I recently had to do an assignment for school where I was to create a publicity campaign for a Canadian book. My group’s “publishing company” chose to “sign” Chuck Huges of Chuck’s Day Off fame to make a cookbook (okay, so the photo is actually the menu from his Montreal restaurant, I’m not the cover designer on my team). I also had to figure out the sales distribution targets, but that part wasn’t nearly as much fun.
The thing is, it is a lot harder than you think trying to figure out the best ways to promote a book on a very minimal budget. Some of you may have heard me say before that the only funds for publicity is $1 per book in your print run, so, for example, 15 000 books printed equals $15 000 towards marketing and publicity.
That really isn’t much money to work with. You want a ten city tour for your author? That’s $1000 per city and you’ve just eaten up the majority of your budget. With the remaining funds left you need to create swag, advertisements, websites, etc. Would you believe even facebook ads can take a huge chunk of money? Some of the options are seriously expensive, unaffordably so!
One of the guest speakers I had in class on Friday, the one from Simon and Schuster, said that the cheapest, most effective, and trusted advertising out there for a book is going back to the “grassroots”. Can you guess what that is?
It’s us. Book review bloggers are one of -if not the– best form of advertising. Think about it, if you saw an ad for Book A on a street car and your friend told you about the fabulous novel they just read called Book B, which one would you be more likely to pick up first? The one on the transit or the one your friend recommended?
For the bloggers, publishing companies give Advance Reader Copies for review, set up virtual tours, hold contests or ask reviewers to do themed posts, create countdown widgets, make swag like bookmarks or stickers, and do all sorts of other things. One of such things publishers make that is gradually becoming more and more popular are book trailers.
In one of my classes last week, my prof said it was really difficult to make books appear exciting to an audience when you do a talk show (she’s author Chantel Simmons). Yet what if you didn’t just hold up a copy of the book a la Vanna White, but also had a trailer clip to show? I think that would be sure to grab viewer attention.
And the same goes for blogs, because don’t we all anticipate the reveal of covers and the release of trailers? It is something that all us bloggers and fans get hyped for while we eagerly await the moment highly anticipated novels are released to our nearest bookstore’s shelves.
Jennifer L Armentrout and her publisher Spencer Hill Press are a great example of gearing publicity directly to a targeted audience. SPH has created countdown widgets, book trailers (see below), and some seriously sweet swag (check out the guitar picks!). Jennifer has done blogger interviews and chats, and now has just posted a contest on her blog this past week.
The contest gives the grand prize of a book and the aforementioned swag (which in turn the winner will likely do a giveaway with). Jennifer is asking all entrants to tweet, facebook post, comment on youtube, plus post her trailer on their own blogs in order to enter. Here’s the trailer:
What better way to get word out about your book than ask your fans to get excited and share it with their friends? Eventually, the chatter about the book will (hopefully) become viral and the novel will successfully sell when it is available for purchase. Half-Blood pub date is in the fall and I know I can hardly wait to get my hands on Jennifer’s book!
Quite frankly, that is all most publishers aspire to: making enough money from a book to cover their expenses and be able to publish one more book. The more people buy books, the more the industry is supported, thus enabling the publishing company to produce other books for our reading enjoyment.
Also keep in mind that authors and publishing companies only make money off first sales, second-hand bookstores have a slightly cheaper price because the books are not only used, but the store doesn’t have to share the proceeds. The only place I buy books second-hand is from the library because I know their profit goes towards keeping the library open and purchasing new books.
If the authors don’t make money, they cannot afford to write; if the publishers don’t make money, they cannot afford to publish more books; if the library doesn’t make money, they cannot afford to buy said books.
So there you have it. You now know more about publicity and its purpose. You know that readers, bloggers, and consumers are integral to keeping the publishing industry alive. What are you going to do to help?
Side Note: A big thanks to Jennifer and Spencer Hill Press for allowing me to use the debut novel Half-Blood for my post.