Book Marketing Strategies 2024: What Publishers and Authors Say Works Now

How are mysteries and thrillers being marketed today? To find out, we surveyed 913 authors, publishers and publicists representing mystery and thriller titles. In our third such survey over the past five years, we’ve seen some striking shifts in strategies, tactics and perceptions of the market. 

In today’s crowded marketplace, the key to standing out amidst the millions of titles published each year lies in understanding your audience – and your competition – like never before. Gone are the days of relying solely on gut instincts and hopeful hunches. In a world where attention is scarce and competition fierce, embracing a data-driven approach isn’t just advantageous—it’s essential. Join the ranks of savvy authors who are revolutionizing the way books are marketed and discovered, and ensure your literary masterpiece gets the attention it deserves in today’s crowded marketplace.

About the Survey

Authors represented 57% of those surveyed. Book publicists and PR professionals represented 31%, while 12% worked at publishing houses. All are involved in publishing mystery and/or thriller titles. 

Who takes primary responsibility for planning and executing book promotion efforts?

Ultimately, the division of responsibilities for book promotion varies depending on factors such as the author’s level of involvement, the publishing model (traditional vs. self-publishing), and the resources available to support marketing efforts. Nevertheless, this is one area that hasn’t changed much since our 2022 survey. A resounding 58% of those surveyed report that authors take primary responsibility for planning and executing book promotions, with 28.2% answering that it is “a team effort.” Just 13.8% answered that publishers and publicists take primary responsibility. 

Why Do eBooks Remain The Most Common Publishing Format Despite Massive Audiobook Growth?

Over 97% of those surveyed publish in multiple formats. As in past years, eBooks continue to be the leading format used by authors and publishers. This comes despite 11 straight years of double-digit growth in audiobook sales, and also despite Pew Research showing that print books continue to be more popular than eBooks or audiobooks. There is little doubt that publishers will stick with the format due to low eBook production costs, ease of distribution and straightforward marketing ability relative to other formats. 

Book marketing survey results

In encouraging news, the percentage of those surveyed publishing in the audiobook format rose from 44.1% to 58.1%. Not only are authors more likely to find younger audiences on audiobook formats, but there are also more players in the landscape than in our 2022 survey. Of particular note, Spotify began offering audiobooks to subscribers in 2023.  However, as revealed in the data below, publishers still struggle to compete when it comes to audiobook sales.

In our 2022 survey, 5.9% of respondents claimed to have published at least part of an audiobook in a podcast format. The format has virtually disappeared among surveyed authors, likely because of the difficulty of earning significant revenue from podcasts.  

How do authors and publishers feel about promoting audiobooks?

While more publishers and authors are participating in the audiobook boom, most still struggle to compete effectively in the marketplace. When asked, “Which statement best describes your feelings about publishing and promoting audiobooks,” most indicated they did not have an effective strategy. Just 7.1% reported that they have an effective audiobook promotion strategy, and 32.9% reported that audiobooks are still too difficult and expensive to create or promote. 

Audiobook marketing survey results 2024

Where are authors and publishers selling their books? 

Just 12.8% of those surveyed publish only on the Amazon platform (defined here as and Audible). Meanwhile, 46% of those surveyed publish on at least two platforms in addition to Amazon. Less than 1% do not publish on Amazon at all. 

Rakuten continues to climb, with 29% of those surveyed selling on the platform (up from 17% in 2022), while 47% reported using local and independent bookstores as part of their strategy. Speaking of brick-and-mortar book sales, Barnes and Noble’s improving sales have not been lost on authors, who appear to be increasing their usage of the platform.

The rankings of sales channel and platform utilization are in order as follows:

  1. Amazon (includes and Audible)
  2. Barnes and Noble (includes the website, brick and mortar locations and Nook) 
  3. Local/Independent bookstores
  4. Apple/iBooks 
  5. Kobo 
  6. Rakuten 
  7. Overdrive 
  8. Downpour 

What are the most popular book marketing platforms? 

