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Writing a Book vs. Marketing a Book

Your Book Writing Coach

I’ve been “talking” by e-mail to Dr. Ellen Weber Libby, whom I met a few years ago at the Harvard Medical School CME publishing course.

Elly and I immediately connected and I became first her book proposal coach and then her book writing coach for The Favorite Child, which was published last month by Prometheus Books and has been getting lots of buzz.

The Favorite Child

The Favorite Child, a ground-breaking book, is the first book written on favorite children and is the only relationship book that applies to everyone. Everyone grew up as the favorite, overlooked, or unfavorite child. The book answers many questions, such as:

– What happens when a parent has a favorite child?
– How does this favored relationship affect that child when they grow up and become and adult?
– How does it affect that person’s relationships?
– How does favoritism affect other siblings?
…and much more, of course.

Dr. Ellen Weber Libbys Book The Favorite Child came out last month
Dr. Ellen Weber Libby’s Book The Favorite Child came out last month

I asked Elly what it’s like for her to be suddenly marketing her book compared to writing it.

Elly replied, “When writing a book, I have 300 pages to tell my story. I pace the unfolding of the story, wanting readers to be interested in the details and wanting them to read on.

“Each chapter is a distinct unit with a beginning, middle, and end, smoothly connected to what comes before and after. Upon completing the book, readers need to feel satisfied and know they are wiser for having read my book.

“Promoting a book requires a different mindset. In just a few minutes I need to convey a sharp and concise message, which will entice each person in the audience to buy my book.

“My goals is to NOT tell the reader too much but to stimulate them to go to the next step – to purchase The Favorite Child. This is accomplished by consolidating the 300 detailed and well thought out pages in to the two or three major points which will be most engaging to the audience.

“What is common to both the writing and promoting of a book is the writer’s struggle of knowing how much or how little to say. When writing, the writer does not want to drown the reader in irrelevant details; when promoting the book, there isn’t the time to encounter this risk.

“Conversely, when promoting the book, the writer does not want to engage with interviewers in free-flowing discussion as one would with a friend over coffee: the writer wants to use the time wisely to make succinct points that will help sell the book. But, when I wrote The Favorite Child, it was the free-flowing discussions I had with friends and colleagues that added richness and texture to the book and helped me clarify and develop my opinions and prose.”

I asked Elly how she likes all the interviews and book promotion activity.

The Favorite Child
The Favorite Child

“I enjoy promoting the book. Everything about the experience intrigues me. I’ve been interviewed on shows with dramatically different audiences, and it is amazing how each interviewer gets to similar information from such divergent approaches, some with humor, others provocatively, and some directly.

“And, I still can’t get over the fact that while in Paris a friend listened to an interview I did on NPR in NYC on her computer.”

You can purchase The Favorite Child at Read Dr. Libby’s blog on Psychology Today.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Monica S says

    Dr. Libby– Congrats on the great success of your book! I was wondering, when did you start preparing for the marketing for your book? Some suggest starting the “marketing plan” as you write your title, chapter titles and chapters, thinking of articles for online submission, etc., but its hard to imaging accomplishing this as I write. Can you share what has been the most successful marketing activity (radio vs blog vs other)?
    Thanks again!

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