Inbound marketing is all about creating content specifically designed to appeal to your target readership. As a writer, you should create clever, unique content that will appeal to your desired audience. 

Content that ‘pulls’ people towards your online presence and ultimately your books.

Types of Marketing

There are two types of marketing: outbound and inbound. 

Outbound vs Inbound

Outbound marketing is the marketing you do to reach out to potential readers, such as advertising in print, social media, and online, as well as sending unsolicited emails.

Inbound marketing is the marketing that sees potential readers coming in to you; this is mostly from free content you create via blogs and your website.

Types of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the process of generating interest and engagement around your writing by producing content that will attract potential readers, providing intense value, and turning that interest and attention into a beneficial long-term readership base.

If you have ever written a blog post, given away a free short story, or created or given away a free ebook, then you are already undertaking some level of informal inbound marketing.

The approach is to create something of such value that it will attract the interest of potential readers.

Inbound marketing is a game of balancing content and context.
The approach seems simple in principle but can be difficult in execution.

You must...

  • Create content that is easy to find between all the online noise; this can be done through unique content with engaging headlines. 
  • Optimize your content by using keywords; visit Google Trends ( to see what is relevant. 
  • Entertain and educate your readership with cutting-edge knowledge and information.
However, creating content is only one side of the coin; this content must also appeal to your readership, which is context. 

Let’s say you are a new writer. Your first book is an epic sci-fi story. However, you’ve also written a second book about how to write. It is all about what you’ve learned about writing a novel. You decide to give this second book it away for free. 

This would be great content, but the context is all wrong. 

Think about it… who is interested in books about writing?


The problem is, you don’t want to attract writers; you want to attract fans of epic sci-fi.

Get content, poor context.

In terms of context, think about what interests your desired readers. 

There is no point in writing about romance if your books are focused on the horror genre. All this will do is attract the wrong audience to your websites, social media, and Amazon page. 

Make sure the context of your inbound marketing is always factual and relevant.

Interruption vs Permission
Inbound marketing, unlike outbound, is focused on permission. 

The idea is that the user has given you permission to market to them. This style of marketing is the best way, as a writer, to build a dedicated readership. 

For example, when a potential reader comes to your site and gives you their email so they can get access to a free short story, they are aware this is an interaction, and they are giving you permission to speak to them in the future. The amount of permission is small, they do not agree to hundreds of spammy emails, but it is permission all the same. They have some interest in what you are writing. 

The flip side to permission marketing is interruption marketing. 

This is when a potential reader's daily life is interrupted by you to sell your book. This is what happens when they see your ad on Facebook. You are interupting that person's day. They have not given you any permission to do this. You hope that your ad is so inciting that they will stop what they are doing and buy your book. 

Think about it this way.
You are currently reading this article; this is inbound marketing. 

You are permitting me to share the information in this article by clicking on the post. You understand that this is a two-sided relationship, and I am getting something in return, your attention. 

Once you have read this article, you might decide that it was so valuable that you want to read more about book marketing, so you choose to read a couple of other articles. Impressed by what we’ve written, you decide to download a free ebook. This is the next step on the permission ladder; you are increasing the permission since by downloading the ebook, you are giving us access to your email. In return, we promise to provide useful information. 

And on it goes, with each step seeing you increase the permission to give us to interact with you in the future. 
So, why doesn’t inbound marketing always work for every writer?
There are many reasons; for one, the cluttered online landscape can make it hard to grab a user’s attention. Furthermore, consumers are growing increasingly skeptical of inbound marketing, or the ‘push’ method. This is because there has been a recent power shift towards consumers due to technology changes and advancements. For example, marketing techniques such as personalized advertising have flourished due to AI improvements.

Inbound Marketing


How to Target Readers using Inbound Marketing

When a business embarks on an inbound marketing campaign, they generate a ‘buyer persona’, a semi-fictional representation of their ideal customer, based on market research and data from existing customers. Pinpointing a precise persona for your potential readers will help you gather them faster and easier, saving you time and hassle.
As a book marketer, this is still relevant to you. By collecting data on your readers, you will inflate and increase this information until you have a big data set. Different details should be in your mind to collect, such as when they visit your site, their name, email, and location. If you have linked your site to Google Analytics (, you will be able to gather this data at ease.
But what data is most useful?
There is a lot more to a ‘reader profile’ than the admin information such as name, gender, and location.
Think about your ‘ideal reader’ as if they were a real person. This will make it easier to create marketing messages, which target them specifically. Many people go to the extent of giving their ideal reader a name and backstory! Your perfect ‘reader profile’ will dictate everything around your inbound marketing practices, from your style of voice to the social media channels you use.
Although, be aware, just because you have an ‘ideal reader profile’, doesn’t mean that other readers won’t be interested in your work. I recommend creating multiple reader profiles, covering different ages and types of potential readers. You can’t get to know every reader personally, but you can create reader profiles that cover every segment of your reader base.

Once you have these profiles, you can begin to create content tailored to their specific needs. 

For example, at ProActive Writer, we are interested in attracting writers. However, we also understand that there are three types of writers: 

  1. People thinking about writing.
  2. People who have started writing but have not yet written their first book. 
  3. People who have written at least one book and are looking to build a career. 

This article has been specifically written for writers in group three. Indeed, people thinking about writing or who have started writing might also be interested, but our target reader is one who is thinking about book marketing. 

Only by deeply understanding our readership can we create valuable content. 
What should be included in your reader profiles?
·      Age.
·      Location.
·      Language.
·      Spending power.
·      Interests.
·      Challenges.
·      Values.
·      Missions.
·      Stage of life.
You can gather this information from social media analytics, especially Facebook.
HubSpot ( offers a service for businesses to create ‘buyer personas’, and I believe you as a book marketer could also benefit from this.
Once you have defined your ‘reader profile’, you can create targeted content that speaks directly to this reader. 

Final Thoughts

To master the skill of inbound marketing, you must be aware of the problems and hassles your potential readers face.
What is holding them back from success?
What barriers do they face in reaching their goals?
You can use social listening and social media sentiment analysis to find out about your readers. 
The process of a reader buying your book through inbound marketing is in four stages: attract, convert, close, and delight.

Four Stages

Attract readers with your blog and social media, get them to convert through call-to-action buttons and forms. At this stage, users go from being visitors to leads. Use email to convert a lead into a customer/reader. Social media can be used to delight readers through personalized content that will engage them. 

Learn more about attracting readers from this article
When inbound marketing, always have the reader’s problems and issues in mind; this way you will build authority and trust within your audience.