Why PR is Essential in Trying to Get Your New Book Out in the Public Space
Susan McKenna @TheThesisClinic
We get calls every week in relation to new book titles and how to market them. What we have found is there is so much confusion in relation to what happens when one either self publishes a book or publishes one with an Independent Publishing House such as our sister Company over at Book Hub Publishing, I thought I’d try to clarify some of the questions would-be or newbie authors might have.
It makes huge sense to place a book on one’s own author website or your Publisher’s website as the margins for both author and publisher are best realised this way. But, that is not to say that the national chain store bookshops will not stock either self of independently published books –so long as some essential criteria is met. If you want your book to be available nationally for people just walking in off the street, there are easier and harder ways to achieve this. I’ve found time and time again, when one goes to a big book retailer (not mentioning any names here), one cannot locate one’s book because it is hidden from view or so far down the back of the store, one would need a dog sleigh to reach its location.
In Ireland, the main wholesalers are Easons and Argosy Books. Argosy is the wholesaler for all the independent bookshops. In the UK, Gardners is the largest book wholesaler. Many bookshops will only accept books from the wholesalers although it is possible to see if local bookshops will stock your books. And this is very often the case as with our old friends in Galway – Charlie Byrne’s and Kenny’s Bookstore. Indeed, Kenny’s will ship worldwide for free so that’s a major incentive to get your books in there. Both stores also have significant footfall and if your book has a catchy cover design, it might just get that all important glance that leads to being picked up, read a little and then bought.
I have found, over the years, that no matter whom I phone or call to – there is a common question. What are your projected sales if I stock your title? What pr are you engaging? What pr will you maintain to ensure longevity of sales should a book be stocked. You will, no doubt, hear different stories as to how many books one should have sold prior to coming to national distribution. The figures are anywhere between 200 and 750 depending on whom you speak with. Now, this issue of pr simply will not go away. Many authors simply do not want to get involved in their own pr, or they don’t want to contribute to it any way – time, finances, contacts. But, the more time I spend in the business community with related businesses, the more I see the value of a thought out pr strategy. One would not hope to bring any other product to market without telling as many people as possible about it and the same applies to a book. At the end of the day, it is another product with an intended audience.
The second thing one needs to take into account is the margins a national bookstore will demand. Again, this lies anywhere between 35% and 55% of the list price. In the independent stores, I find this usually comes in around 35% to 45% but, it’s entirely up to the owner or office manager. Sometimes, it’s written in stone and other times, one may negotiate. That’s a lot of potential revenue coming off your sales and you have to manage the administration, the time between sales and getting paid etc. Of course, you’ve also to take into account your full production costs such as artwork, illustrations, design, print, isbn etc.
– Now you might have a sense of why so many authors find having their own website so important. Direct site equals direct sales cutting out as many middle men/women as possible.
So, what do you need to impress the Wholesalers and Distributors might be your next question?
- A well formatted book with a really attractive front cover and I mean really attractive. I’d spend money on the jacket.
- The Title and Author name on the spine as well as the front cover as the book will be sideways shelved often.
- An ISBN number that brings your data to the respective national agencies.
- Existing Sales records that are verifiable.
- Past and future publicity notes that are realistic and show a sense of market.
- A quality book product that the wholesaler likes and believes will sell.
Getting all of these things right is almost an art form. It is certainly a pursuit one will have to commit both time and resources to if one wants to achieve anything meaningful. It’s your book. Don’t expect anyone else in the loop to put as much effort into marketing it as you will. As you can. As you might. The choice is yours. Either way, commit to the pr machine as it never sleeps.