Book marketing is a great way to get to know a book. It not only allows one to be involved with a manuscript through the entire publishing process, but it gives those responsible for marketing books the chance to tell a story about the story. Sometimes these stories work really well, and other times ideas fall flat—that’s marketing. Nevertheless, coming up with a solid marketing plan, or even a functional concept that works well for a book, typically comes from the text itself. But even before those ideas roll out, the marketing process has started; it begins as soon as a manuscript arrives at the press.
Make no mistake: book marketing starts at the acquisitions desk. To illustrate this point, we started our marketing plan for Fifty Hikes in the Tillamook and Clatsop Forests (Ooligan Press, 2018) when we acquired it back in December. This early, our marketing plan solidifies primary, secondary, and auxiliary audiences. We also have a pretty good idea on where we’ll position our guidebook on the market along with how we intend to talk about it over the coming months. While we are still in the planning phases of marketing 50 Hikes, we’ve gotten to know this book quite well by researching the text beyond the confines of its pages.
Nevertheless, looking for intertextual cues is one of the best ways to get to know a manuscript during the marketing phase. For example, when I worked on Kait Heacock’s Siblings and Other Disappointments (Ooligan Press, 2016) I focused on the realness in which Heacock wrote about family. I also wanted to stay current with social media trends while creating that digital campaign. From there, I worked with a concept inspired by the amazing Humans of New York blog, so I tied the themes of that blog with those found in our book. What I came up with was an Instagram campaign centered on real people and family members pictured with Heacock’s book, along with quick text reactions that accompanied the visual content. I wouldn’t have come up with that concept had I not cozied up with the manuscript beforehand.
Marketing different types of books helps to build genre awareness as well. Yes, it’s fairly obvious our approach to marketing a hiking guidebook is entirely different from how we promoted Heacock’s short story collection last year. However, working with different types of books forces us to contemplate what we know about genre by researching different books.
Book marketing also allows us to become more involved with the press. Our press relies heavily on digital marketing to promote our books, and this is pretty much the norm across most presses our size. Digital marketing not only allows us to keep in touch with our social media followers, but the freedom in which we can create our digital content allows us to shape the image of the press through content we make.
I know we are all dying to edit the next great American novel, but book marketing is another way for any writer to get to the front lines of a manuscript.