Marketing, publishers, and today’s author.

Marketing was always this mysterious word, something that NY publishers provided but I never really could define.

I pictured staff sitting around a table, slurping warm coffee, while brainstorming magnificently stupendous creative tie-ins and ideas surrounding certain titles.

But due to my current venture in self-publishing or what S.R. Johannes has termed the Entrepreneurial Author, which I love by the way, I’ve been thinking about marketing. And how some books with NY publishers get great marketing and others don’t. And how that pertains to me.

Lightning struck and I figured out what marketing by the big guys is all about.

The answer is easy.

Are you ready?

I mean, it’s really rather simple. I should’ve figured this out earlier. All of you probably already knew this.


That’s the definition of marketing by the big publishers. And with money comes time investment and greater exposure.

So what does that mean exactly?

At the basic level it might mean a few arcs and a small social media campaign through the publisher’s network.

But most of it will be up to the author.

But if you look at the books that get the red carpet marketing treatment there are tons of arcs, extensive social media, lead titles at conferences, paid ads with Goodreads and Facebook, book tours, a terrific cover, a website, a trailer, an author interview vlog, a huge print run, television marketing, and being featured on the publisher’s sites; for example, Harper Collin’s and Inkpop. And don’t forget the 12 copy floor display in bookstores.

Not bad.

Money in the right places create buzz.

But what about the whole branding thing and what does money have to do with that when most readers don’t care who publishes a book?

Readers might not recognize the brand of a NY publisher. But the gatekeepers do. Kirkus, libraries, schools, most book bloggers…etc.

See what I mean? Money.

And this kind of marketing works. Usually. If the books live up to the buzz.

Come back on Friday and we’ll talk. Come with your ideas to share too!

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26 Responses to Marketing, publishers, and today’s author.

  1. Natalie Aguirre February 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Interesting image of the publishers slurping coffee around the table. I have to agree with you. It’s not always even that the book that is hyped is better. But the hype however the publisher or the author does creates buzz and word of mouth about a book.

    I think we can all help promote our books this way to a point even if we aren’t a “big” book. I think Caroline Rose just did an excellent job getting her debut book May B, a middle grade, quiet book in verse, out in the blogger world. Looking forward to Friday’s discussion.

  2. Stina Lindenblatt February 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I agree with Natalie. A number of the books I’ve bought with all the big hype weren’t as good as I’d hoped. The funny thing is I don’t notice what the publishers are doing (other than when the book makes it to a table in the bookstore instead of just on the shelf). I only knew about the books because of the blogging hype they received.

    Can’t wait to read your Friday’s post.

  3. Louise February 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Love, love, love the phrase Entrepreneurial Author (even if it did take me a couple of tries to spell entrepreneurial right). That is exactly why I got interested in self-publishing – the idea of being an entrepreneur is deeply exciting to me.

    And I LIKE the idea of selling something I believe in, something I think truly has value, so I’m eager for any marketing suggestions and ideas that you and others have to share on Friday!

    • Laura February 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Natalie – I agree. Hype does not mean the book is better. It’s just the book the publisher chose to push. What I love are the suggestions I find from word of mouth, the book that needed that slow burn b/c it truly is awesome!

      Stina – Remember my post? I’m not buying any more books based on hype unless I love the premise; but more importantly, the opening pages. Shatter Me, I loved both and I ended up really enjoying the book. Divergent lives up to the buzz and several others. But some were just meh.

      Louise – Yes, there is something very exciting about taking charge and moving forward!

  4. Matthew MacNish February 1, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Sometimes it works even if the book doesn’t live up to the buzz. I mean a lot of the best selling novels in the last few decades haven’t been that great.

  5. Susan Kaye Quinn February 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    If the books live up to the buzz.

    This is important.

    When you set expectations and disappoint, that’s a problem. And I cry for authors that get that treatment and then don’t make the money back for their publishers. Because they think it’s somehow their fault, when it’s really setting the wrong expectation.

    But that aside, I think this works to the advantage of Indie authors. As much as we fight the image that “all indie books are bad” we also don’t have to worry about not living up to expectations of being a NY Bestseller overnight.

    Can’t wait for your Friday post!

    p.s. Louise – I totally can’t spell that word, but it’s tremendously exciting to me too!

  6. Kris February 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    It’s all really up to the author, isn’t it? We all need to be entrepreneurial in our own way. Certainly there are books with big hype that don’t live up to it, as there are books that are incredible that fly under the radar. Even if you get the hype (and wouldn’t we all love that), if word of mouth is negative, sales don’t follow.

    With progress, comes responsibility. Or something like that. Looking forward to your discussion about it, Laura!

    • Laura February 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Matthew – So true! But I think eventually it catches up to the author. As in lower sales on the second book or a slow petering out of sales. I would think.

      Susan – I have to spell check that word every single time! I hope everyone comes with their suggestions on Friday! I just have what I’ve seen. 🙂

      Kris – I love finding books that fly under the radar and are incredible!

  7. Vera Soroka February 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I think those guys sitting around the table drinking coffee are trying to figure out how they are going to survive in the new publishing world.
    Authors have a new found control over their career and have to take advantage of it.
    Those big promotions I think will get less and less as time goes.

