WHAT WRITERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING Pt 2. (By Jerry D. Simmons)
Copyright 2015 Jerry D. Simmons & WritersReaders.com
The Insiders Guide to Publishing
WHAT WRITERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING
Three components of book marketing.
The person standing on a street corner holding a placard that states the local retail bookstore is offering 30% off on your next purchase—is marketing. Those annoying little signs you see staked at busy intersections announcing a product for sale—is marketing. Newspaper articles written about authors and their books—is marketing.
It’s important to understand book-marketing’s three components: advertising, promotion, and publicity. Advertising is any paid placement where you pay a fee to have your product or book listed in any medium, whether newspaper, magazine, radio, television, or Internet. Promotion is any offering of any item or gimmick intended to draw attention and interest to a book, such as a writing pen, key chain, badge, button, or mouse pad. Publicity is any article, appearance, or interview of you and your book that is free of cost and intended to inform an audience you’ve written a book.
(1) Advertising. Advertising takes many forms, and includes any medium that charges a fee, whether it’s commercials on television and radio, or print ads in newspapers and magazines. Online banners and links at certain websites are all paid placements and considered advertising. A person or company pays a fee to advertise their product on, or in, a particular media vehicle for a specified time period.
What it means to you. Advertising for a book is the least effective of the three marketing methods and by far the most expensive. This isn’t to say that advertising is ineffective, but the publishers’ ability to quantify the impact of dollars spent to copies sold is limited. Certainly it’s possible to identify spikes in sales after a major media blitz that includes a combination of TV, radio, and print advertising. But when publishers attempt to calculate the cost effectiveness of money spent to increase in sales, it’s nearly impossible to determine. For example, will a publisher’s $100,000 media campaign generate sales at sufficient levels to justify the expenditure? The answer is a mystery.
(2) Promotion. Promotion can best be described as anything and everything that brings attention to a product. For example, the corrugated displays you see in bookstores, whether a floor, table, or shelf display that attempts to separate one title from another to give it more in-store presence, are considered part of a promotion. For publishers, promotions and promotional items come in two forms: The first is direct to the consumer (reading public) and the second is direct to the customer (booksellers). Bookseller promotions come in two types. The first type is promotions given to the bookseller intended for the consumer (reading public). So when you visit retailers and they offer anything free, like balloons or brochures, or they give special discounts or rebate offers, it’s all part of the promotion targeting the consumer (reading public).
Additionally, at major book conventions, publishers give away reading copies of upcoming new titles, and offer badges, t-shirts, and posters. In addition to all the free stuff, publishers offer a second type of promotion to booksellers in the form of enticements or inducements (to the booksellers) to buy extra copies. For example, when a publisher offers special discounts or cents per copy for corrugated display placements (standard description for the displays you see in bookstores), it’s all a package of promotional offers that a publisher uses to meet its target of distributing or shipping a certain number of copies to the marketplace.
What it means to you. Simply understanding publishers’ power to affect the bookselling marketplace means that you’ll be better able to negotiate and understand a book contract. Or, if you’re self-published, understanding what promotion is and how the publishers do it will give you ideas about how to do it yourself.
(3) Publicity. Publicity is any type of media coverage that’s free. An article in a print medium about you as an author and your upcoming or newly-published book would be considered publicity; it didn’t cost you anything other than your own hard work. An interview on television or radio discussing your book would be a great form of publicity. Anything that costs you nothing more than a telephone call, letter, email, or gas for your car to introduce yourself and your book is publicity.
What it means to you. Publicity is the most effective way to sell products, especially books. One 6-minute interview on a local television station will result in more sales of a book than a 60-second advertising spot on the same show every day for a week. An article in a newspaper with your picture holding your book will sell more copies than a paid advertisement in the same paper every day for a week. The reason an article or featured segment sells more books than a paid advertisement is because consumers are inundated with ads and tend to skip over those, preferring content over hype. If you want to maximize your marketing, find ways to generate publicity.