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Marketing and Art - The Novel 5

Posted by rmarsden on September 12, 2010 at 9:06 PM

Welcome Back,


Today's discussion is on Marketing and Art.


Marketing (which art is a part of) are the tools used to drive sales. If no one knows about a book, then no one will read it!


A large publishing house will take care of marketing for an author.


For smaller presses much of the marketing is in the author's hands. Marketing can be very expensive and the payoff can be difficult to judge. The internet is loaded with sites that claim they can market a book, but most will try and bilk an author for money and use email mass-spam and consider their work done.


So what are some serious things that can be done to market a book?


1. Brick and Mortar Stores

If an author is going through a small press, or publishing on their own, getting stocked at a brick and mortar store is unlikely. Small time publishers will claim that their books are carried at every major retailer. What they mean to say is, 'a retailer can special-order their books if asked by a customer upon request'.


Why would anyone do that when they could just order directly online?


The reason books are often not sold in actual physical stores is that the entire process is expensive. Book stores do not buy books, stock them, and hope they sell. Instead they allow books to sit on their shelves with the caveat that if they don't sell the books are returned. Additionally, the book store keeps some of the profit from every sale.

A local bookstore in Arizona for instance will merrily stock a book under the following terms.


Notice there is a fee to stock and if an author wants their book brought to the front of the store there is another fee. Also, notice their first bit of advice.


Stocking a book at an actual store can be difficult and costly! It's up to an author to determine if the brick and mortar method is within their budget and worth the risk.


2. Mass email, twitter, facebook, blast

The use of spam to sell a book is probably not effective. "How many books have you bought from a stranger thanks to a random email?"


Using every means possible (email, twitter, facebook) to alert friends and family on the other hand is a great plan. Word of mouth is considered the 'best' form of advertisement and where better to start than those already likely to buy the book thanks to knowing the author on a personal level?


Case in point: Soon as either of my books hit the market I'll be pming people with my hat in hand!


3. Website Advertisement

Advertising on a website will cost a fee and in return put up a banner for the author's book. The effectiveness of this method is entirely dependent on the website in question. If the website receives thousands of hits a day it may be a good investment. If the website receives hundreds of hits a month, then maybe not.


Like a television commercial, the ad needs to be seen by as many people as possible because only a few will take the time to investigate!


4. You-tube or other visual-public forum

Creating a commercial can be costly, but it can be done and hosted on you-tube with a potential of endless customers. However, once a commercial is made the trick is getting people to see it. Because there is no mandatory viewership on you-tube (people seek things out not the other way around) then the commercial itself would need to be advertised. The good news is, if people are directed to a commercial and like it, they can easily send it to friends. Videos often get shared more than straight ads. Think about how many video-links you may have received from friends with charming titles like, "Watch This" or "Gotta See".


5. Author Interview and Book Review

Sending copies of a book to website editors and those who have blogs that review books is a great way to get advertisement. So long as they review the book favorably! A forum dedicated to book-reviews probably has a following already of potential buyers. Getting a book showcased won't hurt and the cost is probably minimal.

Some websites interview authors. Sonar for instance uses a pod-cast set up to do just that. The author interviews let the author sell the book while answering other questions along the way. Cost is also minimal if anything at all!


6. The Cover

Big publishers handle covers on their own, small-time affairs contract out and this can give the author a heavy hand in cover design. Usually, the publisher recommends an artist, but an author can go with their own so long as it is in the publisher's budget and/or the author pays for art on their own.


Cover art goes beyond 'the cover'. The publisher has labels they want on the cover as well as a place for an ISBN number on the back. Text is also needed. Title, name, sub-title and so on. Pick up any fiction book and it may be surprising to see how much 'stuff' is jammed on the front and back of the book beyond the art!


Pricing for art varies and time of completion can be a hurdle for many. However, once an artist is chosen, agreed to the project and accepted any money, it becomes a waiting game to see how long they'll take to finish. My personal advice is to ask for the occasional update and give a tentative deadline: something so the project is near the top of the list of things to do, not the bottom!


Quality on art can strongly vary. Looking at small-time press art I've been embarrassed and impressed. Take a heavy hand in choosing the artist if possible and research their work ahead of time!


7. Much, Much More!

Beyond the basics listed above, there are endless ways to advertise a book. For those blessed with a large publishing house, they won't have too much to worry about, but the smaller the press the more falls onto the author's shoulders to get the book sold.

The more avenues to the book the better. The more advertisement the better. The least amount of upfront money the better since it is quite easy to spend gobs of money and up with a net loss if too few books sell!

Good luck!

Categories: Novel Advice

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