Tips & More


“An illuminating look at a little-known, inspiring piece of history we should never forget.”—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

This powerful tale of resistance and everyday heroism will resonate with fans of Pam Jenoff and Martha Hall Kelly.”Booklist

Marketing Myths and Misconceptions: Marketing versus Advertising

Picture this: You’ve just written a book that you’re proud of.  You’ve spent countless hours researching, writing, and editing it, and you’re excited to share it with the world.  But now comes the hard part: how do you get people to actually read it?  Promoting and selling a book can be daunting, especially if you’re promoting the book all by yourself; it can be challenging to stand out and reach the right audience.

From a traditional publisher’s standpoint, here’s what meaningful and thoughtful marketing looks like.  Ideally, publishers market upstream to booksellers, retailers, executives, and distributors who will be purchasing the books—the authors must focus on marketing downstream to their would-be fans and readers.  Yes, you read it right—even traditionally published authors are expected to be involved in the promotion of their books.  While not all books ( and authors ) are supported the same by their publishers, it’s good to know what a typical scenario is and what thoughtful marketing looks like.

However, this is a rare scenario in self-publishing, so rare that most books are not given enough attention, authors are not coached on the best methods to reach out to readers, and books are enrolled into a generic, ineffective, but expensive ‘marketing’ platform. If you’re independently published, focus on downstream marketing. You can’t sell a book if no one knows it exists, and this challenge falls squarely on the shoulders of the authors.

OK—onto the next chapter, err, the discussion.

Marketing versus Advertising. How is it different?

You’ve heard about book marketing and book advertising, but what’s the difference? And which one is right for you? Book marketing and advertising are two different approaches to promoting and selling a book. 

You will need both to have a meaningful promotion and make it worthwhile for your book.

To simplify, think of it this way: Marketing is the strategy and advertising is your tactics.  Strategy (marketing) serves as the roadmap to your destination, while tactics (advertising) are the specific maneuvers and actions that pave the way.

Book marketing is a comprehensive strategy that involves creating and executing a plan how to promote a book to a specific target audience.   It encompasses a range of activities, such as creating a website or social media presence for the book, engaging with readers and reviewers, arranging book signings and events, reaching out to book bloggers, influencers, and media outlets and building an email list.  Book marketing is a long-term effort that aims to build awareness and interest in the book over time.

On the other hand, book advertising is a specific tactic within book marketing that involves paying to place ads for the book in various channels, such as social media, search engines, or book-related websites.  Book advertising is typically used to generate short-term boosts in book sales and to drive traffic to specific online retailers or bookstores.

To simplify, advertising is only one component of marketing.  The most common mistake many authors ( and even marketing agencies ) make is thinking that advertising is the same as marketing. 

For example, let’s look at social media ‘marketing’: Is getting a thumbs-up, ‘heart,’ and other emoticons on Facebook your marketing goal? Obviously, it is not. Most authors would confuse their advertising performance with their marketing goals—and that’s where the frustration starts—thinking that the advertising performance squarely equates to the quality of their books.

While both book marketing and book advertising are important for promoting a book, they have different goals and should be used in different ways.  Book marketing is a comprehensive and ongoing effort to build a brand and a fan base for the book.  It requires a deep understanding of the target audience and a well-crafted plan to reach them.

A well-executed book marketing plan can create a strong foundation for advertising efforts, and advertising can help to amplify the reach and impact of a book marketing campaign.  Ultimately, both approaches are important for authors and publishers looking to promote and sell books.

Question: Which should come first: Marketing or Advertising?

In book promotion, marketing, and advertising serve different purposes, but they are both essential and necessary for a successful campaign.  However, there is a natural sequence in which they should be employed. 

Marketing should come first in book promotion.  This is because marketing sets the foundation for your book promotion strategy.  Marketing involves:

  • Researching your target audience.
  • Identifying the best channels to reach them.
  • Creating a plan to engage with them.

Once you have established a foundation for your book promotion through marketing, you can move on to advertising.  Advertising is the process of paid promotion, where you pay for your book’s exposure to a specific audience.  Advertising can help you reach a larger audience and create buzz around your book.

However, advertising alone cannot build a successful book promotion campaign.  If you don’t have a solid marketing foundation in place, your advertising efforts will not be as effective. Without a solid marketing foundation, your advertising will be like a coat of paint on a shaky house—it may look good at first glance, but it won’t stand the test of time.  A successful book promotion campaign requires a strong marketing foundation, with advertising as the finishing touch.

Fact: Most authors think they are ‘marketing’ their book when they are simply paying for advertising.

Now that you know the differences between book marketing and advertising, you can begin creating a strategy for your book promotion. 

If you need help, let us know.  Email our publicist at

The first benefit of hiring a book publicist is their expertise.  A good book publicist deeply understands the publishing industry and the nuances of book promotion.  They know what works and doesn’t and can advise authors on the best strategies for their book and target audience. They can also help authors avoid costly mistakes from inexperienced attempts at book promotion.

Another advantage of working with a book publicist is their ability to build relationships with key players in the publishing industry, such as book reviewers, journalists, and bloggers.  A book publicist can help authors get their books in front of influential people who can help spread the word about their books.  These relationships can be challenging to establish and maintain, but a book publicist has the experience and connections to make them happen.

The BookWalker Wanda M Morris

Love it?

Please click to vote

Global Ratings 5 / 5. Vote(s): 93

Please rate

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Related Articles

Markeitng Tips & More The BookWalker Book Funnel
A Day In The Life

Why Your Book Needs a Funnel: The Secret to Maximizing Your Book’s Potential

A book funnel is a strategy that publishers use to manage, promote, and sell their books. The goal of a book funnel is to attract potential readers and guide them through a series of steps or ‘funnel’ to ultimately lead to a sale or ‘action.’ It’s a series of steps or stages that guide readers from the point of book discovery toward making a purchase.

Read More »
Why a mailing list is an author's bestfriend
A Day In The Life

Why a mailing list is an author’s best friend

You’ll often find that a book is underperforming way below its potential, not because of its content, design, or how it was priced but because the author hasn’t found a way to find and funnel the right readers into the reader’s mailing list.

Read More »
How To Set Up Your Amazon Author Profile Page_The BookWalker
Tips and More

How To Create Your Amazon Author Page

You can think of Amazon Author Page as an extension of your author platform. It increases your book’s visibility, helps readers find your book easily, and will help you sell more books. Authors with an Amazon Author Page enjoyed an increase in their book’s visibility than without, and properly setting up your author page can make a difference in book sales.

Read More »
Building Author Email List
Tips and More

The good, better, best of building an email list

There are many ways to promote a book.  Authors can do endless marketing for their works, but there are also things that you’d be better off by totally ignoring them.  One of the most common questions we get from the floor is what type of marketing works best for authors? You might have heard your

Read More »

Need help With [ A ] Book?

The BookWalker_Blog_History
Scroll to Top

Hi There!

Get access to book recommendations, writing & publishing tips, author events and everything literary. Please select your role  when you sign up for: The BookWalker Monthly Newsletter for a more curated content experience.

Hi Page Turner,

Get access to book recommendations, writing & publishing tips, webinars, author events and everything literary.