Thursdays with Dan: 4 Dirty Words of Book Marketing

by Dan Smith, CEO and Founder

Hopefully the headline above caught your attention. That’s what we try to do in book publicity – quickly get the attention of an editor or producer and entice them to read further. If you’re still with me, enticement = accomplished.

I don't literally mean “dirty words,” like the “The 7 Dirty Words” legendary comedian George Carlin famously came up with. You can substitute “controversial” for “dirty.” I think you’ll see why. I’ll give four industry words in this post. Here you go:

1. Guarantee – Why pay hard-earned money when you are guaranteed nothing? It’s a reasonable, logical question to ask. When authors ask for guaranteed results – from book sales to media placements - I respond as follows.

First, it’s a matter of being fair to book publicists. Think about how you might be treating us differently than other professionals who don’t offer guarantees. Does your financial advisor guarantee a 20% return on your investments? Not likely. Does a counselor or psychologist guarantee someone will be happy? Probably not. Does a management consultant guarantee her services will double a company’s business? Unlikely. You pay all of these professionals, and you’re guaranteed nothing. Why are publicists different?

The fact is, we’re not. We’re professionals who stand on a track record of success that should be a good indicator of what you can expect from us in terms of results. One other note: Think carefully before jumping at the services of a publicist who does in fact guarantee results. The devil can be in the details, and you may pay much more for what you get than you would in a non-guarantee situation.

2. Sales – Every author wants their book to sell. Hopefully thousands of copies, maybe a million? Well, the reality is that yes, some authors do sell many books, and it can happen to you. The other side of this reality is that industry averages for book sales, for books published in all manners – are under a 1,000. Some even say 400 or 500 are good sales number.

Before you throw in the towel and determine writing and publishing your book isn't worth it, consider the fact that many first-time authors – even now-famous ones – started with a book that sold dismally. However, they started building their brand. With hard work and marketing, subsequent books sell better, and if an author really sticks with it over the lounger haul, the sales numbers usually go way up.

What if you’re a one-book author? Keep in mind that book sale are not the only benefit of writing a book. In fact, more and more, authors are looking at sales as just one component of why they wrote a book and engage in a book marketing campaign, knowing that you really do have to sell a LOT of books to make any kind of substantial profit. But a book is a marketing tool that san transform promotional plans.  Business authors, for example, who write books showcasing their expertise, use books and publicity they receive to impress potential clients. They get great credibility from a book and publicity. Some of our authors have reported hundreds of thousands of dollars of new business from publicity for their book.

If you’re a fiction writer, broaden your horizons and think about what that novel can do for you, beyond sales. Almost every author incorporates some element of their own life and experiences into a book, and this opens up doors for potential speaking engagements and many other opportunities. Example: An author wrote a novel about the European adventures of a young woman, loosely based on her own life. Part of the novel involved a sexual assault. She used the book as therapy to help overcome this horrific experience. The book – and her story – garnered some great press. Her phone started ringing from groups and associations who wanted her to tell her story, and in some cases, help other victims overcome trauma. Her novel turned her into a recognizable expert, and after a few years, she had a new career as a speaker and consultant.

Think, really, really think about your novel or memoir – in ways you’ve never thought about it before – and you will find opportunities that may be profitable, rewarding, or just plain fun.

3. Results – I’ll keep this one short. Many authors want, and think they deserve to be on national TV and in national magazines. Some times – to be sure, this happens. But it often doesn't, yet authors still have great book PR campaigns because they got coverage in many mid-level outlets, small radio programs, local TV, niche publications – and it worked beautifully. Keep in mind: Being on a national TV show or in national print media does not guarantee big results. A good number of authors, for example, appeared on the old Oprah show and it barely moved the needle in book sales.

4. Shelf – Why the heck is “shelf” a dirty or controversy word in book publicity? Many authors want to get on the shelves of bookstores, but only about 5% ever do. There just aren't as many stores, and there are MANY more books being published. The math just doesn't add up. And, remember that when a book is for sale in a bookstore, middle-men come into play like wholesalers and distributors, who all take a cut.

More dirty words to come in future posts …

Thanks for reading.

30 Responses

  1. You are one of the most talented writers on the entire Internet!
  2. I've never ever read anything better!
  3. I came to the same exact conclusion as you did.
  4. Don't eat too much before going to bed.
  5. I now know that everyone has an ace up their sleeve.
  6. Now that's what I call music!
  7. Don't forget the grilled onions!
  8. Way to go Edward. This blog is amazing!
  9. No one can ever say this site is boring!
  10. Would you like some popcorn?
  11. Exactly what I was looking for, thanks for posting.
  12. These two are some real messy eaters!
  13. I really can't believe how great this site is. Keep up the good work. I'm going to tell all my friends about this place.
  14. This site looks better and better every time I visit it. What have you done with this place to make it so amazing?!
  15. Howdy Partner. You look like the type of guy who needs to have a little fun. You can have all kinds of fun at That’s the most exciting site on the internet. You’ll never experience a dull moment there. Go ahead, give it a try. Just remember to be on your best behavior. Cowboys can be rowdy. Try not to drink too much time at the saloon before heading on over there.
  16. Hello friends. Are you feeling lonely? Maybe you’re in the mood to get frisky. It doesn’t matter what type of mood you’re in. You’ll always find a fine lady at to chat with. You’ll be amazed by the wide selection of cam girls to choose from. Have yourself a good time and don’t forget to eat a breath mint or two. The last thing you want is to have bad breath when talking to these cuties.
  17. Are you the type of guy who likes to spend his free time drinking cold beer while talking to hot babes? If so, then you’ve got to check out That site is filled with plenty of sexy girls who know exactly what guys like you want to see.
  18. Every guy out there needs to relax from time to time. You’re no different. The best way to relax is by talking to a super hot babe. There are plenty of sexy ladies at You can do a whole lot more than just talk with these cuties. They’re also looking to have the same exact type of fun you are.
  19. There isn’t a time of day when you won’t find plenty of hotties at It doesn’t matter if you go there early in the morning or late at night. There’s always lots of babes just waiting to talk to guys. Don’t forget, you’re just one click or tap away from the live entertainment that you’ve been craving. This is as hot as it gets and you’ll realize that within just a matter of moments.
  20. Are you smiling yet? Probably not. You haven’t visited You’re going to have the biggest smile plastered all over your face after you visit that site. It’s jam packed with the hottest online performers. You’ve never seen or heard anything quite like this before.
  21. You need to get rid of stress. There’s no need to keep it bottled up. Have yourself a little fun by talking to some hot girls at It won’t take you long to realize this site is filled with wall to wall babes. No site on the internet has all the cuties that this one does. Check it out and put a smile on your face. You definitely deserve one.
  22. "Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog.Thanks Again. Keep writing."
  23. "We're a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable info to work on. You've done an impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you."
  24. "You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will consent with your blog."
  25. "I really like and appreciate your blog article.Really thank you! Cool."
  26. I loved your blog post. Cool.
  27. I really liked your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.
  28. "Major thanks for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing."
  29. "Thanks again for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Want more."
  30. I hope you all are having a great weekend. I have a new list for you. Read the latest update on how I compiled the list. I'm still surprised by the results.

Leave a comment