Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Trios: Devil’s Gold, by Julie Korzenco—Marketing The Book

Julie Korzenko, author of Devil's Gold, has been kind enough to arrange a trio of articles for me about the publication of her book. Two weeks ago Julie described how she found a home for her book; last week her editor at Medallion Press, Emily Steele, discussed the editorial process; and this week Paul Ohlson, Medallion Press's Marketing Manager, takes his turn in the spotlight. But first, a brief note from Julie.

My first book signing for Devil's Gold took place on March 7, 2009. I had appropriately threatened, er I mean invited, all friends and family to what I hoped would be a pleasant evening and not the nail-biting excruciating experience of being the only person to show up at my own debut. Much to my relief, it was a wonderful event. But what made it even more special was the additional effort of the book store owner. She had received her monthly copy of Book Page and was thrilled to find Devil’s Gold advertised. When I arrived at the store, right next to my stack of books, was a framed print of the advertisement. It made me feel special and loved by my publisher. So here’s a big shout out to marketing: thanks for being there on my debut night!

Everyone gets the general concept behind marketing, right? Advertise. You have a product; and in order for people to buy the product, they need to know it exists. Wait a minute, though. Is it really enough anymore just to advertise? Have you ever had this happen? You’re telling a friend about a commercial you like, and when they ask, “What company was that for?” you say, “I don’t know. I can’t remember.”

We are so inundated with advertising that little of it is memorable anymore. How can it be when we see it every minute of the day? At some point, we’re bound to tune it out. But studies still show that you can’t just stop advertising altogether, because if you do, consumers will forget about you! Isn’t it odd that consumers can’t remember companies in advertisements, but if you stop advertising, consumers will forget you exist? So what can we do to stay at the forefront of consumer memory? Repeat, repeat, repeat! Consistently, too!

How does all of this relate to marketing books? Here’s how: Your book is a product. It doesn’t do any good for a product to have a big to-do when it’s released and then just drop off the face of the earth (and out of the minds of consumers, I might add).

Typically what you’ll find throughout the publishing industry is a publisher taking care of the big to-do when a book is released, but the author is then expected to take the reins from there and continue riding that big horse until it wins the race. But so many authors want to create this big push the same month their book releases, and then afterwards their efforts stop—and so do sales.

If you’re not an upper-echelon author or celebrity, then the success of your book is a marathon, not a sprint. This means as an author you must find ways to repeatedly and consistently talk about your book over a long period of time.

Luckily for you, the internet makes this all possible. Sign up for as many social media outlets as you have time to consistently update. Get involved in online groups, forums, and conversations. Arrange interviews with local papers and television stations. Join book clubs at local bookstores. Get to know the owner or general manager of the local bookstores, as a consistent patron of their store first; then several months down the line, if the relationship is good, ask them if they’ll host a signing for you. In other words, create relationships. Do this over a long period of time. How long is long? It’s until your next book releases.

And don’t forget to keep writing! You won’t only need to be consistent with your marketing; you’ll also need to consistently put out new products. This is just a continuation of the repetition. Think of it this way: if you put out a new book every year, then every year your publisher is creating the big to-do for you. In the meantime, you’re marketing that book all throughout the year until your next book releases with another big to-do from your publisher. Talk about consistently, repeatedly staying at the forefront of consumer memory!

My thanks to Paul Ohlson for contributing this piece: he might just pay us a visit at some point today, so if you have any marketing-related questions to ask, do please get them in as soon as you can. Thanks too to Julie, for organising this mini-series, and for offering to give away a free copy of Devil’s Gold: if you'd like to get your hands on it, just email her at “jkorzenko at gmail dot com” and answer this simple question: what is P3? You’ve got until 12 May to get your emails in to her: after that date, Julie will select one lucky winner at random from all entrants who answer correctly.


Anonymous said...

I've never realised how the marketing effort is split between the publisher and the writer, or why that might be: this is a really useful piece of information!

If Paul does manage to come back here and ask questions, I'd like to know: how much use is a launch party in promoting a book, and are book signings worth doing if you're not well-known to start with? Will anyone come?

Thanks for a very useful post.

Veronica Wells

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant "ANSWER questions", not "ASK questions". Too much coffee, that's my problem.


Anonymous said...

