Introduction to Marketing

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JHP Publicity Inforgraphic

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What is book marketing?

Book marketing is the art of telling people about your book and convincing them to buy it.

The only rule of thumb worth knowing

The only rule of thumb we recommend is this: people usually have to see something five times before they buy it.

For a single view to sale conversion, you can expect about 2%. Other than that, when it comes to generic advice as to what marketing works, every expert will give a different answer. No one really knows.

Find what you feel most comfortable doing

The truth is that what works is different for different books, and different authors. Often, the best and most sustained work that we're doing within the imprints is the consequence of lots of tiny actions that cannot be expressed in the way we record marketing.

But don’t start thinking that book marketing is pointless. Marketing is an art as much as a science. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it, or you.

Find what you feel most comfortable doing – that is likely to generate the best results.

Successful authors treat their marketing seriously

All of the industry stats suggest that the more devoted fans an author has, the better they do across multiple titles. To achieve this, some of it is “hard” promo, but most of it is “soft,” building a readership.

If there’s one pattern we do observe, it's that our successful authors treat their marketing seriously. They market consistently, over time, way beyond the period before and after publication.

Their marketing really starts to work when they get known as a “brand,” and can be promoted as an author, rather than by a single title.

How to work with John Hunt Publishing to make the most of your marketing

  • Treat the promotion of your work as a serious, ongoing responsibility, not just in the build-up to publication, but continuing long after.
  • Read and use this Publishing Guide, which is designed to give you the means to support your own marketing.
  • Communicate with us about what you do via the Author Forum and the John Hunt Publishing Facebook Author Groups.
  • Update the Marketing Activities on your book’s page – we can’t support you if we don’t know what you are doing.
  • Use our Contacts Database, to which all authors have access.
  • Make sure your JHP Profile is up to date with your correct contact information, bio, and the best author photo you have.

The two types of marketing

  • Traditional book marketing is presentations to bookshops, articles, radio, reviews in print magazines. These are mainly done by us, the publisher.
  • New media marketing is Twitter, blogs, podcasts, your website, Facebook ads and anything involving direct contact with the readers. This is mainly done by you, the author.

There are activities in between, which involve the author and the publisher working together, such as writing articles, giving talks, getting interviews, getting print reviews, doing price promotions etc.

How we market your book at JHP

Marketing at JHP is a joint effort between author and publisher.

We expect authors to work as their own publicist, when they are not working with us.

When we publish together, you receive:

  • A publicist assigned to your book.
  • Our standard publicity campaign (six hours), delivered by your publicist. You can support your publicist via uploading content to the Marketing Section of your book’s page (Marketing Plan, Marketing Activities, Publicity) sections.
  • Additional publicity for every 500 copies you sell.
  • A review three months after your book is published, evaluating what worked and what didn’t and refining our approach.
  • The opportunity, if you would like more time, and a more involved relationship with your publicist, to acquire an EXTRA PR package. The Extra PR package includes extra time for your publicist to work on your book, an advertising budget and the use of the NetGalley amongst other benefits.

What we do for all our books

Our top sales teams present your book to bookstores and the trade worldwide. Once your files are final, we produce an Advanced Information (AI) Sheet, or Tipsheet as it's known in the US, and we use that as the basis of our presentations to the sales teams.

Make sure your Profile and social media links are up to date in your profile. We use them to create the AI Sheet.

This activity is not recorded as a Marketing Activity page, as the work is outsourced. It takes the reps time to get around all their accounts.

We also will promote your book using our email newsletters to the trade and to imprint fans, share any publicity on our social media channels, and use press advertising, price promotions, seek foreign rights, consider your book for award submissions and specialist marketing newsletters when appropriate.

What we do (with you)

We perform our Standard marketing campaign for every book, and additional work for every 500 copies you sell. We also offer our extended, paid-for Extra Publicity campaigns.