  8. Kelly Polark February 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Unless you are one of the chosen few that is marketed bigtime, the author really needs to market on his/her own. I think Shelli has done a wonderful job of that in her last two book releases. I am surprised at how some of my favorite authors’ books have little exposure.

  9. Susan R. Mills February 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Love the phrase “Entrepreneurial Author”. Very fitting. I think we’re all having a hard time spelling that word. I just had to copy and paste it in my comment! 🙂 Anyway, regardless of how well a book is marketed up front, the user end marketing is way more important. If someone tells me a book is not all that good, I won’t buy it. Even if it is right up front on one of those shiny 12 copy displays.

    • Laura February 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Susan – Same here. Reviews and word of mouth weigh much more heavily. I’m just now learning to wait for reviews before purchasing b/c of buzz and an incredible cover.

      Kelly – Sometimes I think the midlist author and the self published author are in the same boat when it comes to marketing. The midlist author just has a better chance of getting in with book bloggers and certain gatekeepers.

      Vera – It would be fun to be a fly on the wall. I have a feeling the publishers have their marketing packages ready to go for the books they choose without too much thought going into it. Just checking off what venues they will push the book. I’m sure it’s more than that. But I think authors spend much more time coming up with creative ideas.

  10. PW Creighton February 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Marketing regardless of product is all about convincing the customer it’s something they want. The big publishers may throw a lot of money at a project that they want to succeed but there’s no telling if that approach will work. It’s a bit like buying a billboard on the highway. There is no way to measure the actual impact. The big publishers just continue to do things the way they’ve always done. In the modern marketing world innovation and creative approaches can carry more weight than simply throwing large amounts of cash at it.

  11. Patti February 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Money definitely helps things sell. Like some people have already said: A lot of NY Times bestsellers haven’t been very good. I have a few of them on my shelves. So like you I’m not buying a book unless I really like the premise.

    • Laura February 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      Patti – A lot of the buzzed books thought I truly enjoyed, so it all depends.

      PW – But the money helps. No, it doesn’t always work but it gives the books way more exposure and probably helps the author sell through their advance, even if it never really takes off! Only word of mouth can keep a book on the shelves longer than a few months.

  12. Jessie February 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Money makes the world go round! I hate to admit it. I am still optimistic enough to believe that I can get my hands on some of it one day:)

  13. Lydia K February 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Oh, fascinating, fascinating. I also tend to think of publicists as living in this weird black hole of secrecy. Wish I could be a fly on the wall in those rooms.

  14. Karen Strong February 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Money does get the hyped books noticed. I notice them. Unfortunately that does not mean that they will have good sales long term. But seriously, I’m getting jaded by the hype because the books can fall short.

    I do love a novel that has a slow burn that gets tread because of readers and booksellers.

    This is one thing to keep in mind: Hyped books leave the shelves or are out of print after a season but if you can get a slow burn book, they stay in print longer.

    • Laura February 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

      Karen – Excellent point!

      Lydia – Me too! I would hope that publicists are more creative than just having connections to media outlets but I don’t really know. I know they charge a lot of mula!

      Jessie – It’s wonderful to be optimistic! Whatever your dreams are. But it’s also important to understand the workings behind everything.

  15. Alex J. Cavanaugh February 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    My small publisher does do some marketing and I feel fortunate I don’t have to do it all. But neither of us can compete with the big publishers because we don’t have those kinds of funds.

  16. Marcia February 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    What I always want most when I think of marketing is to get reviewed by the review media kids’ librarians rely on. To me, having your books on the public or school library shelf is the height of availability. 🙂

  17. Michelle Davidson Argyle February 3, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Yeah, you’re actually right. Most bestsellers are bestsellers because they were put in that position. Period. BUT, they have to be good to KEEP being bestsellers, if that makes sense. And that’s the key. Still, where does that put us? Well, it puts us where most authors are – midlist. I like midlist. It’s a happy, happy place for most of us, and I want to work my way there. 🙂

    • Laura February 3, 2012 at 4:20 am #

      Michelle – I agree. Buzz can push a book to the best seller list but to stay there and stay in print, the book has to be good! I think midlist is terrific place to be and I’ll be working my way there too!

      Donna – Def. wise and cautious!

      Marcia – Esp. with middle grade the library and school market is huge! But I see so many books that don’t make it into many libraries or schools!

      Alex – That’s great you’ve found a small publishers you enjoy working with!

  18. Donna K. Weaver February 3, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Yep. Money. So the “Entrepreneurial Author” (LOVE that term, btw) must be cautious and wise. lol No pressure.

  19. Amie Kaufman February 3, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    Really looking forward to the discussion on Friday. Marketing’s so complicated, and made worse by the fact that nobody knows what really works. Book trailers? Maybe, if they’re done right, and budget’s no guarantee of that. A twelve book display at the front of store? Maybe, if the cover appeals–or maybe not, if it doesn’t. It’s such a maze!

  20. Leigh Moore February 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Money changes everything. 😀 But you’re right. The more you put out there, the more you get back. :o) <3

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