Book marketing and rediscovering my why

Matthew Arnold Stern
4 min readSep 26, 2023
Before you can market books, you need to present by knowing your why.

My publisher didn’t pick up Christina’s Portrait. They had a limited number of slots, and they needed to allocate them for books with a greater potential of sales. That’s fair. My book sales have been flat. I haven’t paid attention to marketing because I’ve been focusing on writing (and my family, job, and well, just living my life). But now, I need to buckle down and focus on book marketing.

I know the fundamentals. I was in public relations at the start of my computer industry career. I know about advertising, channels, funnels, and promotions. There are also the “make or buy” decisions. (Are these tasks I can do myself or should I hire someone to do them for me?) More importantly, I know about return on investment. Do I want to spend $5,000 just to make an extra $50 on royalties? Plenty of companies promise to make you a seven-figure author who gets on the New York Times Bestseller List. But you wind up spending a fortune and getting nothing in return. I might as well join an MLM.

Before I can decide how to market, I had to determine what it is I’m marketing. It was time to revisit my why. Here’s what I wrote back in 2013:

I believe my writing can educate people, spark their passions, and inspire them to work towards a more just and humane world. I write about characters who struggle to free themselves from their limitations, especially the ones they impose on themselves. Even if they fail to get what they want, they triumph by gaining dignity and self-respect. When you read my books, you will get stories that will educate, entertain, and inspire you and leave you thinking for a long time.

As I look at everything I’ve written, fiction and non-fiction, they all fit into my why.

So, marketing becomes a matter of connecting with readers who are looking for these types of stories, making it easier for them to get to the buy button and click it, and encouraging them to read my next book. It should be a system that’s easy and economical (in time and money) to set up, maintain, and scale.

Here is what I plan to do in the coming months:

Redesign this website

I admit it’s a mess. I’ve been using it to monetize my writing. But my posts are getting drowned in ads, and my books have been…

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Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novels Amiga and The Remainders are available now.