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The business of marketing a book – break it down?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:44 am
by rayoflight
Hey all – those who have read my other posts know I initially plan to self-publish. I happen to own a web marketing design firm as my day job. On a daily basis, I interface with public relations agencies, ad buyers, internet marketers, agencies, performance marketers, leadgen and nurture companies, etc. They are all part of my circle of professional friends and we share clients.

Together, we’ve marketed and sold software, politicians, apps, fitness equipment and colleges. Doesn’t matter what it is – call it a widget - a product is a product. A book is a widget, too.

I watch as companies sell 100K iPad cases in a 6 months. So swap out that iPad case and stick my book in as the product. This thought has just always been present in the back of my head as I finish up on my writing.

I’ve actually never even considered going the traditional route. A few years ago, I read about that process: submit a final manuscript (often singularly vs. simultaneous) to agents or publishers and over a few year span, get the normal 99% rejection rate. Untold hours would be spent on this effort. So I shut that stuff out long ago.

Humbly put, I also sort of feel like the reason so many go the traditional route is because they don’t know there is another path. For 100 years, there has only been one way. That’s 100 years of tips and advise about getting published. Even this site squarely focuses on it. But just because a path has been put forth in front of you doesn’t mean everybody has to take it.

On top, it seems that all the rejections would largely come from a single human at those agencies. If I’m going to be rejected – let the public reject me – they are the ones spending the money on my book anyway.

However – now it’s almost time for me to sell. And here I sit, unsure of the how to actually do it. Suddenly, the skills of those book agents and publishers are looking pretty darn good. But the crazy part is that those publishers use many of the same kinds of marketing tools and third-party agencies as I’m already connected with….AND, for the most part, anyone else could connect with, too.

If a publisher picks up your book, they’ll want to sell it. They’d do XYZ things in an order that they know works. Your book sells, and they make money.

Soooo – I think it would be quite useful to more people than just me to know what those XYZ things are – and when to do them. Of course, there is minutia to each. Precise timing, etc. Sure, that might be something only a 25-year publishing vet would have a feel for. But that doesn’t mean that we call can’t still get into the ballpark.

Side note - anybody out there an ex-25-year-publishing-vet who just quit with your top-tier ex-publisher's marketing plan laying around? :)

As a very rough example, what is a publisher’s marketing plan when they have a new book they plan to push?

Something like this???

Print book
Put book on Amazon
Set up website for book/author, including links to buy
Hire PR firm to talk about book in magazines with links to website
Run web advertising, sending traffic to website
Give book away for free to many readers to spread the word
Advertise book on Facebook
Further use social media strategy let people spread the word
Send author out on readings/signings
Use growing success to get books into physical stores
Manage reviews ongoing
Run co-op advertising in related books
Run retargeting and remarketing campaigns
Use various ESPs and marketing automation to remind people of book
Etc. Etc. Etc.

The big publishers have it down to a science. We may not have the same resources or even the same experience or "feel" for making it all work like they do. Yet many of the same resources and tools are available to us just the same. So in our way - if we knew what their plan was - we could at model after them.

It's true - we're all broke. But most could afford to toss $3-$7K on a credit card. Get 250 copies printed, start a website and hire a PR firm. Recoup money, repeat in larger fashion. Recoup, repeat again.

And finally - even if we only experience modest success self-marketing, if you sell 5-10K books, you've proven yourself. The public likes you. Thus, traditional publishers would seem to beat a path to your door. A book that's sold 10K copies looks a lot better than an unproven manuscript delivered in a yellow envelope. You might then even write your own deal with a publisher. They might not even need to read the darn book.

The real moral of this story is that we could spend years sending manuscripts off and get rejected by the 50-100 people who actually read the book. Or we go out tomorrow and focus our time squarely on marketing ourselves and selling actual books. Every single one that sells increases our stock in the eyes of a publisher. Then we have two options - write our own deal with them, or shut them out as our success keeps growing.

Still, this all centers around having that marketing plan...so that's what needs to be defined.

Re: The business of marketing a book – break it down?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:56 pm
by TerryRodgers
First an foremost, self publishing has been an option for far longer than the last 100 years.

Secondly, it doesn't center around a marketing plan. It centers around writing a novel that people want to read. You can dump $10k at a novel for editing, marketing, great cover, giveaways, etc., but if the novel sucks, no amount of marketing will make your novel sell a million copies. Many of the successful self published authors are successful because one, they wrote a novel people want to read and two, they write many novels quickly and put them out there. I've seen several authors put out 5 plus novels a year.

Finally, 10k in sales will not necessarily get you any acknowledgement from a publisher. It depends on how long it took, what you charged for the novel, and I'm sure many other things I don't know about. If 10k in sales does get the attention of a publisher, most likely a small publisher, you will get their standard contract in which you will have barely any say over it's contents. You'll have to accept or decline.

Self publishing is absolutely an option for many writers, but it is NOT the easy avenue many make it seem. The ones that are successful at it and preach it as gospel are great writers. The millions that jump on board and go that route an ultimately fail are most likely not great writers. That is the key.

Re: The business of marketing a book – break it down?

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 7:05 am
by James A. Ritchie
Well, a good book doesn't have a 99% rejection rate, it has close to a 100% success rate, and a bad book isn't made any better because you self-publish it. Crap stays crap, and at least 99% of self-published books are pure crap.

Market is always a good thing, but it's nowhere near as easy as you seem t think. iPads are something millions wanted, and couldn't get anywhere else. People can not only find bad books everywhere, they can find great books in thirty seconds, and at a very cheap p[rice.

Widget or not, you need a better widget than anyone else is selling, or your marketing won't work. You have no idea what the public wants, or how smart they are, if you think a widget is a widget is a widget.

Writers go the traditional route because, if they have a really good book, that's where the money is. No self-published writer comes anywhere close to what the top traditional writers make. Most self-published writers, in fact,m sell just 100 books. A failed traditional book released by a good publisher earns more than 98% of all self-published books.

J. K. Rowling made a billion dollars with seven books. I can name writer after writer after writer who makes from forty to sixty million per year.

At large publishers, one person can reject you. So what? That one person actually knows what he or she is doing. They;re experts at telling marketable books from unmarketable books. If they reject you, chances are the public will, as well. Gatekeepers matter, and the lack of gatekeepers in the self-publishing world is who 99% of them stink on ice. It's tough for readers to find the very few quality self-published books because of the mountain of stinkers.

How many novels have you written? What are the chances that a first or second novel will be any good at all?

There's nothing new about self-publishing, and like always, a tiny few will make a lot of money at it, but only the tiny few. A book is not a widget you can pass off as something the pubic needs. If it isn't a great book, it will fail miserably.

I wish you luck, but you really know nothing about how traditional publishing works. There is no 99% rejection rate for good books, and it never takes years to sell quality. If it does, the writer is doing something seriously wrong. And people aren't suckers who fall prey to marketing. iPads sold because we all wanted an iPad. We don't want or need one more bad book. Or even one more good book. We can go to Amazon and find a million of them at bargain prices.