book marketing


Sue CollierMarketing remains the toughest challenge for self published authors and publishers in a world where hundreds of thousands of books are published each year.   There are many channels and venues to consider and usually a  limited budget of time and money with which to address them.  We recently had the opportunity to talk again with book marketing expert Sue Collier and get her thoughts on how book marketing has evolved during the last 3 years and how authors and publishers can effectively promote their titles.

Complete Guide to Self Publishing book coverSue Collier is the president of Self-Publishing Resources, a firm that provides book writing, book production, and book promotion services for authors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporations. She is coauthor of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th Edition (Writer’s Digest Books, 2010) and Jump Start Your Books Sales, 2nd Edition (Communication Creativity, 2011).  She is an active blogger and writes about self-publishing and the occasional off-topic rant at SelfPublishingResources.com.

FPP:  What are the most significant changes have you seen in book marketing over the past 3 years?

SC:  The use of social media, no question. Three years ago, I suspected social media would have its place in the future in terms of marketing, but I did not expect it to become so important in such a short amount of time. Writers, many of whom tend to be more introverted, have massive opportunities with this softer approach to promoting.

FPP:  What are the most effective ways for authors and / or publishers to use social media marketing?

SC:  They have to participate actively. It’s not enough to simply start a Facebook page or a Twitter account; you’ve got to reach out and build relationships. Set up Google alerts on your topic so you can participate in the conversation. Social media marketing is not about blatant promoting; it is about establishing connections with people.

FPP:  What time investment should authors should plan on for promoting their book via social media?

SC:  Losing track of time is one of the biggest challenges in using social media. You start chatting on Twitter about your new book, and the next thing you know an hour or more has slipped by and you are clicking on links that have nothing to do with promoting yourself. Some experts recommend spending twenty minutes or so in the morning and another twenty minutes in the late afternoon to respond to the day’s activities. I advise authors to make a decision on how much time they will spend–and stick with that.  Another problem is not defining your purpose for using social media and making a plan before you get started; this will serve as another way to help limit time.

FPP:  E-books have steadily increased in popularity.  Are there major differences in promoting / marketing an e-book vs. a print book?

SC:  There are the obvious differences between the two–and perhaps you will miss out on opportunities to promote to those who are still resistant to e-readers–but promoting is still promoting. I don’t think there are major differences in promoting one over the other.

FPP:  What do you think are the most essential elements for a book marketing plan today?

SC:  A good author platform. This many-sided book marketing mechanism is hands-down the best way for authors to reach their potential readers–and to sell books.

FPP:  If they go the traditional (vs. self publishing) route, what should an author expect the publisher to do from a marketing perspective and what should they plan on doing themselves?

SC:  They shouldn’t plan on the publisher doing much. In fact, publishers today will expect that any authors they sign on will already have a large network and strong author platform in place–well before the book deal. This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions today by authors seeking traditional publication. The fact is that the “trads” will spend the bulk of their marketing budgets on their biggest named authors; the midlist author is usually left languishing in a catalog and/or on a website. It’s up to the author to be proactive when it comes to marketing and promoting–whether they decide to self-publish or are picked up by a traditional publishing house.

FPP:  How do you see books being marketed three years from now?

SC:  Online communication between authors and readers will continue to grow. One’s online “influence,” including the use of social networks, will become more and more valuable both as a way to harness that influence–and to promote one’s self and one’s book.

You can reach Sue at sue@SelfPublishingResources.com.


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bed in bookstoreJust as libraries have been steadily overtaken by technology – in the form of computerized indexes, so too are bookstores now being drawn into the techno vortex.   Commentators have alternately speculated about the death of the book retailer and also a coming renaissance in book selling.

