Does anyone really know how to market your books online?

Yes, and no. Almost every day a new book or another online marketing guru appears with yet another Success Formula or end-all CD or DVD, with success stories to back up their products.

I’ve lost count of how many books and articles I’ve read on the subject, and how many tools and techniques I’ve tucked away in my mind or archived on my computer.

The fact is:

There is no one way because ultimately what will work for you may not work for anyone else. Or, what works for everyone else may not work for you.

The reason for this soon becomes obvious. Each of us is unique and we have a unique way of presenting ourselves and our material.

On the other hand:

Many of the success formulas for marketing and selling your book could make you a multi-millionaire overnight. You could make so much money simply following the step-by-step process outlined in a marketing expert’s seminars or home study courses, you wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this person’s amazing program to everyone!

How can we know what’s going to work for us without making a huge investment in many different marketing products and seminars?

Here’s a check-off list of ToDo’s:

  • Review the contents of your book.
  • Determine your target market. Who is your readership, or who will benefit most from buying and reading this book?
  • What is the profile of your target market? For example, are they environmentally conscious? Spiritually oriented? Focused mainly
  • on traditional values? College-age? Teenage? Single? Married? Entrepreneurially inclined? All of these?

    The more clearly you can identify your target market, the easier it will be to determine what type of marketing will work best for your book.

    For example, if your target market is young people and professionals who may do a lot of text messaging, your book will work well for social networking, blogs and other places these people visit regularly. Your product is a perfect candidate for “virtual word of mouth” referrals.

    You CAN do it!

    You may always remember the first time someone you don’t know—not your Aunt Susan or your sister or grandmother, but a total stranger—clicks on the “Buy Now” button and orders one of your books. It’s a triumphant moment, and even if you’ve been strategically building a website, sales and promotion pages and doing everything possible to get the traffic snowballing, when it finally happens, you’ll find yourself shaking your head in amazement.

    That voice inside yelps excitedly, “Internet marketing actually works!!”

    I remember back in the early nineties crowding around a computer while an internet marketing expert brought up a tiny black and white photo of a wrist watch. Jubilantly he informed us that one day it would be possible to sell almost anything on the internet.

    Who would be the magician, we wondered. At the time there was no way for anyone to find the wrist watch, learn more about it, pay for it, and arrange to have it shipped.

    That was only a few years ago.

    In the late 90s, I ghostwrote and published a book for a company that was selling rejuvenation products and services. Amazon was so new, most people had never heard of it. When I told my colleagues that I’d placed their newly published book in an online bookstore, they thought I was crazy.

    Who would ever go to a website to buy books, they joked. Why should they, when they could drive over to a Barnes & Noble or Borders, pick up whatever they wanted and carry it home with them? Instant gratification versus waiting for a book to be shipped seemed to be a much better option.

    How times have changed!

    Consider today the cost of gasoline, parking meter or parking lot fees, the time, energy and inconvenience of driving to a shopping mall or plaza to buy a book when you can sit down at your computer and in a matter of minutes order your book and have it drop shipped to your doorstep, often free of charge? (If you want it shipped overnight, you may be happy to pay extra for that service.)

    Today most of us are acutely aware that brick and mortar bookstores are having serious financial problems. The large chain establishments have resorted to becoming mini department stores that stock stationary, candles, toys, games, bath salts, aromatherapy,etc., AND books. Most of these stores also sell beverages and pastries.

    Why all the props and enticements? Because online bookselling has become a billion dollar industry. Print on demand digital technologies are rapidly replacing archaic offset printing, warehousing and distribution procedures. Direct marketing delivers the lion's share of the profits first to the author and publisher. Cutting out intermediaries has created a much more desirable business model.

    We now know the power of the World Wide Web, Google, Yahoo and other search engines. We also know that many people have been able to quit their day jobs and make sizable monthly incomes on the internet.

    Hard Copy Books that are printed “on demand” are an excellent product to sell from your website if you’re willing to stock and ship them yourself.

    Advantages: You’ll make more money than selling them through,, Ebay and other online stores.

    Disadvantages: Packing, picking and shipping require personpower. At first, if your web traffic is small, this may not be a problem. However, as your business grows, this can be a chore. If you’re selling several books, you will also need storage space.

    In addition, you may feel that it’s necessary to get a toll-free ordering number. This requires personnel to answer the phones if the orders start to come in thick and fast.

    Another challenge is competition from established online stores. Possibly they offer discounts that you can certainly match, but if they also offer free shipping, after you’ve deducted printing cost, your own shipping costs from the print on demand company to your office, cost of both shipping materials and postal fees (plus labor, unless you want to offer your own labor free of charge as well!), whatever’s left may not seem worth it.

    An excellent option is to sell your books through online stores such as, and Join their affiliate programs and use your affiliate-embedded link whenever you promote your books from websites, blogs, lenses and other places. The online bookstores will stock your book (charging your print-on-demand company for the printing cost only when a book is sold) and do the picking, packing and shipping. Of course they’ll charge for these services, but when you get into volume sales, it will be worth it in the long run.

    In the next article of this series I will discuss how you can sell your services as well as your books online.

    Author's Bio: 

    Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.

    Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

    Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

    Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.

    Additional Resources on Publishing can be found at:

    Website Directory for Publishing
    Articles on Publishing
    Products for Publishing
    Discussion Board
    Carol Adler, The Official Guide to Publishing