Review: How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn

Cover of How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn.
Hotlinked from

(First, in unrelated news, check out the four-star Uncaged Book Review of my YA fantasy novel, Justice Unending! You can find it on page 98. And with that out of the way…)

I have a confession: I don’t know anything about marketing.

I started this blog and my author website several years ago, and proceeded to do absolutely nothing at all with them. I went on Twitter and then spoke to no one, because I’m super shy and have no idea how people make friends… anywhere, honestly, but Twitter especially. When my first novel came out, I did a few guest posts, posted a few announcements, put in one request for a book review, and wasn’t sure what else to do.

I really don’t know anything about marketing.

So I started reading.

Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book covers an immense amount of turf. It’s divided into several sections: an introduction to marketing, short-term promotional techniques (which don’t require an established internet presence), long-term techniques (which do), and an example of how you’d bring all of these together for a launch or re-launch of a book. It also has an absolutely killer appendix that lists every single main point of the book in checklist form. It’s immensely skimmable, incredibly useful, and possibly my favorite part of the book. Seriously. And it’s an appendix. Full of bullet points.

The book is a little vague on the technical details, but I’m guessing that’s intentional. It doesn’t tell you how to make a Facebook ad, for example; it tells you why they’re a good idea and explains that you can use your email list to target lookalike groups, but it doesn’t explain how you actually go into Facebook and do that. (This is probably intentional–that gets into “How to use Facebook” territory, and I’m sure the author didn’t want to write a technical how-to that’ll just go out of date the next time Facebook tweaks something.) And while this is true for a lot of things (“just do a giveaway,” as opposed to “here’s where you can learn how to do an Amazon/Goodreads giveaway”) the author does have an awful lot of supplementary links on her website that explain things that the book does not.

So while I might not feel like I could run out this very second and run a Facebook campaign, I did come away with an immense amount of ideas. How to Market a Book covers a ton of ground, from ads to book reviews to videos, podcasts, and more. I now have a lot of ideas about what I could look into next–and isn’t that exactly what an introductory book on marketing should do?

Oh yes, one more thing: there is, unsurprisingly, a very, very heavy emphasis on self-publishing, and many of the techniques aren’t easy to do if you’re published through a publisher. I could probably experiment with categorization, keywords, and metadata, for example, but because I published with a small press, I’d have to send those changes through my publisher. I’m fairly sure I can’t do Amazon advertisements at all, since I don’t have access to the Amazon KDP page for my book. So if you aren’t self-published, you’ll have to suss out with specific elements are still open to you. (Don’t worry. There are still a lot.)

Overall, this is a really lovely book for someone who’s brand new to marketing. It doesn’t go into immense detail about anything, but it does cover a little bit about a lot. And that’s just what I needed: an idea on where to start.

Overall, five stars. It’s a great introductory book.

(Also, in totally related news, I now have a mailing list! You can sign up on my website. You’ll get a free short story, too! Or, if you’re a writer, you can get the word counting spreadsheet I used in my Fun Ways to Use Excel to Track Your Writing Progress [#1, #2] posts.)

5 thoughts on “Review: How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn

  1. Congratulations! They gave you a good spot for your book review, top left corner. Great job with the 4 stars! I went to your website and signed up. You did a great job on your website, very professional looking. Did you create it through WordPress? Thanks for the book review on marketing! Now, I need to create some Excel spreadsheets like you. I just sent my children’s book out to some Agents, so need a spreadsheet for tracking. Thanks for all the tips! GOOD LUCK with your book! This is exciting!

    1. Page 98, though… :D See, there’s a lot I need to learn about marketing. I really need to get more book reviews!

      And thanks! I built my website in Drupal using some free-to-download themes. It’s… unnecessarily complex for a 5-page website. :D

      GOOD LUCK ON YOUR QUERIES! Queries are so harrowing! But I’m sure you’ll do great. (PS: is a really good website for tracking which agents you’ve sent queries to. :))

      1. Page 98, it is in the section with a lot of the other book reviews – they gave you GOOD placement!!

        I sold print ads and advertisers always wanted a corner page spot! :)

        Have you signed up for any book signings?

        Maybe try one, then you can put that on your blog. It can be at a small bookstore or maybe even the library if you donate a book to them.

        Marketing isn’t as hard as it seems. You can’t be shy, sales is what publishers want.. well, and you too, because sales means you are successful as well as making a good living.

        You’ve got this!

        1. Aw, thank you, that’s super nice of you. :)

          I haven’t done any book signings, no. I’ve put off talking to my local library at all, honestly, because I was anxious about what they might say. Ooof! I need to make a list of people/places to contact and just DO IT.

          1. The library is the “easiest” place to start for a book talk. It would be low key and allow you to get your foot in the door. I went to a book signing, go to one, so you see what they do, what they say, etc. You’d be surprised how “easy” it is. After all, it is your book, you are an AUTHOR and you are passionate about what you wrote about, yes! You will do GREAT!

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