So I thought it was time to join the fray.  Here are a couple of thoughts about how the new bookstore might evolve:

  • Bookstore goes multi-format – Bookstore becomes multi-format selling e-books and print books together.  Barnes & Noble is already headed in this direction.  Customers might purchase a combination of e-books and p-books; an e-book to read on the airplane during a business trip, and a p-book to be sent as a gift for a friend’s birthday.
  • Library as bookstore – Libraries, strapped for cash during the Great Recession, might use an Espresso Book Machine to let patrons print and purchase a book they really like.  Or they sell older copies as used at a big discount and replace them with fresh copies.
  • Bookstore everywhere – Print or download at the point of purchase vending machines with built in Amazon style search capability could someday replace the retail bookstore and make bookselling as ubiquitous as snack dispensing.
  • Bookstore as new “book plus”Teleread also imagines a bookstore as a new “third place” for us (after home and the office) where we’ll have the comforts of home (food, comfortable place to hang out) and the convenience of office outside the office (good Internet connection).  Yet we’ll be surrounded by books.

In any of these or other forms, the new bookstore might pose a credible challenge to the online bookstores.  Higher margins on a larger number of e-book sales could even allow for lower prices for p-books.  It seems likely that bringing technology into the bookstore, as well as the economic pressures on bookstores today, will lead retailers to provide customers with an experience that combines the best parts of the old and new bookstore.


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Successful authors – whether intentionally or not – usually develop a strong brand identity for their work and themselves.  In the past, this often entailed an expensive PR and marketing campaign.  Now, the advent of social media has made brand building  more accessible and affordable.  Social media marketing is still in its infancy and the playbook seems to be rewritten daily. To learn more about this evolving area of book marketing, I decided to consult a public relations expert, Patricia Vaccarino.

Patricia Vaccarino has over 20 years of experience working with a wide range of national and international clients, in all areas of public relations: managing worldwide campaigns for global companies and developing strategy for small companies, startup ventures, non-profits, foundations, and individuals. She is especially well known for her talents in strategic planning and branding for individuals who are experts in their respective fields. She owns her own public relations firm Xanthus Communications.  Patricia has also published a book, PR for People, that provides people all of the pieces they need to create a solid brand identity that will help them to get hired, develop their careers and increase their business.  She currently represents over 150 individuals, many of whom can be viewed on http://www.prforpeople.com.

I recently asked Patricia about the impact social media marketing is having on book marketing.

FPP –  How has the emergence of social media affected book marketing and PR during the last two years, if at all?

PV – Social Media has evolved to be one of the most important components of book marketing and PR. Not to oversimplify the matter but book marketing and PR is like a stool with three legs: Press, Networking and Social Media. You can’t be effective unless all three “legs” are strong and balanced.

FPP – You’ve often spoken about the “slow-cooked” branding process. Could you explain what you mean by that term and how social media plays a role in that process?

PV – The man who wakes up and one day and finds himself suddenly famous was not an overnight success. It takes a minimum of five years to build a strong brand. Take Facebook, for example, this is a company that is now celebrating its sixth birthday. For the first three years of Facebook’s life, it gained momentum over time among twenty-somethings. It wasn’t until its fourth year that the company gained traction among all the rest of us. It took five full years for this brand and business to become firmly entrenched in our psyche and to get many of us to become users.

FPP – What are some of the essential things an author should do to leverage social media in the marketing of his / her books?

PV – Set up a Facebook page that defines your persona as an author and clearly distinguishes how you are different from other authors. Facebook should tell the story of who you are personally and how you live without being maudlin or stupid in what you reveal. Use Twitter in a way that strategically points followers to your book. Create a tweet platform composed of all the individual tweets that you will post over a sustained period of time. Your tweet platform should have a theme and not just be a rambling of disjointed tweets that are purely self-promotional. Be creative come up with tweets that are saying something powerful and important and yet are all connected thematically.

FPP – Is there a rule of thumb publishers should follow regarding the investment in traditional marketing versus social media marketing for their titles?

PV – Every book and every author needs to be assessed according to the target audiences that they are trying to reach. For some books it may make much more sense to rely more heavily on traditional media whereas in other instances heavy use of social media is the most effective tool. Always ask yourself who is your audience? What do they read? What do they watch? Are they using social media? Let the audience dictate the type of media that you will choose to use.

