Positioning is the most crucial part of both writing and marketing your book. If you are writing a book, you cannot breeze over this or take it lightly. If you put in the work to properly position your book now, you will reap the benefits for years.

If you do not take this seriously, you will probably get your positioning wrong, then almost nothing you can do will save your book or make it successful. In fact, I would go so far as to tell you that you can’t write or market yourself out of a positioning problem.

What is book positioning?

Simply stated, book positioning is the place your book occupies in the mind of your reader, and how that reader perceives your book as fulfilling their needs.

If you get it right, positioning acts as the business and marketing plan for your book. It makes both the writing and marketing of the book easy, and ensures you get what you want from your book.

A (Very) Brief History of Book Positioning

For a hundred years in the old media traditional publishing model, every agent had to have the positioning discussion with an editor before they would offer advance.

Strictly speaking, in traditional publishing circles the positioning discussion only revolved around how the book fit into traditional sales categories. That’s where the term comes from. It’s literally a discussion of what position on the bookstore shelves the book is supposed to go, because in the twentieth century, the market for books was essentially synonymous with the needs of bookstores.

This is obviously no longer the case. Most books are now sold digitally, categories don’t matter as much, and the majority of physical books are not sold in bookstores, but rather in non-book retail stores like Costco and Walmart that don’t even have categorized shelves.

Furthermore, when all book publishing was done by traditional publishing companies, the only positioning decisions they cared about concerned whether books would sell, because that’s how they made money.

Modern Book Positioning

None of this is true anymore. Now, most books are published outside of the old traditional models, and most non-fiction books are not monetized directly.

Here is modern reality: most non-fiction authors make the majority of their money from other things that a book gets them, and not from sales of their books.

You can always make money by selling copies, of course. But making money indirectly from a book means you’re using your book as a marketing tool to get you something else that produces revenue.

For example, a book will help you elevate your authority, increase your visibility, and get you more clients. This strategy fundamentally changes the way books are conceived and positioned (more on this later).

At Scribe, we’ve adapted the old positioning process so that instead of serving the publishing company’s needs, it serves your needs as the author.  

Positioning Done Right Ensures Your Book Will Work

Our positioning process is very simple. There are three basic questions you have to answer:

  1. Book Objectives: What result must the book produce for you to be a success?
  2. Book Audience: Who is the audience that must be reached for your goal to be achieved?
  3. Book Idea: What is your book about, and why will your audience care?

Everything is connected.

The objectives lead to the audience.

The audience has needs that must be met.

And if the book provides value to the audience, you’ll reach the objectives you want to achieve.

It all ties together in a simple formula. If you follow it, you’ll pick a book topic that provides value for both you and the audience.