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Book Review – Inbound Marketing

In February I was in the Denver airport waiting for a flight. As usual I couldn’t resist browsing the bookstore shelves. Something about the book Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah caught my eye. So, on impulse, I bought the book and began reading it on the plane. I learned a lot about this phenomenon called social marketing and thought that it would be a great book for all authors to read. But I never got around to writing a review!

The solution to this came yesterday when my friend Randy Ingermanson posted a review of the book as part of his Advanced Fiction Writing e-zine. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to this free resource at And while you are there, read ALL of the past issues. In a short while you will receive a wonderful education!

Randy agreed to let me reprint his review of this book. He said the book had been recommended to him by Thomas Umstattd ( Which goes to show, in a small way, how word-of-mouth sells books!

Let me step aside and let Randy’s review speak for itself:



The biggest mistake that I see authors making in marketing their book is based on the idea that “marketing is all about me.”

It isn’t, except in the very rare cases where the author is a celebrity, in which case the quality of the writing doesn’t matter. If Bill Clinton or Mother Teresa or Albert Einstein wrote a novel, it would fly off the shelves, whether it was any good or not.

Most novelists aren’t celebrities, and so we need to market our books, not ourselves. (If you do that well enough, you’ll become a celebrity and THEN you can market yourself.)

The second biggest mistake I see authors making in marketing their book is based on the idea that “marketing is all about my book.”

It is and it isn’t.

It is, in the sense that the success of a book depends in some way on its perceived quality in the market.

It isn’t, in the sense that you don’t persuade people that you have a great book by telling people, “I have a great book.” The problem is that “telling” doesn’t work any better in marketing than it does in fiction. “Show, don’t tell,” is a good maxim in marketing, just as in fiction writing.

What works in marketing is to show people that you have a great book, instead of telling them.

How do you do that? That’s what makes marketing hard. I recently read a book that gives you a strategy for doing exactly that.

The title of the book is Inbound Marketing. The subtitle is “Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs.”

Be aware that Inbound Marketing is not about marketing fiction. It’s a general-purpose book on marketing and it’s all about using the internet to get found by customers who are interested in your product, rather than trying to go out and find customers and persuade them to be interested in your product.

Traditional advertising methods are “outbound marketing.” You buy time on TV or radio or you buy space on a billboard or a newspaper or a magazine and you shotgun out a message about your widget and you just hope that people who want widgets happen to see or hear your message just at the time when their desire for a widget is causing them to pull out their wallets.

Outbound marketing is horribly inefficient, because the vast majority of people don’t give a flip about widgets and they get annoyed when somebody makes an unwanted sales pitch about their great widget.

If you don’t want a widget, you don’t want a widget.

Outbound marketing can never change that.

“Inbound marketing” is all about making it easy for customers who already want a widget to find the best widget-makers. It’s far, far easier to sell a widget to a customer who wants one that to a customer who doesn’t.

The internet makes it fantastically easy for anybody to find a widget. Google will find you all the most popular pages about widgets. Blogs will give you a wide range of opinions on which widgets are good and which ones suck. Facebook and Twitter will give you comments by real-live widget users, happy or unhappy. LinkedIn will connect you to the leading experts in widget making. YouTube will show you videos of people using widgets, mocking them, or in some cases, blending them to bits. Amazon will show you all the current books on widgets. Wikipedia will tell you how to make your own widget.

The book Inbound Marketing explains all the strategic principles needed to help you get found by hungry customers who want the widget you happen to make.

The tools customers use to find widgets are constantly changing. What doesn’t change is that you can’t make people come to you by using the old outbound marketing methods with these new tools. Building a brochure web site is outbound marketing. Writing a blog in which you constantly pitch your book is outbound marketing.

Flogging your book on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube is outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing, by contrast, is all about creating what Seth Godin calls “REMARKable content” — content that’s worth remarking on. I have traditionally called this simply “great content”. I like Seth’s term because it gets to the core of the matter. If people are remarking about your product, then they are creating word of mouth.

And that’s the key for novelists. Just about everybody in publishing agrees that the most powerful force in the marketing universe is word of mouth. If you can get people talking about your book, and if they like it, then your marketing job is done. (If they don’t like it, your book is toast, but we’re assuming here that your book really is a great piece of work.)

The book Inbound Marketing explains the strategic principles of creating REMARKable content and then making it findable. Understand that this is not a tactical book. If you want tactics, then look for one of the popular Dummies books on SEO, Facebook, Twitter, Podcasting, or whatever particular tool you want to use.

Tactics are great, because they teach you HOW, but I always believe in learning strategic thinking first, because it teaches you WHY. Once you know WHY, learning HOW is a cakewalk because you’re motivated to work through all the details.

Inbound Marketing is, in my opinion, a REMARKable book.

The authors have succeeded in getting me to remark on it here. The reason is simple. They’ve given me a number of good ideas that I’ll be putting into practice on my own web site.

If you’d like to know more, here’s an easy link to the Amazon page for Inbound Marketing:

Full disclosure: The above link contains Randy Ingermanson’s Amazon associates code, which will earn a referral fee if you click on it and then buy the book. Randy only make referrals to books that he likes, but if you prefer that he earn no referral fee, then feel free to go direct to Amazon and search for Inbound Marketing.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 20,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

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New Releases May 2010

Below are new books published last month which our agency represented. (In alphabetical order by author. Descriptions are from publisher’s web sites). May 2010 Claim – Lisa Bergren David C. CookSent west by their father to make a new life, the St. Clair siblings have done so-but hardly as he’d …

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What’s up with Christian Retail?

Twice in the last 30 days I have been interviewed about the “state of the industry.” The journalist’s questions were insightful and thought I would share some of them with you. My answers have been expanded beyond the original ones since I have more space to work with here.

1. What do you believe to be the most important trend in Christian publishing and why?

This can be a complex question depending on which part of publishing being discussed. The obvious answer is the digital revolution. While e-book sales are still only a tiny percentage of the whole, the foundations being laid today will have long term implications.

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New Releases April 2010

Below are new books published last month which our agency represented. (In alphabetical order by author. Descriptions are from publisher’s web sites). April 2010 Who Speaks to Your Heart?: Tuning in to Hear God’s Whispers – Stacy Hawkins Adams Zondervan‘I wrestled with whether a God that I couldn’t see or …

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HarperStudio is History

Back on March 17 I blogged about the changes at HarperStudio and asked if this could mean that division would close down. Today it was announced that it has come to pass, the division is no more.

HarperStudio had made big news by setting up a low advance model in exchange for high royalties. It was termed a “profit sharing” model. (of course define “profit” first… 🙂 ) Plus they sold their books on a non-returnable basis to the stores, both online and brick & mortar.

It was a highly creative idea and caused quite a stir, especially when there was talk of a 50/50 profit split.

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