Brand New Look: The Wild World of Book Marketing

So, as many of you may notice, my blog no longer looks like the blog of its youth. I have opted for a new look and a new title for my blog for several reasons…

  1. Now that my publisher has decided on the official name for my upcoming book, The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading, it no longer seemed sensible to keep the working title of the book for the active title of the blog dedicated to it.
  2. Despite the fact that this may be jarring or even momentarily confusing for some of my regular readers, I believe that this new style will better serve the evolving purpose of the blog: to discuss and explore the processes of writing and publishing academic works.
  3. This style also seems better suited to promoting multiple works and ideas at once, rather than forcing readers to scroll everywhere or hunt around through different, archived posts.
  4. I like this one better 🙂

But really, after I received my email from McFarland’s marketing team regarding my book, I just got so excited that I decided I needed my blog to reflect this renewed vigor.

The first email I received came from their Office Manager and asked for some very basic marketing information that, despite its straightforwardness, really did take me a while to nail down. These are the questions she started me off with:

  1. Name
  2. Book Title (either a descriptor or working/final title)
  3. Straightforward, not self-congratulatory book description (no longer than 200 words; no adjectives, only facts)
  4. Enumerate any additional features of the book (photographs, appendices, etc.)
  5. One to two sentence byline

Now, this might seem especially strange but Question 1 actually gave me a fair amount of trouble as I am getting married this December – by the time the book is on shelves, my name will no longer be “Mead” but “Mead-Brewer.” So, what do I choose? I didn’t write the book as a Mead-Brewer, after all. I won’t keep you dangling off of cliffhangers this juicy though – I ultimately elected to go with Katherine Campbell Mead-Brewer (had to keep the Scottish part of me in there).

Not long after I sent back my responses I received a new note, this time from the Director of Sales and Marketing, that was essentially a form letter detailing the next steps McFarland would be taking along with what steps I could take independently to help promote my work. And, just for those of you out there who may believe that marketing a book is about the same as marketing bananas or shoes or any other type of commodity, I’m sorry to say you’ve been misled. After all, just repeating the name of a book (perhaps unlike repeating the name of a brand name or product) does nothing to help fuel the sale of books.

For example,

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

See? Not even I am interested in looking at this anymore. Because marketing a book is not about sending out an image or a trend but about communicating new ideas.

McFarland, as I’m thrilled to find, well understands this (as most traditional publishers do) and so will be focusing primarily upon marketing my book directly to retailers, higher education institutions, libraries, and so forth rather than trying to capture the attention of individuals. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they won’t also take advantage of getting my book professionally reviewed or of showcasing it at trade shows and conferences.

As for me, you might ask? What is it that they recommend I being doing in the meantime?

The classics:

  • Be communicative/responsive to all of their inquiries and updates
  • Build relationships with as many potential audiences as possible (whether through book clubs, online forums, etc.)
  • Be consistent with all of the information I put out there
  • Be constantly checking the book’s listings to make sure that the information others put out there is accurate as well

Oy vey! This feels like it’s going to become another part-time job 🙂

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