On Monday evening we attended Byte the Book where the topic of the night was ‘The most effective methods to market your book’. On the panel this month was Mark Edwards, a self-published author who has reached the top spot on Kindle charts multiple times; Mark Rusher, Marketing Director at Orion; and Chris McVeigh, Publishing Consultant. This event was particularly lively with the discussion quickly becoming a debate between the panelists, exciting as everyone was so keen to share their top ideas and most important marketing tips – a sure sign the publishing industry is responding to the modern need to engage with its customers and be adaptable.
Everything kicked off with Mark Edwards explaining his marketing approach having experienced both sides of the author/publisher fence. For Mark, it’s important to locate an audience of people by looking for similar titles and reaching out to its readership – we can learn from the ‘you might also like’ trick that the ecommerce world has mastered so well. Perhaps his best tip that can be utilised whether you’re an author, publisher or marketer, was to not be afraid to experiment and to do this often, but if it doesn’t work – move on! Don’t waste time trying to tweak something if it’s not working.
Mark Rusher then discussed marketing strategies by speaking giving examples from Orion’s most recent success ‘Gone Girl’, which won Best Marketing Campaign at the 2014 Bookseller Industry Awards. Mark said that one of the most important things about ‘Gone Girl’ and was apparent from the first was that from the very first receipt of the manuscript, everyone in the office who read it just wanted to speak about it – a buzz that the marketing team knew immediately they had to harness and make the driving force of the campaign. They sent it out to as many people as possible, including book clubs and all different types of promotions so they could get people talking about the book in anticipation of the paperback. Word of mouth is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, but still one of the most effective. ‘Digital’ isn’t in competition with this seemingly historic method, but actually relies on it as the humble hashtag allows more and bigger conversations.
Chris McVeigh was then asked the question – What do people do wrong? This was perhaps the turning point in the evening when opinions and ideas really started to flow. Chris believes that we need to go back to publishing less, but really focus on getting the ‘bits’ right – by this, meaning all the marketing data, SEO, metadata, and contact audience information. Indeed, Mark Edwards can be seen as proof that going in with a strong strategy and taking the time to dedicate to this can really make your book a success – it’s not just about waiting for that title to have that certain je ne sais quoi which makes it an automatic bestseller. Mark R. was quick to challenge Chris on the point that publishers are not paying enough attention to data and the other traditional marketing processed – explaining how this has really changed and they are absolutely taking it seriously – to say otherwise would just not be true. In summary, this evening was a real eye opener to the potential that can be realised through a strategic marketing plan and commitment, but to be careful as it can be so easy to fall into a rut and begin just going through the motions and when this happens, you will lose out on potential opportunities for success and more sales. And after all, publishing is a business!
Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter.