29 Lessons (and 2 Lists) from Joanna Penn’s “How to Market a Book”

Joanna Penn, The Creative PennJoanna Penn is the industry standard when it comes to indie marketing. We thought we’d take a quick scan through her excellent How to Market a Book and find a handful of lessons to share.

Turns out our quick scan gave us a list of 29 important lessons, including two lists that include another dozen inside.

Get the book. We believe strongly in educating our clients. Even if you hire someone else to do your marketing it pays to understand what it’s all about.

The 29 Lessons

These are the subheadings from the book, almost verbatim. While we’re delighted to discuss any item in detail right here at Ausoma, the book goes into details of each item.

  1. You are responsible for your success. However you choose to publish, you still need to manage and participate in the marketing.
  2. A case study is not evidence. Experiment and measure.
  3. You can hire other people to do marketing for you.
  4. Marketing is an investment. You need a budget.
  5. Decide on your definition of success.
  6. Know what type of marketing suits your personality.
  7. Marketing your very first book when you have no audience is different from marketing later books when you already have an audience.
  8. There’s a difference between marketing yourself and marketing your book.
  9. Content marketing is one way to stand out in a crowded market.
  10. It is critical to build good quality, long lasting, original content if you want to become known online.
  11. 5 reasons to have a blog:
    • Attract an audience who know, like and trust you and are interested in what you have to say.
    • Develop a voice and practice writing.
    • Promote your book, business, or speaking career, and develop an online sales channel.
    • Develop a reputation and connect with peers and like-minded people in your niche.
    • Create a community with two-way interaction.
  12. 9 Mistakes authors make with their blog:
    • The site isn’t built on a platform that encourages discovery (she recommends self-hosted WordPress. So do we.)
    • Ugly design.
    • Your headlines don’t stand out.
    • You don’t provide a benefit to your audience.
    • Your content isn’t original.
    • Your content isn’t focused.
    • Your posts aren’t shareable.
    • Your only hanging out on your own site.
    • You haven’t given it enough time and effort.
  13. Share spontaneous images on your social media timeline. Your marketing should reflect your personality.
  14. Use images on your website, especially in blog posts and articles.
  15. Create shareable images using quotes from your books.
  16. Use infographics.
  17. AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
  18. 80/20 Rule: 80% sharing, 20% self-promotion.
  19. Social means social.
  20. Connect with influencers; promote them and be useful to them.
  21. Be useful, interesting, entertaining.
  22. Use multi-media.
  23. Be generous, personal.
  24. Think long term.
  25. Pick and stick to a niche.
  26. Think globally with scheduling and book availability.
  27. Don’t buy followers; grow organically.
  28. Be strategic.
  29. Appendix: 100 questions to answer honestly if your book isn’t selling.

Your Turn

Where do you struggle? What do you wish you could learn to do on your own? What important piece do you wish you could do more of? We’d love to help, either here in the comments or with a free phone consultation.

5 thoughts on “29 Lessons (and 2 Lists) from Joanna Penn’s “How to Market a Book”

  1. She recommends listening to this podcast where she interviews Bryan Cohen:


    Another simple process in James Scott Bell’s How to Write Pulp Fiction is to write three sentences. More or less quoting:

    Sentence one is character + vocation + current situation.
    Sentence two starts with “When” and is the Doorway of No Return
    Sentence three begins with “Now” and the death (physical, professional, or psychological/ spiritual) stakes.

    His example:

    Will Connelly is an associate at a prestigious San Francisco law firm, handling high level merger negotiations between computer companies.
    When Will celebrates by picking up a Russian woman at a club, he finds himself at the mercy of a ring of small-time Russian mobsters with designs on the top-secret NSA computer chip Will’s client is developing.
    Now, with the Russian mob, the SEC and the Department of Justice all after him, Will has to find a way to save his professional life and his own skin before the wrong people get the technology for mass destruction.

What do you think?