For Standard PR, you won’t have email contact with your publicist, but they will add their plan to the Promotional Plan box a few months before your book is out. They will approach contacts for reviews, interviews (print, online, radio, podcasts etc.), pitch articles, write a press release you both can use and adapt, mention you and your book on relevant JHP social media, create memes where appropriate, all the while using and updating our Contacts Database as they go along. All publicity approaches are recorded on your Marketing page as Marketing Activities. This initial push is recorded as Email/Press Release Arranged.

To support your publicist you can:

  • Add your own notes and plan to Promotional Plan.
  • Write articles, article ideas, or sample interviews and upload them to your Marketing page. Your publicist can use them to pitch to publications.
  • Create memes for use in social media and upload them to your Marketing page.
  • Record the work you do as Marketing Activities.

If you have purchased an Extra Publicity package your publicist will cover similar territory, with the extra time and freedom to work in-depth, in close email contact with you, as well as having an advertising budget, access to NetGalley, and other benefits.

What you can do by yourself

There is lots of work you can do by yourself, before and after publication, including organizing talks, book signings and events. You can order copies for your events from us, (just give us plenty of notice) write and pitch articles and blogs for internet and mainstream media, (just make sure you record your work so your publicist can see), post on social media, create and use an email list, chase reviews for Amazon and chase reviews for Goodreads.

Once you see your book on Amazon, join Author Central and start building your online presence. For support, join one of our Facebook JHP Author Groups, swap reviews and submit articles, talk to people facing the same struggles, and celebrate the same triumphs. Ask for advice, share book-marketing tips that you've tried, ask for other authors' advice and recommend other writing groups or blogs, websites and press who have been helpful with getting your book out there.

If we use our system to its full potential we can learn from each other’s experiences, whether it’s with particular shops, or magazines, or more general indications of travel – and share what we find works in marketing, and what does not.

When should I start marketing my book?

We suggest you think seriously about your marketing once your final, copyedited manuscript has been approved by you and uploaded back to us. This is when we send out our Starting to Market (Key Points) notification.

This is roughly a year before your books comes out. It usually takes two to three months to copyedit, typeset, proof and design your book, and then the publication date is set for the last Friday of the month in ten clear months’ time. So for titles whose text and cover files are finished during January, the publication date would be set for the last Friday in December. Please note that this time may be slightly extended depending on where we are in the annual buying cycle.

This gives you a decent amount of time to think through and execute your marketing. Our advice is to start promoting in earnest six months before publication.

The first things you should do are:

  • In Promotional Plans outline in bullets what you will do to promote your book. Update this regularly after publication. Add your website and social media.
  • Under a separate title add Priorities for in-house PR. Detail the most important activities you think your in-house publicist should do to promote your book.
  • Check your Keywords are the best they can be: These are crucial, so make sure you’ve read our Keywords guidance. Write them in the Keywords box in the Advertising section. We will enter them on trade databases, Google and Amazon so that your title has maximum “discoverability”. If you do not enter anything here, we will do it, but you are more familiar with the title.
  • Upload a Press Release to Publicity. Include 8-10 talking points your publicist can use when pitching to the media.

Why is my publication date set ten months after the files are finished?

It takes ten months (sometimes more) for information about your book to circulate through the trade worldwide, and this is essential to maximize your prospects of long-term success. We are represented by companies that are generally reckoned to be amongst the best independent sales teams around the world – NBN in the USA, Quantum in the UK, and Durnell in Ireland and Europe – and they cannot start selling the book until they have the finished information.

Budgets for buying in new titles in the chain retailers are set many months in advance – they will not look at titles coming out before then. Some key catalogues, like the NBN sales catalogue in North America, the bumper Bookseller Spring and Autumn editions in the UK, cover six months of titles; they need the information on ISBN, page extent, price, sales copy and cover three months before that, so ten months only just gives us enough time.

Marketing your book in earnest can wait until the book is at least available for pre-order.

When can I tell people to pre-order my book?

Amazon and other online retail sites have your book available to pre-order the month after files are finished. The sales reps will be working hard to get pre-publication orders from all the main buyers.

