Marketing a book has parallels to the marketing of any other product or service. With that reality in mind, I have organized a 14 P framework that can be used for conceptualizing and planning any marketing effort.
Book publishing can be defined as causing a book to be in a printed form and available to the public for purchase. Over the past decade, the first part – getting a book into printed form – has been dramatically simplified because of Print-on-Demand (POD) manufacturing. POD allows authors to avoid paying for a large print run and managing an inventory, yet to still have exactly as many printed books as needed. Pages of a POD book can be in full color or black on white; the binding can be paperback or casebound (hardback) with either a dust jacket or a laminated cover.
The second part of the definition – making books available to the public for purchase – has been a marketing responsibility shared by the publisher and the author. Making available can be thought of as having two components: making potential buyers aware of your book, and ensuring copies are readily accessible for those buyers to purchase.
Depending on your publishing house or service, you will have access to different tools for building the awareness and accessibility. It is best to understand the bookselling environment so you can be most effective with your marketing initiatives – at whatever scale and by whatever means you decide to promote your book.
MARKETING IS NOT THE SAME AS HIGH-PRESSURE SELLING
Some people are terrified and paralyzed by the irrational notion that marketing is synonymous with personally badgering people, somehow coercing them into buying something they do not particularly want or need. Relax! You really do not need to transform yourself into an obsessive, self-promoting ego-maniac to be successful.
Such common misconceptions can prevent an author from seeing that marketing is actually a creative exercise, an intriguing puzzle-solving process with limitless possibilities. Authors are very creative people and, therefore, well-equipped to find marvelous solutions. All they need is a practical framework for decision-making, plus some basic knowledge of the book trade and the available options.
For the marketing of your book to be sustainable, one needs to find a balance – weighing one’s home life and other priorities on one hand, with your time and financial commitment to book selling on the other. Balance is easiest to sustain if you can select marketing tactics that suit your fancy, so you can enjoy promoting your book, rather than feeling drained or uncomfortable. I have confidence you can find the time and the commitment to carry out a few high-payoff promotional activities. After all, you had the personal discipline to write an entire book, right?
Before you and I go any further, let us agree on what marketing means and entails.
Surprisingly, even though one can get an advanced university degree in marketing, there is no consensus in academia nor in the business world about a definition of this word. I know this because I have taught marketing at the college level. Imagine the confusion when I moved on to manage a communications consultancy, and clients would say marketing when they meant in-person selling, or advertising, or setting up distribution networks, or promoting franchises or running contests or just about anything. This was frustrating, at times embarrassing, and always counter-productive – until I devised the definition shown below.
This definition is the conceptual framework for the marketing mix you can develop. This framework has been used with remarkable success to build tens of millions of dollars of wealth for authors and other business clients.
When you are developing a marketing strategy in any line of business, you will be thinking about how to allocate resources and align your efforts in a number of areas simultaneously, trying to juggle priorities. The classical ‘marketing mix’ I once taught to business students asserts there are only four aspects (the 4 Ps) to be considered: product, price, place and promotions. This definition of the marketing mix was created by Jerome McCarthy in his 1960 book called Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. In the real world, the 4 P framework is clearly inadequate. I propose that you use a following more robust definition with 14 Ps when you are plotting how to sell your new book.
Marketing is the process of creating, implementing, monitoring and evolving a strategy for the complete marketing mix, which is:
- having a needed product (or service)
- available at a convenient place (and time)
- for a mutually satisfactory price (value),
- while ensuring that the correct segments of the public
- are aware (the promotional mix)
- and motivated (positioning),
- all in a manner which takes advantage of strategic partnerships
- and contributes to the overall purpose (passion).
The promotional mix includes:
- personal sales,
- publicity & public relations,
- paid advertising,
- and sales promotions.
Ideally, this will be done with respect and consideration to:
- financial profits,
- the planet (our environment)
- and people (society).
While you digest that mouthful, consider that, as you solve your book’s marketing mix puzzle, you will often be substituting creativity and personal connections for the brute-force, expensive strategies employed by the large publishing houses.
The preceding marketing advice is an excerpt from Book Marketing DeMystified by Bruce Batchelor [ISBN 978-1-897435-00-7].