The following are quoted passages from hitchnews about the publishing game as we know it today. This is a pretty lengthy post, but if you’re launching a book this year, be patient! Read! Heed!
Author Incentives and Marketing
Problems…exist in the way products are marketed and produced and these problems are weighing heavily in the industry’s low financial state. Shel Horowitz, a publishing/marketing consultant, commented on some problems being created by the publishers. “When publishers invest $30K or so to bring out a new book, it's absurd to have only a couple of month’s window. Publishers need to think more in terms of backlist and less about the immediate instant hit that's gone in three months. Most books have far more potential than is realized, but it takes time.”
Horowitz also blamed publishers for their premature advances saying, “ Advances are too extreme… A writer can't be motivated to do much marketing to earn out a $2-5000 advance, and a publisher is going to be hard-pressed to earn back an advance in the seven or high-six figures.”
However, we cannot blame publishers for unrealistic investments and say this is the only problem. According to expert advice, writers, editors and publishers need be narrow-minded on what is published and look for ways to promote and market the silenced voices. “Acquisitions people need to pay attention to both quality AND platform; its swung way too far toward platform lately, and a lot of important voices are not being heard,” said Horowitz.
Francine L. Trevens, Chair emeritus Greater New York Independent Publishers Association said “…Authors should be given freedom to write with fewer demands…There are creative ways to sell books of interest to special niches and if the publishers spent more time on that, they could publish a wider variety of books that would make a decent profit and keep the book industry alive and exciting.”
Trevens also claims that writers are cutting out publishers because it is more beneficial for them to do the work themselves. “Because publishers have ceased to do the full range of work for books they publish, there is this vast migration to self-publishing. If author must do so much of work, why take so little in way of recompense from traditional publisher?”
Maybe a bit of redirection and revising to cut costs is exactly what’s needed in the publishing industry. Perhaps it is beneficial to skip the steps that are only proving to be most costly rather than beneficial.
As in most industries, a product is made, taken through the chain of distribution, everyone takes their piece of the pie, the consumer buys the product and voila, that’s it (yes, some companies do follow up to reduce cognitive dissonance, but we’re not counting that here).
However, publishing is not the only industry that realizes a need for change to restore profit and for some companies this means tightening up the chain of distribution and taking matters into your own hands. It’s a pretty simple concept: if you can cut out middlemen in certain transactions, then do so, and that’s more money in your pocket. Some companies are already taking charge and changing the face of distribution. Case in point: Anheuser Beer Company.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article we read that Anheuser is looking for ways to cut costs – and squeezing the most out of their distribution is a high priority on their agenda. The possibility of eliminating distribution services from product sales, and directly delivering the beer to the stores would put a lot more money back into the company. The plan is for about 50% of Anheuser’s sales to come from direct to retailer. This seems like a logical idea, considering the potential savings once the ‘middle man’ is gone. This idea accepts that middle men are necessary for certain transactions, and they do have benefits, but are not always needed.
The Who, What, and Where of Marketing
Marketing encompasses the 4 P’s, or your marketing mix. These are the elements that come together to form your marketing plan. So, when you talk about marketing, you are talking about your product, price, promotion and distribution (place).
Promotion is highly important because you have to define who your target market and target audience are, and use promotional tools such as advertising, direct mailings, social media, public relations, trade shows to reach these individuals.
We will explore ways to pinpoint your target audience, go over a few effective marketing strategies, and find the best locations to market your genre.
Know WHO your audience is: In order to effectively target an audience in your genre, you must clearly understand and define who your target market really is. You can also narrow down your target market by defining your target audience. For example, specifically define what genre your book is: If you have a historical Romance book your target market would be Romance readers, but you can narrow this audience down a bit by targeting Historical Romance readers as well.
Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking about your target audience.
“I worked in an industry that saw generational welfare recipients and had been one as a child and then adult. I needed to find information that showed how to get off welfare to help my own clientele when I became a social worker. I wrote a book to assist my own clients and… I originally printed and marketed myself… I got interest by demonstrating success stories from that book and using my own personal story.” Said author Tracy Lee Harvey whose book has sold over 5000 copies in Australia & N.Z and more worldwide.
“Get clear on your audience. Don't try to write for "everybody" …It's much easier to sell to a specific niche. Ask: What's your audience looking for? Understand what they want,” said Lisa Tener book writing coach and faculty member of Harvard Medical School's CME Book Publishing Course.