FPP–  There are so many different social media venues these days.   How should an author prioritize his or her use of social media?

PV – You need to be very discipline d about using social media. Before you sign on to any social media site, you need to first decide exactly what you will do. If you are not clear and focused, you will spend more time than you should and that can seriously damage your overall marketing strategy. Remember time is your most valuable asset.

FPP – Is there a minimum time investment in social media that an author should plan on each week to maintain an effective presence?

PV – When you are in the building phase i.e., acquiring a following or gaining friends, it can take an hour or so a day. After your infrastructure or network has been established, you need to get your time down to a maximum of 15 minutes a day.

FPP – Are there social media venues that are more effective for marketing or PR purposes in non-fiction, fiction, or certain genres?

PV – It is different for every genre and there are new social media sites popping up every day. You need to do your research and keep it current.

FPP = How can an author avoid mixing personal and professional messages when using social media to promote a book?

PV – We have entered a time when there is a tremendous blurring of the boundaries between what is personal and what is professional. Anything you post, or tweet must be subject to a test: The test is what do you stand for? What you stand for defines your professional brand. Your professional brand speaks to who you are both professionally and personally, and must connote integrity, value and strength. So before you post, always ask yourself what do you stand for?

FPP – Are there guidelines to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing in selling more books?

PV – The thing speaks for itself. Are you getting an increase in book sales?

FPP – What trends do you see for the use of social media in book marketing during the next few years?

PV – The good news is social media and book marketing will help good to great books achieve a success that lasts. There is no longer the six-week shelf life to promote books. Good to great books can be promoted indefinitely and achieve classic status. The concept of Slow-cooked brand will endure.

1.  How has the emergence of social media affected book marketing and PR during the last two years, if at all?  Social Media has evolved to be one of the most important components of book marketing and PR.  Not to oversimplify the matter but book marketing and PR is like a stool with three legs: Press, Networking and Social Media.  You can’t be effective unless all three “legs” are strong and balanced.

2.  You’ve spoken about the “slow-cooked” branding process.  Could you explain what you mean by that term and how social media plays a role in that process? The man who wakes up and one day and finds himself suddenly famous was not an overnight success.  It takes a minimum of five years to build a strong brand.  Take Facebook, for example, this is a company that is now celebrating its sixth birthday.  For the first three years of Facebook’s life, it gained momentum over time among twenty-somethings. It wasn’t until its fourth year that the company gained traction among all the rest of us. It took five full years for this brand and business to become firmly entrenched in our psyche and to get many of us to become users.

3.  What are some of the essential things an author should do to leverage social media in the marketing of his / her books? Set up a Facebook page that defines your persona as an author and clearly distinguishes how you are different from other authors. Facebook should tell the story of who you are personally and how you live without being maudlin or stupid in what you reveal. Use Twitter in a way that strategically points followers to your book.  Create a tweet platform composed of all the individual tweets that you will post over a sustained period of time.  Your tweet platform should have a theme and not just be a rambling of disjointed tweets that are purely self-promotional.  Be creative come up with tweets that are saying something powerful and important and yet are all connected thematically.

4.  Is there a rule of thumb publishers should follow regarding the investment in traditional marketing versus social media marketing for their titles?  Every book and every author needs to be assessed according to the target audiences that they are trying to reach.  For some books it may make much more sense to rely more heavily on traditional media whereas in other instances heavy use of social media is the most effective tool.  Always ask yourself who is your audience?  What do they read? What do they watch? Are they using social media?  Let the audience dictate the type of media that you will choose to use.

5.  There are so many different social media venues these days.  How should an author prioritize his or her use of social media? You need to be very discipline d about using social media. Before you sign on to any social media site, you need to first decide exactly what you will do.  If you are not clear and focused, you will spend more time than you should and that can seriously damage your overall marketing strategy. Remember time is your most valuable asset.

6.  Is there a minimum time investment in social media that an author should plan on each week to maintain an effective presence?  When you are in the building phase i.e., acquiring a following or gaining friends, it can take an hour or so a day.  After your infrastructure or network has been established, you need to get your time down to a maximum of 15 minutes a day.

