Chip MacGregor

December 2, 2011

So who does the marketing?


I had two people write to me last night, upset with yesterday's post. One of them asked, "Why are you slamming publishers?"

Hey, I'm not. I love publishers — love working with them, love doing good books. My point isn't to criticize publishers; it's to help authors understand how marketing works. And the fact is, while your publisher obviously believes in your book (otherwise they wouldn't spend the tens of thousands it costs to bring it to market), they simply don't have the time, money, or personnel to do a ton of marketing on every title they release. So an author MUST be willing to take on his or her own marketing and do the necessary work to get the word out. 

You see, many authors tend to think that they just have to turn in their manuscript, and it's the publishers job to market and sell the book. Wrong! It's the publisher job to sharpen the book, make it as good as can be, get it out there and make it available, and help the author get the word out. But… who knows the message of the book best, the author or the publisher? Who is the most committed to it, the author or the publisher? Who has the most enthusiasm, the author or the publisher? Who has the most at stake on any one title, the author or the publisher? (Hint: The correct answer is "the author.") So I'm trying to help authors wake up to the fact that the publisher will do what they can, but the author needs to take charge of their marketing, do the hard work, and let people hear about the book. Besides, there's no sure-fire formula — no single thing you can do that will guarantee a bestseller. I've seen great book marketing campaigns (complete with print ads, TV appearances, book signings, reviews, and major media hits) go nowhere. There's no magic bullet to selling your book… so you need to do everything you can in order to try and make that happen. 

So may I offer a first step in that process? The best marketing advice I ever heard was from Hank Seiden, a marketing guru from days of yore who is remembered for writing one of the classic books on marketng, Advertising, Pure and Simple. Years ago, I heard him say, "The core of marketing is simple: Find out where your audience is, then go stand in front of it." Still the best marketing advice I've ever heard. If you have a book on weight loss, you do some research to determine the places your audience is going (websites, magazines, blogs, journals, companies, e-zines, conferences, etc), then you figure out how you can participate in those venues. If you have an Amish novel, you do the same thing. That's the core of marketing, and it moves you beyond selling them to your family, or telling your local church and civic organization. 

I don't want this blog to just be about marketing, but over the next few weeks I'm going to spend some time talking about how an author can create his or her own marketing plan, since there seems to be a lack of big-picture thinking among authors. The effective marketing of your book isn't about finding some secret method, but about developing an overall plan for getting in front of your potential reading audience. 

Share :

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.