Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

Books as marketing

Having an IM this morning with a friend who has a Publishing Opportunity. We were strategizing a little bit, and I was giving them something of a pep talk. Unlike me, who comes from a marketing background, they come from an engineering background. It led to an interesting set of thoughts.

jaylake: here's how marketing ROI works
jaylake: "if I spend $100 on advertising...
jaylake: "I don't know what I'll get...
jaylake: "but if I DON'T spend $100 on advertising...
jaylake: "I DO know what I won't get."
jaylake: you'd fire an engineer who thought that way
jaylake: you can never provide a direct correlation between marketing spend and business activity
jaylake: but you can almost always provide a correlation between reduced marketing spend and reduced business activity
jaylake: it's a statistical relationship
jaylake: not a causative one
friend: I see that
friend: like when they put 10 books on the shelf they sell 5
jaylake: so you go to Cons, hang out in bars and at parties, and one day someone says the right thing at the right time, and you get the shot
friend: but when they put 5 on the shelf, they sell 2
jaylake: yes, exactly
jaylake: how did you know which bar to sit in at which time?
jaylake: you didn't
jaylake: you just put yourself on the shelf and talked a good game

We were talking about networking, and about what happens to a book once it gets into the pipe. The basic insight for me is that this business is all about marketing. Sure, there's process, things you do, ways to do them, but in the end, an aspiring writer has to market their book to agents and editors, the agent has to market the book to editors and publishers, the editor has to market the book to their internal stakeholders, the publicity and sales people have to market the book to the buyers and booksellers, and the stores have to market the book to the readers.

The author has to market the book to everyone, everywhere. All the time without seeming to do so. Pretty damned hard to do, especially if you were raised with a "don't put yourself forward" ethic, as so many of us were. (Not me, apparently, but I know I'm a freak.)
Tags: books, process, publishing, writing

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