Therese here to introduce M.J. Rose’s first post with Writer Unboxed as a monthly contributor. M.J.–founder of AuthorBuzz.com–will be bringing us Buzz, Balls & Hype originals about the world of marketing. Enjoy!
I think what I get asked the most is does book publicity and marketing really work, how much money should be devoted to a campaign, and whether, at the end of the day, the book won’t just really sell itself.
In my columns here I’ll address answers to those questions and more. If you have specific topics you want me to cover, feel free to put them in the comments section or write me at AuthorBuzzCo@gmail.com.
I think we’ll cover some broad strokes in this first post.
The Rules: Part 1.
1. No one will buy a book that they do not know exists. People won’t go looking for it on line or in the store if they have never heard of it. That is the goal of marketing and pr. To expose the book, the cover, your name to as many people as possible when the book comes out.
2. No matter how old a book is – it’s new to someone who has never heard of it before.
3. No book ever dies anymore. Because of the Internet – every book has a forever shelf-life. You can promote any title no matter how old it is for as long as you want. And you should.
4. You should be buzzing your books and your name – that’s how you build a brand and if you want to have a long-term career you want a brand. You want to stand for something and be known for something.
Lee Child is synonymous with Jack Reacher.
That’s really specific.
Other writers have brands that are broader.
For instance Steve Berry’s brand is thrillers based on unsolved historical mysteries or secrets. To brand him we came up with the phrase – History Matters. And at least six times a year Steve does writing workshops and appearances that help historical sites in theU.S. Every time he does one he gets publicity for his brand and his latest book.
Douglas Clegg puts his brand right on his website – he says he explores the nature of evil, particularly with regards to the human heart, whether in his horror, fantasy or psychological thrillers.
I’ve made mistakes with my brand – I’ve moved around a lot – it’s been great creatively but not great for getting well know for one kind of fiction. I started out writing fiction that had a whisper of suspense and was fairly erotic, to writing general fiction to writing erotic psychological suspense – to writing historical / esoteric suspense.
Now I say my brand is quest suspense – because no matter what any of my books are about the main characters are always on a quest – be it for psychological understanding – or an answer to whether or not reincarnation exists.
5. 85% of all books get less than $2000 in marketing from the publisher. And more than 85% of all books sell less than 1000 copies.
6. 95% of all mega branded big bestsellers get more than $50,000 in marketing and pr and it can sometimes be upwards of $150,000.
7. There are never more than a dozen books a year that break out seemingly on a fluke with no announced marketing or pr but when you search deeper you find those books did get help.
8. When people say “if advertising and pr worked every book would be a bestseller” that’s the opposite way of how to look at it.
The question is how many books have succeeded without any pr and marketing and the answer to that is almost none.
The reason advertising and pr can’t make every book a bestseller is because not every book can be a big seller. It’s not about good or bad or better or best. It’s about hitting the right note at the right time to take off. Not because most advertising and pr sucks. Believe me, it is much easier to write an ad to make people stop and read it than to write a whole book someone will spend their hard earned money on.
Not even the most brilliant pr and marketing can sell a book people just do not want to read. More on this in a later post.
9. The “eBook half a million copies sold” secret: The self-published authors who are selling huge numbers of books may brag they are doing it without any pr or marketing but that’s not true. Online retailers’ algorithms watch books that start to sell / trend and onsite marketing kicks in to push those books. Even the authors aren’t always aware stores are doing this.
10. PR and Marketing cannot make a bestseller but it is almost impossible to have a bestseller or even a good seller or even a seller without pr and marketing.