More marketing tips from Lovejoy
3 Mar 2007
Ex-bookseller and publicist, Lovejoy, offers his monthly marketing tips. He welcomes questions c/o Andrew Lownie.
I AM A FIRST TIME AUTHOR AND I AM FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO SECURE EVENTS IN BOOKSHOPS. CAN YOU HELP ME?
Well let me first say that, if it’s any consolation, you are not the only author (first time or otherwise) to encounter increasing difficulties in pitching events to bookshops. Very few authors nowadays, particularly biographers, can justify a stand alone event in a Waterstone’s or independent book store.
There is strength in numbers. For years crime authors have clubbed together to do events; there is no reason why biographers cannot ,nor should not, do the same.
Contact authors who are releasing books with a similar audience and then pitch the event as a panel of authors. Perhaps you could come up with arranging a debate to make the event even more attractive. Both your publishers - and the Biographers Club www.biographersclub.co.uk - have a pool of authors whom you can contact and work with.
My second suggestion is to make sure you are pitching events to the right shop. Do some homework. Does the shop regularly arrange events? If so, what’s the profile of their audience and the other authors who have put on talks there? Ask around to see how many of your friends would attend event. What can you do to help publicise event?
MY AGENT TELLS ME THAT THE SALES FORCES OF PUBLISHERS HAVE BEEN REDUCED OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE SURE MY BOOK IS FLAGGED UP TO ALL THE RIGHT SHOPS AND NICHE MARKETS?
Due to the majority of titles being ordered centrally the old fashioned notion of a sales rep selling your book into individual shops has indeed changed. There are perhaps two ways in which to make sure your title is flagged up to certain specific shops and niche markets - and perhaps the most effective way to cover your bases is to employ both methods. The first way is to make a list of any special places of interest, historical societies and websites that you think could prove a good sales outlet for your particular book. You should then forward on this list to your editor, ideally at least three months before publication, who can then pass it onto the sales team.
Most publishing houses now have a person dedicated to special sales, whose job it is to utilise niche markets and retail outlets.Around publication I would also suggest that you produce an information sheet on your book, which can be adapted from Press Release. Information should contain synopsis of book, maybe a quote or two from reviews and an author bio. You should then email info on book out to any specialist bookshop or website whose audience may be interested in your book. If possible try to get a contact name first with these organisations before you email. You may wish to insert on info sheet that you would be willing to give talks or sign copies at particular shops. If you throw enough darts at a dartboard, some of them will stick.
I HAVE JUST BEEN ASKED TO PROVIDE A JACKET QUOTE FOR A FORTHCOMING BIOGRAPHY. SHOULD I WRITE ONE? IF SO, WHY?
My answer to you will be, why not? You will be helping yourself, as well as a fellow author, in that you will be advertising yourself - and your book - on the back of another. The author, editor and publicist will thank you for you quote.Gleaning a jacket quote from the right author is an increasingly important part of pre-publication. Not only do customers take notice of them, but when the publisher is selling book into shops in advance of publication an endorsement from the right author may encourage a book buyer to take more of a chance on title and order extra copies.