When most indie authors publicise their books, they will have a close eye on sales figures, looking to see how their marketing and promotion activities translate into hard sales.
However, professional book promoter and ALLi Partner member Ben Cameron, of Cameron Publicity and Marketing, advocates a broader measure of success than sales alone.
“Book publicity isn’t only about book sales” he says. “It's also about opportunity.”
Over to Ben to expand…
The question that I get asked most is: “How many books will I sell if you run a media publicity campaign for me?” And I will always be open and say that there is no clear answer – I simply do not know. It depends on a lot of things, including:
- what happens in the course of the campaign
- how people respond to the cover
- how much people like the book
- how easily readers can find and buy the book
While it is the one question that I cannot answer, I am always pleased when an author asks it. It means that they are thinking about their book as a business.
It is only natural to compare income to expenditure to figure out if an activity is worthwhile, and for many marketing activities you can do just that. If you run a price promotion, ad campaign or use an email marketing list, for example, you can easily compare the results to the actions.
Why It's Not So Simple
But media publicity isn’t directly about sales – it is about the opportunity to achieve sales. And that opportunity can take many forms. For example, we have worked with authors who, as a result of a publicity campaign have:
- Been asked back onto BBC Breakfast again, months after an initial interview that we arranged
- Acquired an agent or a publisher because a publicity campaign has proven that their writing is commercial
- Obtained a regular monthly radio slot on a local BBC radio station because their initial interview gave them the opportunity to meet and talk to a producer
- Been asked to write additional articles for The Guardian after they published one that we pitched to the newspaper
- Become a known expert in their area of interest and experience, leading to public speaking and other media opportunities
All of these activities build recognition for authors and books, and lead ultimately to sales – usually at a much greater level than can be achieved otherwise. And they are all opportunities that would be missed by focusing only on short-term monthly sales data.
Back to Business
Measuring sales is a business task and shows that an author is taking their publishing life seriously, but that is not the only thing that businesses do.
Businesses speculate, they look for opportunity, they value chances to add to brand recognition, they invest in research and development and they push themselves out into the world so that customers can discover them.
I am not saying that you should not run pure marketing activities. You should, and they are an important part of the mix. Nor am I saying that you should throw everything into a media campaign.
Media doesn’t work for every book, so make sure that you really have something that is really of interest before you leap.
But I am saying that if you are looking for opportunities, you need to present yourself to the world.
And a media campaign can help you to do that.
OVER TO YOU
- Do you have a personal success story to share about your own media campaign? We'd love to hear about it?
- Has Ben's case convinced you, or has experience led you to a different conclusion?
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From the ALLI Author Advice Center Archive