An Author Marketing Group Means
Many More Sales
by Derek Armstrong
Setting up an author
marketing group (AMG) is your best no-cost move for breakthrough sales. Any
publisher with more than one author should have one.
At Kunati Inc., our AMG has proven
to be the most powerful weapon in our marketing arsenal. Here’s why:
· Authors have lots of free ideas on
how to plug their books; even some of the wacky ones can boost sales.
· Writers are creative, intelligent
people with a vested interest in their own success, and before you know it
they’re volunteering to implement their ideas—at no cost to you.
· Publishers who want to stand out
as original need their authors’ creativity, insights, and advice.
· If the group is set up correctly,
authors will communicate daily, brainstorm, become friends, champion each
other, and create buzz.
· Publishers can steer the
discussion with daily tips.
· Authors’ enthusiasm churns into
stunning momentum—because these were their ideas.
Our small author marketing group
of nine was the brainpower behind these achievements (I’m holding back some of
the best ones, because they’re still confidential):
appearances. Pushed by the group,
Cheryl Kaye Tardif (author of <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Whale Song) became one of the first
contestants on a new reality television show that pits writers against writers
with a spin-the-genre wheel and a timed writing competition before cheering
live audiences. Cheryl’s successful TV appearance inspired Ric Wasley, author
of Shadow of
Innocence, to start contacting local TV broadcasters. And, he
reports, “She was able to share insights on how to do it.”
coverage. Most of our authors have
their own columns or write feature stories for various newspapers and
magazines. Of course, they do stories on their fellow Kunatites (the coined
word is theirs). And Cheryl pushed for an “all you can release” deal with a
newswire service, which agreed to circulate all the press releases that the
authors and I send each month.
ideas. Our authors freely share
feature-story ideas, such as an interview with a real convicted wife-killer for
a novel about a wife-killer, to run in January.
galley program. At the urging of
the AMG, we email galleys of all members’ books to the entire group. The buzz
is amazing as they spread the word.
celebrity program. The AMG came up
with a complete plan for approaching local celebrities and obtaining
endorsements; every book is now solidly reviewed by at least one celebrity.
to Hollywood. The group’s strategy
for approaching Hollywood with logline pitches—Hollywood’s buzzword for a
one-line uniquely differentiated synopsis—has resulted in a flurry of
in author forums. Authors who
network became friends, and they continue to plug each other in the many online
forums they use, resulting in thousands of hits to our site and general buzz
and review momentum.
of fans. AMG members share their
fans with other authors in the group, resulting in more buzz.
promoting. Each member of our AMG
has feature pages on the biggest author/reader portals and at various other
high-traffic forums and sites—all cross-linked to the other AMG members’
pages. Plus Kunati now has a minicatalog in the back matter for all its titles.
strategy. Every drop of Amazon
power is leveraged as authors tell all their friends to review fellow AMG
leads and PR contacts and
critiquing press releases have already increased total reader exposures into
solving. For example, the group
has focused on negative reviews and how to turn them into positives.
Internet strategies. Two of our
authors have high profiles on the Internet, and they share their techniques.
The most important result of this
whole experiment may be the society it has created. The Kunatites are now fast
friends, supporting each other freely not only with ideas, but also with time
Carol O’Dell, author of <span
suggested the author marketing group back in May of this year, when she grew
tired of my weekly author newsletters. “Why not just start a forum on Yahoo!
for the authors where we can chat daily?” she asked.
Since we adopted her idea, I can
feel the energy, with comments such as: “Trust is being built; it’s not about
doing more, it’s about doing it better, and becoming a cohesive team” (Cheryl
Kaye Tardif); “Without the AMG, I’d never have learned to exploit all the free
opportunities on the Internet. This group is really savvy, especially as a
collective, on all things Web-based” (Lynn Hoffman, author of <span
and “This author marketing group is an idea farm” (Cheryl again).
Kunati has a major marketing
platform that includes our now-famous book trailers (we created the first one
back in 1999) and a PR campaign we like to think is second to none. But the
author marketing group has proven to be our most valuable marketing asset. With
minimal spending, it has driven nearly 2 million visitors to the Kunati Web
site since March of this year. Our advance sales on all our spring titles are
higher than we projected. In my opinion, there is no better way to spur sales.
Derek Armstrong is the
publisher at Kunati Books (www.kunati.com), co-author of <span
class=8StoneSans>The Persona Principle
(published by Simon & Schuster), and co-founder of Persona, a marketing
firm called “Canada’s best” by the <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Toronto Star. He writes regular columns
for Films and Books
magazine and is also the author of <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Game (April 2007). He can be reached