5 Common Myths About Marketing Your Book… and How to Tackle Them

Grub Instructor and marketing expert Allison Hoch is here to rescue your book's promotion and publicity plans. You can catch Allison in person on Saturday, September 16th, in her one-day class, Build Your Own Event: A Marketing Workshop.



The writers who attend my marketing workshop arrive overwhelmed and wide-eyed. Usually it’s because they were led to believe at least one of these common myths about book marketing and have since realized there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. If you’re feeling that way too, you’re not alone. Once you have an understanding of what it takes to promote your book, you can get down to the business of making your marketing deliberate, creative, and effective. Marketing is telling the story of your book (aka, talking about yourself) while also teasing us with what’s in your book—and that’s called hustle.


My next workshop is on September 16th (seats still available!) where we’ll cover many of these topics in detail. But in the meantime, let’s bust some myths:


Myth #1: My publisher will handle all of my marketing.

If you’re traditionally published, you may have a marketing department at your disposal, and that’s wonderful! But depending on how big they think your book is going to be, the actual budget for promoting might not stretch further than custom bookmarks. A good publicist may help you book events, get you review coverage, and give you advice. But hosting events? Social media? Promoting your book past its publication date? That will be on you.

What you can do:

Work to create a marketing plan so that you and your publicist can collaborate. Some discussion points to cover with your publicist or outline for yourself: who are your key audiences? How can you reach them? How many events do you want to do and what will they look like? You’ll need to have answers to these questions and more. YOU are your best marketing tool! So hustle!


Myth #2: All bookstores will carry many copies of my book.

If you’re traditionally published, a bookstore still needs to have a relationship with your publisher (and their sales representative) in order to shelve your book to begin with. Even then, for new authors, book buyers will likely only order one or two copies to test the interest of their store’s patrons… unless they’re given a reason to order more. For self-published authors, even if you’re supported through national distributors, bookstores need a reason to carry your book. How do you make sure you’re on the shelf?

What you can do:

Start to make yourself a figure in your local literary community. Meet and support local booksellers, encourage friends to pre-order from indie bookstores, and communicate openly with your publisher/distributor about their sales channels.


Myth #3: Bookstores are the only place worth hosting events.

Every author imagines the day when they will be lauded at their local bookstore. But bookstores are businesses running on very slim margins. They want your event to succeed as much as you do—which may be why they tell you “no.” Make sure you and your book are a good match for the stores you pitch to.

What you can do:

While bookstores can be wonderful, supportive spaces for authors, they aren’t the only ones! Libraries, community centers, schools, places of worship, even local businesses can be fruitful event opportunities. Consider the book you’re writing and its key audiences. Who are you writing for and where do they congregate? Reach out to those places, pitch your event and your book to them, and get ready to sell yourself!


Myth #4: My book came out two years ago so there’s no reason for me to do events/market myself until my next one is published.

While events focused on just your book may not get much traction two years out, there are still ways to stay relevant in the book world.

What you can do:

Find ways to collaborate with authors that do have newly released titles; network at conferences; be active on social media and use popular hashtags; write for relevant blogs and media outlets. The more involved you are in your community, the stronger the turn out will be for your next publication.


Myth #5: My book will sell on its own merits.

We would all like to believe that a well-written book will sell itself, but in our deepest heart of hearts, we know the truth: so much of publishing is about luck. With a little preparation and marketing, you can help that luck along by getting your book in front of readers who are waiting for it.

What you can do:

Identify potential audiences and potential pitfalls ahead of time. Lousy pub date? Unfortunate book cover? Low marketing budget? Develop a plan that will get people to take a chance on your beautiful book.


Remember: at the end of the day, YOU are your book’s #1 advocate. With the right preparation and a little hustle in your step, you can help ensure its success.


Learn how to implement these and other marketing strategies (and walk away with an actionable plan) at my upcoming Build Your Own Event seminar on September 16th.

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About the Author

Allison Pottern Hoch is a writer and event coach with over a decade of experience in marketing, publicity, sales, and event planning. She spent four years promoting academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a bookseller and event coordinator. She organized, hosted, and promoted over 150 events during her tenure, ranging in size from intimate workshops and lunches to multi-media events with over 700 attendees. She worked with veteran authors, celebrities, and debut authors alike. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University where she coordinated the Adamson Visiting Writers series. Allison is currently working on her second novel and teaching courses on writing and marketing at Grub Street and The Writer's Loft. For more information on her workshops and coaching services, visit

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by Allison Hoch