“Most urgent is that the writer figure out who his/her audience is and write the material with that audience in mind,” said Francine L. Trevens Chairman Emeritus of The Greater New York Independent Publishers Association and author of 4 books, as well as former contributor to such publications as The Best Plays Annuals and the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama.
Much promotional work goes into making a book successful, and knowing whom you should promote to is the first step. Once you have identified your target genre it is smart to utilize marketing methods unique to that genre. Unique strategies can introduce your book to targeted audiences, without being too costly.
Know WHAT you can do to market: It’s not enough to say I am going to advertise, or send out direct mailings these days. You have to think of unique ways to raise awareness of your book.
Familiarizing yourself with clever marketing methods and ideas that have proved successful for other authors can be of benefit when looking to promote your book. Here are some ideas that have been useful in the past.
“Instead of a traditional book-signing event, I held a free business seminar at a business-networking venue that attracted a capacity crowd. The draw was a panel of 5 CEOs and executives I had interviewed in the book. I wove the theme of the book through the questions, which panel members answered. Audience was blown away, local reporter wrote great lead article (unsolicited) in the business section. Sold about 1/3 of the room books, and 1/3 had already bought. (I also) excerpted chunks of the book about each of the 20 executives I interviewed, and created a leadership 'manifesto' with some descriptive info, their picture and company logo,” said Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D and President of Advantage Leadership, Inc.
“I used the website traffic to build an email list for my weekly newsletter. I used the subscribers on my email list to create a online recipe sharing and cooking related message board which brought me additional website traffic from the search engines,” said Ron Douglas author of the book America's Most Wanted Recipes, which reached # 3 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and creator of RecipeSecrets.net drawing 1 million views per month.
“I have a great method of getting on the bestseller list by enlisting associates who have relatable products and big lists to co-advertise. Basically you offer all these give-aways to everyone who buys a book that week, getting your sales to skyrocket all at once as well as promote your affiliates' stuff,” said Jen Sincero best-selling author, creator of writeyourdamnbook.com, and teacher of a non-fiction book writing class.
“Remember that much of the world is now on line and use on line networking sources to get the word out…(also) try to get excerpts from your book into suitable publications” said Francine L. Trevens.
Along with identifying your target audience, utilizing methods unique to that genre can be valuable. It is also important to advertise in the right places. How effective would advertising a romance novel at a sci-fi convention be? The most efficient way to reach your targeted audience is to advertise in the places that appeal to that specific genre.
Know WHERE to Advertise: Once you are familiar with the who and what of marketing your genre, knowing the best settings to showcase your book is the next step. Remember, location is key.
“If you have a book on a maritime theme, or set at sea, you can contact maritime museums, stores that sell boating gear, shops at marinas, etc. If you have historical aspects to a book, you can contact historical society stores and offer to speak at meetings of groups interested in historical data. If you have a gift book type, try shops in museums, hospitals, etc. Show at book fairs. or street fairs if you can tie in with their theme.” Said Francine L. Trevens.
“Speak at as many events that deal with your subject matter as possible (You are an author, take advantage of that credibility!). Small groups can be just as effective as large venues,” said Corey Blake President of Writers of the Round Table Inc. and Executive Director of the From the Barrio Foundation.
“Check your state site for fairs and festivals. Most state sites have a listing with the approximate number of attendants. Contact your local bookstore… about…events and sponsored authored fairs. If your intention is to sell books, seek events where you will be the only author in your genre or the only featured author.” Said owner of DeeGospel PR, a literary PR boutique, Dee Stewart.
“A big part of my success came from online advertising…I created an affiliate program which gave other cooking related websites a commission to promote my cookbooks,” said Ron Douglas.
“Because my book…Beach Chair Diaries, Summer Tales from Maine to Maui… is 'beach' oriented I find many stores in coastal areas will be interested in carry it as well,” said Janet Spurr author and teacher at Sales Boot Camp for Authors.
Figuring out the locations that attract your targeted genre, and using them to advertise your book is essential in successful promotion. Authors can also centralize themselves around other authors of the same genre. What is more valuable than advice from someone who has reached success? Online forums are a great place to reach out to others with a similar book.
Promotion is crucial to a books success, and authors and publishers can get the best promotional results by following the basic advice from other successful authors. Defining your target audience is important in selling a particular genre, so authors and publishers can be aware of the desires and interests of that audience and better appeal to them. Utilizing unique strategies can also fuel success by capturing the attention of those who are interested in the genre, and just as important as understanding who and what of effective promotion, knowing the where can ensure proper advertisement. Implementing precise promotional strategies can stimulate the popularity and success of any book, but you have to understand your market first.