Marketing & Promotion – not one and the same

MegaphoneI enjoy following Jane Friedman’s excellent blog with the tagline ‘Writing, Authorship and Publishing in the Digital Age’. Just recently she had a post titled Book Marketing: It’s About Data, Not Promotion which included a link to an article written by Chris McVeigh, consultant to the publishing industry. A few things stood out for me when I read McVeigh’s article.

Scared money never wins” – translated for self-publishing authors, if you’re afraid that your book will never sell more than a few hundred copies, throwing money at it is not the answer.

Marketing builds markets” – marketing is pro-active, it’s data driven and customer driven. If you don’t understand the market for your book, you should do lots of work to develop an understanding and test what sort of campaigns will reach your prospective readers.

Promotion is an amplification tool” – promotion is what you do after you understand the market you’re going after.

What’s a self-published author supposed to do with concepts like this? I’m just thinking this through so bear with me, the following are ideas off the top of my head 🙂

  • spending your time tweeting ad infinitum about a book you’ve just released does nothing to help you understand or build the market for your book; tweets are a crapshoot or as my son tells me, tweets are like megaphones in a crowded stadium, no one really hears them. (an example of scared money, in this case time = money)
  • hiring a publicist when you don’t know your target audience is a waste of money. Trust me, I’ve done that. (another example of scared money)
  • try defining potential market segments for your book, find readers in those market segments and deliberately seek their feedback. Based on that feedback, develop a campaign to target similar readers. Run the campaign and see whether sales improve. For example, I’m about to release a novel called LIES TOLD IN SILENCE set in WWI France. Given that this is the centenary of WWI, one possible market segment is book clubs with a desire to know more about the war experience on the home front. In order to run a campaign, I need a way to find book clubs and need to develop a hook to interest them. I would then send an email or some other form of targeted contact and see what sales emerge. I might also add a feedback mechanism so I can contact some readers after executing the campaign.
  • further promotion to book clubs would happen only after I complete the step above AND conclude that the market has potential.

What do you think?

What have you tried that either works or doesn’t work?

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Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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11 Responses

  1. I’m starting to think an essay or an excerpt in Reader’s Digest with a coupon to download/purchase the book is the way to go.

      1. I’m sure Reader’s Digest only accepts submissions from a recognized Literary Agents. I mentioned this idea because Reader’s Digest is explicitly geared toward people who like to read, who are open to new authors, new ideas, new subjects, want to learn, and are looking for new books. What a perfect way to get your novel into the hands of a willing audience! The idea just came to me out of nowhere, like a lightning bolt!

  2. Hi Mary, Comes back to the question of what to write. I heard Polly Courtney in March speaking about her book Golden Handcuffs. The key to her finding readers was a mention of the book in a topical National daily paper feature about the bankers. Is there one aspect of ‘Lies told in Silence’ which stands out from the hundreds of other books being written and published on the back of 100 years since the start of WW1 which might be featured in a National daily paper? … and do you know someone who writes for a National daily?

  3. I felt that sending custom queries to reader blogs (hobby book reviewers) who read young adult and historical fiction was highly influential to my sales. Other than that, I made sure to always tweak my categories and keywords on my website and Amazon listings so the appropriate people are interested when I do a free/discount campaign.

  4. I’ve been focused on two areas – 1) finding historical fiction readers through blog tours, hashtags, and social media groups, and 2) going after my base of people who are interested in Iowa, since that’s where my book is set. The third approach is the one you mention for your books, Mary – readers interested in the WWI home front. But since my book is WWI-era vs specifically about WWI, that’s more of a stretch. I’m doing my first book talks in July and expect to better understand what triggers reader interest after getting their questions/comments.

  5. Are libraries in your area planning WWI ‘spotlights’? You might see if any would bring you in as a guest author/speaker. I thought your campaign for Unravelled provided a great showcase for you. Will you do something similar with the new book? And congrats on SKP’s review! That will surely bring in a few readers.

  6. Twitter can be a useful medium when it comes to book marketing and promotion, but you need to use it the right way. Remember, it’s a social medium. If you are just pushing out book promos but there is no actual interaction, these tweets will be tuned out.

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