Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Advertise, Promote or Market Your Book?

© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved

For a writer, a key element to success is building relationships and networking with others in the writing/publishing business. It’s what gets us out of that solitary existence and through the various stages of writing/editing. Hard work will eventually lead to publication and, in due course, drive “the buzz” for that exciting new release.

The goal—the end result, of course, is sales, but is it enough to slap a link on our website or blog and direct readers to buy our books? Think again.

Advertising = Information.
It’s what you say about yourself or pay someone to say about you and/or your book. We see advertisements in the local newspapers, on billboards, in phone books, and on the front of paper placemats at a local diner. Think about a recent TV commercial. I’ll use a couple of car insurance companies that are currently competing for customers. Company “A” allows the customer to name their price and the amount of coverage. Company “B” warns that naming your price/coverage may not cover the evil mayhem that could be waiting to happen. If you’re not in the market to buy insurance, would either of these commercials convince you to switch your coverage? Probably not.

A writer advertises (shows their skills) through his or her writings in blog and/newsletters which grants readers an insider’s perspective as to who the author is and what drove him or her to write the book. As enlightening as it may seem, and yes, advertising is a necessary first step, it is only information. At this point, the writer is merely informing readers of the who, what, and how, but it won’t be enough to move readers to part with their hard earned money.

Let’s go back to insurance companies “A” and “B” and assume you’re now looking to switch companies for better coverage. If a someone whose opinion you trust tells you he’s bought policies from both companies and thinks “B” is a better buy, what’s that do to your level of confidence in the product? That friend or neighbor unwittingly did a little public relations for company “B.”

Public Relations = persuasion.
PR is what others say about you or your book to persuade opinion. A publicist will develop a media kit that includes the author’s photo, bio, book cover, blurb, list of awards, details about the book (price, ISBN, release date, name of publisher), quotes from reviews, etc., to persuade interviewers, radio hosts, bloggers, reviewers, and others who are in positions to help expose the publicist’s client in a favorable light.

Book reviews and reader comments/ratings posted about your book may not be the absolute make or break deal to the reader, but chances are reading several good reviews or hearing positive word-of-mouth reader comments may persuade the perspective reader interested in our genre to take the next step. They’ll check out your site, read the blurb and/or excerpt, consider your previous writing experiences/successes/awards, and (glory be) might be moved to buy the book.

Another aspect of public relation is damage control. Okay, so we’re all human, we get tired and cranky, and mistakes happen. But once a writer is published and begins to speak in public and attends book signings and conferences, they are (whether they like it or not) in the public eye. Every word said, written, or posted, every action will be scrutinized by readers. Damage control is what you, the author (or your publicist) will need to do to turn a negative situation around and hopefully regain readers’ confidence.

Marketing = process of delivering information.

It may seem as if there were fine lines between advertising, public relations, and marketing, but each has a separate role to play and authors need to include all three in their promotional plans. According to the American Marketing Association, “… marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing focuses on the target audience (readers of a particular genre). The book is the product, is it priced appropriately? Is it readily available in bookstores and online and downloadable in various formats? Finally, has it been thoroughly promoted by the author, the publicist, the publisher?

It’s hard to pin-point what will draw a reader’s attention. Will it be the author’s amazing journey, his or her approachability, the great writing, the rave reviews, interesting interview, or awesome cover that pulls them in? In truth, it’ll be a combination of all of the above done in a continuous and consistent matter that will ultimately result in continued sales.

About the author:
Marta Stephens writes mystery/suspense and the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series. Her novels are available in paperback, Kindle, and all electronic formats.. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit 

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

"Life's too Uncertain, Eat your Dessert First"


Kim Smith said...

i think i have been advertising instead of marketing but calling it marketing... great post, M~!

Marta Stephens said...

Glad you found the post interesting.:)