Hi Veronica,

Thanks for posting!

Yes. Holding a launch party can definitely be well worth your time. Some tips:

1) Contact bookstores in your area about hosting the launch party. Give the Owner/GM/CRM a solid idea of how many friends, family, and fans you can bring to the event. The more people you can bring the more they'll be willing to host your event (but, they don't always schedule based only on how many people you can bring).

2) Ask them if they'll announce your appearance on their newsletter or Web site.

3) Ask them if they offer any co-ops for author events. A co-op is when you split the cost of a bookstore to feature your book on their shelves, at the register, or in the window the day of your event.

4) Send the info of your launch party to your local paper, probably the Calendar section (usually you can post your event right on their Web site as well).

5) Invite local book reviewers and journalists who write for the Neighbor or Community sections of local publications. The most important thing about this is: You may just get a review or an interview out of it!

6) If your book lends itself to fun giveaways or prizes during your launch party then let the bookstore know about it. They'll use it to promote your event and you might bring more people in that way.

7) Be kind to the Owner/GM/CRM and every staff member at the bookstore, as well as the attendees of your event. This is as much a PR move to get yourself back into the store for a future event as it is an opportunity to sell books.

All my best,


Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. The question of when to stop working on the publicity for a book is a difficult one. As a publicist, i try to do as much as possible in the run up to publication to build interest, get the word out there, set up interviews around launch, get the reviews and then hopefully set up events and festival to follow the coverage through after pub. I also do try and keep an ear out all the time for possible slots that my backlist authors might be suitable for.
But it still never ceases to amaze me the number of authors who keep asking well after publication what i'm doing for their book. i know that a book shouldn't just fall by the wayside the minute it is out there but the trouble is that we have to keep moving on to the next project, and the next so it's very hard to keep the same focus and energy on that one book as we had before pub. I haven't yet turned round and said outright to an author, well what are you doing on your side to push the book but have offered several big hints that maybe they might like to cultivate some of their own contacts and links to keep the word out there. Had a classic the other day when an author asked me why her local book shop (a very tiny indie bookshop) wasn't stocking her book. I asked her if she'd had a chat with the manager and let him know she was a local author and had a new book out. Oh no she said, i've never been in that bookshop before...! Extraordinary. Didn't even occur to her to have cultivated a relationshop with any of her local shops. When i rang the manager and asked him if he would be happy to have some local author showcards and whether he would consider stocking a few copies he was very keen and also delighted to have a new author he could do a real push on. Imagine what they could have done if she'd bothered to go in there previously and cultivate a relationship.

Hey ho.

Unknown said...

(waves at Paul)

Very interesting post Mr. Last Anonymous. I thought that I would add a few of the things that I have been doing since the advertising blitz has ended from my publisher. I have joined the appropriate organizations such as International Thriller Writers and Romance Junkies. I am actively blogging on any guest sites that will have me. (such as the phenon we know as Jane Smith). I am emailing tons of review sites and sending out free copies of my books for contests. I have also volunteered on committees which will hopefully expose the book some more as I will have contact with over 700 potential readers during my involvement with these committees. I am peddling via foot to all my local book stores both indie and chains. I spend approximately three hours every Sunday morning reviewing what else I can do to keep Devil's Gold from fading into the background. Oh yes, I'm also wrapping up my next book, writing a legal thriller and working a full time job. So, these things are important and necessary no matter how difficult and time consuming they are.

Thank you to everyone for following this Trio post. I look forward to selecting the winner for a free copy of Devil's Gold.


Kim Hruba said...

Great post! I was just thinking about the importance of self-promotion today. Our local library did a kick-off for a "Friends of the Library" group (volunteering, financial support, etc) and we had a local author talk about his new book. The only reason the author had this gig was because I arranged it (wanting to support fellow writers). During his talk about his book (which left a lot to be desired) our librarian booked him a signing at a large bookstore in Grand Forks, ND for next month.

I didn't mind helping him out, but I was seriously dismayed to see that he hadn't done much to promote himself. We live in the sticks, and while we don't have issues w/ population density, there are plenty of opportunities for networking. I heard someone say recently that relationships are the currency of power. Isn't that true.

Julie, I appreciated the specific examples of how you've been promoting yourself. Good luck!