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What Makes Authors Good Marketing Partners, Part 2

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content=”At Brown Barn Books, we consider authors’ participation in marketing and publicity absolutely vital, and, so far, we’ve never “>At Brown Barn Books, we consider authors’ participation in marketing and
publicity absolutely vital, and, so far, we’ve never

 

 

A PMA ROUNDTABLE

 

What Makes Authors Good
Marketing Partners, Part 2

 

As reports in our May issue
showed, many PMA members have figured out how to build sales by engaging
authors in various kinds of marketing. The accounts that follow reveal more
ways to help authors play marketing roles enthusiastically, intelligently, and
effectively. If you have tactics or strategies to add, please tell us about
them in an email to JAppelbaumPMA@aol.com.

 

—Judith
Appelbaum

 

Visits to Bookstores and
Schools and More

 

At Brown Barn Books, we consider
authors’ participation in marketing and publicity absolutely vital, and, so
far, we’ve never had the slightest problem with getting their cooperation. In
fact, a few have gone far beyond what we ask of them.

 

We start by asking authors to fill
out a detailed questionnaire. From that we can find out what schools they went
to, what organizations they belong to, what special interests and hobbies they
have, and, most important, what their media relationships are.

 

We ask authors to go into every
bookshop in their area a few times in the months before the book is published,
to chat with the clerks and the manager and say they’d really like to do a
signing/speaking event at the bookstore. And we ask them to do the same things
if they travel.

 

We also ask them to try to
organize appearances at schools, libraries, or anyplace else that will have
them. One of our star authors in marketing is Sandi LeFaucheur, author of <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>The Secret Shelter
,
a time-travel story for young adults that takes place partly during the World
War II London Blitz. Sandi speaks often at schools as part of the curriculum
and has put together an extraordinary teacher’s guide on her own. Her efforts
have paid off in excellent sales around Toronto, where she lives, and obviously
this kind of effort will be very helpful in promoting her next book.

 

Another ploy we use is providing
postcards months before publication (they have the book cover on the front and
the book’s title, ISBN, price, and “available at your favorite bookstore” on
the address side) and asking authors to use them to send short notes to
everyone they know, ever knew, and hope to know—and to leave them at the
bookstores they visit.

 

Nancy
Hammerslough

Brown
Barn Books

www.brownbarnbooks.com

 

Materials with Many Uses

 

In our parenting-education niche,
we ask authors to:

 

·      help compile an author-specific
database that includes the media where they currently live and where they grew
up, their alumni and professional association publications, and local
bookseller contacts

·      provide material for a teaching
plan that parenting educators can use; we publish one plan each quarter in a
professional newsletter

·      submit proposals to present to
appropriate professional association conferences where they might speak

·      make themselves available to the
media whenever we receive a request on a parenting-education topic

 

Instead of promoting signings, we
encourage authors to outline brief presentations (10 to 15 minutes plus
Q&A) they can give in libraries and bookstores. We especially encourage
authors to make themselves available for bookstore talks when they are
traveling, and we usually send postcards to area bookstores to encourage
appearances.

 

Each author of a new book is
featured in an online media kit. We refer the media to these, and we see that
authors do too: often the PR blurb for an author’s radio appearance is lifted
straight from it. Some authors also use the material on their own Web sites.

 

In talks with authors, we
emphasize that bookstores and the media are usually interested in a book for a
very brief period. To get sales (and thus royalties) to continue, authors must
leverage the credibility created by being published and continue to generate
speaking engagements and media exposure, both paid and pro bono.

 

Because authors are not usually
expert at promotion, we offer to coach them when they are preparing speaking
proposals and speeches and for media interviews (especially broadcast). We
review their pitch letters when they are trying to sell freelance articles based
on their books. We provide advice about school appearances—for example,
what’s a reasonable fee, and how many presentations per day makes sense? And we
promote author appearances as much as we can.

 

The most obvious results of
authors’ efforts have been quantity sales of books associated with school
visits. Some authors buy books with their author discount and resell them;
others have the PTA buy the books from us. Of course, this is a win–win
situation: the author gets paid (usually several hundred dollars), books get
sold—and buzz is created for both author and book.

 

Linda
Carlson

Parenting
Press, Inc.

www.parentingpress.com

 

Get—and
Educate—Experts

 

We have been focusing on education
books for the past three years, and I took a different tack when I swung into
that field. Three authors and I spent a full day talking about topics,
structure, and—more than anything else—promotion back in 2003,
before they started to write. Since they were the top three educators in
Illinois (one was the superintendent of education; all were Superintendents of
the Year; I could go on), I gave them a no-nonsense tutorial on how their books
would primarily be back-of-the-room and ancillary sellers at their many
speeches and workshops.

