believe that merely having a book will magically bring regular sales to their doorsteps. While these authors understand that marketing with books can build their reputation, they actually don't do anything but write the book and hope that it will be enough to generate sales.

So the solution to effectively melding book writing and publishing into a one's marketing mix is a mix of marketing both the book AND the business.

Do Business Owners Make More Money from Self Published Books Than Authors Do?

Don't confuse the marketing of your book with the marketing of your business. Two completely different efforts!

— Heidi Thorne

So What's the Best Way to Integrate Self Published Books into a Marketing Program?

Writing and producing self published books are like any other business efforts. They require these investment and monitoring activities to gain and retain their effectiveness as tools for building sales:

  • Monitor Profit Margins for Book Sales. It is usually best to set up separate income and expense line items for books. This can help avoid a "robbing Peter to pay Paul" scenario which can hide sales and profitability problems. Consult a CPA or other accounting professional to learn how to track these items.
  • Promote It! As discussed above, some authors think that merely publishing a book will draw people into their sales funnel. Not true! Some book marketing will have to be done with social media, email marketing, public relations, etc. Even though the ultimate goal would be to increase sales of regular products and services, a book will be lost in the glut of Internet information if promotional tactics are not used at all.
  • Understand Where the Book Fits into Overall Marketing and Sales Programs. While sales from books can be an additional revenue stream, the primary purpose of writing and self publishing a business book should be to build sales of regular products and services. Thus a book can be a centerpiece of a business' content marketing strategy.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on February 20, 2018:

Hi Kristen! It's a subtle, but significant, difference that many authors don't understand. Glad you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 20, 2018:

Heidi, this was so interesting and informative to learn the big difference between the two. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 13, 2015:

Hi Lawrence! We're all Luddites at times. ;) But at least you've got plans to take your writing to the next level. That's a big step in itself. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Holidays!

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on December 12, 2015:


This is good advice for the internet 'Luddite' like me. It's also part of my plan for the next year which is going to 'stretch' me as a writer.

Thank you


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 25, 2015:

Hi FlourishAnyway! Yep, easy to hideout. :) Thanks for the kind comments. Also, so appreciate your friendship and support. Happy Thanksgiving!

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 25, 2015:

I can definitely see how book or blog writing can be a hideout activity if one isn't careful! Great explanation of the distinction. HappyThanksgiving!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 23, 2015:

Hi AliciaC! Appreciate the kind comments. Glad you've found the info helpful. Thanks for your support here on HP! Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 22, 2015:

This is another useful hub, Heidi. Thank you once again for sharing the helpful information for both business people and writers.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 21, 2015:

Thanks, Larry, for the kind comment! Have a great weekend!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on November 20, 2015:

Helpful analysis.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 17, 2015:

Hi Reynold Jay! I sure do hope it helps our book writing pals. Thanks for the kind comments! Have a great day!

Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on November 17, 2015:

Sounds like good advice. Let's hope it helps our book writers. Well done.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 17, 2015:

Hey there, billybuc! Glad you can verify this scenario from the front lines. It's so easy for authors, especially new ones, to get caught up in the book marketing hype. Good luck with the ghostwriting! Happy Tuesday and Thanksgiving season as well!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on November 17, 2015:

Hi purl3agony! Yep, confusion abounds with many authors. Then they wonder why they're not getting anywhere. Thanks for reading and chiming in! Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2015:

Great read! I'm currently ghostwriting a book for a real estate broker....this has been mentioned and I will have him read this....a must read.

Have a great Tuesday and beyond.

Donna Herron from USA on November 17, 2015:

Very informative hub! I can see where these two goals could become confused and marketing a book could become a distraction from marketing your business or services. Thanks for offering some hints and advice for accomplishing both objectives!