When asked, “Which of the following services have you used to market your books?,” those surveyed once again reported Amazon advertising, Facebook and GoodReads as the most-used platforms. Those offering discounted and free books once again featured prominently, and included FreeBooksy, BookBub and The Fussy Librarian.

Just 38.7% of those surveyed reported using X (formerly Twitter) compared to 89.6% on Facebook. Among social channels, Instagram grabbed 31%, and Threads just 11.1%. We did not ask about TikTok given the video-oriented nature of the platform, but probably should have. The #BookTok hashtag on TikTok has accumulated over tens of billions of views. 

Book marketing platforms

How important are reader communities in a book marketing program? 

When asked specifically about the importance of reader communities on their book marketing efforts, those surveyed were asked to rank their response on a one to five scale. With a five meaning “extremely important,” and a one equating to not important at all, the average response was 3.52, despite zero respondents reporting that communities were not at all important.

While several book community startups have launched in recent years, Goodreads continues to dominate the space, with an estimated 150 million members. 

The importance of book communities

How important is email in a book marketing program? 

When asked about email marketing, and asked to rank its importance on a 1-5 scale, the average response was 3.37%. At 35.2%, “extremely important” was the most common response. It’s important to note that the survey did not differentiate between email marketing services such as those offered by BookBub and publishers/authors’ private email databases. 

How important is advertising in a book marketing program? 

Just 26% of those surveyed indicated that they did no advertising as part of their book marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, 20% indicated that it was an “extremely important” part of their book marketing program. On a 1-5 scale, the average response was 2.7, making it the least important book marketing tactic in the survey. 

How important are book reviews in a book marketing program? 

When asked, “how important are book reviews to your book marketing efforts,” the average response was 4.35 on a 1-5 scale, making it the most important tactic of those surveyed. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported that it was ‘extremely important.” This figure is up from 55.9% in 2022. 

How important is social media in a book marketing program? 

When asked, “how important is social media to your book marketing efforts,” the average response was 4 on a 1-5 scale, making it the second-most important tactic according to authors, publishers and publicists. Just 5.8% of those surveyed described it as not important or not at all important. 

How important are book awards in a book marketing program? 

When asked about the importance of book awards in 2022, less than 6% reported that they were either not important or not very important. That figure rose to 8% in 2024, while 88% reported that book awards were either important, very important or extremely important. This is no surprise, as winning or even being nominated for a prestigious book award lends credibility and prestige to a book and its author. It serves as an independent validation of the book’s quality, craftsmanship, and literary merit, which can significantly enhance its reputation in the eyes of readers, critics, and industry professionals.

Key Insights

Publishing Formats: Despite the surging popularity of audiobooks, eBooks remain the dominant format used by authors and publishers. Audiobook adoption has risen notably, with 58.1% of authors now publishing in this format. However, audiobook podcasting has declined, likely due to challenges in monetization.

Sales Channels: While Amazon remains a vital platform, authors increasingly diversify, with 46% utilizing multiple platforms alongside Amazon. Notable platforms gaining traction include Rakuten, which has seen a rise from 17% to 29% utilization over the past two years, and local/independent bookstores.

Marketing Platforms: Amazon advertising, Facebook, and Goodreads continue to be the go-to platforms for book marketing. Social media platforms like Instagram and emerging platforms like Threads are also gaining traction. 

Marketing Tactics: Book reviews reign supreme, deemed the most important tactic by respondents, closely followed by social media engagement. Email marketing and advertising, while still significant, rank lower in importance. The significance of book awards in book marketing has notably increased, with 88% of respondents considering them important, very important, or extremely important. Winning or being nominated for prestigious awards enhances a book’s credibility and prestige, contributing to its success in the market.

In conclusion, while authors continue to shoulder the bulk of book promotion responsibilities, the landscape is evolving with increasing emphasis on audiobooks, diversification in sales channels, and recognition of the importance of book awards in enhancing a book’s reputation and marketability.

Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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