No matter what kind of book
you’re publishing, chances are good that magazines can help you reach your
targeted audience. How do you find the right periodicals, and what steps should
you take when you’ve found them? Stick around for some answers.
Start by finding those wonderful
marketing reference tools, magazine directories. They’re at the library
reference desk and have names like <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Bacon’s Magazine Directory and <span
Directory for Magazines.
You’ll find you can quickly become
a marketing expert by simply reading the two- or three-page
market-classification sections in the front of each of these giant yet
simple-to-use 2,500 to 3,000 page tomes. Although the marketing sections are
short, they present comprehensive lists for specific market and industry
categories, such as banking and finance, photography, motorcycles, or women’s
So step one is to write down any
and every category that seems likely to appeal to potential purchasers of your
The marketing section gives you
the page number where the category’s complete listing can be found. In each of
the directories—they’re all the same in this regard—all the
magazines in a specific category are grouped together in the main section. For
example, in Bacon’s,
all 50 photography magazines (28 professional and 22 consumer) can be found
starting on page 2207. So go to page 2207, and you’ll find them listed in
alphabetical order with detailed information for each.
The best part is that every
writeup contains an editorial profile statement telling who, specifically, the
magazine is written for—or for you technical people out there, what its
marketing segment or niche is—within the market classification. Read the
profiles and make a list of the magazines that target your readers. There, that
If you’ve selected three or four
industries or market classifications, you may find roughly 60 to 150 trade and
consumer magazines that seem like good places to run an ad or send a press
release. If your books are of more general interest, you may have a list of 400
or 500 magazines.
Assessing Ad Possibilities
Next? Here’s where the real
marketing begins. It’s best to start by writing and sending press releases,
because when your press releases are published, they’re published for free. If
your press release is published and draws a profitable response from particular
magazines or, better yet, a particular market segment, and you sell a lot of
books, you may find that direct-response ads in those publications can be
cost-effective. But be careful: it can be tough to make a $25 book pay for
itself with a space ad. Figuring the payout is simple. If your book retails for
$25 (and costs you $5 to print, so you net $20) and the ad costs $600, you need
to sell 30 books to break even, if S&H washes out ($20 net <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> 30 books = 3D $600). Since this is a long shot, don’t
test the waters with a heavy ad schedule up front. Place <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>one ad and
see if the draw is anywhere close to breakeven. If it is, you can always go
back and place more ads. If it isn’t close, even the repetition of several ads
won’t bring you up to profitability.
If the magazine is an ideal
target-market niche, you may want to think about pitching an article derived
from your book and/or an interview with you to the editorial staff. Write a
one-page query letter to the editor about an article placement. Or if you like
the telephone, simply call the editor and pitch.
Since you should never, ever place
an ad in a magazine you haven’t seen, you’re going to need sample copies. Just
call the publisher and say that you’re thinking about buying ad space in the
magazine and you’d like a media kit and sample copies of a couple of recent
While you’re on the phone, also
ask for a copy of any circulation bureau audit reports so you will have a
confirming, detailed breakdown of circulation. I also always ask whether the
magazine has a directory issue or special annual issue, and if it does I
request it and advertising rates for it. These special issues can show you a
lot about a publication’s strength and its depth of knowledge of the industry
it serves. They can also be extraordinarily valuable resources for you.
If you prefer, you can cover the
same bases with a letter like this one:
interested in a possible ad insertion schedule in your publication.
send your media kit for ______________ magazine.
enclose two recent copies of the magazine, along with any
issue, directory issue, or annual summary issue you may
Please include display and classified advertising rates.
correspondence, please advise us of your editorial calendar,
with the closing dates of each issue.
also let us know if you publish a card pack, newsletter, or
publication to this industry, and if advertising space is
in it. Kindly include a recent issue, also.
for your prompt response.
When you find a magazine you’re
almost sure to advertise in, or one that you want to examine closely over time
for advertising potential, ask a sales rep to start you on a complimentary
subscription. Almost always, they’ll agree. Alternatively, you can simply pay
for the subscription, or if what interests you is a free trade magazine, fill
out the reader service card in the sample copies they sent you and check the
“Start my subscription” block. Don’t fall for the subscription card in the
magazine unless it’s a consumer magazine: 95 percent of all trade journals are
sent free to qualified recipients. Check the audit statements you receive in
the media kit to see how many free subscribers they have vs. paid
The Screening Process
In about two weeks, you’re going
to have about 60 media kits and 150 magazines on your desk or, worse, on your
kitchen table. As they arrive, sort them into primary, secondary, and tertiary
market piles or boxes.
Then evaluate them all at once.
Glance through every media kit;
remove the circulation statement, the rate schedule, and anything else that
seems useful; keep at least two copies of each magazine and the annual or
directory issues and throw everything else out after glancing at it. Now, have
a glass of wine. I’ve found magazine analysis goes better with a light Merlot.
Many of the magazines will show
two circulation figures in their literature—their actual circulation, as
found on their audit statements, and what they usually call their pass-along
readership or pass-along circulation. Remember that the first circulation
figure represents the number of magazines sent out; I believe the number of
people who actually read each issue is smaller. And take the pass-along number
with a grain of salt. Every magazine touts a pass-along-copy audience, but
there is no way to measure it accurately.
Read the magazines that serve your
primary markets not only to evaluate them, but also to look for similar
products and your competitors’ ads. In a glossy, four-color coffee-table
magazine with lots of four-color ads, will the black-and-white ad you can
afford look lost or reflect poorly on you and your company?
If you find ads for a competing
book or books, ask the magazine sales rep how long and how often they’ve been
running in the magazine. If those ads have been appearing for a while, they’re
probably working, and this magazine should start to look more attractive to you
for your own ad.
If you have any doubts about the
editorial content aligning with profiles of your own customers, call the
editorial department and ask who reads the publication. If the market isn’t a
good match for your titles, you have a better chance of finding out from an
editor than from a space salesperson. In fairness, some space salespeople are
truly honest and capable of supplying you with in-depth industry media
assessment, even if their own media mix isn’t right for your advertising.
Lots of magazines will fit in with
your product marketing to some extent. Your mission, should you decide to
accept it, is to determine the markets and magazines within those markets that
are the best fit: those that make it most likely you’ll get qualified responses
and sales from an ad or press release.
Still have those sample magazines?
Good. On the cover of each one, in big black numbers, write the cost of
whatever ad you think you might buy (full-page black-and-white, one-third page,
one-fourth page, whatever) and the circulation. Also, note whether the magazine
accepts press releases and, if it does, write down the name of the column that
prints releases. Put a Post-It note on that column’s page and Post-It notes on
pages with competitors’ ads.
If a magazine isn’t right for an
ad or press release, keep just the cover. In six months, when you’re wondering
if you’ve reviewed that publication or not, you’ll have a record of it. A thin
Now separate magazines for
advertising consideration and magazines for press releases or editorial pitches
only. If you contract for placement of an ad, most magazines will lay it out
for you. Make sure the ad composition isn’t given to an intern, and absolutely
never let anyone run an ad you haven’t seen—and approved—even if
you’re up against a deadline. There is always next month. Always.
When you have placed your ads and
mailed your press releases, the results will tell you how well you did your research.
If you’re successful, at the conclusion of your magazine campaign you’ll be
counting book sales and money.
Jeffrey Dobkin, author of <span
class=8StoneSans>How to Market a Product for
Under $500! And Uncommon Marketing Techniques, is a speaker and a
specialist in direct-response copywriting. He also analyzes direct-marketing
campaigns, packages, ads, and catalogs. For free samples of his work, call
610/642-1000. For additional articles, visit www.dobkin.com.