 

My pitch was: You won’t get rich
on royalties, but you will do well because you’ll be able to send speaking
bookers a free book to get your $2,000 or so per presentation booking, plus
40-plus percent on back-of-the-room sales. It took them about 10 seconds to see
the light.

 

Then we zeroed in on the
associations they knew and led, plus a client one spoke to regularly, and we
devised legitimate ways to get people to ask us for the books. Did it work? You
bet. Two of the authors just retired to speak regularly nationwide, and the
third will in a year or two. At every convention they attend, they sell and
sign books—or the association buys them and gives them to the
participants. The client’s firm bought 1,600 copies to give to every
superintendent and principal in its core area. And each speaker buys books by
the box—and loves the 40 percent discounts, plus the 5 percent each gets
on royalties from all books sold (except when the price is 50 percent or less
of retail).

 

Of course, we sell the books all
the other niche ways, plus Amazon, LSI, and so on.

 

What
Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know
<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> by Jim Rosborg, Max McGee, and Jim Burgett is now out
in its second edition. Teachers
Change Lives 24/7
by Jim Burgett (yes, fortuitously, he’s my
brother) was released in March and had about 600 sales when it saw light; and <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>The Perfect School,
by the three, will be released on April 15 and also has several hundred
presales waiting. All three were published in early 2007, so we also plan to
bundle them at gatherings to increase the cross-selling.

 

I guess the point is: pick your
writers very carefully. Get people who are already established and sought; then
work hard on your titles—their suggestions were typically educationese,
which means awful. Help the writers see how their words will expand their reach,
enhance their reputations, and change their world. Set up a solid, info-laden
Web site with free chapters, help them sell to the honchos they know, and back
it all up with the standard support promotion: reviews in the association
newsletters, testimonial letters, press packets (now digital), and the rest.

 

Gordon
Burgett

Education
Communication Unlimited

www.superintendents-and-principals.com

 

The Author as PR Powerhouse

 

It’s important to us that our
authors:

 

·      be available for interviews by
email, phone, and, if feasible, in person

·      attend appropriate industry and
public trade shows/conventions

·      do regional book-signing tours at
appropriate venues

 

During the past several months,
Robert James Luedke’s help in marketing his graphic novel, <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Eye Witness: Acts of the
Spirit
, generated exposure on national TV (<span
class=95StoneSerifIt>At Home Live/FamilyNet
TV), on national radio (USA, Moody, FamilyNet, and Salem radio networks), in
major newspapers (The
L.A. Times
, The Dallas Morning News, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Detroit News
, and many others via
AP), in national periodicals (<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>PW
, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Christianity Today
, <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Comic Buyers Guide,Wizard
magazine, Campus Life,The Texas Baptist
Standard
), as well as in numerous local-regional TV and radio
station interviews.

 

Sandy
Luedke

Head
Press Publishing

www.HEADPRESS.info

 

Tactics Behind the StepTrek
Strategy

 

We like authors to be very
involved with marketing, but we realized early on that a one-size-fits-all
approach wouldn’t work and gave up using a questionnaire. Instead, I ask
authors who have professional backgrounds for copies of their vitae; I talk
with others to get useful biographical information; and I ask all authors to
keep a list of everyone they come in contact with in the course of researching
and writing their books, plus friends, family, and colleagues.

 

Depending on the length of the
list, we may do direct mail and/or give the author the option of doing that. We
usually print postcards for our books and give the author a supply to hand out,
a practice that has proved effective. We make certain that authors have copies
of all other marketing material (such as extra book covers and press kits) so
that they can generate interest and sales in response to casual encounters.

 

There are three main points about
marketing that we discuss with authors:

 

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>We want enthusiasm and participation (I’d sure rather
rein someone in occasionally than beg them to participate), but we also need
coordination. We go over who does what up front, and ask that authors check
with us via email before going off in a new direction, or at least let us know
about everything they’ve set up so that we don’t duplicate effort. I keep an
online calendar for each book that lets authors check on availability and
previous commitments.

 

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Presentation matters. Because most of what we publish
is nonfiction, we find that some authors get caught up in their subject matter
and its tangents, forgetting to give people a reason to buy this particular
book. As a small press, we get to know our authors pretty well—even those
we’ve never met—by the time a book is published, so we have a good sense
of how much direction a given author might be open to and need.

 

<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> We like feedback and suggestions from authors. They
know we can’t always do what they want, but I think most feel that we genuinely
see them as partners. We are open to all sorts of ideas, and we have promoted
books everywhere from church services (highly successful) to Steeler bars (not
so much) at the behest of authors who saw a marketing opportunity.

 

The authors who have accomplished
the most through their efforts are the ones who are the most sincere and
genuine. They tap into something important in their communities, become a part
of it, and ride it to success. For example, a wonderful guy named Bob Regan
moved to Pittsburgh several years ago and became fascinated with our public
steps (these are outdoor rights-of-way, some complete with street signs, and we
have about 750 sets).

