I’ve heard for so long “Don’t expect your publisher to really help market your book” and “My publisher did zip to sell the book,” but that has not been my experience. I have found they will team with you and get behind your ideas. Few create complete campaigns but it’s amazing what they’ll do if you are open and creative.
Publishers already invested a lot to produce the book and they want a return as much as you do so they are actually motivated to help you sell the books.
- Send review copies to media, especially to a list you send them. If they have an in-house publicist they may even follow up with the media to schedule interviews.
- Many will do bookmarks especially if you have something different or catchy or you explain how you’ll use them (you’ll mail to MOPS groups throughout your state or you have influencers in all 50 states to send them to or you will send them to book club leaders, etc. I spoke with marketing about an idea I had of an acrostic to go with my upcoming book and they volunteered to make bookmarks using the acrostic. As we talked about ways to use the bookmark they made it a much larger order.
- They may back you in a magazine. I’ve gotten contracts for magazines and had editors pay for ads for the same issue. I’ve
also worked out deals with magazines for a free ad in exchange for writing articles or a column and my publisher has created the ad.
- They will send review copies for influencers and endorsers. You need to follow up and get those recipients to send the endorsements. Post them online, on your web site, and on your print handouts. If a publisher sees them gaining traction they will be happy to continue sending review copies on future books.
- A publisher may team up and help pay the expense of a blog tour or special event. I just asked a publisher to send free copies for an event with a small group of retailers because the book has gone into a 5th printing (great way to announce and celebrate that news). They agreed.
- Books for contests. Publishers may send free copies for special contests if you give them the numbers of people involved (I
did this for a social network group of 12,000 followers and an online group of 100k members). There may only be about 100 who participate in some of the contests but the event is promoted quite a bit to all the members so you get the promo sent to all.
- Tap into the publisher’s social networking if possible and give them ideas. I’ll be sending one publisher content they will send on to blogs and places who request content from them. I also gave them a few ideas for a Pinterest campaign and they loved it and added it to their plans since they already utilize Pinterest.
- Press releases are something publishers do well but they need to get news from you to put into the release. I let my publisher know I would be at a store for Kid’s Day and Christian Store Week and they sent out press releases.
- Posters and other materials. I spoke with the marketing director for one book and mentioned I’d be speaking at an industry event so she had a poster made for it with the book cover. She also created postcards for a campaign idea.
- One publisher mentioned they created a sampler with a little from my book in it (and a few other author’s upcoming works). I mentioned I have a college reunion where I’ll be signing books and I can ask my classmates to spread the word with giving away samplers and they are sending me a few dozen more than I requested. They will also send some for small homeschool event where I’ll have a table to sell my books.
- Handouts. Is there a design you’d like to have to go with your website or handouts? I ask for the book cover jpeg but also
some of the interior pages to print as handouts. I even asked for the artist to give me some of the artwork without the coloring in it to use as coloring book pages for kids.
I write for several publishers and some have more marketing money than others but each one has really teamed up and I have learned where they are really good at providing support and find opportunities to tap into those strengths.
It takes communicating with the editors, marketing department, and sales team. I ask what they do well and how they approach marketing. That’s when I discovered one marketing director likes to do press releases and is good at getting them out to many places. I attend ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) where I can actually meet the sales team and chat about my books. I’ve even spoken with marketing before writing a book and incorporated their ideas of what they think will help sell the book. I just had my Home Front book named a finalist for an award. This is the sort of news to pass on to a publisher.
I’ve sent in my marketing plans well before a book is released to inspire the team to want to work with me. This has worked well as they are not surprised with requests after the book releases. Even now as the art is in development with one publisher I asked about using some of it for coloring pages for kids to give out at events. They are working with the artist now so the ability is easiest at this point.
It’s also about attitude. Be humble and know the limits of what to ask for. Understand if a publisher is having a financial crunch but might have personnel with skills (one of my publishers has someone very good at creating ad copy but they have limited funds for ads so I found places to trade articles for ads).
And always know God is in charge and can open doors and hearts and minds of readers.