If you can get readers to pre-order your title from their preferred retailer, this will aid the efforts of the reps and boost visibility; the best time to elicit pre-orders is in the two or three months running up to publication day.

If a buyer can see an interest from readers before publication date, they will be much more likely to place a large order themselves.

Pre-orders contribute to Amazon main rankings and there is also a “next 90 days” pre-order chart. Amazon have a pre-order price guarantee stating that the price a reader pays will be the lowest price offered between the time they place their order up to and including the end of the day of the release date.

Don't be disappointed if pre-orders don't match your expectations – the amount of people who express an interest is rarely equivalent to the amount of people who physically order the book.

When can I order print copies for my own events or reviews?

You may need copies of your book prior to publication date to sell at specific events or book launches. We can supply orders to you directly from the printer any time after the text and cover files are finished.

However, we don't send books to the warehouses (so the public can buy them) any earlier than six weeks before publication, because this causes any orders to be automatically released and sent to retailers. Amazon show a book as published as soon as they receive stock, which then conflicts with the information we've already sent out to the trade. Usually by the first day of the month of publication print books will be in the main warehouses in the USA and UK, and available for events and to the trade.

So even if we supply you with books, direct from the printer, it will not be widely available to the public until publication.

Case Study, Kill All Normies, 2017

Kill All Normies – A Marketing Success Story

Kill All Normies by Angela Nagle was launched in June 2017 to a huge wave of interest, online and off. Many reviews were written, and a lot of people discussed the book passionately over social media. At the time of writing, August 2017, there are over 80 reviews on Amazon.com.

As a result of this, sales started at several thousand a month. Here, Zero Books publisher Doug Lain talks about the key elements that made this book successful and offers his top tips for authors (especially non-fiction writers) preparing to publish a book:

Tip #1. Build A Strong Author Platform

The marketing of Kill All Normies came together organically. Angela Nagle is a talented writer, well positioned, with a solid network of allies at various publications, and her book emerged out of her success writing about the neo-fascist right.

Angela had spent a lot of time building her platform, publishing articles and essays specifically on the topic of her book (she writes for The Baffler, The Irish Times, Jacobin and Current Affairs Magazine), before it was published. People already knew about who she was and were interested in what she had to say.

Tip #2. Start Pre-Publicity Six Months or More in Advance

Before the book was published, Angela promoted herself as an expert on the subject of the book, without necessary directly promoting the book, including multiple appearances on podcasts and radio programs, as well as many written articles for online media.

Tip #3. Don’t Stop Promoting Once Your Book is Released

Often, authors put in a huge amount of energy promoting themselves up until their launch, and then stop once their book is out there.

Crucially, Angela continued this work after the Kill All Normies launch, and will continue to do so.

This is important advice for new authors, especially non-fiction ones. This kind of publicity should be an all-year-round effort, and will pay off in the long-term.

Keep promoting the book, keep producing new essays on the topic, and keep the interviews coming. The goal should be to get to a point where you have to start turning down interview requests.

Tip #4. Secure Reviews

We were lucky in that Angela’s author platform was strong and that many people wanted to review Kill All Normies. With a sufficient amount of pre-publicity, and if you hit the right topical subject, you should be able to get at least a few people coming to you asking for reviews rather than the other way around.

The importance of securing reviews, both in print and online, especially on Amazon and Goodreads, cannot be overstated.

Tip #5. Hit The Zeitgeist

Easier said than done. Kill All Normies was the right book at the right time, addressing a raw issue in the public consciousness. Obviously, not every book will hit the zeitgeist as Nagle’s book did.

However, if you do the things that Nagle did and fail, you’ll still have sold more copies than otherwise.

A good comparison would be Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism. There was maybe 1/100th the amount of interest in that book as there was in Nagle’s, however, the book sold a few hundred copies at the outset due to Alfie Bown’s hustle and the way he kept on publishing on his topic.

More reading to supercharge your marketing:

Further useful info in this chapter:

Also, read: