Beyond the Manuscript: Publisher vs. Author Marketing

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Beyond the ManuscriptFor the last number of years I’ve been attending writers’ conferences across the Southeast as a publisher and enjoyed meeting with perspective authors, as I attended these conferences I found a common thread  that many authors although they perhaps had good manuscripts had no real grasp on how to market their book or what to do next.

I recently returned from a conference in Florida where I had the opportunity to share a presentation titled: Beyond the Manuscript: How to Sell Books and Build a Following.

Over the next six weeks I’m going to be sharing a variation of this presentation with you. Whether you’re a new or seasoned author I’m hoping you’ll find this material helpful.

We will be covering:

  • Author and publisher marketing
  • Creating a platform
  • Building your fan base
  • Developing your product launch plan
  • How to organize a successful signing
  • Engaging media on a local and national level

Publishing experts often talk about how writing a book is only 10% of the work an author must do.

To quote Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher in the world, “No. A good book does not stand on its own. It is foundational, but it is not enough. In fact, it hasn’t been enough for at least two decades.” (Platform; Get Noticed In a Noisy World, Thomas Nelson 2012.)

The truth is publishing is changing and it is changing rapidly, there are more ways than ever for an author to be published.

  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Co-Publishing/Partnership Publishing
  • eBook only publishing

There are pros and cons with each of these options and the truth is there really is no longer a wrong or right way to go about being published. What is going to determine the success or failure of your book is what is put into the marketing.

There are two arms to the marketing of any book — the marketing you do as the author and the marketing done by the publisher.

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– Retail: a publisher has an established relationship in place with key retail outlets allowing them to place a title in the retailers system and look to retail buyers for placement and promotion opportunities within the stores.

– Distribution: a good publisher will have a strong network of distributors. For ourselves this includes Ingram/Spring Arbor and Baker Taylor which are the largest in the nation this creates title accessibility to almost all book retail outlets in the nation. Outside of national distribution your publisher may also have international distribution that can open new markets that are difficult to reach as an author.

-Media: a publisher’s PR and marketing team will be able to pitch their authors to the appropriate print media, along with radio, and TV on a local or national levels, a publisher will also utilize their online and social media platforms to promote their authors, titles, media coverage and events.

The above is just listing a few of the key marketing elements a publisher can bring to the table.

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As an author your marketing needs to be able to stand alone meaning you are out there promoting and building a fan base and network of direct consumers.

Your marketing must also compliment aspects of the publisher’s marketing. As an example earlier in the year we ran a blog tour for author Carrie Daws’ fiction Romancing Melody, this was something that we arranged as a publisher but looked to Carrie to come along side us and promote the blog tour, pushing links to her followers and being available for any potential interviews.

The big question many authors have is “When does my marketing need to start”?

NOW! The sooner you can make a start the better.

Your marketing starts with your manuscript. If you are still in the process of writing your manuscript or even in the pre-submission or edit phase be thinking of how you can make your content more marketable.

Would someone want to highlight a passage on each page, would they want to share it with a friend? If you write with this in mind you’re going to have a marketable manuscript. Have quotable elements, these can later create sounds bites for media and sales pitches.

You will want to master your pitch. No one else can do this for you, it takes work but when you get a good pitch down and build confidence in your product, you will become the ultimate sales agent for your title.

Your pitch needs to be direct! As a publisher we receive a lot of title pitches with submissions. If your pitch says “My book is for males and females, age 7-99 that like to read.” STOP!! This will not help you on your way to getting an agent, publisher or selling books.

Pinpoint your customer, what are your competitive and comparative titles, what makes your book different? Why should someone want to read it? Think in sound bites. If you’re in the kitchen and the news is playing in another room, you hear a tease for the next story and it draws you out of the kitchen to see what is next. That is a sound bite, that is how you want your pitch to grab people.

Develop an online profile. I will go into this in much greater detail next week as we talk about developing your platform but as an overview your online platform is creating a social hub for anyone anywhere to connect and interact with you.

Thanks for sticking with me. We covered a lot of ground setting the base in this first post. I’d love your feedback, what have you been doing as an author or a perspective author to prepare your manuscript for the market?

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