The Difference between Book Marketing, Promotion, and Sales and Why It Matters

Cristen Iris

Are you confused by the terms book marketing, book promotion, and book sales?

Do you know why understanding the differences matters?

If you're like most authors, the goal of publishing your book is to sell that book.

Again and again.

In order to do that, you must convert prospects into buyers.


  1. The prospective buyer/reader must know about your book. They can't buy it if they don't know it's available.
  2. And if they do know about your book, they won't buy it if it doesn't appeal to them.


  1. Your cover must intrigue them.
    1. Does your book's cover interest the potential buyer and meet their expectations for quality and style? Does it match other books in its genre?
    2. Are your book's synopsis and quotes of praise compelling?
  2. Your price point must be competitive.
    1. Is your book priced appropriately for its genre, topic, length, etc.?
  3. Your content must resonate with them.
    1. Remember, they haven't decided to buy and read your book yet. If they've gotten past the cover and price point, does your table of contents make them want to commit to the purchase?

In this excellent video, Michael La Ronn "unpacks" marketing and promotion in more detail. What he doesn't touch on is the sales aspect. I'll expand on how to promote your book below and talk about the bottom line-book sales.

As Michael said, promotion cannot exist apart from marketing. Likewise, book sales will not happen without book promotion.

Once you have an excellent product (the book marketing piece), how will you promote it and then, how will you sell it?


Before you can promote your book you have to ask a few questions (I recommend asking these questions in the developmental phase of writing your manuscript):

  1. Who are you going to tell about it?
  2. Who is a likely reader, more specifically, who is in your target market?

If, like many new authors, you look around and have only close family and friends to tell, you don't have an author platform.

If you think of your author platform as a stage and yourself as a performer, who is it that would want to see your show? Audiences don't gather around empty stages, and performers don't play to empty rooms.

  1. Develop and use your author platform (build your stage, and promote from it).
  2. Develop relationships with people who have platforms that appeal to your target audience and ask for their help promoting your book (borrow other people's stages, promote to their audiences).

It's unfortunate, but one of the biggest and most frequent mistakes I see is authors not having a platform. Authors spend months and sometimes years developing a manuscript but no time finding their audience and developing a platform so that their audience can gather around them.

Without a platform of some kind, promotion and the sales that follow are nearly impossible.


The foundation of an author's platform is their website, and everything they do on social media should be done with the goal of building interest in the author's brand and their book and bringing their target audience to their website. A website serves as the home of a book even before the book is published.

Establishing a blogging site (with a subscription option) is an excellent way to build your author platform.

Your website establishes your brand and keeps the target market engaged. When a book is published, the website can be set up to fulfill book purchases (a sales platform) or direct readers to another sales platform such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Etaf Rum, New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man. Instagram Accounts: Personal and Books and Beans

Heather Sears, award-winning author of Mind to Mouth: A Busy Chick's Guide to Mindful Mealtime Moments and founder of Kinsho Kitchen, has been featured on/in NPR,, Thrive Global, The Miami Herald, and more. Instagram: @mindfulbusychick


Websites, businesses, and bookstores can all serve as sales platforms, but how do you get prospective readers to them?

There are many ways to tell your audience about your book, and which ones you choose depends on where your market is. One of the best ways is by tapping into the power of social media.

When used effectively, social media can establish your brand and allow you to promote your product to a wider audience than you might otherwise be exposed to in the normal course of your life and business. While social media marketing (SMM, more specifically social media promotion) may seem overwhelming at first, when you consider what it can do and how to use it in specific ways to accomplish specific purposes, it can make all the time and effort you put into developing your manuscripts worth it.

Both of these authors have "baked" the marketing into their books. Each author knows who their target market is and where to find them. And, just as importantly, they seek out the people in their markets by effectively using social media to direct prospects to their websites and a sales platform. Etaf and Heather are excellent role models for understanding how to market, promote, and sell books.

When your book marketing is well done and your book promotion targeted, book sales will naturally follow. That is why understanding the difference between marketing, promotion, and sales is so important.


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Photo attribution: Pixabay, CO0

Cristen Iris

WriteNow, LLC