Book Marketing by Day

by Ginger on March 8, 2011

in Inside Book Publishing, The 9-5

To kick off my posts on publishing, I’m answering the easiest question I got: what do I do? (As an aside–I’m not planning on doing these posts all the time, probably every couple of weeks. I also take it as a personal challenge to figure out how to incorporate a sword fight somewhere in at least one of these posts like one of you requested).

Ok, so back to the question. What do I do? Both Elizabeth and Ginger (yes, another one, not me) asked this, and it’s by far the one I can spout off on easiest.

The general gist of my job is to create awareness about and interest in my company and the books we produce. I’m responsible for both consumer directed marketing and business to business marketing.

The business to business piece is the part that has the least amount of innovation. This is the part that revolves around marketing our books to anyone who might sell them to the end user–bookstores, gift stores, Targets, Costcos, etc. The majority of that stuff is doing things like catalogs, sellsheets, and other very “officey” things (spreadsheets, powerpoints, and word documents). These are tools that our sales force uses to sell our books to the people who will eventually sell YOU our books. We have to convince them before we can even begin to convince you, so this is a HUGE part of my job.

Another big aspect to this part of my job is trade shows. There are two big trade shows my company attends, and everything about our attendance at those shows, from our booth to our travel to our show specials is part of my job. I often have to attend these shows to help promote and sell our products to retailers. I find trade shows exhausting, but they are a big part of marketing my company and our books, so you’ll often find me overwhelmed by trade shows in January and May.

The other part of my job is consumer marketing–basically, any and all marketing to let you, the end reader, know about our books and brands. This includes advertising, websites, blog outreach, social media marketing and the like. I’m always looking for new ways to let people know about our books–especially now that I work for a smaller publisher–so I do a little bit more experimenting here. I’ve created iPhone apps, I’ve created websites and ecommerce stores, I’ve done social media promotions. I’ve started blogs, I’ve created contests, and I’ve done email newsletters. I have a very limited budget for this part of my job (the B2B and trade show parts of my job take almost 75% of my budget every year, leaving me with not a lot for consumer marketing), so I have to be innovative to make the most of those dollars. This is the part of my job that I find the most fun and also the most difficult.

At my current job, I don’t have a lot of authors I work with–my company publishes in a different way than the typical author/agent/publisher business model, so out of the 100-125 books we publish every year, I may only work with 3-5 authors a year. However, when I do have authors, it’s my job to help them promote the books. I set up author signings, Q&A’s, and any online or social media marketing we can come up with.

A lot of my job is the management job. I am the manager of one direct report who is my right hand woman, and two long term contractors, one who handles publicity and one who handles web/social media. Basically, it’s my job to look at the big picture of what books we have coming up, and then delegate appropriately. I actually am a pretty good manager, I think, and I try really hard to give the people I’m managing projects they’ll enjoy and will challenge them on top of the day to day stuff. On top of my in house staff, I work with a lot of freelancers–designers, copywriters, developers, publicists…anyone who can help us do our jobs. Knowing how to work with freelancers, how to direct designers, how to instruct developers–that’s a huge, huge, huge part of being successful in my world.

So, there you have it.  Almost 700 words on my job (and yet I feel like I still didn’t tell you anything, and managed to leave a lot out. Go figure. Hit me up in the comments if you want me to elaborate on anything!). In a lot of ways, it’s a typical, boring office job, complete with spreadsheets, budgets, and an overflowing email box. But then, I remember that I’m working with one of my favorite things on the planet–books–and I remember that that’s still pretty cool.


Ann Wyse March 8, 2011 at 11:23 am

Interesting! I’d love to hear more about your experiences working with freelancers.

Ginger March 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

That’ll make a great post for the future! I’ll add that to the list!

Caren with a "C" March 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Wow, there is a lot of ‘behind the scene’ type stuff I didn’t know about that goes into getting a book on a store shelf. Thanks for your insight! You are one busy woman!!!

Brooke March 9, 2011 at 11:06 am

How are you using blogs to promote books?

And what do you find most challenging about the changing dynamic of digital media in terms of getting books into the hands of businesses or readers?

Ginger March 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Both of those are really great questions that deserve their own answers. Particularly that second one–digital is really changing the face of publishing in a lot of ways, and it’s a lot to think about! I’ll add these to the list for future posts!

Ginger March 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I really enjoyed reading this. Made me have more questions though! Do you read all the books you promote? Can you share what the books are (would they even be of interest to us?)?

Sounds like you are a busy girl.

Ginger March 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Oh heavens no! I’ll expand on this in another post, but there’s just no way I personally could read all our books–even if I wanted to! But there are ways to get around that and still market the books well.

clara March 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

Pretty cool job.

Did you study marketing in school or is this something you leapt/fell into? (I feel like you’ve said this before but I don’t remember the answer…)

Ginger March 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I actually fell into it. I was an English major (which is where a LOT of the publishing industry starts), never even gave marketing an idea until I was kind of doing it by default at my “during college” job. It kind of evolved from there (and actually, is a great idea for a blog post, because it’s a little convoluted how it happened).
But no, totally fell into it.

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