Tag Archives: marketing

How Social Media Affects the Publisher’s Marketing Role

Social media has allowed anyone with the right access the ability to communicate with others that were previously unreachable: from strangers across the world to the creators of the content they consume, including actors, musicians, authors, and businesses. From a business perspective, social media allows us to bridge the gap between producer and consumer. While this open access allows for a variety of innovative changes and ideas to take shape in the book publishing industry, perhaps the area where it has the most important implications is marketing.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter give marketers what they’ve always wanted: direct access to their customers. One of the marketer’s goals is to learn and understand their market’s preferences, wants and needs. In the past, marketers have used surveys and focus groups to gain insight into the minds of their readers, but social media allows them to read their customers’ opinions, track their interests or even ask them directly how they feel about a product. This doesn’t only benefit the marketers and companies they work for, it also benefits the user. Consumers have an opportunity to be more involved in the way companies create the products they use, an opportunity for their voice to be heard.

In an article for the Huffington Post, Founder and CEO of FSB Associates Fauzia Burke makes an important distinction between social media and social networking, a distinction that’s important to note when approaching how to utilize these tools and concepts to improve any aspect of a business. Burke’s differentiation of the two comes down to basic grammar: social media, a noun, refers to the content users upload (blogs, videos, newsletters, e-books), whereas social networking, a verb, refers to using this media to engage with others. While many can create social media, it takes expertise and knowledge to use social networking effectively.

Burke’s company, FSB Associates, is an Internet marketing firm that specializes in online marketing for books; their website describes their company as “the premier Internet marketing firm specializing in creating online awareness for books and authors.” FSB’s clients include some of the top publishers, such as McGraw-Hill, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. FSB’s marketing strategy offers insight into how the shift from print-to-digital is affecting the publisher’s role in marketing books; past marketing strategies, tools and trends are being replaced with ones that are more applicable to the digital market in which they’re operating and the digital audience that they’re trying to reach. FSB’s digital marketing innovations include Amplify, launched in 2011, a marketing plan that approaches books and their authors from a more comprehensive and ongoing perspective. FSB’s Founder and President Fauzia Burke explains how Amplify and her company’s approach to marketing is a necessary break from the traditional event marketing model most publishers use. In the interview below, Burke describes Amplify (and social networking) as an opportunity for authors to bond with their readers and create lasting, continued relationships with them, which will benefit all stakeholders in the publishing process.

This direct access that social media allows benefits authors who want to self-publish their books. Authors don’t need a marketing team to translate sales data or trends to understand their markets, they can just ask them over Twitter or other social networking sites. While social media allows authors to bypass the publisher in a lot of the marketing he or she needs, it doesn’t make the publisher’s role in this process completely obsolete.

In an article for BookBusiness.com, independent publishing-writer and analyst Jim Parsons discusses how current publishers are approaching social media in their marketing strategies. CEO of Greenleaf Book Group Tanya Hall; Meredith McGuinnis, director of marketing for several Random House imprints; and Mark Ferguson, associate online marketing director at Harper Books/HarperCollins, speak about the attention they pay to advising their authors on using social networking. As Ferguson explains, “Most publishers, Harper included, are spending a lot of time and energy to help guide authors toward the right social media strategy. Strategy varies depending on the genre and the author’s particular expertise and level of interest.” Parsons concludes that “the publishers’ response [to social marketing] should be one of facilitation, giving each author as much support and strategic advice as possible, and to set expectations based on the author’s skills and available time.”

In his article, Parsons stresses an important philosophy publishers need to adopt when approaching how to use social media to market their books and authors: social media should not be seen as a way to just sell, but as a way to engage with readers. He quotes Meredith McGuinnis:  “Social media is a way for authors to engage with a community, not a path to direct sales. In some cases, the fans do purchase but the overall goal of social media is to connect, create a community and establish credibility.” Publishing companies are in the business of creating credibility for themselves, their clients and their products, and it’s their professional experience and knowledge that allows them to do this well; authors need to recognize that while most can use social media on their own, the resources of a publishing company will allow them to transform that media to an organized, effective social networking strategy to maximize their reach.

Nicole Wiesenhahn

Additional Sources:

  1. http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20110627/47770-beyond-event-book-marketing.html
  2. http://www.fsbassociates.com/
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pcgE4gTETrc#t=186
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fauzia-burke/social-media-vs-social-ne_b_4017305.html
  5. http://www.bookbusinessmag.com/article/social-marketing-authors-publishers/


Filed under Newsletter Issue 3

A Self-Publisher’s Take on Book Marketing

During a September 25th meeting of the Washington Book Publishers Association, quest speaker Shawn Welch, co-author and co-self-publisher of Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, discussed how he and Guy Kawasaki approached co-authoring a book on self-publishing together and what he thinks traditional publishers can learn from self-publishers. One value-add segment that Welch covered in detail was marketing.

He spoke about how important it is to market your book at the onset of the writing process by engaging potential readers, rather than wait until the book is finished and then reach out to them. But Welch and Kawasaki, essentially playing with house money, are not great representations of the typical self-publisher looking to break into the field. Both authors had had books published before APE, all the traditional way. And Kawasaki had a built-in following, even before he chose to self-publish What the Plus! Google+ for the rest of us, with more than 1.4 million followers on Twitter and a staggering 5.1 million followers on Google+. Welch likely would have struggled to have a self-published book of his own reach the Wall Street Journal top 10 without Kawasaki. So for self-publishers starting without considerable popularity, cutting through the self-publishing noise requires some serious marketing.

Self-publishing represents a potential $52 billion market, according to a New Publisher House report, State of Independence 2014. If this figure is realized, it would be nearly twice that of traditional publishing. One would think this statistic would bode well for authors looking to make a career out self-publishing their book. But the report goes on to add that aspiring self-published authors now outnumber actual published authors 100 to 1 and that new self-published books outnumber traditionally published books 8 to 1. With self-publishing continuing to rise, thus making it even harder to get noticed, marketing your self-published novel effectively takes on added importance.

Welch covered basic social media in his marketing discussion, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and others. But if the market is being flooded with self-published books and social media with authors self-promoting their books, how can authors make their books stand out, without the help of a traditional publishing house?

One effective, low-cost option is having your book reviewed. As Welch pointed out during the meeting, most readers do not look to the publisher to weigh the quality of a book to read. Many readers do, however, choose to buy a book based on the caliber of the writing, often by reading book reviews, browsing comments online, or scanning the back cover for blurbs. Thus, authors should have their book reviewed, and done so preferably by a professional, unbiased reviewer. There are many professional review companies available to self-publishing authors of all kinds. A quick Google search brings up BlueInk Review ($395–$495), Self-Publishing Review, ($75–$109), and Kirkus Reviews ($425–$575).

As self-publishers, Welch said he and Kawasaki had an alternative take on getting their book reviewed. They sent out their manuscript to anyone who wanted to review it, as a way not only market the book and receive a wide variety of opinions but also to build an engaged readership that they could call on to promote the book once it was finished.

Sources: “Publishing Gone APE: What Can Publishers Learn from Self-Publishing” Shawn Welch, September 25, 2013, Washington, DC.



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