7.  Are there social media venues that are more effective for marketing or PR purposes in non-fiction, fiction, or certain genres?  It is different for every genre and there are new social media sites popping up every day.  You need to do your research and keep it current.

8.  How can an author avoid mixing personal and professional messages when using social media to promote a book?  We have entered a time when there is a tremendous blurring of the boundaries between what is personal and what is professional.   Anything you post, or tweet must be subject to a test:  The test is what do you stand for?  What you stand for defines your professional brand. Your professional brand speaks to who you are both professionally and personally, and must connote integrity, value and strength.  So before you post, always ask yourself what do you stand for?

9.  Are there guidelines to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing in selling more books?  The thing speaks for itself. Are you getting an increase in book sales?

10.  What trends do you see for the use of social media in book marketing during the next few years? The Good news is social media and book marketing will help good to great books achieve a success that lasts.  There is no longer the six-week shelf life to promote books. Good to great books can be promoted indefinitely and achieve classic status. The concept of Slow-cooked brand will endure.


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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.


There are many ways to do marketing and promotions but I want to focus on two:  influence and authority

Influence marketing happens when you promote yourself indirectly. You influence someone with your style, your behavior and how much they like you.  It is “personality” promotion. You are so well liked or respected that people want to be like you or associated with you in some way. That means buying what you recommend because they believe in and/or like you.

Authority marketing happens more directly. There are people out there looking for what you are selling but they can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists. Or they may not know they need it unless you can convince them they need it. So you advertise to let people know about your book, and give them all the information they need to make a purchase. Or at least link to that information within your ad.

Here are examples of each type of marketing used to promote the same book. 

Influence Marketing

This could be a blog or Facebook note.

“When I wrote this book I was going through a very difficult time. I researched for months both in resources and in my heart before I ever touched pen to paper. My sister died of breast cancer and I wanted anyone reading my book that is going through the same thing to know they are not alone. Someone is here who understands.”

Notice that at no time was there a direct sale of the book.  Nothing in the blog says “Buy my book”. What it does though is create a personality and an environment around the book’s theme. You feel connected to this person because they are willing to share something of themselves. This invites comments. It invites us to care and to want to be involved with the author of the blog.

Authority Marketing

authorityMy Sister is Dying and the World Keeps Turning takes the reader inside the final stages of death for living sister, the one who will be left behind.

A true story of love, faith and acceptance with a forward by renown psychologist Dr. Emen Touchstone, author of Final Stages, Final Goodbyes: Hospice For Survivors.

Note the differences in the two styles of marketing. With the second blog we get more of a commercial feel. We know exactly what the name of the book is. We see that a doctor with a well-known background in the field is involved with the book. This doesn’t invite questions as openly or as intimately as the first blog. There isn’t a question that a book is being promoted in the second blog.

Which is the best way to promote a book?

There is a time and a place for everything. If you have a blog, website or profile on MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, etc. and you use that to promote yourself or your work, then you are an authority there and can use Authority Marketing in that space.

If you are in an online community which you use primarily as a social platform, you should use Influence Marketing as your promotional strategy.

How do I know which to use?

Here are the questions you should ask yourself to determine which strategy is best fo you: 

  • What is the expectation of the readership of this profile/blog?
  • Why are they there?
  • Why do they think YOU are there?

You need to be honest in whatever it is you are doing. If you are there to pitch your work that’s fine. Just be sure people know that.  If you are there to make friends and be social, you can let people know you will be releasing information about your work occasionally. Then you have established why you are there and what you are doing. Everyone knows what to expect.

But, if you act like you are there to socialize and make friends and all you do is promote yourself you are setting yourself up for trouble.  Think of it like a spam e-mail:  your subject line says “I’m here to make friends!” but your content is all about making a sale.

If visitors know you are going to sell something and they still come to your site then they are interested in what you have to sell. It is acceptable to use an authoritative marketing tool to communicate with them. The expectation is set. There is no trickery or subterfuge. They can still trust you because you are doing what you said you would be doing.

