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061 – Marketing 101: The Five Ps of Novel Marketing


1) Product (Book)

  • This is the most important P. Good marketing helps a bad product fail faster.
  • The question is not “is this book good” the question is “is this the kind of book people would want to buy and then read”
  • Every product has a life cycle. This is particularly true for fiction. Old fiction does not generally sell well. People are willing to pay a premium to read a book that their friends are also reading at that same time. A short trip to your discount store will show you shelf after shelf of $1 books that are only a few years old.
  • Product mix. Focused vs general brand. Complementary products. In fiction the best way to do this is to write a series of books. Book #1 helps sell Book #2 and vice versa.

2) Price

  • All prices are relative. A good deal is all about how a book is priced in comparison with other books. How much does an eBook cost?
  • Price communicates value.
  • The problem with racing to the bottom is that you just might win.
  • You have to consider your product mix while picking your price. So it may make sense to price the first book in a series cheap or free to suck people into buying the later books in the series at full price. 

3) Promotion

  • When most people think about marketing, all they think about is promotion. All advertising is marketing, not all marketing is advertising. All ham is pork, not all pork is ham.
  • This is how you tell potential readers about your book.
  • Promotion always costs either time or money and often both.
  • If you are self publishing, you need to set aside money for promotion. Product and price alone will not make your book a success.
  • Find a news hook for your book for some free PR.
  • A sales team for your book is also part of promotion.

4) Place

  • This P is where most self published authors really fail.
  • How convenient is it to buy your book?
  • Where can I buy your book?
  • Q: What is the most important for your book to be? A: The airport bookstore.
  • Getting into more places requires both sales and distribution.

5) Purple Cow

A few years ago, Marketing Guru Seth Godin suggested that a 5th P be added called a Purple Cow.

  • Drive down the road, see a purple cow, what do you do?
  • How remarkable is your book?
  • How is it different from other books?
  • What about your books makes people want to talk about it? (Cosemear)
  • Purple Cow effects whether your book “goes viral” or not. Most books are not purple cows.


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10 Responses to 061 – Marketing 101: The Five Ps of Novel Marketing

  1. Roland Denzel April 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I’d love to have more on the basics of marketing our books on future episodes.

  2. Holly Varni April 2, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Your podcasts always make me feel like a baby bird with its mouth open screaming, “Feed me MORE!” Yes, please continue giving these tidbits of nourishment! They are always helpful and they always give me something to ponder long after the episode is over. Love the stories and humor behind every point. You guys make a fantastic team. I appreciate the range of topics that you cover, including the fundamentals.

  3. Samantha April 3, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    I thought it was a great episode. Lots of helpful info.

  4. Darren Sapp April 4, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    The promotion “P” made me think of this question for you. You’re in-charge of my marketing for my latest novel. You have an initial budget of only $1000. How/Where do you spend that first $1000?

    • Iola April 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

      If you’re an indie or small press author, I’d say product – professional editing and cover design. As a reviewer, I see a lot of books with great promise ruined by a lacklustre cover, and spelling/editing errors in the Kindle sample. Yes, even books from small presses. Some have great editing and cover design; many are abysmal.

      If you’re with a larger traditional publisher, ask your publisher or agent. You want to your marketing efforts to be in line with whatever your publisher has planned.

  5. Gary Neal Hansen April 6, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

    I enjoyed the “Five Ps” episode. I did my BA in business with a marketing concentration at the University of Washington, so it brought some flashbacks. I would say that “Purple Cow” actually is part of “Product.”

    The real 5th P from Seth Godin is “Permission.” That’s where building an email list is such a great thing for authors. When people give you their email they give you permission to build a relationship, and permission to offer them your next book.

    I’d love to hear more basic marketing episodes, including a whole episode on each P. I hope you’ll keep your focus on the things authors can actually have an effect on.

    This is different for traditionally-published and self-published authors. But placement in airport bookstores is well beyond what most in either camp can reach, even if there is an exception to talk about. Talking to staff members of airport bookstores convinced me that they don’t typically have any say in what is carried, but they do know that even if their managers or their corporate buyers bring in your book, good placement comes at a price.

    My first book was with a very respectable publisher, but finding it in any brick and mortar bookstore, let alone an airport bookstore, has been a rarity.

    So, for each “P”, what can the self-published or traditionally published author actually do?

  6. Kyle May 22, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Sign me up for Marketing 201 right now! This was a fantastic episode, guys. Can’t wait for more.

  7. Cindy Charles Ouellette July 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    Bless you to continue being a blessing to writers with a mission! Yes! I loved and needed a 101 marketing class. And thanks I cam repeat the course:)
    Can’t wait to get back to more podcast. Thanks, again.
    P.S. I have Purple Cow!

    Cindy O.
    Crying Hearts of the Loved Ones

  8. Elaine Stock August 30, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    This was my first introduction to Novel Marketing and I found it very helpful and upbeat. I’m now encouraged to go forward in these new waters for me. I’m looking forward to listening to your other podcasts and hope that you will continue offering these.

  9. Kristina Stanley April 12, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    I was very excited to hear your podcast about print sales being up in 2015. I had to go check out the Publishers weekly article. Thanks for pointing that out. I was asked by my publisher to write THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES and now I understand why. The book is due out this spring and after listening to you, I’m feeling optimistic.

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