We talk a lot here on the blog about attracting an agent, but for the lucky writers who find representation, that’s only the beginning. There’s still the dating game of trying to match a manuscript with an editor, and even after a contract is signed, there’s the long road to publication. So I thought we could take a couple of days to talk about things that are part of an author’s job beyond writing the book or the query letter. Things like self-promotion and marketing.
So what is marketing? Bookjobs.com defines it as “A concerted effort of promotion and advertising by the publisher to maximize sales of books to the public and to distributors.” In other words, it’s a combination of paid and unpaid efforts, including publicity, that targets both the end audience (the reader) and the librarians and booksellers who help put the book in the reader’s hands.
Most publishers have several marketing departments or individuals responsible for different aspects of marketing: there’s the school and library market, for one, plus online marketing, and the general publicity department that you may be familiar with.
And then, of course, there’s the author’s part in all this, which is huge. More on that in a bit.
I’m hoping to get an expert in here to talk with you in more detail about marketing, but I wanted to start with a question that I think will prove illuminating. What are some examples of effective marketing that you’ve seen? Let’s keep it in the book realm, please. I’m thinking of thing like book trailers and free downloads, but let’s really get into specifics, shall we?
To the comments!
8 thoughts on “What Comes After: Marketing”
When I used to produce a news radio show, I was in regular contact with publicity people for (usually nonfiction) authors. I saw all kinds of marketing gimmicks, like including toys with books or interactive websites, but in general, a gimmick wouldn't land you a spot on the show. The authors who did make it on were publicists who understood exactly what the book was about and could articulate why their author was the best person to talk about a specific subject.
And I *adored* the publicists who would write me up and say something like, "I see Congress is voting on the Health Care Bill next week. My author has just completed a book detailing hospital expenses…" Those guests almost always got booked.
But there was a flip side, too, and I always felt terrible for authors who must have worked so hard and invested so much time and energy into their books, only end up with a publicist who knew nothing about them or nothing about the book or worse, lied about what the author could talk about (to which I can only say, thank goodness for pre-interviews…).
Honestly, only word of mouth from my friends and coworkers influences me. Once I find an author who can really write, I typically read all they've written. Occasionally, I'll read a book if I hear a movie version is being made. Other than that, for non-fiction, if an author I like suggests other books that she/he likes, I *might* look into them.
I probably would have bought it anyway, but I LOVED that we got to read the first several chapters of MJ's The Name of the Star. I always listen to music before I buy it, and I like to know if I'm going to enjoy a book before I spend money on it. Plus, free stuff is cool. I think people really respond to free stuff, and a free excerpt seems like an easy way to do that.
I would hate to admit that I'm one of those people, but really good cover art goes a long way. That, with a little catchy blurb on what it's about and I'll be willing to at least read the first chapter to see if I'm into it. When I see a cover of an up and coming book with a catchy blurb on an author/agent/anyone's websites, I get all excited and go looking for that book as soon as it's out in bookstores.
I love that you're addressing this topic right now. As I've said often on my blog, the cover is huge for me. It's what made me pick up Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children–along with the blurb. If I see a cover I love, whether it's in a book store or online, I'm halfway sold right there. Also, I've been looking to Twitter way more than I did in the past to see what books are getting buzz and recommendations. Can't wait to read more of these posts. 🙂
A lot of it, for me, is about seeing how active the author is in their contact with their audience. I love John Green because he puts himself out there in videos, Maureen Johnson because she's a twitter fanatic, Stephanie Perkins because she blogs and tweets frequently. I have a laundry list of YA authors that I only passively liked before I saw their online activity. Social networking sites are such a no-brainer, but it's great to see authors using them effectively.
I am more apt to be attentive when they promote their work when they keep these sorts of things up to date. It feels more friendly, I guess.
I agree with Jenna – even if the author's don't have time to answer me personally I like to see that they do keep in touch with their fans. I'm much more likely to read a book if I see how genuinely awesome they are.
Other than that – word of mouth or a chapter online to sample is huge. I don't have the money to buy every book with a nice cover, so if someone I trust recommends it or I can read a bit of it online to see if I like it that will go a long way towards parting with that hard-earned cash.
I follow a lot of book review blogs. I have found many books that I have loved that way. I think that sending copies of a book to a review blog that has a large following could help immensely.