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Sunday, 21 December 2014

How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn, Reviewed.

The third in a package of books on writing in the digital age, this one deals with the nuts and bolts of getting your books to market. That may sound daunting or technical or simply distasteful to many writers. It did to me. We are, after all, artists. We have souls and care about the words we share, the stories we tell, the characters we invent. Surely selling is a dirty world full of shysters, slimy creeps and people bent on separating the gullible from their money for personal gain, isn’t it? Well, it turns out that isn’t actually what it’s about.

The author, a writer of both nonfiction and fiction, explains in great detail, and to great effect, the reality behind the art of selling your books. You are a writer. Writing is communication and entertainment, as well as many other positive things. You have talent, you have imagination, you have knowledge. Are you writing to keep these things to yourself? I hope not. I certainly aren’t. We write to pass on our gifts, knowledge, imagination. But hiding your work in a cupboard or drawer is hardly going to get those words out there, is it?

In reality, marketing a book is passing information to people, readers, who are actively seeking your words. You are providing a service to the very people you wish to reach. They want to know about your books. They want to read your stories. They want to be able to find and buy your output. Are you going to prevent them by being all precious and mistakenly coy about the act of actually selling those works?

If you want to remain in obscurity, keep your efforts hidden from public gaze, hide away from the possibility of having readers actually read your books, then don’t read this book. It will educate and convert you. It will place you on the path to reaching readers. It may even make you see selling your wares as an honourable and desirable part of your craft that you could enjoy!

The book has multiple sections, all of them giving practical advice and some attempting to put right the ill-informed attitude that I and others may possess regarding the marketing of our books. I was one of those who considered himself an artist and unsuited to the world of sales. Mind you, I have a brief and troubled background in that world that undoubtedly tainted my opinion. But that was a different world, a commercially predatory place where the customer was seen as a target for the unscrupulous to cheat and legally rob. Marketing and selling your book does not have to be like that at all. In this field, potential buyers are actively seeking your books. And this book has left me feeling positive, enthusiastic and ‘clean’ about marketing and promoting my own work.

So, if you’re a writer just starting out, uncertainly stepping into the world of words, or a veteran with many titles under your belt, all unsold and under-promoted, this is definitely the book for you. Read it. Act on the advice. And sell your books to people who want to read them. Thoroughly recommended.

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