House Tour: Marketing

This week we are continuing our publishing house tour with a visit to the Marketing department. 

Like many departments, Marketing is involved from the acquisition stage. The Marketing Director is present at acquisition meetings, where it is crucial for Marketing to show their enthusiasm for the book and present some key ideas on how they plan to promote it.The best marketers are ones who have read the book prior to the acquisition meeting. The ability to connect with the author over passion for the book is invaluable. 

Once the book has been assigned to a season, a member of the Marketing team is assigned to work on the book and they will begin their marketing plan/budget. Marketing remains largely hands-off as the book works its way through editorial and production. However, they will adjust their budget throughout the process as the P&L changes and other titles are added to the list that may require more or less budget. Marketing is the point in the publishing process where the book becomes a commodity. 

Once the book has made its way through production, it’s Marketing’s job to ensure all elements are working and organized leading up to the book’s release. This is further complicated when you factor in that most members of the Marketing department are working on several books from different lists all at once. Book marketing requires both creative flair and impeccable organizational skills.

So what is Marketing anyway and how is it different for books than other products? To put it simply, Marketing is anything you do to encourage consumers to purchase your book. Book marketing works a little differently than marketing other products because publishers typically don’t have large advertising budgets. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a television commercial for a book? Today, book marketing relies heavily on social media, SEO (search engine optimization), and paid web ads. Publishers still utilize print advertisements as well, but not to the same extent as they did 25 years ago. 

In addition to coordinating ad placement, the Marketing department is also in charge of writing advertising copy, copy for booksellers, and managing the promotional budget. Most mid-size and large publishers have a separate Marketing Promotions department whose sole job is to design promotional materials for the Marketing Department such as buttons, pens, totes, bookmarks, and other tchotkes that can be taken to trade shows or sent to bookstores.

Another key aspect of working in Marketing is partnering with the Sales department. The Marketing department’s job is to drive demand so that Sales can sell the books. Marketing is in charge of the catalog–now predominantly produced digitally on Edelweiss–which the Sales reps will reference when meeting with their buyers. Marketing will also create Title Information sheets, which provide all the necessary information a sales rep will need to answer buyer questions in a meeting. Info provided on the TI sheet include: price, pub date, BISACS, comp titles, sales figures for the author’s previous titles, 3-5 sales points, and marketing plan highlights.

Even after a book has been published, the Marketing Manager or coordinator assigned to the book will continue to work with the book. While publishers do not typically allocate advertising money to backlist titles, if the content of the book lines up with current events, the Marketer may choose to promote it on social media. Also, if any subsidiary opportunities arise such as a film/TV adaptation, the Marketing team will work to promote the book as related to the upcoming project. Good Marketing teams develop long-term, trusted relationships with their authors. This not only helps to sell books, but shows the author that you care about their work, which makes them want to keep working with you.

While Marketing is more of the business-y side of publishing, it does not lack in the creativity department. Working with authors, attending trade shows, and choosing promo items are all incredibly fun aspects of Marketing. I once heard the Marketing department described as the cruise directors of publishing. Bringing a book into the world is a long and sometimes chaotic process. Thankfully, the Marketing department is there to make sure that the transition from in-house and into the hands of the consumer is smooth sailing.