Author giving a gift to readers

Grassroots Book Marketing 101

Your book is not about you.

Even if you’ve written a highly personal memoir … your book is not about you.

Your book—or at least the marketing of your book—is about your readers and what they take away from hearing your story and absorbing your key messages.

Identify Your Core Messages

Author giving a gift to readers

Photo by David Castillo Dominici

Identifying those main points is a critical task to undertake before you start pitching your book to publishers or before you upload your files to self-publish. You absolutely must understand what you’re offering to readers—what aspects of your story will touch someone’s heart, make someone think or speak to a universal truth.

The fact is, this is one of the hardest parts of publishing. Most of us aren’t actually very comfortable talking about ourselves, and this discomfort only grows when we feel like we’re being “too salesy.”

But think of it this way: When you advocate for your book, for your story, you’re helping it reach more eyes and ears—which means more people can benefit from your message and your hard-won wisdom. You’re giving prospective readers a gift!

Reframing what it means to pitch or sell your book gives you the chance to think more broadly about who wants and needs to hear what you have to say.

You can reach beyond the low-hanging fruit—local media, libraries and bookstores—and connect with new audiences (which translates to selling more books).

Whom Can You Help?

So, who could benefit from hearing your story?

  • Are your key messages right for teens or younger readers? Reach out to a teacher you know and find out what local schools require of speakers for in-class presentations or assemblies.
  • Does your story have a faith element? Contact churches that organize faith-sharing groups, Bible study or men’s/women’s groups. Even if the groups are small, every reader with whom you engage becomes a potential word-of-mouth marketer on your behalf.
  • Contact your former high school, college or professional school. Are there experts there who would be interested in your topic—and who could connect you to others in their network?
  • Does your message translate into the business realm? Larger companies often host speakers for professional and personal development programs or at all-company meetings.
  • Look into your area Rotary club or other civic organizations. How can your message help build a stronger community? These groups will want to know!

The list goes on and on depending on your areas of expertise. And therein lies another rub: You have to get comfortable with positioning yourself as an expert, whether through study or lived experience.

Just remember: Only you know exactly what you’ve been through, how it’s changed you and how it can help other people. So, don’t be shy.

Make a list of your key messages …

Briefly outline talking points for each of them …

And get out there and share your magic with the world!