Monday, January 04, 2010

The New Face Of Publishing: Marketing and Publicity

There was a time when writers wrote and left the details of getting their books out to the public in the hands of their publisher. Occasionally, they hired a publicist. But, by and large, writers weren't expected to get involved in such mundane things as marketing and publicity. That's all changed. Today I've asked Maegan Roper, the Director of Marketing and Publicity for my publisher, Abingdon Press, to give us a bit of insight into this new era.

RM: Maegan, thanks for joining us here. When a book is published, what can a first-time author expect from his/her publisher in the way of marketing?

MR: Generally, one can expect the publisher to cover the costs of any consumer advertising such as retailer catalogs, ads in Christian consumer publications, Internet campaigns, and some travel for booksignings, author appearances, etc. You can also expect the basic publicity push: press releases to major mass and local media, review copy mailings to endorsers and influencers, and possible pitches to radio and television media.

RM: How long will a marketing “push” be carried on by the publisher?

MR: That usually depends on how long the budget can be extended Most of the time it’s anywhere from 6 months to a year.

RM: Some authors, especially those without much experience, may expect the publisher to do all the work of marketing. After all, they’re writers, not publicists. Would you address that?

MR: Yes. While that expectation is understandable, we are fully engaged in a digital shift when it comes to publishing. Authors are now encouraged to be marketers, publicists, and self promoters as well as writers. With the current explosion of social media marketing, most publishers (specifically the larger houses) actually seek out authors who have a fully engaged fan base/tribe already established.

RM: What about hiring an outside publicist?

MR: This is definitely an option when you’re looking at a major book line launch or title release; specifically, if the publisher only has one or two publicists on staff. Some authors will even hire an outside publicist on their own if they desire more that what the typical publishing house’s publicity staff can handle.

RM: In reality, marketing efforts by an author should begin long before a book is published. What things would you suggest?

MR: Start building your fan base and platform as early as possible via blogs and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Shoutlife, etc. Connect yourself within your local community so that when your book does release, you know you’ll have immediate local support. Also, your willingness to be accessible is very important. Most writers operate with the mindset that they are just that--“writers” and not “speakers.” But, it’s important for you to be open and willing to connect on a personal level with your readers. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing there is

RM: When a book proposal comes to an editor, how much weight is given to "platform" and the “marketing” section?

MR: It’s important to weigh the marketing factor when looking at a book proposal. Do they have possible strong endorsers already lined up? Do they have a personal website, blog, and strong existing online presence? While these aren’t the determining factors, it definitely helps an acquisition team when making a final decision.

RM: Any other thoughts you’d like to pass on to my readers?

MR: At the end of the day, I think we have the distinct opportunity and obligation to the Lord to publish high-quality fiction that is both enjoyable and engaging to read, but also paints a relevant and realistic portrait of our Christian walk. We strive for authenticity, relevance, and excellence in all of the novels we publish: fiction to touch the hearts and minds of readers.

Thanks, Maegan, for joining us here. Now I guess it's time for me to get back to writing. Or should I be marketing? Or looking for publicity?


judy christie said...

Welcome, Maegan, and thanks for the insight. So happy you're part of the Abingdon family! Richard, thanks for the interview and good ideas. Enjoy the Dallas Cowboys and your snow!

Jody Hedlund said...

Thank you, Richard, for this insightful interview. These are all issues that I'm currently weighing. So I appreciate the "insider" view of what publishing houses really want.

Heather Sunseri said...

What helpful information, Richard! Thanks for that great interview.

Faith Imagined said...

This was extremely helpful! I am going to bookmark it for later use! Thank you!

Alisa Hope

christa said...

Insightful. Thanks, Richard.

Angela Breidenbach said...

Thank you, that was a very helpful interview.
Angie Breidenbach

Carol J. Garvin said...

Excellent post, Richard. It's good to get this information directly from someone involved in the publishing industry. Thanks to you and Maegan for a very useful interview.

Shirley said...

Good info!! Sure would like to win a copy of The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer.

Judy Dacus said...

Our younger daughter has been published by two other Christian publishing houses (Christian fromance.) I'm amazed at all the things she thinks to do. When she visits us in a different state from her own, she visits the bookstores and drops off promotional materials or at least meets with the manager. Sort of a "Hi, I'm Kaye, we met at Thanksgiving." Just maintaining those contacts. She has cards, bookmarks and a promotional poster that she developed and printed in color on regular paper that describes the upcoming books. For someone who is relatively reserved and private, she has had to learn to be more outgoing. An interesting process to watch.

Our other daughter just got her first contract for a Bible study book and it will be interesting to see how she markets her book. I expect it to require some different approaches because of the genre.

Andrea said...

Dr. Mabry -

Thanks to you and Maegan for an interesting article. I have a blog and am doing my part to spread the word about good reads! Looking forward to reading 'Code Blue.' Social media cannot be ignored! Power to the people! : )

Blessings -

Andrea Schultz

christa said...

Insightful. Thanks, Richard.