November 19, 2019

Best marketing books for authors

The age-old advice is true, great readers make great writers. Stephen King famously takes a book with him wherever he goes, sneaking in pages from when he’s waiting in line at the theater to eating meals.

To be a great marketer of your writing, you also need to read a lot — but this time books of a slightly different type. There are thousands of great books about marketing out there (maybe even one of yours!), so it can be a tough job figuring out where to start when you want to learn to sell your book.

Our team has read hundreds of books related to these topics, and we’ve made this easy for you by curating the ones that matter most. Outlined below are seven of our absolute favorite works related to marketing. If you pick up even just a few of these you’ll be in good shape for the road ahead.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding — Al and Lauren Ries

A 1990s marketing classic, the lessons in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding are roughly equivalent to the concentrated knowledge of a college-level course on the subject. While some of the examples in this book show their age, the “laws” behind them are as true as ever. If you’re first beginning to think about developing your own brand, this accessible book is your best starting point for reshaping how you view who you are and what that means.

Influence — Robert Cialdini

Not strictly a marketing book, Influence is actually framed with the consumer in mind, outlining the methods that marketers and sales professionals use to persuade — and how the consumer can avoid them. In detailed, science-backed chapters, Cialdini distills the psychology of decision making down to six core principles: social proof, commitment, reciprocation, liking, authority, and scarcity. It’s hard to read all at once, as you’ll frequently find yourself putting the book down to scribble notes on how to apply each to your own marketing.

Eating the Big Fish — Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan’s 2009 book Eating the Big Fish was an instant classic — its title becoming shorthand for how challenger brands can win in a crowded market. Unless you are Stephen King himself, you are likely facing a lot of the same hurdles that a challenger brand in other verticals might grapple with. Read this book if you want to fight scrappy, but smartly.

This is Marketing — Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of the leading marketing thinkers of the last generation. You might be familiar with his work from his incredibly popular daily blog (with over 7,000 musings), or from his other best-selling marketing books. In This is Marketing, Godin offers a summary of his unique philosophy that is as good as any, complete with countless observations and insights that will change your mindset for the better. One word of warning however: this is a book best enjoyed in small bites. Read a section or two and then ruminate on the ideas before moving on.

Brand Thinking — Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is a leading designer and marketer who truly excels in her interviews and profiles of other leading creatives. In Brand Thinking, Millman insightfully interviews the minds behind some of the world’s best brands — including Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Tom Peters, Virginia Postrel, Wally Olins, and more. Each interview provides a different perspective, and thus Brand Thinking offers a glimpse into dozens of different ways to approach your marketing goals.

Show Your Work — Austin Kleon

This short book will help put you in the right mindset to share your creative pursuits. Kleon self describes this book as “for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion.” By following some of the principles here, you’ll learn tactics to help you tell good stories, teach what you know, and build an audience that lifts your brand.

Start With Why — Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is famous for his low-fi 2009 TED talk where he explains the “golden circle” and how great leaders and organizations communicate — by starting with the “Why.” In his book of the same name, he seeks to answer some fundamental questions about why some communicators are more effective, profitable, and influential than others. The core concepts in Start with Why are as applicable to your individual marketing as they are to building a gigantic corporation, and you’ll learn such with examples as varied as the Wright Brothers to Apple.


BTW: This post originally appeared on my old marketing agency blog, so it may include some phrasing or references that seem out of place. My apologies for any confusion – it's still stuff good though!

About the Author

Ben Guttmann ran a marketing agency for a long time, now he teaches digital marketing at Baruch College, just released his first book – Simply Put, and works with some cool folks on other projects in-between all of that. He writes about how we experience a world shaped by technology and humanity – and how we can build a better one.

Get my new book, it just came out.

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