Marketing: The Only Advantage
Updated: Jan 10, 2019
I hope you're all having a joyous year and are ready to get your writing and reading back in gear. Today, I thought I’d share with you my thoughts for what book marketing will look like in the months ahead. They echo a key point made during a panel discussion I recently saw on the future of publishing as moderated by technology guru Guy Kawasaki.
On stage with Kawasaki were a writer, a book store owner, a print-on-demand operator, and a publisher. At one point, the writer asked of the other three panelists of what value were their industries? Self-publishing allows writers these days to perform many of the functions of traditional publishers and bookstores on their own and with greater profit. So what need do successful writers have to work with them?
For many writers, it is the prestige of having a publisher select your manuscript out of thousands of others that makes traditional publishing more satisfying. But satisfaction alone won’t lead to profits.
As the panelists pondered the question themselves, the writer finally provided this answer: He said that marketing, or the ability to place new titles in front of readers, is what makes each of the industries relevant. Traditional publishers continue to remain relevant because they have the power to market titles and authors collectively. Brick-and-mortar bookstores earn their keep by providing a gathering space for people who want to immerse themselves in total book experiences. And print-on-demand exists for the moment because, well, it saves authors and publishers money on distribution. That is, until e-readers become the preferred choice for a larger majority of book lovers.
We’ll see a continued emphasis on strategic book marketing, while book stores, publishers, and print-on-demand operators will continue to earn their right to remain relevant by offering opportunities for effective marketing.
So, how does this work to your advantage? The choice to take a traditional approach to getting your books published is no longer a matter of necessity but a strategic choice that you make for your marketing efforts. You have as much power to select a publisher as a publisher has to select your book. Find out what marketing effort a publisher or bookstore is willing to put behind your title before you sign an agreement. If you can do more and better marketing on your own, then look for another publisher, another bookstore, or consider today’s vast array of self-publishing options.
In the days and months ahead, we’re going to see the tables change on traditional publishing. Effective marketing will be as important as ever and the savvy ones who want to stay in the game, from traditional publishers to brick-and-mortar bookstores and printers, will soon be offering new incentives and programs for marketing alongside their traditional services to make working with them worth your while.