Promote Your Book Before Publishing

atthew Fox via 

Hi Bookfoxers,

Let me tell you about an email, an email that I get about once a month. It’s from a writer seeking help with marketing their book. 

Subject Line: HELP! 

I published my book 6 months ago and it has only sold 7 copies, all of them to people I know (it would have been 8 copies, but Aunt Janice is a stingy old maid). 

Can you help me get the #2 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list? (#1 is setting my sights too high, I know).

I’m willing to do anything to sell this book, other than selling my kidneys or apologizing to my mother.

Love and kisses, Writer In Need


There is nothing I can do for this author. There is nothing anyone can do for this author.

That’s because most writers write their book thinking that all the sales and marketing will happen afterwards, after you publish it. I know, I know — this makes sense, right? You’ve got to do things in order?

But this is ass-backwards thinking, and will seriously sabotage all your attempts to sell your book.

Now I bet you think I’m going to start talking about a platform. This is what all the publishers crow about, isn’t it? The only proper way to market your book is to get 10,000 followers before you write the book, and then after you publish, those 10,000 people will buy it.


What truly matters is what’s INSIDE the book. The best way to market your book is to — wait for it — 

Write a book that’s marketable.

That sounds ridiculous, so let me explain.

When you’re coming up with the concept for your book, you need to figure out whether there is a market for it (and this applies to fiction and nonfiction equally). 

  • Figure out whether there is a demographic that would like to read it. A religious demographic, an ethnic demographic, an age demographic, a hobby demographic (people who like fly fishing or Pez collecting!).
  • Come up with a one-sentence pitch that can grab the attention of your target market.
  • Develop an idea or a narrative that runs counter to conventional thinking, one which is surprising and unusual.

And if you can’t come up with a group of people that are easy to target, a group of readers who would want to read your book, that’s a fantastic sign that you shouldn’t write the book.

Because your book won’t sell.

If there are no sharp angles, no of-the-moment topics, nothing that sounds interesting or attention grabbing, or if the title is squishy and soft and unmemorable, the best book marketing team in the world won’t be able to rescue your book.

So save yourself the time, and only write books that will find an audience. 

That’s how you do book marketing.

Interested in learning more? Check out my course on how to market your book:

Your First Bestseller” 

Feel free to disagree,

John Matthew Fox

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