So just who does make movie trailers, anyway?
I love trailer but I confess I’d never… thought about this before? Like, I guess I just assumed the studios made them, which kinda makes no sense, in retrospect.
Also, and this might just be my personal bias, but marketing is simply the blood-laced, putrefying pus oozing from the suppurating teats of that great Satan, Capitalism, upon which Evolutionary Psychology greedily feeds. It is a potent poison that is not to be trusted.
PZ Myers has quite the imagination.
So just what do publishers do, exactly, when it comes to book marketing?
This is one of those wannabe-author-essential-reads because it’s, a) not what you think it is, and b) not necessarily obvious from the outside. Which means if you don’t know, you’re going to get either angry or screwed over or both. But the tl;dr is that, in general, publishers market to book sellers (including libraries, for this purpose), not readers.
Which is also, incidentally, why authors are “expected” to do the “market to readers” part of the equation. The problem is that a lot of publishers, both big and small, don’t really hold up their end of the marketing bargain all that well, meaning a lot of books get pretty much o effective marketing whatsoever.
You remember how we just talked about “not what you know but who”? Yeah. About that. Again.
When bookstores were the distribution path for books, they were also the primary avenue for “discovery”. That was what the big store was about. People could browse it and find things they had no idea existed that they wanted to buy. But, as we all know, “discovery” now is largely an online thing, driven by some magical combination of “search engine optimization”, social media promotion and word-of-mouth, and online retailer merchandising.
What some are still learning is “the fallacy of last click attribution”. […] In a nutshell, that means that where somebody buys something is not necessarily where they made the buying decision. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber getting free shipping on your books, you go to Amazon to buy regardless of where you learned about the book.
Mike Shatzkin on discovery.
The business-to-business focus of marketing in the publishing industry is something I’ve always found… interesting. That is to say, most marketing done by big publishing houses focuses on promoting titles not to the people who buy them (e.g. readers), but rather to stockists for big retails chains (and, to some extent, libraries). The publishers then rely on the retailers to do the “last mile” promotional push to the readers. Or not to do it, as the case may be. This model is sort of like if Hollywood did no marketing to the public, and instead relied on individual cinema chains to promote its films. Or if the videogame industry relied solely on promotional placements at Gamestop.
Publishing houses are starting to develop better business-to-consumer marketing channels, but they’re very nascent and nothing like the sort of thing seen in other industries. Think videogames again, for example, where the industry has both media and consumers so in-pocket that not only can it afford to blacklist publications that don’t give its products glowing reviews, but where this behaviour is actively supported by buyers. (“Ethics in videogame journalism” is a meme for a reason; think of the massive wankstorms that erupt whenever a publication dates to give an imperfect score to whatever the Triple A darling du jour happens to be.) Whether or not you, personally, believe this behaviour is “acceptable” or not, there’s no denying it sells.
With books, the problem is that reader-to-reader “buzz”–which heavily includes fandom participation, like fanfic, fanart, and cosplay–is still one of the most effective (and cost-effective) marketing tools a book can have. And yet, in my experience, publishers seem to not only have no idea about how to promote this, but often seem actively hostile to the notion of doing so. And so the responsibility falls to authors, pretty much all of whom have both zero interest and zero skill at the job (which is why they’re authors and not, like, marketing executives). And who are often receiving very, very bad advice on what they “should” be doing, self-promotion wise.1
I think publishers will probably get better at b2c marketing–I think they’ll probably have to get better at it–but the road towards it will be… rocky. Particularly for authors.
Ad blockers undermine a fundamental principle of media, one that goes back a hundred years: Free content in exchange for attention. The thing is, the FCC kept the ad part in check with TV, and paper costs did the same thing for magazines and newspapers. But on the web, more and more people have come to believe that the deal doesn’t work, and so they’re unilaterally abrogating it. They don’t miss the ads, and they don’t miss the snooping of their data.
–Seth Godin on ad blocking.
So a while back, Delilah S. Dawson wrote a post on author self-promotion go viral. She actually wrote two posts in the series, one “positive” and one “negative”.
Guess which one got all the attention?
This is a constant problem and one I think about a lot; generally when a book launch is nigh and my publicist starts signing me up for guest blogs and book tours. I’m not yet Cool Enough on the Internet for these to be paying gigs, and most of the sites I’ve written for aren’t particularly high-traffic or high-engagement, either. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but…
Look. Writing articles online takes time. It’s not easy. It’s much harder than what I’m doing right now, for example, and because I juggle a day job on top of writing and occasionally paying attention to my friends and family, my time is limited. Every minute I spend writing online blog posts is a minute I’m not spending on producing my next work. And what sells more books? Blog posts… or more books?
That being said: I really love Q&As and interviews. If you’re going to provide me the prompts to write to? Hell, I’ll do that for anyone. Just ask. But most entry-level blog tour stuff isn’t like that. The sites that put their hands up rarely offer anything other than a “write us something and we’ll post it” style “offer”. Which is… not always the most helpful scoping in the world, hey.
Maybe I should take, like, some kind of Journalism 101 course at TAFE or something. Yay for more time consuming, non-paying things…
A few years ago, trying to explain the difference between how books had weathered digital change compared to other media, I formulated the paradigm of the “unit of appreciation” and the “unit of sale”. The music business was roiled when the unit of appreciation (the song) became available unbundled from the prevailing unit of sale (the album). Newspapers and magazines presented individual articles that were appreciated within a total aggregated package that were the unit of sale. The ability of consumers to purchase only what they most appreciated shattered the business models built on bundling things together.
[…] For novels and narrative non-fiction, where the unit of sale equaled the unit of appreciation, simple ebooks have worked. That’s been great for publishers, since the ebooks — even at lower retail prices — deliver them margins comparable to, or even better than, what they got from print books.
But there is a big challenge related to this paradigm that the industry hasn’t really tackled yet. The “unit of appreciation” for many books is the author. And the “unit of appreciation” is also the “unit of marketing” and therein lies the problem. Because the industry hasn’t figured out how to bring publishers and authors together around how to maximize the value of the author brand.
–Mike Shatzkin on units of sale.
“What do you want to be when you grow up, Alis?”
“I want to be a unit of appreciation!”
Oh day, lil’ Alis. One day…