The general rule in marketing is that people usually have to see something five times before they buy it. For a single view to sale conversion, you can expect about 2%.

Otherwise, when it comes to generic advice as to what marketing works, every expert will give a different answer. No one really knows, and the truth is that it’s different for different books, and different authors. Often, the best and most sustained work that we’re doing within the imprint is the consequence of lots of tiny actions, that cannot be expressed in the way we record marketing.

But don’t start thinking that book marketing is pointless. Marketing is an art as much as a science. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it, or you. And if there’s one pattern we do observe is that our successful authors treat their marketing seriously.

Find what you feel most comfortable doing – that is likely to generate the best results.

Where it really starts to work is when you get known as a “brand,” and can be promoted as an author, rather than by a single title. All of the industry stats suggest that the more devoted fans an author has, the better they do across multiple titles. To achieve this, some of it is “hard” promo, but most of it is “soft,” building a readership.

How does book marketing work?

Marketing is a joint effort, between the publisher and author. We can broadly divide marketing into two types.

You will maximise the chances of your book’s success if you:

The benefits of using forums, marketing activities, and Crystal Peake author social media groups.

You can talk to people facing the same struggles, celebrating the same triumphs and generally sharing similar situations. You can post your questions, share book-marketing tips that you’ve tried, ask for other authors’ advice and recommend other writing groups or blogs, websites and press who have been helpful with getting your book out there.

We stress communication so that we can learn from each other’s experiences, whether it’s with particular shops, or magazines, or more general indications of travel – and share what we find works in marketing, and what does not.

Case Study, Kill All Normies, 2017

Kill All Normies – A Marketing Success Story

Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle was launched in June 2017 to a huge wave of interest, online and off. Many reviews were written, and a lot of people discussed the book passionately over social media. At the time of writing, June 2020, there are over 150 reviews on

As a result of this, sales started at several thousand a month. Here, Zero Books publisher Doug Lain talks about the key elements that made this book successful and offers his top tips for authors (especially non-fiction writers) preparing to publish a book:

Tip #1. Build A Strong Author Platform.

The marketing of Kill All Normies came together organically. Angela Nagle is a talented writer, well positioned, with a solid network of allies at various publications, and her book emerged out of her success writing about the neo-fascist right.

Angela had spent a lot of time building her platform, publishing articles and essays specifically on the topic of her book (she writes for The Baffler, The Irish Times, Jacobin and Current Affairs Magazine), before it was published. People already knew about who she was and were interested in what she had to say.

Tip #2. Start Pre-Publicity 6 Months or More in Advance.

Before the book was published Angela promoted herself as an expert on the subject of the book, without necessary directly promoting the book, including multiple appearances on podcasts and radio programs, as well as many written articles for online media.

Tip #3. Don’t Stop Promoting Once Your Book is Released.

Often, authors put in a huge amount of energy promoting themselves up until their launch, and then stop once their book is out there.

Crucially, Angela continued this work after the Kill All Normies launch, and will continue to do so.

This is important advice for new authors, especially non-fiction ones. This kind of publicity should be an all-year-round effort, and will pay off in the long-term.

Keep promoting the book, keep producing new essays on the topic, keep the interviews coming. The goal should be to get to a point where you have to start turning down interview requests.

Tip #4. Secure Reviews.

We were lucky in that Angela’s author platform was strong and that many people wanted to review Kill All Normies. With a sufficient amount of pre-publicity, and if you hit the right topical subject, you should be able to get at least a few people coming to you asking for reviews rather than the other way around.

The importance of securing reviews, both in print and online, especially on Amazon and Goodreads, cannot be overstated.

Tip #5. Hit The Zeitgeist

Easier said than done. Kill All Normies was the right book at the right time, addressing a raw issue the public consciousness. Obviously, not every book will hit the zeitgeist as Nagle’s book did.

However, if you do the things that Nagle did and fail you’ll still have sold more copies than otherwise.


When to start?

Marketing your book can wait until the book is at least available for pre-order.

However there are things that you can do in preparation.