Monday, November 07, 2005

Rule 2: Author and Marketing Manager

There’s a fair chance that some authors reading this rule are going to disagree with me from the outset. They are going to shake their heads and say, “but all I wanted to do was write!” Hard luck. You’ve also got to sell – yourself and your books. Actually I was there once, living in that dream-world, one where I simply exist on the thrill of selling a book or two a year to a publisher. I thought that was all the selling I’d need to do. Sell to Reader-Number-One (aka the acquiring editor) and then sit back and get writing the next book. This was before I discovered the economics on which the global publishing industry is currently based. To put it bluntly, there’s not a lot of profit in books. To keep in profits publishers either must create volume sales (i.e. bestsellers) or be niche. Marketing costs money which comes straight off the bottom line (the publisher's profit) and so the maximise the impact of any marketing investment a publisher can make they will concentrate it on a few titles where they can see the best chance of returns. The marketing manager in a publisher thus has a budget that s/he can't spread too thinly yet has many titles to deal with. Most of the list will therefore never have individual marketing plans. Now different authors have different aims and ambitions vis-a-vis their careers but one cold fact can’t be ignored – your sales figures. No matter how much your editor may love your books, no matter what acclaim you might garner, you’re part of a commercial industry and your sales are numbers upon which your merit will be judged. So the smart author takes responsibility for marketing. If your publisher is doing stuff, great. Take all the help you can get. But decide that you are your books’ marketing manager. You can give more time, thought and attention to marketing your books than anyone else.


At 11/08/2005 10:04:00 pm, Blogger Amie Stuart said...

This is soooooooo true--even in epublishing!

At 11/10/2005 06:00:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The marketing costs generally do not come off 'your profits'; they come from a separate budget. Your % of cover price is fixed in the contract.

At 11/10/2005 06:27:00 pm, Blogger Kate Allan said...

To clarify: I was refering to the total profits made by a publisher. Not author royalties. I'll edit to make it clearer, thanks!

At 11/13/2005 08:45:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some unpublished authors set up a website ready for when they are published. Would you recommend doing this? (And taking a guess that the pen name you choose will meet with theeditor's approval when you do sell?)


At 11/14/2005 10:26:00 pm, Blogger Kate Allan said...

Hi Janet,
In theory you can begin to build up a potential base of people who would be interested in your books as soon as you start marketing them. Two things would concern me, however, with regards to investing marketing time as an unpublished author. 1) Time. How long before your books reach the shelves vs how long will your potential readers stick around waiting? 2) Time. Would you not be better off investing your marketing time in marketing yourself to editors and agents?

At 11/16/2005 02:08:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that's what I thougtht, but a lot of unpublished members in the online writers groups I belong firmly believe an unpulished author needs a website. I wondered if there was some benefit to having one that I hadn't thought of.



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