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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

How Authors Kill Their Books: A Case For Marketing



I’m always amazed when I talk to authors who tell me their book is about to come out, they think it’s great, and want to have it do well – but they have no interest or skillset or time to market and promote it.  So, logically, they come to me and the book publicity firm that I work for, to do the heavy lifting.  But what they fail to understand are two very important things:

1.      PR is an investment and they should be prepared to spend $10,000 and up to do a very good, thorough PR campaign.

2.      It is a collaborative effort.  No matter what authors pay a book publicist, they need to be prepared to actively participate not only to help the publicist do his or her job, but to do things the publicist doesn’t do or that they can’t afford to pay for.

Authors love to write and share ideas, experiences, opinions, analysis, and stories.  They believe what they have to say is important, interesting, and even entertaining.  But they often fail to back their words up by giving their books the marketing muscle and public advocacy that they truly deserve.

It is ignorant or egotistical to assume everyone will want your book.  They won’t.  In fact, most of the country will never, ever even hear of your book or know anything about it.  How are they to discover it?  They won’t.  You need to push your book in front of many eyes, in a meaningful and informative way, in the hope of getting even a tiny percentage of the recipients to take an action step and buy your book.

This doesn’t happen organically, easily, or cheaply.  You have to make it happen.  How, you ask?  Let me explain.

To effectively market and promote a book you need a comprehensive and targeted plan, one that involves a number of the following elements:

·         Social media – FB, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Instagram, Pinterest
·         Word-of-Mouth
·         Traditional News Media/Book Reviews
·         Digital Media – podcasters, bloggers, websites, online book reviewers
·         Advertising
·         Paid Media Placements and sponsored content
·         Speaking engagements
·         Direct mail
·         E-mblasts
·         Affiliate Sales
·         Giveaway Strategy
·         Packaging your book with other products, services, or books

You also need strong distribution channels to bookstores, libraries, and other retail outlets.  You need a way to generate bulk sales to groups, businesses, schools, government agencies, religious groups, and non-profits.

I don’t say this to overwhelm you or turn you away from writing books.  I only share this to advise you that marketing books is a time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive pursuit.  It needs to be done – and it needs to be done right.

So what are your options?

1.      Hope to find a big publisher that can take on the marketing of your book.

Reality:  Most books are not published by big publishers.  Most books put out by big publishers are not given a lot of support from the publisher.  No one will take the best care of your book and author brand than you.

2.      Self-publish, but not do much to support it, hoping you get lucky. 

Reality:  Like the lottery, only a few people win and the vast majority loses.  If you only want to see 100 copies of your book sell, take a hands-off strategy, but if you want any chance of establishing yourself as a writer, you’ll need to work at it.

3.      Hybrid-publish, where costs for printing and sometimes marketing are split between author and publisher.  Profits are split too.  

                   Reality: They won’t hire outside help directly, but you should work with them to give your 
                   book its best shot to succeed.

The ones in the best position to market a book and hire a publicist are those who:

·         Have other products, books, services to sell simultaneously, this allowing them many ways to recover their investment.

·         Are willing to even lose money on a book in the hope that the PR campaign will help lay a foundation for future, profitable ventures and activities that will yield a return on investment.

·         Believe in their book and know they have a big pool of readers to market to.

Of course, it’s easy for me to just bark that you should open your wallet and spend on book publicity.  But I say it because I know it is your best shot at making it as a writer.  I’ve seen too many good books go nowhere fast because nothing was done to promote them.  I’ve also seen many authors grow and profit from the marketing that took place.

Writing a book may feel like a calling, but book marketing is a much-needed component to ensuring your book doesn’t die the day it’s published.                                                                                     


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America

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