Marketing a book: A quick guide to selling your novel

Whether you’re pitching a book to an agent or marketing your book online to potential readers, one thing is clear: Self-promotion is one of the most valuable—and most necessary—skills a writer needs to develop. Just because you write a great book doesn’t mean it’s destined for success; it often needs a little help along the way. That’s why learning the critical elements of how to promote your book idea to an agent or publisher is essential. And here’s where we can help.

Selling a Book

Opportunities to pitch to an agent or editor are rare. And if you do have the opportunity, you may only get 60 seconds (or fewer) to explain your book. This is called an elevator pitch, and it’s something you need to master. In Kevin Smokler’s The Perfect Elevator Pitch, you’ll learn the three essential pieces to creating a great book summary, why having a summary memorized is so important, how a great book summary is a key step in developing a marketing plan for a book and more. You never know when and where an opportunity will arise, so you need to be prepared always.
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Another way to prepare is to have your logline memorized, rehearsed and readily available. What is a logline? A logline is a one-to-two sentence summary of your book, generally consisting of 25 words or fewer. Here’s an example of the logline for the movie Titanic: “A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.” Simple, direct and cuts right to the overall plot of the story. In Learn How to Pitch Your Book, award-winning author Kathleen Antrim (Capital Offense) and bestselling writer Bob Mayer (The Novel Writer’s Toolkit) offer advice on how to pinpoint the emotional arc of your book and cut it down to a short logline that’s strong and captivating enough to catch the ear of an agent.

Creating an Author Platform to Promote your Book


Part of self-promotion involves the creation of a solid author platform. One of the most knowledgeable experts on author platform is Guide to Literary Agents editor Chuck Sambuchino. In his book, Create Your Author Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author, Chuck explains not only why you need to build your platform but also the 12 Fundamental Principles of Platform and how to use all of them to your advantage.
Another very popular resource for authors marketing a book (whether it’s a freshly finished manuscript or a self-published book looking to break into the traditional market) is Chuck’s Pitch Perfect Conference Session, which is now available on demand. This pre-recorded session provides guidelines for improving your pitch and tips on getting comfortable presenting to an agent so you look confident when you get that chance to pitch.

Marketing a Book Through Sample Queries, Pitches and Proposals

When self-promoting your book to publishers and agents, it’s important to craft your pitches carefully to pique the most interest. An excellent way to learn how to promote your book through queries, pitches and proposals is to study successful examples. In The Writers Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, Moira Allen walks you through example after example after example of letters that landed deals, giving you some insight on how to build your own marketing materials.


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