Monday, September 27, 2010

Marketing 101: You and Your Marketing Manager

Editors rarely attend marketing meetings, although marketing managers sit in on Pub Board meetings and help decide whether the publishing company will offer you a contract. The editor is your champion. The marketing manager wants to know if you have a platform and where she can place your book for maximum exposure.

In other words, marketing managers have the power to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on your project, but editors have no control over marketing strategies. I can’t speak for all houses, but that’s the process I’m used to.

So here’s the deal . . . don’t ask your editor about the marketing plan for your book. We don’t know. By the time marketing strategies are implemented for your potential bestseller, acquisitions editors have moved on to future lists; sometimes we’re working two years ahead. For instance, on October 12, I’ll present the Spring 2013 list to Pub Board.

If editors are fortunate, an author or marketing manager will pass on one of your reviews or tell us about your book launch, but we have no idea what specific ads your book has appeared in or what publicity or media opportunities you might have or how much money is/was spent.

Bottom line? Get to know your marketing manager. Coordinate your efforts at the beginning of your campaign. If you want to send an ARC (advance reader copy) to a particular blog for a review, or contact local media, or even hire a publicist, you don’t want to cover the same territory as your publisher.

But please don’t bug your marketing manager with a daily email or phone call. She can’t do her job if all she does is answer your questions. Make contact when it’s imperative that a copy of your book needs to land in the hands of your reviewer by a certain date. The more important the reviewer, the more time that person needs to read your book and give you a thoughtful review.

It’s important that you find out when the marketing manager needs information from you about your marketing plans. Yes, plan to market your own book as well. The days of long book tours, expensive hotel rooms, and chocolate-dipped strawberries are over, unless you’re a million-dollar author.

Make friends with your marketing manager and supply her with the information she needs on the date she needs it. If you’re responsive and professional, your positive attitude will convince the marketing manager that you’re an author who can handle a radio or TV interview.

Fiction sells by word of mouth. If you’re a new author, prepare yourself now. Learn to speak to groups, even small ones. Set up a website or blog or visit other websites and comment on blogs.

Get to know bookstore owners. Engage in social media. Write blog or magazine articles. Do it now and you’ll be ready to hop on the marketing train when your book is published.

People in publishing will notice your efforts.

* * *

Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!


  1. Another great sneak peek into the publishing process. I appreciate this practical advice!

  2. I agree with Teri. Plus - working 2 years ahead!- that was pretty eye-opening.

  3. Another awesome post, Barbara. Book promotion can be time consuming, so I advise writers to set aside certain times of the week to work on marketing. Time management skills come in handy.

    Surrender the Wind came out a year ago through Abingdon. One marketing idea I had was to post 'A Deeper Look into Surrender the Wind' on my blog to mark the one-year anniversary of its release, and some of my writer friends have posted on theirs. If anyone wants to post it on their blog, I'd really appreciate it.

  4. Great practical advice. At the AFWC conference we heard snippets about unique things authors have done to help promote their own books. I'd love to know of a resource that might provide an entire list of creative ideas. Is there any such resource out there? Anyone?

  5. One good (and fun) way to hone your speaking skills--join a Toastmasters club. They have thousands of clubs all over the world. You can find a club near you by going to I've been a member since 1990, and it amazes me how many of the members are Christians.
    PS--I found it also improved my writing skills.

  6. Thank you in advance. Lessons on how not to bug an editor and/or drive her to distraction.

  7. Another great post. I'd like to know of any other specific marketing ideas you think work or don't work. Are printed bookmarks really worth the money?

    Thanks for sharing your insights and knowledge!

  8. Thanks for your comments! Because I'm often asked by authors about marketing tips, I've looked for books that could help.

    I'm reading one now by Jacqueline Deval called PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK! She is publisher of Hearst Books and has been publicity director for several other publishers. The Publisher's Weekly blurb on the cover says, "Easily the most incisive and expert guide to book publicity ever." I've dipped into several chapters, and it seems to be extensive, plus it includes online publicity strategies that would be free.

    Melissa, as for printed bookmarks, I only have author anecdotes to support their use, but I've never known a reader who would throw one away. At my fiction workshop in the Philly area, I passed out bookmarks printed by my author Richard Mabry, the author of CODE BLUE and MEDICAL ERROR. More than half of the attendees wanted to read both books after reading the blurbs and endorsements and seeing the covers. I give bookmarks a thumbs up.

    Rita, keep us posted on how your campaign for SURRENDER THE WIND goes for you.

    Anne, Toastmasters is a terrific organization for those who need to learn to speak in front of groups. I highly recommend them.

  9. So helpful! Networking is still important, even though we do more and more of it online. The more people who are sold on your work and sold on you, the more people who will 'sell' you to the world.

    Am loving this blog for the reminders needed in my own career but especially as a place to direct new writers in order to better understand the publishing process. Thanks!

  10. Something I've thought of, but never understood the complete importance of this. Thanks, Barbara, this is good info to be able to share with prospective clients for Terry. Thanks!

  11. stared following today. Thanks for all the great advice.