A great book on this subject is Trust Agents by Chris Brogran and Julien Smith (http://www.trustagent.com/) that can help you better understand the need for building trust online and strategies for doing that. If you are marketing online I highly recommend this book.

Which is better to help sell my books?

With all the hype about online marketing and social media technology, it is easy to overlook the most important element of marketing:  what does my audience want?

Know your readers.  Take the time to research your audience.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • How will they benefit from your book?
  • What would inspire word-of-mouth about your book? 
  • How do they like to be communicated to?

From those answers you should be able to identify whether to use Influence Marketing or Authority Marketing.  Or a combination of the two – e.g. use Authority Marketing on your website and Influence Marketing on your social profile. Just remember to let people know what to expect wherever they “meet” you online.

We are an accumulation of our words and deeds.   How do your readers see you?


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Several interlinked shifts are leading to a whole new ecology within book publishing.   First is the loss of jobs in the industry.  Over the past year, for example, employment in print related industries, including book publishing, has fallen by almost 90,000 jobs.  Second, as technology plays a bigger role in all aspects of book publishing, many publishing jobs are becoming obsolete or are being radically transformed.  Third, the expectations that publishers have of authors is changing.  More and more, authors are asked to do a greater share of the marketing for their titles both before and after publication.

At the same time,  the continuing democritization of book publishing means that more books are being produced and marketed than ever before despite the down economy. These trends are symptomatic of an ongoing process of creative destruction and haves created a (mostly) freelance ecology of contractors who are retooling for the new era in publishing,

In addition to the traditional freelance jobs associated with the development of a book, here are some examples of non-traditional jobs this new ecosystem does or might include:

  • Ghost blogger – Many authors use blogs now as a way to build and maintain an audience for their work.  But blogging can be time consuming and the pace of frequent blogging can be demanding.  A ghost blogger is an individual that writes blog posts or tweets on behalf of an author.
  • Blog tour specialist – A person who sets up and manages blog tours, where an author’s work is reviewed on blog sites pertinent to the book’s content.

How to Create a Virtual Book Tour

  • Social media specialist – Someone who monitors and manages an author’s online presence, especially as it relates to the use of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari and the like.  Many folks from the realms of traditional book PR are moving into this area.
  • Book project manager – As more of the work of marketing titles shifts to authors, they will need the assistance of a team of specialists who can help them get the greatest possible exposure for their work.  The role of this person is to help guide the author through the maze of choices and assemble / manage the right team of people for their book project.
  • Web developer – The continuing incursion of technology into book publishing arena brings with it the need for experts to help with author website development, widget creation, even database setup for certain types of titles.
  • E-book conversion specialists – There are now many e-book formats, some easier to navigate than others.  A number of companies and individuals now provide assistance with getting titles converted into all the major formats and making sure they look good in those formats.
  • Book video producers – Book trailers are becoming a popular and effective marketing tool.  Creating and distributing a quality video usually requires expertise outside that of the author or their publisher.
  • Analytics interpreter – These days, authors and publishers can be awash in numbers- e.g. website traffic, blog metrics, book sales data from BookScan, social media stats.  Gathering and interpreting this data will become more important as we move from intuition based to evidence based publishing.  Making sense of it all could become a specialty of its own.
  • Online writing coaches – This individual works with authors making the transition to new, compressed forms of writing – e.g. mobile phones, blogs, Twitter, etc.

The emergence of a new book publishing ecosystem is inevitable as the industry embraces technology.  It offers new opportunities and hope for those who have been displaced from book publishing firms over the last decade.


