In this section:
People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it. Book marketing is the art of telling people about your book and convincing them to buy it.
Our rule of thumb is that 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, no one really knows what marketing works. Marketing is an art as much as a science so find what you feel most comfortable doing – that is likely to generate the best results.
If there’s one pattern we do observe, it's that our successful authors treat their marketing seriously. They market consistently, over time, 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.
When we publish together, you receive:
For Standard PR, you won’t have email contact with your publicist, but they will add their plan to the Promotional Plans box a few months before your book is out. They will approach contacts for reviews, interviews (print, online, radio, podcasts etc.), pitch articles, 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.
The initial campaign is not, in itself, likely to generate substantial sales. A proper campaign takes months. The purpose is more to get an indication of travel, of directions to follow.
The aim is to get half a dozen or so activities "completed" in the first round, whether that consists of one or two published articles, print reviews, blog coverage – whatever the mix.
Though articles and interviews have long lead times, often months, and printed reviews can take months/years from the time of submitting the review copy, particularly in academic areas. So "completed" might take a lot longer than you will see in initial results.
Start thinking about it once your final, copyedited manuscript has been approved by you and uploaded back to us, when we send out our Starting to Market (Key Points) notification.
Marketing your book in earnest can wait until the book is at least available for pre-order, and we recommend six months before publication.
We encourage you to be your own publicist – there is lots of work you can do by yourself, before and after publication, including:
Further useful info in this chapter:
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.