The Many Ps of Book Marketing

I love learning, and the Editing Goes Global conference was a great opportunity to pick up all sorts of useful knowledge. Last week, I shared some tips from editor Arlene Prunkl on how to write good comments. Today, I want to pass along some nuggets of wisdom I learned from Beth Kallman Werner in her session “The Many Ps of Book Marketing.”

Ms. Werner has worked as the Director of Sales and Marketing at Kirkus and is the founder of Author Connections. She has over twenty years of experience in editing and marketing, and it definitely showed in her presentation. I was scribbling notes like mad. I couldn’t possibly include all of her thoughts here, but I thought I’d share some of the highlights.

Her session focused on the four Ps of marketing (product, position, price, and promotion) and how they relate specifically to book marketing.

Product

Werner started off by discussing some of the misconceptions about marketing, including the idea that marketing is disconnected from other parts of the publishing process. Marketing doesn’t begin after the book is finished — it needs to be considered right from the beginning.

If you want people to invest their time and money in your book, then you need to start with a quality product that will engage your audience. This seems like an obvious point, but part of creating quality is thinking about your potential readers as you are writing the book. Who is your target audience? You want to know this from the beginning. Engage with your audience in advance of writing, so you know who you are writing for and what they need.

Position

How can you position your book so that it is appealing to your audience? Readers look for different things when deciding whether or not to pick up a book.

Decisions, decisions a tower of used books

Decisions, decisions…

Here are some things to think about.

  • Will the cover get their attention?
  • Is the blurb appealing? Many readers will buy a book on the basis of the blurb alone.
  • Does your book have reviews of your work on the cover (or elsewhere)?
  • Is your book about a timely topic?

One interesting tidbit that Werner shared is that readers generally don’t care about who has published the book. So being self-published is not a strike against you. The exception to this is certain areas of non-fiction, where having a recognized name behind you (like a university press) can go a long way.

Even if you position your book well, it may still take some time before you see a substantial readership. Werner mentioned that it is not uncommon for this to take 18-24 months.

Price

The number one consideration here is whether your target audience can afford your book. Sometimes it makes sense to release an e-book first and see how it makes out before investing in the costs of printing. You don’t need to take on everything at once.

If you have a global audience, then you may need different prices for different regions, based on what is considered reasonable.

During the session, someone asked whether it made sense to have free giveaways of your book. Werner mentioned that there are four reasons for considering a giveaway:

  • To launch a product or a brand (and you are a brand)
  • To generate leads and sales (for example, if your main income is not from books, you could give away a book at a speaking engagement to generate other business)
  • To maintain your brand (if you have been away for a while)
  • To perform damage control (when something has gone wrong)

Promotion

A lot of discussion took place in the session on various aspects of promotion. There are so many ways to promote your book: blogging, SEO, social media, direct mail, readings and signings, events, print advertising, online advertising, etc. You can’t possibly do them all. Think about what you are comfortable doing and then determine which of those tactics will be effective for your book.

If you decide to go ahead with an event, for example, think about whether your target audience will be at that event. Where will you be branding yourself best?

Don’t forget about your budget. Will you be getting a return on your investment?

As a blogger, I definitely sat up when Werner started talking about blogging. She said that lots of people tell authors they need to have a blog, but this isn’t always true. Books have a 100% attrition rate — no one is going to buy your book twice. So if you have a blog with 200 followers, how many books are you going to sell directly through that blog?

Werner believes that blogs are beneficial for non-fiction writers to show their expertise. They are also good if you have something new and compelling to say. Otherwise, they are a huge time commitment, and you may be better off focusing on writing your book.

If you are going to blog, make sure you get things to people when they are the most receptive to reading (based on time zone).

The bottom line: Will your blog help you sell books?

I could go on and on, but I’ll have mercy on my readers and stop here. As a final note, I thought I’d share one of Werner’s other myths about marketing: Marketing is an unbearable chore. As she puts it, marketing is to “take on the fun of sharing what you’ve done.” You can tell she really loves her work!

***

For those of you who are writers, do you have marketing tips to share? Do you agree or disagree with Werner’s position on having a blog? For readers, what do you look for when deciding whether or not to buy a book?

Image © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar/ CC-BY-SA-3.0

 

© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015

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29 thoughts on “The Many Ps of Book Marketing

    1. Yes, it’s an ongoing process. It makes you realize how multi-skilled a writer needs to be. My current day job involves a great deal of marketing, and I find it involves a different type of mindset. We all have many hats!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lots of good advice for writers here. The amount of work that can go into creating, publishing, and marketing is quite overwhelming!

    That bit about authors and blogs is important. I know it’s not 100% necessary, but I definitely feel it’s becoming the new norm. I keep seeing more and more of them so authors really should consider it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are certainly a lot of author blogs out there! I think the key things are figuring out how much time you want to commit to it and what exactly you would like to say. I’ve seen some author blogs that are completely focused on self-promotion. I don’t follow them because there’s nothing really in it for me. It’s hard enough to keep up with blogs that have valuable and informative content.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing Sue. It ties in nicely with your last post, since part of that first P is finding a great editor to work with so a quality, professional looking book can be produced! 😉

    The blogging and social media thing is interesting, because as you say the conventional wisdom is that as a writer you must have a Platform, you must blog, you must tweet, etc.