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365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.
Julie Powell (The Julie / Julia Project – August 25, 2002)

Julie and Julia movie posterBlog to book success stories have been around for awhile.  Now Julie & Julia has entered new territory – making a profitable  transition from blog to book to movie.  The first month’s box office receipts topped $70 million.  Sales of Julie & Julia (the book – Amazon rank 90) were brisk and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Amazon rank 4) have sold more this past month than they did in entire years past.

julie_powellFor the aspiring writer, are there attributes that augur well for a blog in terms of turning it into a book and perhaps a movie?  What was it that made Julie & Julia a hit?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Celebrity – The blog involves a celebrity – in this case Julia Child.  What made the whole thing interesting was that she would have the conversation with Julia Child (who was not supportive of the blog) as well as her readers.
  • Drama – Julie Powell made herself the story; setting out her challenge in a very pubic way.  And she had a definite deadline; there was no ambiguity about whether she would succeed or flop.
  • That could be me! – Julie Powell took on the fears of EveryCook – preparing difficult recipes and sharing all her travails with her audience.  Each day, her readers could empathize with her discouragements and celebrate her triumphs, but be glad they weren’t going through it themselves.  In some respects, it was like reality TV.

All the right elements for any good story. The blogging medium might be new, but the formula for success is age old.  Bon appetit!

Julie & Julia movie trailer


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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.


A couple of weeks ago I attended a film festival where several book trailers were played on a movie theater screen. Sitting in the dark, popcorn in hand, surrounded by others in the audience, I realized that the way I felt about the videos on the movie screen was different than how I responded watching them online.   Though the content was identical, my experience of the videos was quite different when delivered on different platforms.

The fact is that different platforms come with different expectations from the audience. Mobile phone platforms feel suited best to short form video of 10, 15 or 30 seconds. Yes, people will accept longer videos, but only if the videos are chosen by the viewer through a venue such as YouTube or some similar site on which the viewer knows longer forms reside.

movie on iPhoneMy daughter downloaded the movie Boltto her iPod and she has watched it several times.  But she chose that long form to put on her portable device.  iPods and the iPod Touch are platforms where people can play entire movies, so a longer video is acceptable.

We are experimenting with video on portable devices.  Circle of Seven Productions (COS) offers video on mobile devices such as smart phones and iPhones and any other mobile phone device that allows for video. In addition we have video on the iPod, iPod Touch, PSP and even the Wii.  Again the feel of watching a video on each of those platforms can vary.

Watching the videos play on the large movie theater screen as though they were real movie trailers was thrilling. Even more thrilling was observing the audience around me as they watched them. The videos that appealed most to this audience were those that were acted out. True “book trailers.”  Priest of Blood, Lady of Serpents and One With the Shadowscaused quite a stir among the viewers. This particular crowd was there to watch independent films at a festival. The trailers were part of the festival, so there was a lot of audience chatter after each video played. The quality was incredible and so were the CGI effects. But that was expected on the big screen.

turbulent sea book trailerOnline video play has evolved and viewers have their own expectations, but again venues matter. YouTube videos can play up to 2 minutes without a general audience complaining about the length; as long as it is entertaining. MySpace is a little more tolerant of long form video as well, but Facebook is faster paced and the preference seems to go to shorter video.  Also, venues that are specific to readers want shorter videos unless the book is written by a celebrity author. The bigger the author’s name, the longer their video can be. Christine Feehan’s video for Turbulent Sea, which runs 2 minutes and has tens of thousands of views across the internet is an example of this. According to the analytics provided by YouTube the viewers watched the video all the way to the end.

If the video goes up as an ad it should be created as 10, 15 or 30 second spots according to the platform. For social media that is not specifically a reader site, 90 seconds is ideal. People on social sites want to feel that you are entertaining them, not advertising to them, so you have to be creative and you have to give them a little more for their time and attention.

We have taken a single video and cut it into several lengths for different platforms. One book trailer was cut into a 15 second then a 30 second video for online and television advertising, then a one minute spot for reader sites and a 2 minute spot for social sites. It seems like a lot of extra steps, but being more thoughtful of the delivery of your video and how the receiver/viewer reacts or interacts with the video can mean the difference between a sale or no-sale, entertained or annoyed.

Technology is ever-evolving and the end user continues to evolve in their expectations as well. Video is still hot, but it needs to be delivered to the venue and in the form most appropriate for the intended audience.


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