Yesterday Pru Warren and I recorded a future episode of The Writers’ Block Party Podcast—we always record them about three weeks in advance of when we’re going to post it. The topic was how much money you should or could be spending on marketing—your marketing budget. We got into some real numbers here because Pru really likes to know exactly how much we’re talking about. But what came up was the importance of knowing what your goal is for your marketing.

Yes, we all want to sell books, but is that your number one goal for marketing? Should it be?

Pru is just starting out. She’s about to publish her very first book so really, what she wants out of marketing that book is not necessarily sales of the book (although that would be very nice as well), but to establish her author platform. She needs to build her brand.

She’s doing a lot of careful thinking about this. The books she’s going to be publishing starting in January are romantic comedies. She’s already written a series of straight, contemporary romances which she is wary to release—not because they aren’t good, they are! But they would muddy her brand. She first wants to be known as a writer of feel-good funny romances. Once she has built her platform in that area, only then is she willing to release her contemporary romances.

So, as a new author, she’s thinking about how to market her first book.

Naturally, trying for a BookBub ad would be a waste of money. You should even try for them until you’ve got two or three books readers can buy at the same time as they download the free (or .99 cent) book you’re advertising. Other newsletters are also good at selling books. Amazon ads, Bookbub ads (as opposed to featured deals), and Facebook ads—all good at selling books.

But if your goal is to establish your brand, you don’t want to advertise there. Yes, you might sell some books, but you won’t necessarily be establishing a coherent brand, creating a platform from which you can sell more books and get newsletter subscribers (who you can market to directly).

So, where do you market if you’re wanting to establish your brand?

Social media is key. We may not love spending all that time there—it really sometimes feels like a waste—but it’s a great way to spread the word and establish who you are and what you write. Getting opportunities to take over someone else’s page is a fantastic way for readers to discover who you are.

Another way could be to participate in a blog hop. You may have heard how horrible they are at selling books, but they might be very good at getting your name in front of readers of your genre. The more times someone sees your name, the more likely it is that they will buy your book when they see it at Amazon (or wherever they buy books).

So, if you are looking at your marketing budget and wondering how much you should be spending and where, think first about what your marketing goal is. It will depend on where you are in your career. Do you want to establish a brand so that whenever people see your name they immediately hop over to check out your book? Or do you simply want to sell as many books to as many people as possible?