The New Marketing: Carol White at BAIPA

by | Feb 15, 2010

carol-white-287x300Our speaker at the Saturday meeting of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association was Carol White, of Carol White, Marketing Maven.

Carol wrote a presentation specifically for BAIPA, about challenges and opportunities in marketing self-published books. The presentation was very full, with numerous slides and bullet lists, and even handouts. I’m going to skim over some of the subjects she covered, and let you know what really stood out for me.

It’s a Whole New World

Carol started out by reminding us that publishing is in a turbulent time, changing before our eyes. She emphasized numerous times that self-publishers should have a written marketing plan for their book. Over 1,000 books are being published every day, and it’s up to you to make sure your book stands out. Carol shared some facts and figures about publishing:

  • Recent figures show 40% of books sold in bookstores,
  • 40% sold through other retailers, and
  • 20% sold online. This is a large increase in online sales.

Here are more statistics of interest:

  • Only 5% of books published sell more than 5,000 copies
  • E-books were 1% of all book sales in 2008, but 3% in 2009

Marketing Basics Are Still Important

Carol reviewed some of the basic ideas of book marketing, pointing out that what works is:

  • A quality product
  • Priced right for the market
  • A written marketing plan
  • Trade and consumer direct distribution

But in the current publishing environment, the industry stands at a precipice, and there are changes in:

  • Media
  • Products
  • Distribution
  • Interactions with readers
  • Even the idea of what a book is

New Innovations Create New Opportunities

Carol pointed out that new technologies, like the Espresso Book Machine, the Kindle and the iPad have accelerated these changes in several ways.

  1. Product changes—digitized conent will create more chance for interaction, for embedding different types of media “objects” within the book, for advertising like book trailers, and for customization at the point of sale. Consumers will decide how they want your content delivered to them.
  2. Distribution changes—The traditional book distribution system is old and inefficient and it will die. Stores that don’t adapt to new distribution systems may die also. There will be increasing outlets for “content” through more methods of distribution like subscription services, retail sales, and pay per view. These changes will also be more easily trackable than before
  3. Media changes—Press kits for the media have become much simpler in recent years, and have fewer parts. More marketers are moving to completely electronic press kits. There are more news media, including broadcast media, podcasting, v-casting. Combining media strategies for each individual book is an art, not a science.

Carol also showed an interesting analysis of how the same book, sold through different channels, could achieve similar profit goals although the actual number of books sold might be quite different.

Wrapping It Up

Carol closed her talk with direct marketing advice for all the attendees.

  • You have to be more targeted, no more blind mailings
  • Know your customer
  • Develop relationships with your customers
  • Multimedia will be increasingly important, be open to Youtube channels or iPhone aps
  • Social media has a place
  • Use your website to tell your story, not to sell your product
  • “Be everywhere”
  • Build your brand

Takeaway: The most interesting part of Carol’s content-rich presentation was this: Basic, original content will exist in digitized form. It will then be “packaged” or translated into the format through which the consumer wants to interact with the content. The idea of managing and monetizing channels of distribution is one we will probably all learn more about in the future.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Joel

    Carol, thanks, that’s great. I’d recommend anyone interested go and take a look at the slides Carol has posted from her talk. It was rich in detail and you will gain some important perspectives on the current book marketing environment.

    Also you’ve now introduced me to the slide share feature on LinkedIn, thanks for that.

  2. Carol White

    Joel –

    I’ve had a couple of requests for the slides that I used in my presentation. I’ve posted them to my LinkedIn profile (Carol White). You can also get them here:


  3. Carol White

    I think that is because we are out there in the marketplace, whether with our own works or those of clients, testing the waters, getting reactions to marketing strategies and ideas; seeing what works, what’s new, what’s changing and what’s dying. We are on the firing line every day.


  4. Joel

    Carol, thanks for your comment. It was interesting to hear your take on the changing environment. Marketers seem like the leading edge in knowing how the markeplace is changing, so your insights are welcome.

  5. Carol White

    Joel –

    Thank you for your nice comments about my presentation this month. It was my pleasure to do the presentation and I’m glad to hear that you felt it was worthwhile. Please stay in touch, I’m always happy to chat about book marketing.

    Carol White

  6. Joel

    I received this email today from Sally Fletcher, a harpist and self-published author who is also a member of BAIPA and attended the meeting this Saturday. Sally has been marketing her book and CDs of her harp music successfully for years, and agreed to let me post her mail in the commets. Here’s what she had to say:

    I have a definite opinion about the evolution of book marketing over the last 20 years. I first wrote and published a book, The Challenge of Epilepsy, in 1986, and it is now in the 3rd edition. For me, traveling, speaking at book stores, and having a distributor is no longer effective time-wise. Why spend several hours speaking to a few number of people when several million can find it on the internet 24 hours a day? I sell the book on my website and through Amazon. Baker & Taylor still send a fax order occasionally. The book is on Smashwords and Amazon as an e-book.

    For my professional performing and teaching , I used to print brochures, belong to the Chamber of Commerce, place ads in local papers, yellow pages, play for free sometimes, etc. I no longer do any of that unless I really want to for the enjoyment and socialization. I get all my business either from word of mouth or the internet. The same for selling my CDs. I’ve had it available on I-Tunes and all the digital places for several years. Any advertising money I spend is for internet marketing – having someone update my website occasionally and doing SEO.

    I make about the same amount of money from an e-book or digital music as I do from a print book or CD because it doesn’t cost anything to produce more. Once it’s done it’s done. No mailings, reprinting, etc.

    I’m grateful for the internet. It’s made my life easier (except for being somewhat computer illiterate).

    Thanks for all the great information you share with everyone.

    Sally Fletcher

  7. Direct Marketing

    The company believes that new books will account for one third of all books listed on AbeBooks websites within the next three years. Direct Marketing



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