 

Pittsburgh is very hilly and the
steps are an integral part of life here, taken for granted by locals, not much
known by outsiders, and often leading to spectacular views. Bob teamed up with
photographer Tim Fabian and produced <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Steps of Pittsburgh/Portrait of a City
,
which became our best seller. He made tons of friends doing his research (by
bicycle, mind you), came up with the idea of a neighborhood StepTrek to help a
not-for-profit group raise money (it’s now an annual event), opened up a whole
new avenue of tourism (we get teams of folks coming here to see how many sets
of steps they can climb in a weekend), and more. Bob and Tim went on to produce
The Bridges of
Pittsburgh
, and the two have been honored twice by Pittsburgh’s
City Council. The best part is that both these books have received extensive
media coverage, including national AP stories, and they’ve sold from
Newfoundland to Alaska!

 

Cheryl
Towers

The
Local History Company

www.TheLocalHistoryCompany.com

 

Battling Burnout

 

My most recent book has become a
big regional hit largely because of my team of lively, gregarious,
well-connected authors. Hometown
Pasadena
is an in-depth, four-color guidebook aimed more at
locals than at visitors. Each of its five authors has her own network of
friends, neighbors, and associates, and all those people got excited about the
book because they knew one of the authors. Each author provided me with a
mailing list, which fueled a postcard mailing promoting several signings and
publication parties, all of which helped build an audience. And the authors’
personal relationships with local merchants—hair salons, gourmet shops,
florists—led to the book being successfully stocked by some pretty
unlikely places.

 

The challenging part of this
success story was that the authors were getting a little burned out, so I am
now sending them to events in teams of two, paying each an honorarium for her
time (they all earn royalties, but the amounts are small because they’re split
five ways) and donating a percentage of book sales from each event back to the
nonprofit organization that hosted it. This is proving to be a win–win
for everyone—the authors are respected and compensated, the nonprofits
get a needed boost, and I sell books.

 

Colleen
Dunn Bates

Prospect
Park Books

www.prospectparkbooks.com

 

Questions as a Context

 

My questions for authors:

 

·      Where do you see your work and
yourself in a year? In three years? In five years?

·      Who, exactly, are your readers?

 

To help them with marketing, I
send them articles from various resources every month, and I send newsletters
to let each one know what our other authors are doing; a bestsellers list is
included and serves as a good motivational tool for authors not listed at the
top.

 

Our authors’ marketing efforts
have resulted in large priority displays in Barnes & Noble stores, high
rankings at Amazon, and large library orders from out of state.

 

Most times, I give my authors Dan
Poynter’s information by requiring them to buy and read his <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Self Publishing Manual
,
and then I send them his newsletter as well if they have not subscribed to it,
because it inspires them to work hard at selling books on their own.

 

Sylvia
Hubbard

Motown
Writers Network

SylviaHubbard.com

 

Effort Each and Every Week

 

Each month we send our authors
dozens of timely low-cost and no-cost promotion ideas, and we have established
an authors’ email list primarily to let authors share ideas.

 

Although we send galley review
copies to major review media, we advise authors that they are responsible for
sending review copies to local and regional media. To help, we provide sell
sheets and the names, addresses, and contact info of local and regional
newspapers and TV and radio stations.

 

We maintain a media room where
journalists and booksellers can download a variety of material, and we strongly
recommend that our authors maintain media rooms at their Web sites. We provide
links to resources for creating author sites, crafting press releases, and the
like, along with useful articles.

 

Using Laughing Bear’s list of 188
libraries selected for their “likelihood to buy small press publications,” we
encourage our authors to contact their local libraries, since Friends of the
Library groups usually do a good job of promoting author talks on the radio and
in newspapers.

 

We don’t expect our authors to put
more than a few hours each week into promoting their books, but we do expect an
effort each and every week, particularly during the three months prior to
publication and the three or four months after the book is released.

 

In the past few years we’ve
generally seen a direct correlation between author promo efforts and monthly
book sales. When an author promotes, the book sells better. It is that simple.

 

Lida E.
Quillen, Publisher

Twilight
Times Books

twilighttimesbooks.com

 

[head] Making Expectations
Clear

 

We have developed “marketing addenda”
for our author contract that outline options for author participation in
marketing, and we talk about them during contract negotiations so the author
knows that participation in marketing and publicity is part of the overall
agreement.

 

The addenda cover commitments for
a certain number of public appearances, articles or marketing pieces, radio
shows, contributions to Web site(s), and so on. We tailor the specifics to each
author’s interests, abilities, and strengths.

 

We also give authors a marketing questionnaire
when they start on a new book project so we can engage the author on marketing
plans very early in the process.

 

Laura
Keresty

Wilderness
Press

www.wildernesspress.com

 

 

 

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