    I don’t know if blogging helps sell books, but I do think it helps foster relationships (like this one!) and that I think makes blogging very powerful. Writers tend to be on their own a lot, beavering away at a manuscript, so I think reaching out and having relationships with other writers, with readers, with other bloggers is really important. I agree that blogging probably won’t mean thousands of sales, but for a writer starting out, it means support, or resources, or help, and that can wind up being just as important as marketing — for a new writer at least.

    I heard somewhere by the way that marketing is in fact just finding the people who would like your book and telling them about it. I quite like that way of looking at it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that idea of marketing as finding the people who would like your book and telling them about it. Seems only fair! 🙂

      And yes, I also value blogging for the interaction in its own right. Hear, hear. I can see how blogging groups like the Insecure Writers Support Group are a big help for writers – even if they are not helping sell books directly (which they sometimes do), they are certainly helping indirectly!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! For some reason WordPress still won’t let me “like” it using the button above….:( But I do like it! For me as a reader, blogs do make a difference. When I find a book I like, I visit the author’s blog to find out more. It may not sell me on the first book, which I’ve probably discovered via other means, but it could definitely persuade me to read more of that writer’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It looks like the “like” went through, so you’re good! 🙂 I like exploring authors’ blog, too…they give you a great sense of the person behind the work.

      Like

  4. Very interesting post. Always nice to learn something about the industry 😉

    Well, like others, I don’t totally agree with the fact that blogging isn’t necessary. Or better, it isn’t necessary, but doing it may help you so much in so many ways.
    Like Celine points out, blogging helps you create ‘you tribe’. I use a few social medias, but what works best for me is my blog. My blog is were the most meaningful interaction happens, where relationship that brings about something valuable to me happens, being that friendship or collaboration.
    I suppose this happens because, where the other social media are fast and furious, your blog is where you can really be yourself.

    I’m getting this idea that marketing yourself as a brand, as an author, is actually BEING yourself. I hear writers saying marketing is horrible and they would much rather write their books. Well, I do love writing my stories, but I also love sharing them (what’s the point in writing them, otherwise?) and this is what marketing is to me, at least for an author: sharing what you like, with other people who like the same things 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine how a relationship could be built through Twitter without some other kind of contact. As you say, it’s “fast and furious” compared to blogging, where you can actually have an in-depth conversation. I find all of the social media platforms have different strong and weak points. I’m certainly glad I found you through blogging! 🙂

      And I think you’ve made a key point about being yourself. In the end that was Beth’s position about blogging and any other kind of platform – if it’s not you, it really isn’t going to work. You need to pick what you are comfortable with. And enjoy the sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a big fan of Seth Godin, Sue, and his post this morning spoke of a topic he’s written about countless times–that history has proven repeatedly that a free Youtube video or blogpost can go viral in minutes and a multimillion dollar ad campaign can turn out to be a major bust because when it all comes down to it, it’s the product that people care about. If we write something worthwhile of sharing, marketing it is in the bag.
    Thanks for a brilliant post about something I’m neck deep in currently. You’ve always got such worthy things to read here, Sue. Love it.
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seth Godin’s point of view is always fascinating to read. Thanks for sharing his thoughts here, Shelley. I agree that it ultimately comes down to the value of what you are sharing. I’m glad to hear you’re finding that’s the case with my post as well. Hope you had a great July 4th weekend!

      Like

  6. I just finished Seth Godin’s Modern Marketing workshop on Skillhare and he had a lot of the same things to say. I also read This Business of Books (I believe you saw my review) and what Suzanne had to say about knowing your audience before you even begin. It’s so important, but interestingly, a lot of authors immediately said ‘I don’t agree’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll have to check out that Modern Marketing workshop. I’ve heard other authors say that, too – they write first and then worry about the audience. Which is fine, but only if you’re not concerned about whether significant numbers of people will want to read it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was really fascinating. And really applicable to what you wrote here, even though it’s geared to all industries. He has a lot of great anecdotes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s a free 14-day trial, so you can watch it no risk…. honestly though, I’m finding so much interesting stuff for design and the like that I subscribed, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Really interesting stuff, Sue! So many important things to think about. I think blogs definitely are worth having for all the wonderful connections you make. The blogging community is continually growing, so there’s no end to all the new people you can discover and who can discover you.
    And thinking of position in terms of placement, I looked at all the authors’ last names on the book shelves in the stores to see where mine would likely be placed. Since most are shelved alphabetically, I found that my book would be next to or very near George R.R. Martin’s books. Maybe the proximity will get mine noticed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so lucky to have that last name of yours! I’m thinking I would end up next to Alex Archer’s Rogue Angel series, which is not nearly as famous. At least I’d be at the top of the shelf, though. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think blogs help to sell books. Blogs help to get your name out there and help you to build relationships, especially with other authors. If you can get 200 followers, that’s 200 people that you never knew before who now know you and can help you promote your book. That’s also 200 people who can offer advice and support if they are writers as well. I think that’s valuable. As far as selling books…you may sell some to your followers. You can sell more with a blog tour which can be at several of your followers’ blogs.

    One thing about pricing is that so many are pricing eBooks way too high. I’ve been finding eBooks with 80 pages priced at $2.99 or even $3.99 when it should be more like $1.99.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fantastic point about blog tours, Chrys. There’s a whole network of blogging authors out there who support each other, and that’s wonderful.

      And yes, I’ve been known to turn down buying an overpriced ebook. You don’t want to undersell yourself, but 80 pages is pretty short! Thanks for commenting, Chrys. 🙂

      Like

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