Monday, April 27, 2020

Is There A Mathematical Formula For Book Marketing?

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I don’t know how I will look back on the times we live in now. It is hard to put distance from an all-consuming present, but I suspect I won’t see these days as all bad, as lousy as they are. For one, I get to spend more time at home with my family, which means I get to take afternoon walks with my youngest, a 12-year-old girl. I cherish those walks because they are just daddy-daughter times and we don’t merely walk. We talk, and we explore life together. One of our chats today was about math and I found a lesson to apply to book marketing.

I shared with her that I like the exactness of math. There is a formula for everything, and with the right calculations, we get the same answers and have universal agreement on the facts. With math, something is either right or wrong, nothing left up in the air, nothing in between two answers, and no gray areas.

She said that is exactly what she doesn’t like about math. She likes to explore feelings, ideas, and to form opinions and to not be tied down to an exact singular way to see things.

It got me wondering about book marketing. Though there are many principles that guide what I do to practice the power of securing publicity, there are no exact formulas to follow. It’s not as much math as it is an art.

When I was young I actually accelerated at math and was in the top 10% nationally on my SAT math. My English language skills, even as an English major, lagged. I took a creative, artistic approach to math and a mathematical approach to writing. It seems to have worked.

Math helps ground us and gives us a foundation of what is true. Math can’t explain everything, but it can give us a perspective to operate from. Can you find a way to see your book marketing efforts as an expression of some type of mathematical formula?

Well, start with percentages. What are the percentages of success when applying certain book PR strategies? What percentage of your time is split between certain functions, such as speaking, social media, traditional media, or networking? Can you measure certain metrics even when it is challenging to do so? See, math can play a role, even if it is not the only answer.

People always look for formulas when it comes to book marketing. For instance, people want to know the cost-benefit of something like advertising. Can one accurately predict how many sales of books will come from spending a certain amount of money on advertising? Nope.

Can one assume how many book sales they will generate if they get a certain level of media exposure? Of course not.

Is there a way to say with certainty if one has a certain sized online following that x amount of book sales will be generated? No way, Jose!

Ok, so you might ask, Why would anyone agree to market their book if no formulas or reliable indicators exist by which to measure things?

We do book marketing even though its results vary from person to person, book to book. It is a huge wildcard, but one with great promise. Few things in life come with guarantees or predictability, and most such things are boring or negative, such as taxes, aging or death. But book marketing, done well, and when diversified in its approach, can yield significant results. It all depends on your goals and why you seek publicity. The only way to measure results is when done against your needs or goals.

Book marketing, even though it lacks a proven, scientific formula, does work for many. Of course, one formula is true: Those that don't try to market their book are guaranteed to see no results. Now that is some math none of us believes adds up.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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