What a publisher does – part 3:marketing

In this final post in the series, publisher John Koehler discusses the role that publishers and authors play in marketing their books. John mentioned to me that in his experience, generally non-fiction authors adapt to the idea that they need to participate in the marketing of their books more easily than fiction authors. But both must do it. I’ll let John tell you how and why …

In the past two articles, we have established that the author must be cooperatively involved with the editing and design of the book. Next comes marketing.
We see book marketing as a 3-legged stool, every leg critical:

The author’s role

We teach our authors the basics of what we like to call Guerilla Marketing, based in part on Jay Levinson and David Hancock’s book, Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. It starts with social media.

Social media

Facebook is still the king of social media. Creating an author fan page is important. Twitter is another component of social media that the author can use. YouTube is a terrific tool to use with authors’ videos talking about the book, book trailers, and so forth. LinkedIn is a professional site to consider as well, as the profession of writing or the title of Author is a legitimate business to promote.

Author website

A good author website is critical. We recommend using WordPress, as it is easy to use, free, and has built-in blogging. [For how to set up an author website on WordPress see the Crafty Writer Beginner Blogging for Writers series – ed] You want to be sure to cover the basics of any author site: Author’s bio, excerpts, contact, other books, etc. You can also add things such as audio readings and Buy the Book pages. Your website is the quarterback of all your social media, and should link to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, You Tube or any other media you are engaged in. The more cross-linking you do, the higher your site and brand will climb in the search engines.

Traditional media

We also teach our authors the basics of working with the media, including radio, TV and print. One of the keys to this is to make sure you have a non-fiction hook, meaning a story angle that will interest the media. If your novel is about a runaway teenager living on the streets of Austin, you can offer yourself as an expert on a terrible problem facing our country and talk about your work with homeless shelters, etc.

The publisher’s role

The second leg of the stool is the publisher and the things they do to promote and market the book. We start with doing the best creative development and preparation of the book possible, meaning the editing, proofreading and design. We also build a flyer or “tip sheet” that is based on the marketing and sales information of the title. This same information is uploaded to the title management system of our distributor, Ingram Publisher Services.

We also buy at least one domain name related to the book and point it to the book page on our website. On that page we put buttons to buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Powell’s Books and Indie Bound. It is never a good idea to only put Amazon on your site, as you are leaving out many other booksellers who will also make your title available. We also add a synopsis, author’s bio and an excerpt. Everything they need to get a first look at the title.

Guerilla Marketing

We also provide Marketing Mastermind sessions with our authors, which train them on the guerilla marketing elements I’ve mentioned above, and give them countless tips, ideas and recommendations on how to proceed while spending little money, as well as offering them the option of advanced promotional help from book publicists and marketing companies.

The distributor’s role

Finally there is the distributor. They work with the publisher to populate all the selling and marketing information about the title on their site and distribute it to their clients, the booksellers. Their sales team gets behind the titles that read well and have a good marketing plan. They create catalogs that list the titles and distribute them to the booksellers. They maintain book inventories and a complex distribution system. They charge the publisher for printing and other book related fees, and also pay royalties to the publisher, who then passes that on to the author. And don’t we love royalties!

Marketing plans

The best advice for writers and wannabe authors is to do your homework and formulate a marketing plan that is part of your book proposal. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur, a businessperson, and you will be better prepared and more likely to attract the interest of a publisher. You start with a great book and you finish with a great marketing plan.

John KoehlerJohn Köehler is the author of five books, including his latest, Billy Blue Sky. He is the founder and publisher of Köehler Books. Köehler Books offers conventional and co-publishing book deals. See here for a discussion of how co-publishing differs from conventional publishing, and here for some tips on how to identify the different kinds of publishing deals.

Related posts:

  1. What a publisher does – part 1: editing
  2. What a publisher does – part 2: design
  3. Gay literature: separate genre or marketing niche?
  4. Worth its Salt – independent publisher under threat
  5. Beginner Blogging for Writers: part 3

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