Archives: marketing

It’s expensive to launch a “successful” book, whether the investment is the publisher’s, yours, or a combination of both. And by successful, I’m not even talking about New York Times bestsellers, whose successes seem as much the result of a quantifiable financial investment as they are the result of unquantifiable variables like reader enthusiasm and sheer serendipity. By successful, I’m referring to any book that earns out its publisher’s investment and sells through its first printing. Any author who’s gotten that far should be immensely proud.

Here are some of the most critical costs I’ve seen responsible for creating a successful book:

*Print run (the number of books printed)
*Co-op (exhibition or shelf space the publisher is buying, whether at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com, to offer your book exposure to browsers. Involved explanation here.)
*Marketing & publicity (ranging from advertising to a freelance publicist)
*Buying back books (for events or giveaway/review purposes)

For authors who receive an advance in the tens of thousands of dollars, a robust first print run, co-op, or hefty publicity/events support isn’t likely. And even the rare, proactive publicist who works with you at your publishing house…his/her efforts may simply not translate. If your hope is to exceed expectations and give your book a real shot on the market, you will need to find ways to supplement what’s lacking in the publisher’s investment.

Here are some ways to properly prioritize your time and energy that won’t cost you a dime, excluding gas money.
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Marketing your book is almost as vital to your success as writing it. Unfortunately, adequate marketing practices often come at an unfriendly price if not backed by a publishing house with a big budget.  Luckily, an industrious few have begun to investigate new ways to spread the word about their work and reduce personal expenses.

PubSlush, a startup modeled after Kickstarter (but for books only), aims to help self-published authors achieve the financial resources to get their projects off the ground. (Another up-and-comer to watch is Publishizer.) Today, Pubslush’s Development Director, Justine Schofield, shares a few star examples of crowdfunding campaigns, with some takeaways for how other writers can use the model successfully.

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Trying to publicize a book, particularly by way of newspapers and magazines, can be so challenging for already published or just publishing titles that authors in this position are often turned down by publicity firms. Finding the right publicist has become a bit like finding an agent.

There is enormous value to be had in the months until publication, and when consulting with writers, this has become the starting point of any conversation. Carving out ample lead time to promote or think about promotion can make the difference between a book published proactively and a book published reactively. With 3-6 or even 8 months to plan what you want your publication to look like, the reading world is your oyster. You can begin to craft a marketing strategy including those blue sky ideas that, when you’re publicizing a book retroactively, will be near impossible to achieve. With 3-8 months ahead, you can do a lot by way of networking, social or otherwise, and have a much better shot at mainstream publicity.

But for lack of knowledge or budget, or for relying too heavily on their publishers, many authors find themselves in the retroactive position. Instead of tossing in the towel come what may, I think there are avenues to market or publicize your book in a way that builds an audience perhaps slowly, but also more meaningfully and permanently. Before you begin, it’s crucial to shift your objective from ‘buy my book!’ to ‘learn about my book and see if you like it.’ Don’t fall prey to algorithms and popularity contests. What good are those thousands of followers and friends, those form letters to no one in particular, if these are not people who would realistically enjoy your book?

Here are a few ways to use free social platforms available to everyone to genuinely connect with readers at an individual level:
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For authors promoting their books, there are so many methods of marketing online that one can often overlook the most essential platform second to your website: your Amazon book page. Much like your website, this is your showcase—but unlike your website, you’re not allowed the same freedom to design beyond Amazon’s basic infrastructure. So, if your page will appear at least superficially like everyone else’s, how will you hook a potential reader in those very first seconds he or she is scanning your page? How will you stand out? Here are our top 6 hints.

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Mary

We were thrilled to sit down with Mary Cummings, the Editorial Director of Diversion Books, to pick her brain on what she sees really working in the world of eBooks, and to get her recommendations for authors on best marketing practices for their books.

First, I’m so curious about how you came to naming your company Diversion.

