Navigating the Book Marketing Maze – An Interview with Sue Collier of Self Publishing Resources

Marketing is always a challenge for self published authors and small publishers.   There are many channels and venues to consider and usually a very limited budget with which to address them.  We recently interviewed Sue Collier, one of the experts in this field, to get her thoughts and advice about how to tackle the book marketing maze. 

Sue CollierSue has been working with authors and small presses for more than two decades. She is the current owner of Self-Publishing Resources, which was originally founded by self-publishing guru Marilyn Ross and provides authors and small presses with full-service book packaging and book marketing/consulting services.  

FPP:  There so many different ways to market a book. What factors should an author or publisher take into account when developing their marketing plan?

Sue:  Authors/publishers need to focus on nontraditional and niche markets. They should consider both before even starting work on the manuscript.

FPP:  What are the most important things an author publisher should do to promote a new book?

Sue:  The very first thing is choosing one’s subject matter carefully. This goes back to niche markets — there should be one, two, three, or even four specific niche markets for the book that can be targeted in marketing efforts. Also important is awareness of the whole issue of publication dates. In order for authors/publishers to take advantage of prepublication reviews and essentially making a “big splash” with prepublication publicity, publication dates should occur well after books are in hand. Additionally, authors/publishers should never quit marketing their books. For instance, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Marilyn Ross (my partner at Self-Publishing Resources) originally came out in 1979. Subsequent revisions of the book ensure that marketing efforts continue to this day.

FPP:   What are some common mistakes self published authors make in their marketing efforts?

Sue:  Not choosing the proper publication date for their books (see above). Appearing “self-published” is another error many self-published authors make. In this day and age, there is simply no reason for this. Authors should do their research ahead of time, put out a quality product, and choose a professional-sounding publishing company name. They shouldn’t lie about being self-published, but they should present a product and business front as though they are a small press. Another mistake is not having a full arsenal of promotional/publicity pieces.  At Self-Publishing Resources, we provide authors/publishers with a news release (targeting specific niche markets), mock review, customer order flyer, pitch letter, spec sheet for the trade, and other pieces that can be used for a variety of PR/marketing purposes.

FPP:  How has the web changed the strategies and tactics used in book publicity?

Sue:  It has expanded publicity options tremendously — this once again goes back to finding niche markets for your book. Websites, blogs, chat rooms, forums — all of those provide ways for the self-published author to penetrate niche markets effectively.

FPP:  Are blogs effective book marketing platforms, and if so, why?

Sue:  Not necessarily one’s own blog — unless the author/publisher has a tremendous amount of time or the staff to continually update and offer readers a lot of value. Otherwise, it might not be worth the time. But the blogs of other’s can be used selectively. There are many blogs out there that are very effective, given a good audience and timely information. Some are excellent and a source people look to daily for information in a particular subject area. Authors/publishers need to spend time researching what blogs might be appropriate. There can also be affordable advertising on some blogs; this is another possibility to consider.

FPP:  What are some other examples of cost effective online marketing publishers and authors can use?

Sue:  At Self-Publishing Resources, we put together a spreadsheet for our clients that identifies sites offering possibilities for selling books, reviewing books, listing articles/book exerpts, as well as interviews, podcasts, blogs, and so forth. This information can be worked in various ways, the majority of which cost nothing to the author/publisher.

FPP:  How can authors and publishers effectively blend their online and traditional book marketing?

Sue:  Put your URL everywhere — not just in the traditional places, such as your business card. For instance, it should be on your book and every other promotional piece, and you should mention it if you are giving a radio interview. And have a top-notch website.

FPP:  There has been a lot of buzz about social media sites lately – e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Digg, YouTube. How can authors and publishers use these new social media sites in their book marketing campaigns?

Sue:  In my opinion, these fall into the same category as blogs, and should be fairly low on the marketing priority list at this point.

FPP:  What emerging trends do you see in book marketing?

Sue:  Interactivity – communication between the author and readers – on the Internet will be huge. Amazon.com has started to utilize this tool to some extent. Authors/publishers will also want to come up with ways to use their websites as a tool for interactivity.  E-books is another area, that although it is still lagging, will likely continue to gain popularity. Authors/publishers should be sure to have their books available as an e-book, especially business books and others that might have obsolence.

You can reach Sue at sue@SelfPublishingResources.com.

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