Thursday, August 16, 2007

Smart Publishers Don't Market Individual Books ...

... they market books: New authors--and some experienced ones--think publishers exist to market their individual books. While this seems logical, book publishing doesn't work this way in the real world. In fact, it doesn't make financial sense. A very modest project--a small book with a press run of 2,000--might cost the publisher $10,000 for editing acquisition, production, printing, order-taking and fulfillment, administration, and marketing. If the publisher expects to make a profit, only about $1500 (15% of the total costs) can be allocated to marketing--and that includes the book's share of marketing department salaries, catalog, website, exhibits, customer service, and directly allocated marketing expenses such as press releases. Only for really large projects is there any money at all for and individually tailored marketing or publicity campaign.

This doesn't mean that traditional publishers do nothing for a book. What niche publishers bring to the table is a large basket of customers interested in books in a given area. Travel, for example. They have a marketing system--catalogs, websites, customer service, telemarketing, package stuffers, trade exhibits, and so on--that reaches travel customers. They plug each new book into the system and can usually count on some percentage of their existing travel customers being interested in this new book. And this new book then will generate a few new customers who might be interested in some other travel books already published by the company.. It's a relatively efficient system--and the way most niche publishers make money, if they make money.

Does this mean your book will get no individual attention? No, but you're the one that will have to give it that individual attention. Your publisher will expect that. Most publishers try to make this clear--though I've noticed that many authors don't seem to hear the message and become resentful when they realize they have to do "all the work." Like it or not, this is how the business works. If you can make your peace with it, you can take advantage of your publisher's infrastucture to become quite successful.--Ken Guentert, The Publishing Pro.

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