Our 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.