Book Marketing Disappointment
I hear a lot of writers complaining about their book promotion, bemoaning how their publisher didn’t do enough marketing or PR for their book. They say things like “publishers don’t market books anymore.” But I’ve been in publishing since 1995, and this has been the single most common writer complaint for as long as I can remember. It has never been easy to market books! And publishers have never lived up to the majority of authors’ expectations.
Let’s talk about those expectations for a moment. I think authors are unfortunately set up for disappointment because of the big discrepancy between the high-profile marketing of the big bestsellers (Today show, Oprah, multi-state book tours) and the marketing of all the rest of the authors – 98% or more. Going into a publishing deal, all the writer knows is what they’ve seen, which is authors on TV and book tours, so this is what they expect. It’s never been reality for most authors. So even when publishers are actually doing quite a bit to promote their authors’ books, it never seems like enough.
Many pubs are still putting a great deal of resources into marketing books (after all, they have an investment in selling them). I wrote a post about the kinds of marketing and PR many of them do. Whether it’s you or your publisher doing the promotion, it’s difficult to get attention to your book. Why? It’s our cultural environment. It’s the world we live in. There is so much media, so much noise—how does one stand out? How can we to find READERS in an environment saturated with TV, movies, Internet, and gaming? The difficulty of promoting books has always been here, and it’s been steadily getting worse.
Because of our noisy media environment, the author is the single person best suited to reach their own tribe, and that’s why we talk about platform. Book promotion is most effective when the author and publisher work together, each using their own strengths and the tools at their disposal.
When you’re dissatisfied with the state of your book marketing and feel like grumbling:
- Recognize you’re not alone and this is nothing new.
- Examine what your expectations were and assess how realistic they were.
- Talk with your agent and/or publisher about whether there’s anything else that can be done.
- Keep doing all you can to promote your own book.