Guest post: ‘Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?’ by Bill Munro

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing is brought to you by author and publisher Bill Munro.

Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?

Are you a marketable author? Will it be your name on the cover that makes someone take your book to the checkout? Or is poor or non-existent marketability a factor in your failure to secure a publishing deal? If you can’t get your book published, then self-publishing is a great temptation. But will your self-published book fail to sell because you are unknown in your genre? Can the public expect your work to be worth paying for?

Marketability is arguably the most important commercial criterion that a publisher looks for in an author. To understand why it is so vital, we must look at the book trade from the buyers’ end. The retail customer relies on the retailer to offer well-written, well-packaged books. In turn, the retailer relies on the expertise of the publisher to supply those quality books. The author’s name is of great importance in promising quality content. The bookseller will trust a known author, whether front- or mid-list fiction writer, authoritative non-fiction author or celebrity. But with unknown authors, a retailer trusts the publisher’s judgement that the work is worthy of investment, and therefore saleable: a publisher would not (or ought not to!) produce the book if it were not. Thus, to gain credibility with the bookseller and the book-buying public, you as an unpublished author must prove you are a good enough writer, both creatively and technically, can analyse your subject effectively and are capable of writing in a style that is right for your genre.

Against the resources of a traditional publisher, the self-published author will never be on a level playing field when it comes to marketing, but if you are considering self-publishing and want the effort to succeed, you should have those aforementioned writing skills, but you must gain some level of profile in the marketplace. This might be through blogging, magazine articles, competition success, your reputation as an expert in your non-fiction field or whatever it takes to get yourself a name amongst the book-buying public. Without it, your books may end up as expensive dust-gatherers.

Quality content and a sound reputation with the public are key ingredients in a successful book. Continue to improve the quality of your work, create something new and original for the market and keep building an audience by any method you can and you will improve your marketability and bookselling success through self-publishing. You will also greatly improve your chances of securing a traditional publishing deal.

As someone embarking on a freelance career, it’s perfect timing, thank you so much, Bill!

Bill Munro is the author of nine books in the motoring and military vehicle history categories, all published by traditional publishers. After successfully self-publishing a further book through his own publishing company, Earlswood Press, he took on a second author.

He has now signed up another and is moving the company from a part-time operation to a full-time one, as well as continuing to write and publish more of his own books. You can find him at and, and email him. Earlswood’s ebooks are available via Smashwords.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say, “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with fantasy, magic realism and satire author Malcolm R Campbell – the two hundred and thirty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

4 thoughts on “Guest post: ‘Marketability – do you have enough to make a self-published book sell?’ by Bill Munro

  1. Patricia Gligor says:

    Bill and Morgen,
    Great topic for a post! It asked a very important question: do you have enough marketability to make a self-published book sell? That’s a tough one to answer though. It’s kind of like: do you have enough money to last if you live to be a hundred? I guess we can only do what we can do; in other words, work hard to develop an online presence, be assertive in our marketing efforts and, I might add, do a lot of praying!


  2. Bill Munro says:

    Thanks, Patricia, and thanks, Morgen for giving me the chance to contribute. If prayer is your way of clarifying your thoughts, ready for the next round, then go for it.

    Luck can play a part, but with regard to it I can only lift a couple of third party quotes from ‘Business Survival & Prosperity Guaranteed’:

    “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it.” (Thomas Jefferson, President of the USA, 1800-1807) and “I believe in hard work and luck, and that the first often leads to the second.” (J K Rowling)

    (BS&PG author Paul Hurst was another of Morgen’s blog guests)

    Regardless of how much PR we do for ourselves, we must work on quality. Hard work and a realistic attitude towards our own skills are key to success. Very few can fool enough people to make a living from trash (Look up Florence Foster Jenkins on YouTube) We all, myself included must also be truly honest about whether that first novel (or any other work) is really is good enough, or only fit for the shredder. We can’t all be Jeffrey Archer…

    Talking of JKR, I’d love to see the first Harry Potter ms she submitted to a publisher, just to see how much different it may be from the one that Bloomsbury took up! We all need to rewrite and rework (this blogspot had seven versions at least!) and, in Churchill’s words, ‘keep b*ggering on!’ (another lift from Business Survival!)


    • morgenbailey says:

      Thanks Bill (and you’re very welcome!). Apparently JK’s early manuscripts were heavily edited but less so as they went on (perhaps why they got bigger) – not sure whether this is because she became a better writer (which would make sense) or wielded more power. 🙂


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