The Forgotten Element in Book Marketing

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1106 Design

April 04, 2011

Nearly every morning, I start the day browsing messages on Twitter, Facebook, and my favorite book industry and self-publishing blogs. I always find dozens of articles about book marketing. Tens of thousands of authors want to know how to promote their book in a cost-effective manner, who they should hire to help, and how they can measure results to ensure they are spending wisely. All good questions. And naturally, in today’s connected world, there are just as many experts willing to help them.

Most of these articles offer marketing strategies that begin too late. They teach the author how to spend his or her time and money to promote a book that has already been published (or at least prepared for printing). Often, due to the overwhelming amount of bad advice available online, the book has been prepared in a substandard way, and all the marketing in the world, at any price, isn’t going to help it sell.

Book marketing should start before the writing begins. Budding authors should savor that wonderful, initial “Aha!” moment, of course. But then, they should take off the “author” hat and put on the “publisher” hat to conduct some critical analysis. What is my book about? Why am I writing it? Does it solve a problem? Does it offer unique information, or at least a creative twist on an existing topic that will capture the buyer’s imagination? Will anybody but me think it is worth spending money on?

It’s tough to be objective about our own work. We love our own ideas because…well…they are our own ideas. That’s why it’s imperative to seek out objective advice, in publishing and any other business endeavor. When authors decide (or are told by subsidy publishers) that they don’t need developmental editing, copyediting, professional cover and interior design, professional proofreading and a useful index, they are making a decision to produce a terrible book.

Somehow, in all the noise, everyone has forgotten that marketing cannot sell a bad book. Marketing can only bring a book to the prospective buyer’s attention. In an instant, with a quick glance at the cover and perhaps a cursory flip through the pages, the buyer decides whether or not your book is a fair trade for hard-earned dollars. If the buyer decides in your favor and is rewarded with a good book, he tells everyone he knows. If he is disappointed, he also tells everyone he knows, perhaps at Amazon, where millions of others will use his opinion to buy someone else’s book.

If your reaction to the above paragraph is, “I can’t afford these things because I don’t know if my book will sell,” then please reread paragraph three.

The demise of the gatekeepers in publishing is hailed as a good thing. I agree, but only to a point. No good book idea should die simply because it can’t earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for a major publisher. But with freedom comes responsibility. Self-publishers have a new obligation to produce the good book their readers expect and to deliver real value to the buyer. If your book is meant to promote your business or your career, then quality is even more important. A quality book can land you a new client, a speaking gig, or a consulting contract. A bad book can send just the opposite message to your prospect.

Quality book development and design costs money, but it’s money well spent. A solid book concept, carefully planned and edited, with an eye-catching cover, a beautiful interior design, and a useful index will get good reviews and be recommended by buyers to others. Your quality book is your 24/7 sales force, convincing people to buy when you’re not around. Big publishers have their problems to be sure, but this is one area that they always get right, and one area that self-publishers should emulate.

1106 Design works with authors, publishers, business pros, coaches, consultants, speakers . . . anyone who wants a beautiful book, meticulously prepared to industry standards. Top-quality cover design, beautifully designed and typeset interiors, manuscript editing, indexing, title consulting, and expert advice. All available from one convenient source. All offered with our most important service, hand-holding. Attractive pricing choices to fit almost any budget. Prompt, personalized service. Satisfaction guaranteed. We’ll take better care of you and your book than any “self-publishing company.” How may we help you? Post your comment here or email us using the Contact Us page.

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