Thursday, July 1, 2010

To Market, To Market

Marketing is a bit like publicity, but more low key, not as often dealing with people outside of the publishing house (read: authors). This is a creative job which needs an imaginative, thorough person, good at seeing the big picture. Marketing usually splits into 2 components: marketing the publisher as an entity (mostly to bookstores and other customers of the publisher), and marketing books to readers.

Marketing works with the company website, including pages on Facebook and Goodreads and Twitter et cetera, and they put together the catalogs. All the content on a publisher's website is the responsibility of Marketing, from author interviews to blogs to news to events to ads. Most publishers also have multiple newsletters which Marketing puts out.

Marketing (in conjunction with Sales) decides which books should come with a display (called a dump, they range in size from a small 1-book countertop display to 100-unit pallet displays), which books should have a reading group guide, and which books would benefit most from being on the New Release table at Barnes & Noble (you know publishers pay for that privilege, right?) They source, coordinate, and pay for stickering, fixturing, and signage for store displays. They also work with social media on the consumer side, as well as reaching out to fan clubs and special interest groups. They create e-Postcards, book trailers, and podcasts.

Marketing is the most technically savvy department these days. It is the one department where youth is more of an advantage than experience. A bigger and bigger part of the job these days is working with book bloggers (although at some companies that's done by Publicity) and podcasters. This department usually also encompasses Advertising, Promotions, and Co-op. Advertising and Promotions are pretty self-explanatory. Co-op is more complicated. It works like this: Last year Bookstore A bought $X of books from Publisher M. That means this year their co-op budget is a certain percentage of X. They can use that money to pay for promotional costs. Such as the cost of putting together the bookstore's newsletter, although they can only pay up to 50% of the costs with Co-op (so if the newsletter costs $100, they can get $50 of Co-op money back from publishers whose books they feature in the newsletter.) One brilliant bookstore in Massachusetts would use their Co-op money to pay for drinks for after an event. Each person at the event would get a ticket, and that ticket was redeemable for 1 drink at a bar just a few storefronts up. It made for very popular, memorable events!

Here's a recent Huffington Post article about the best and worst publishing websites, and another on what publishers are and aren't doing right on social media. Don't know what a book trailer is? Well, try this one, or this one, or here's another. There are even awards for book trailers now.


Kate said...

Very interesting! I did NOT know that publishers paid to be on the "new release" table!

Thanks for sharing!

Carin Siegfried said...

Yes, the only thing they don't pay for is "staff recommends," which is why that's always the first shelf I check out in a store. Even programs like B&N Discover Great New Writers are paid for. BUT B&N selects the books first, and THEN asks publishers to shell out, not the other way around on those kinds of programs, so there is still a lot of editorial choice, not just purchasing power, going into those selected lists.

Priya Parmar said...

this is so helpful for me! how does an author know what the marketing plan is for a book?

Carin Siegfried said...

Priya, ask your editor and/or publicist. They ought to be able to tell you. Now, usually publishing houses only DO marketing for about 10% of their books, so don't be surprised if there's nothing planned. But they should still explain to you why.

B said...

I love book trailers and followed the awards this year. I feel if they are done correctly they can be quite effective.

Kate said...

Just wanted to let you know I posted a link to this post over at Kate's Library as part of my Friday Five!

Kathleen said...

Very interesting! I didn't know that publishers pay to be on New Release table although that makes sense. They couldn't put EVERY new release there and it's better publicity for them.

I didn't know marketers sometimes worked with bloggers either. I think I've only ever dealt with PR.

Carin Siegfried said...

Callista, while publicity does send out review copies, marketing does other work with social media. That includes working with blogs in ways other than reviews. They aren't necessarily doing a whole lot of this yet, but I think it'll be growing. With give-aways such as having an author call in for a book club meeting, or a bookbag with a selection of books from a publisher, or working with websites that are ABOUT book blogs. Marketing is more behind the scenes so most of us are unlikely to run into them much.