I can take no credit in the naming of Diversion, as it happened well before my time, but we think of “Diversion” in a couple of ways. There’s the book-as-entertainment aspect, as in “this book is a welcome diversion from my busy day,” but also the very real and important distinction of Diversion as a publisher that has “diverted” from the path of traditional publishing insofar as its digital focus and all that comes with it, but has not abandoned the path altogether. In general, we like to think of Diversion as: “traditional approach, digital focus.”

Why publish with Diversion over Amazon?

Do you mean why not self-publish? Well, if you have time, savviness, and energy to put into publishing and promoting your book in an aggressive, ongoing way, then go for it! But even the most successful self-published authors are turning to companies like Diversion because they see value to more hands on deck, a reputable house backing them and enhancing their efforts, and abandoning the more nitty-gritty, technological, metadata-oriented tasks that are in constant need of management for the entire life of the ebook, assuming it is to be successful. Very few authors will be successful just by putting their work out there–it has to be continually nurtured, updated, and attended to on the marketing end.

Do you predict a fadeout of traditional publishers in favor of eBooks? Read more »

As creative types, those of us who work in publishing and those with MBAs may speak in different tongues, but the way business school graduates are taught to think—analytically, strategically, and always with a mind toward the revenue opportunity—can be valuable in almost any industry. Speaking with MBAs is a complement to the everyday creative, people-y industry of publishing, an industry still largely functioning without predictive data. Maybe we’re getting there.

I was inspired to write this blog immediately and largely unedited when I had breakfast today with an MBA and serial entrepreneur who’s recently gotten interested in the publishing “space,” as they say. As a reader and author himself, he pointed out what he saw to be the Type I and Type II Errors we’re currently making as book consumers.

Type I: You hear about a book, are lured in by a blurb or a book jacket you like, catch the author featured in a media outlet. Excited to read this book, you then find that it really disappoints. You wish you’d spent those hours reading something more enlightening or entertaining.*

Type II: A book, title A, has come across your radar, but you see maybe one Amazon review. On your Goodreads shelves, 3 friends have recommended another book, title B, and you’re seeing that author quite a bit on Facebook, so… you opt for B over A. Title A was actually good, really good – it could have been the next Downton Abby, a sensation – but you passed on the opportunity to read it, and went for something else.

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Whether you’re a blogger or writer looking to get an idea out there, seek representation, or find a like-minded community; or an author looking to reach rock star bestsellerdom (or simply more readers), using Twitter has become non-negotiably important—at least that’s what your agent, editor, or publicist has told you. Twitter, despite popular misconception, is not about what you ate for breakfast this morning. It’s about finding news, defined loosely as any cultural phenomena or trend, and talking about that news, in real time.

Book news makes no exception—media and readers want to be in the know about new books, and Twitter is increasingly the forum where everyone from serious journalists to your mother’s book club friends go to learn about and share views on what’s happening.

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Even the biggest authors don’t rely on traditional media to break out their books.

In the past several decades, Paulo Coelho has sold more than 140 million books worldwide and is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author. His most recent book, Aleph (Knopf, 2011), was featured on the front page of The New York Times’ Arts Section. But despite this prime feature and his already profound reputation, the book, initially, couldn’t break the Amazon top 100. Read more »

With so many authors looking for marketing and publicity support often critical to a book’s success, there’s a question publicity firms are asked repeatedly. “Is it too late to hire a publicist for my book?”

If you’re asking the question, you’re most likely in one of two positions:

1) you’re approaching the paperback launch of your hardcover published many months ago, which received varying degrees of attention,
2) you’re now months past your initial publication, and feeling like the book you spent countless hours and days to write (!) didn’t get the momentum you’d hoped for.
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The Ten Most Overused Terms in Publishing
Do you know how MBAs all tend to use the same terms (“the space,” “leverage,” “revenue opportunity,” etc.?) Here is our equivalent vocabulary for publishing–and we’re all guilty.

What Your Publisher Can’t Tell You About Your Book’s Publicity
Surprise: there’s alot you didn’t know. Here are some positive ways to take action in promoting your own book.
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