7 Book Marketing Lessons from Virgin’s Richard Branson- By Joanna Penn

Today, we have Joanna Penn, author and book marketer, who will share some marketing insights from Richard Branson and his book. Joanna is the creator of the blog, The Creative Penn, and author of Pentecost. A Thriller. I met Joanna on Twitter and have quickly become a fan of her writings and marketing advice. My thanks goes to her for her willingness to share her insights with my readers.

Just a quick announcement before her post: The next chapter in the serial release of The Samson Effect, Chapter 6, is out. The suspense ratchets up even more. This is the action/adventure novel that New York Times bestselling author Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” If you haven’t started reading The Samson Effect yet, don’t worry! You can start now at Chapter 1 or visit the Table of Contents to pick up where you left off. You can even read the announcement about a major Hollywood producer acquiring the film rights for the novel.

Now, on to Joanna’s post…

7 Book Marketing Lessons from Virgin’s Richard Branson
By Joanna Penn

Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group of companies, is considered to be one of the best entrepreneurial marketers in the world. So what does he have to teach authors about book marketing? These points are roughly drawn from Branson’s book “Screw It: Let’s Do It”.

1. Challenge Yourself. Many authors shrink at the thought of marketing and promotion, preferring to stay out of the limelight. But marketing is just another skill, another tool in your expanding toolkit. The reality is that authors need to be able to market themselves these days, even if they are published traditionally. If you want people to read your book, they need to know it is available. So challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone. Get marketing!

2. Be Bold. There are no rules. There are plenty of ideas for book promotion – you will find many on this blog. But remember, there are no rules. You can do anything you like to market your book. One of Richard’s biggest stunts was hot air-ballooning across the Atlantic. That was a bold and dangerous move and got him an extraordinary amount of press. You don’t need to go that far, but publicity stunts are often far more effective than a mere press release. What could you do to attract media attention that ties into your book?

3. Use word of mouth. Virgin uses word of mouth marketing and promotion far more than it uses advertising, and that is for a company with a huge budget. For authors, this is now an achievable task from your own study. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the blogosphere will spread news by word of mouth much quicker than ever before. Build your presence there and see the results.

4. Understand and use brand recognition. The Virgin brand has been built into an entity that can now sell anything. People trust the brand. It means honesty and low cost for the consumer. You need a brand as an author. It is a lifetime role you have taken on. You want people to hear your name and know what you offer. People should want to come back to your website because they know what they are getting. You build a brand by deciding what you want to be known for, and consistently delivering on that.

5. Chase your dreams but live in the real world. Marketing is not a magic potion that will make your book a bestseller. We all dream of achieving the success of JK Rowling, but that dream is unlikely. The real world is about making individual readers happy. Sometimes you will have successes, and other times you will fail. But writing is a journey. This one book is just a goal achieved along the way. There will be other books, other marketing campaigns, other successes. Expect success, but if it doesn’t come immediately, keep trying.

6. Just do it and have fun! Richard Branson is a billionaire but he didn’t start that way! His mantra is “Have fun, work hard and money will come. When it’s not fun, move on.” Every project he takes on is fun for him, as well as hard work. Authors need to have the same attitude towards book marketing. Just do it, and once you get into it, it can be very fun! Enjoy yourself and you won’t find it hard to do. If it’s not fun, pay someone else to do it for you!

7. Take time off. Writing a book is a long project, especially as most authors have a ‘normal’ job and family life to live at the same time. When the book is written, you have a sales and marketing mountain to climb. No wonder authors shrink from this! Richard Branson runs a number of global companies with thousands of employees. Yet he still manages to spend a lot of time on his private island in the Caribbean. As an author, it is unlikely you have an island to retreat to – but make sure you take time off from marketing, or even writing. Get some space and some rest. Fill up your soul, and then return with vigour and enthusiasm!


Joanna Penn is an author, blogger, speaker and business consultant based in Australia (although she’s British!). She always dreamed of writing her own books, and spent many years thinking about it before she actually took the plunge. You can find her on her blog, The Creative Penn, and you can read her first novel, a Kindle best seller, Pentecost. A Thriller.

I recently became an affiliate of Joanna after seeing her book marketing expertise first hand. I have recommended her blog and her products long before I became an affiliate. In fact, I am excited to join my reputation with hers as I become an affiliate for her products. For some of the best book marketing training you can get, check out her items below:

  ——–  Tony Eldridge is the author of The Samson Effect, an action/adventure novel that Clive Cussler calls a “first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure.” He is also the author of the Twitter marketing book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests.

7 Responses to “7 Book Marketing Lessons from Virgin’s Richard Branson- By Joanna Penn” Subscribe

  1. L. Diane Wolfe June 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    That last one is the toughest for me – taking time off!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. Jo-Anne Vandermeulen June 9, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    Hello Tony;

    I had saved last week’s video on Twitter so I could watch it later. When I clicked on the html link, it directed me to this week’s video on feedburners. Am I doing something wrong?

    I’d really like to re-watch both your Twitter videos that you had sent out.

    My email address is: gr5mom2@yahoo.ca

    Thanks for all you do. So much appreciated.

    Jo-Anne Vandermeulen
    Internet Promotional Manager

  3. Musafir Freya June 10, 2009 at 3:15 am #

    a wonderful post. Book Marketing has so much in common with general and other marketing. Thank you Joanna & Tony for sharing :)


  4. chillyspoon June 12, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    Totally agree – excellent post. I particularly like “Richard Branson is a billionaire but he didn’t start that way!”. A useful reminder!


  5. Andrea M. Kulman ~Author~ June 17, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    Great advice!

  6. Terry Cordingley June 26, 2009 at 4:40 am #

    I especially agree with #4. Authors should view their name and their book titles as brands. Put your stamp on everything you do!

  7. Mary Pat Hyland October 17, 2009 at 1:46 am #

    In the midst of marketing my second novel right now and would love to achieve No. 7! Took me most of my life to realize the truth of No. 6.
    Good post, thanks for sharing.

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