Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview With A Leading Business Book Acquisitions Editor

BookMarketingBuzzBlog recently conducted an online interview with Christina M. Parisi, the executive editor for New York-based business book publisher, Amacom Books. She has been in publishing for 14 years and now enjoys her job of acquiring quality books for publication. Here is what she had to reveal:

1.      Christina, what is needed to make the types of books that you work on successful in the marketplace today? As technology becomes more efficient and present, I think we will find that books will have to be very practical and useful, or they will have to be very unique in their ideas in order to compete. So, for example, in the past people may have chosen a basic how-to book on management when they were first promoted as a manager. Now a new manager may not think of a book first. They may consider looking things up on the Internet for free. Or purchasing an app that will walk them through the first few weeks. Or take a course or series of webinars. So that book, in order to be successful, needs to offer the information in a way that is extremely useful and not easily found elsewhere, or it needs to be offered in combination with other products. The information also needs to come from a credible source and have a good marketing team behind it. If the book has unique ideas it probably also needs to get to market quickly in order to succeed.  

2.      How have technological changes/advancements helped or hindered your efforts? I think in a way technology has made publishing both easier and harder. It's easier to write, publish, and self-promote something, but because it is so easy there are too many people out there doing it. And that makes it harder to stand out.

3.      What myths do some authors work under when it comes to marketing their books? I often see authors putting a lot of stock in the types of activities that sold books years ago, but that have less cache now. For example, endorsements. Some authors jump through hoops to get them when their efforts would be better spent elsewhere. While I don't think endorsements will hurt a book, generally speaking they are only worth getting if the person giving it is extremely well-known or because it will lead to a special sale. I've seen many authors insist on having endorsements on the back of the book when sales copy would have probably sold more copies. If you have people who are willing to write endorsements, but are not a household name and will not be purchasing bulk sales, you should encourage them to write a review on a website instead. That would help the ranking of the book online.

4.      If you can advise someone now, before they publish their book, what would you tell them to make it more marketable? To make the book more marketable I would check out the competition. See what readers complain about in regards to the other books. Are there topics that were missing? Was a question not answered? What were they hoping to find in that book as well as what did they love? Then make sure your book meets those needs. Similarly, look at websites where your potential reader would post questions. Do you cover the topics readers are most concerned about? Do you offer them solutions to the problems that keep them up at night? Then, of course, start making yourself more marketable. Build your platform and get involved. 

5.      What do you like the most about having worked the past dozen years with AMACOM? Amacom is a wonderful place to work, which is probably why the turnover is so low. We are like a family, and because we are not that large we work together more closely than at larger companies. We are also owned by The American Management Association (AMA), which makes us unique and gives us advantages that other publishers don't have. Through our seminars, web events, and other media we are a hub of information. If I want to know what's going on in the business world I only need to step into one of our classrooms or listen to one of our webcasts. Unlike watching the news that tries to anticipate how Wall Street or Main Street is going to respond to events, we are where managers and businesspeople go to brainstorm solutions to their problems. And that's an exciting place to be.   

6.      How much time do you spend using social media and what should authors do with it? Well this is a loaded question. We have a very extensive online marketing guide we give exclusively to our authors that tells them what they should do to market their book, so I can't divulge any trade secrets. However, you can see some of what we do by viewing our website ( Amacom is very active in twitter (!/amacombooks), on facebook (, and we have an excellent blog ( AMA was named one of the top 25 Twitter accounts by Ragan Communications (number 9 last I looked) (!/AMAnet). Personally, I keep in contact with my authors and with agents through LinkedIn, and I keep up with some key blogs
Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts ( and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.

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