| |

5 book marketing lessons from the Olympics

You don’t have to be watching the Olympics every day to know what’s happening in Rio this week — and to know that some of it is pretty exciting.

It’s hard to escape information about Olympic results, drama, and personalities on news sites, in newspapers, during TV news, on the radio, and in social media. For example, if your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine, you know which of your friends took the day off to watch track and field or you’ve got easy access to video of an event you couldn’t watch live because one of your friends found and shared it.

There are many book marketing lessons for authors in all of this. You can, in fact, apply some of what you’re seeing and experiencing — including your emotions — to your book marketing.

Here are five book marketing lessons from the Olympics. What would you add to the list?

1. Stand out.

Who was everybody talking about after the opening ceremony?

Tongan flag bearer Pita Taufatofua.

Pita Taufatofua

Because his shirtless torso shone with coconut oil, he was hard to miss.

What can you do in support of your book that will make your book hard to miss? What can you do to stand out in the midst of overwhelming competition?

Or, what if you named your characters in a way that helped them stand out? Do you really think everybody would be cooing about Michael Phelps’ baby Boomer if he was named Chad?

2. Find your human interest story.

In the early days of the Olympics broadcast last week, one of my Facebook friends wrote, “What makes NBC think we want to hear all of these tear-jerker stories about the athletes?


People love stories — and they especially love stories of how someone who is doing something exceptional overcame adversity to succeed.

But your story doesn’t have to be about overcoming adversity. Maybe it’s about how you found your calling, or heartache changed your world view, or a business trip to a Third World nation got you volunteering back home.

It doesn’t really matter what it is — what matters is that you know what it is and you make it part of your backstory. Because people really do like stories.

3. Take a stand.

The unexpected star of the 2016 Olympics in the U.S. is comedian and actress Leslie Jones. Her opinions in her narrated Twitter videos are so laugh-out-loud funny that NBC brought Jones down to Rio for in-person fun.

welcome_to_the_team_Leslie_JonesHad she just tweeted the usual commentary as she watched, she wouldn’t have gotten the attention that got her a ride to Rio. But Jones took a stand as she live-tweeted from in front of her TV set, and that got her noticed.

If you’ve got an opinion that’s counter-intuitive or bucks the trend, share it. It’s more likely to get noticed than one that blends in with everyone else’s.

4. Set goals.

No surprise here, right? When you know what you want to accomplish, you can create a plan for how you’ll make that happen. One of the winning athletes commented in an interview that when she reaches a goal, she sets another one.

Research shows that goal-setting improves performance. When you set reasonable and realistic goals for your book marketing, you’ll be more likely to reach them.

No goals? Don’t be surprised when you don’t achieve the success that other authors enjoy.

5. Don’t give up.

There are countless stories of Olympians who wanted to quit but didn’t. Who didn’t give up.

Many authors think writing the book is hard until they learn that they have to market it, too. It feels like you’ve shifted from one job — writing — to another — promoting. And that’s exactly what happens.

Marketing isn’t easy or intuitive for everybody. But you have to learn how to do it and implement what you learn because if you don’t, you’re giving up on your book. Nobody will know about your book and how it can help or entertain them if you don’t do what it takes to get it discovered.

Follow the lead of the stars we’re watching in Rio this week and keep working at it. Don’t give up!

book marketing tips 1Get inspired!

Let me inspire you every day with a book marketing tip in your email inbox. “365 Daily Book Marketing Tips” will give you the inspiration, motivation, and information you need to do something specific for your book every day.

What have you enjoyed the most about the 2016 Summer Olympics so far? Please tell us in a comment.

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. Thanks, Sandra.

    Part of the reason we watch the Olympics is to see winners beat world records. Maybe as authors we’d shine more if we could display awards on our book covers or publish free copies of winning short stories at the backs of our books.

  2. For me the biggest lesson is none of these, but rather the science of continual micro improvement that the UK cycling team developed based on the Japanese Kaizen system.

    Make everything you do a little better, however small the improvement.

    Don’t think you can never improve.

    1. Thanks, David. I missed that story but love the lesson. With that in mind, what are you going to do this week to improve your book marketing?


      1. Oh no – not a challenge!

        OK – I am learning how to use a Facebook lookalike audience to more closely target my ads. I now have enough likes of my author page to roll these out.

        Challenge, accepted, thank you 🙂

        Oh, and finishing the fourth in my series. Is that enough?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *