Good book marketers don’t assume

Felix Unger said it the best in a court room scene in “The Odd Couple.”

“You should never assume because when you assume, you make an ass of you and me.”

How many times have you  heard: “Why, I just assumed . . . .”

Too many, I’m sure.


  • “I assumed you saw it on Facebook.”
  • “I assumed you read my e-mail about it.”
  • “I assumed somebody told you already.”

If you’re a book marketer (and what author isn’t?), don’t assume.

Not assuming means testing messages and how you deliver them to make sure that what you’re saying, or how you’re saying it, is understood by the people you want to reach.

Here are a few marketing tactics or assumptions to test.

1. E-mail subject lines

You might “assume” that people read e-mail subject lines. And you might assume that they see the same subject line you see.

It doesn’t always work that way. In fact, because it doesn’t, there’s software that lets you preview your subject lines in different e-mail programs. Preview your subject line in eight different e-mail programs for free with the Litmus Subject Line Checker before sending your next important sales message or book press release.

Make changes if necessary, then re-test.

2. The book’s description

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read a book’s back cover description and thought, “But what is the book about?”

To make sure your book description communicates exactly what you want it to, show it to a few people who don’t know anything about the book. After they’ve read it, ask them to tell you in their own words what they think your book is about.

Adjust accordingly.

3. The social networks people in your target audience use

The best way to find out? Ask them.

You can also find lots of general demographic information about who uses which social networks online, including here.

4. The keywords you use on Amazon and your website

Rather than assume that I had the best title for Get Your Book in the News: How to Write a Press Release That Announces Your Book, I tested it with author friends on Facebook. One recommended that I replace “press release” with “news release.”

Before doing that, I used I used the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out which of those phrases was searched for the most. The answer is in the final title.

5. The tactics that resonate with your readers

For example, novelists love book contests, so if you’re a novelist, this tactic might be at the top of your “must do” book marketing list. But do your readers respond to them? Do they resonate with your particular genre’s readers?

Before embracing a new book marketing tactic, test it. If you like the results, do more of it. If you don’t, try changing your execution and testing it again.

Test what’s most important

While it’s not realistic or practical to test all of your assumptions, the smart author will pull out a few of the most important (including the title) to test. This will help eliminate surprises that could cost you time, money, and book sales.

What do people assume about you or your book that’s wrong?

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