Marketing, like distribution, is a hugely misunderstood area of book publishing. Marketing to traditional publishers means putting your book in a catalogue and having their reps peddle the book to book buyers in retail chains.
To be an effective marketer, Hugo House hats our authors with our exclusive Author Hat program. The course is an ongoing instructional activity along with the tasks it takes to become proficient in marketing your book.
There is a lot of misconception about what marketing is. What are the component parts? Why is it that sometimes a radio interview will sell 1,000 books and another interview sells none? Or why does a review not sell books? What needs to happen on top of that?
The following is a key-word list for marketing. These are the important terms that need to be understood before you can move forward with the activity. This helps you be more aware of what you’re doing.
Marketing: The conceiving and packaging and the moving of a specific product into public hands. In other words, it’s finding or creating a demand, pushing through all the noise of competing messages, so that the buyer is willing to make the effort to pay hard-earned money to buy the product.
The PURPOSE of marketing is to CREATE WANT and to SELL SOMETHING.
Let’s apply this to book marketing:
Conceiving = coming up with the book and the marketing plan.
Packaging = production. Production is making the book—designing the cover and interior as well as the marketing materials around your book.
Moving product into public hands = distribution and promotion. Distribution is literally the process that puts books on shelves or lists them on-line in places such as Amazon.com. Distribution is actually then just a function of marketing.
Promotion: To make something well known and well thought of. Promotion is the art of offering what will be responded to. Interestingly enough, you don’t promote the book but the benefit or the value the book offers to the buyer. Buyers don’t buy a product, they buy a solution. Promotion creates want.
Promotion is flyers, website copy, sales copy, author interviews (live, written, YouTube), social media, book signings, and articles written by the author.
PR/Publicity: this makes you and your book safe and acceptable to your buying public.
What’s the crowd doing, what’s the buzz, who are the Opinion Leaders (the people that other people listen to)? It’s events around the book that could get publicity (a newsworthy event), such as book signings. It’s book reviews because that’s someone else talking about your book—a radio host, a book editor, someone “in the know,” people just talking about it.
Sales: moving product off the shelf to the cashier with the result of a happy customer excited to read the book. Sales is getting a buyer through their stops and barriers to get them the product that they consider valuable—valuable enough to pay for it with their hard earned money.
This is accomplished by advertising that is flanked by promotional activities that prompt the buyer to buy. It happens on the author’s website where you clearly “ask for the sale.” It happens when buyers go to a bookstores, the book is there, and they want to buy it.
How Hugo House Markets Books:
There are specific marketing tasks that Hugo House does for our authors. We create a marketing plan for each book; we list our books on NetGalley for three months for reviews. We send each book through an Amazon SEO program and train our authors on how to make themselves more visible on Amazon. We write press releases for our authors.
Each marketing program is tailored to the niche audiences of the book. The following list comprises the foundation of what an author needs to market and sell their book and is the basis for all our marketing programs. However, just as with traditional publishing, the author is responsible for the marketing legwork of the book—that means he or she does it or contracts with a marketing firm to handle the marketing. Hugo House works with reputable marketing firms to get the job done right.
Social Media: Social media is one of the most effective ways to reach potential readers and get them interested in you and your book. It is also a PR action first and foremost, not a promotional action for your book. It helps make you and your work acceptable to potential audiences. Authors can choose to run their own social media campaign or use a trained Social Media expert. We also offer social media training that uses the surveyed data you found in your market research most effectively.
Radio Shows: We have found that good radio shows do sell books. Radio is also primarily a PR function, making you and your book acceptable to potential buyers. Radio is also important because it is a way to build a media portfolio—and that is important if you want to promote your book through TV appearances. We have a radio media expert who books shows for our authors, but our authors can also opt to do a training program with experts and book themselves. Radio hosts and producers are always in need of good content and an engaging guest. We want our authors to fill both those needs.
Book Reviews: All Hugo House authors are listed on NetGalley, an online review service, for 3 months. The book is also sent to Book List Online, the online magazine for the American Library Association, and Hugo House provides each author with ten media contacts to send media kits.
Featured Articles: This is an extension of book reviews. One great way to get publicity is to let people know you’re an “expert” in your subject area (this helps you get speaking gigs as well.) You can write featured articles for targeted magazines—we provide the list of magazines. You can learn who the right editors are, make a friendly overture to them, and that’s how you get to be a featured writer. This takes footwork. You do the work—but it makes it fun for you and worth it for all the publicity.
Book Signings: Book events with books being signed are fabulous PR—they get you noticed. Hugo House trains our authors how to contact, set up, and run successful a book signing. This includes setting up book signing and sending press releases to invite local media coverage, listing on local “free listing” sites, and whatever other publicity we can dream up to generate “buzz.”
Guest Blogging/Featured Blogging: Your website (discussed next) should be a WordPress site to allow for blogging. Our social media and blogging expert will teach you how to make the most of your blogging through social media, because, like everything else, just because it’s there doesn’t mean people will come. It takes some footwork to get your blog noticed. Guest blogging/featured blogging is another way to get the word out about your book. You find blogs that talk about your subject areas (Africa, helping defeat injustice, finding self through helping others, etc.) get to know the blogger, and have them feature your book or invite you to blog on their site. If you get a favorable review, we recommend finding out about advertising. If the circulation is large enough and it’s not hugely expensive, then it’s worth looking into taking out an ad asking for the sale.
Author Website: Every author must have a website if he or she wants to sell books. Why? This is the main place to sell, sell, sell. The website gives information about you and your book. It needs to have a media page that lists out all the reviews, articles, radio interviews, TV interviews and spots—all the media you’ve garnered. This is where other media types go to see that others are interested and that you know what you’re doing. Most important though, this is where you make that all-important pitch to buy your book. We’ve found that the downfall of most publicity is that authors don’t ask for the sale. The trick is to get people to your website where you can do that. Our authors can use the Hugo House webmaster or use one of their own.
The Hugo House Bookstore: Check out our bookstore! There you will notice that you can purchase any Hugo House book directly. It works on the POD printing system. The buyer orders a book. The order is sent directly to our POD printer in Illinois. The books prints and ships directly back to the customer in one to two days. Here’s the best part—you get to capture their names and email addresses so you have the all-important list of people to market to again and again. This is one of the most important steps in marketing and sales—capturing buyer’s names. You can’t get them from Amazon; you can’t get them from a bookstore. You can get them if they order direct. And here’s the best part—you don’t have to do a thing! The system takes care of the printing and shipping (which is called fulfillment.) We are very excited to be offering this direct sales line to all Hugo House authors.