How to promote a book in the age of digital marketing

Digital tools have accelerated the automation of each of the economic sectors of industrialized countries. Consequently, any Internet user can access the best goods and services at the time or place of their choice. No productive item – be it artistic, scientific, monetary or material – escapes this furious news.

The publishing world is no exception. Since all stages of literary creation are influenced to a greater or lesser extent by digitization, especially in the commercialization phase. Moreover, technological innovations influence from the conception, publication and distribution of a written work, to the way it is read.

Editorial marketing in the interconnected world of the 21st century

Like any other product, the commercial success of a text depends on its promotional strategy. This marketing, once visible in analog media (press, radio, film and television), is currently executed on digital platforms. So, if – according to most specialized pages – video is “the king of content”, videomarketing is essential for book sales.

The book trailers

Today it is common to find video-trailers (on YouTube or Instagram, for example) with the author’s impressions. Likewise, when critical or recognized media reviews are favorable, they can be used in a video clip. For this reason, marketers often rely on software to edit videos online and thus export in formats adjusted to each platform.

Characteristics of a good book trailer

  • The call to action focuses on sharing the information about the book.
  • Its objective is to create a link between the author (or the characters in the book) and the reader.
  • It can contain the summary of an interview with the author.
  • You can include an invitation to join the book promotion team.
  • They are generally not very extensive. For example: the duration on Instagram is usually between 20 – 60 seconds; on YouTube or Facebook they rarely exceed 90 seconds.

Image’s power

An interesting and eye-catching cover is crucial for the presentation of the book. At this point, it is important to consider choosing a series of elements such as the font, the photo or the drawing (if applicable) and the colors used. This aesthetic pattern pre-establishes the design of all digital media used to promote the text. The most common are mentioned below:

  • Web page of the book (subpage, when it is an author with a website where he exhibits several of his works).
  • Social media; both in profiles or user accounts (of the book), as well as in specific groups or channels.
  • Images for wallpapers, billboards and magazines.
  • Planning the book trailers.


Since Amazon’s irruption in the publishing world at the beginning of the new millennium, the rules of online book marketing have changed substantially. Two of these trends – also driven by the massification of the internet – have been self-publication (self-publishing) and e-books (e-books).

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Image by Clipchamp

According to figures published by the company, between 2007 and 2018 self-publishing of books on Amazon grew from 6 to 92% of total launches. At the same time, from 2011 to 2020 the number of active authors (only in the US) fluctuated between 40,900 and 45,800 (Statista, 2020). Therefore, the diversity and competition are enormous.

The importance of personalized advertising

Marketing is a comprehensive concept that encompasses a wide range of competencies. In this regard, Jessica McCann from the page Funds For Writers (2021), emphasizes personalized merchandise for the promotion of a text. The idea is to turn the written work into a brand. To do this, simply use the title of the book (or a phrase from it) within striking messages.

Among those merchandise are flannels, kitchen utensils, bags, stickers, cell phone covers, mats, almanacs … almost any object. Now, it is a strategy that (generally) involves a significant outlay of money. However, in this case the author (or his promotion team) can resort to exchange tactics and agreements.

Some popular websites for designs and prints on demand for books

  • CafePress
  • Zazzle
  • Redbubble
  • CustomInk

The commercial exchange

Convention advertising is common in Hollywood movies. Similarly, in more recent times the influencers of social networks take advantage of this type of arrangement frequently. Also, a writer can introduce commercial elements (like the name of a restaurant, for example) in the setting of his narration.

In these cases, a deal is established in advance in which a certain company helps in promoting the book. In addition, it is convenient to consider workers freelancers and to digital entrepreneurs with virtual stores or web portals dedicated to printing by orders (on demand).

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The impact of Covid-19 on the publishing market

The new rules imposed by the pandemic

Forced confinement in most developed countries has (even more) favored the spread of e-books. Accordingly, book launch plans should prioritize electronic submission. Then, if the title has good sales prospects, it is considered a print format. In this sense, the portal Self-Publishing School (2021) makes the following recommendations:

  • Promote the writings on other literary websites (apart from sending them to Amazon).
  • Analyze opportunities for collaboration with groups on social networks and / or writing or reading platforms.
  • Implement special offers in the sale of e-books (discounts for subscription and / or sharing publications about the book or the author on social networks, for example).
  • Offer a free copy in PDF format to anyone who buys a printed book. In this way, it is possible to start reading it immediately while waiting for the arrival of the purchased text.
  • Allocate a percentage – no matter how small – to charity campaigns for families affected by the health crisis.
  • Include some message – preferably short and concise – of awareness regarding the coronavirus in the written advertising guidelines and in book trailers.

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