Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Advertisements Reveal Varied Sales Strategies

What really sells someone on a book when looking at an ad? Certainly there are many factors to an advertisement’s ability to influence a sale.  Attractive visual images, catchy headlines, and the promise of a quality book can lure the buyer in. So what do advertisers do to generate attention for their books?

The annual spring preview edition of Publishers Weekly, featuring over a thousand upcoming books for the new season, fell on to my desk the other day. I noticed the issue contained plenty of ads from publishers and distributors, though not as many as in the past, that hoped to get people in the trade interested in their titles, mainly bookstores, libraries, and the news media.

I noticed that strategies varied among the advertisers, including the following:

·         QR codes were ignored – only two ads featured a QR code.
·         There were three full-page ads dedicated to one writer, Harlequin's NYT bestselling author Bella Andre.
·         Some ads looked so much like editorial content that the magazine felt obligated to label them as “advertisements.”
·         Ads from major publishers were largely missing, but there were ads from less popular publishers such as Opus Book Publishers, Wisdom Pubs, Permanent Press, and Ocean Publishing
·         Very few ads pushed a single book like Fallujiah Awakens from Naval Institute Press and From The Fields To The Future from  Excelovate.
·         Most ads feature four to six books in half-page presentations usually highlighting a genre such as fiction, romance, or action-thriller.
·         Almost every ad featured book covers and text but a few featured an author photo but just one ad brilliantly used visual imagery that did not show a book cover or a photo – the ad for Knuckleduster by Andrew Post displayed an eye-catching pair of brass knuckles smeared in blood with the movie-like headline: “He repays pain with pain.”

However publishers or authors advertise their books, they all determined that investing in these ads would offer a pay-off. Books are not often advertised the way other products are, so when a book ad calls attention to itself it could indicate good things are ahead.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

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