Shel Horowitz’s Monthly Frugal Marketing Tip: December 2007
Shel Horowitz’s Monthly Book Marketing Tip: November 2007
[Note to Frugal Marketing readers: I believe the points in my last Book Marketing column are very relevant to marketing in general, even though some of what I cited is industry-specific. If you subscribe to both newsletters, you may have read this article ten days ago, though I've modified it slightly and added a third point.]
I was just beginning to think about what I’d write in today’s issue when an email arrived with a rambling, incoherent book proposal for a genre I don’t publish in. It is clearly being sent to every publisher this author could find, although at least this person had the sense to send individually addressed e-mails one at a time.
It’s not a coincidence that this showed up just as I was contemplating my monthly message. So, rather than hitting the delete key, I actually answered–and I’ll share my answer with you.
There are three marketing points I want to make with this letter:
1: In any business communication–a book proposal, a joint venture proposal, a salesletter, even a press release–understand who is reading it and focus on what your audience has to gain from your idea
2. Do your research, so that *you* understand the other party’s interests and markets.
3. If someone who doesn’t understand the above approaches you inappropriately, think about how you can respond in a way that draws that person’s attention to how you can solve that person’s problem or satisfies his or her desires in a way that benefits you as well–just as I turned the conversation to why this author needs my book. Ultimately, marketing is always about a conversation.
And now, on to my response.
Dear (author’s name):
Thank you for your proposal. It isn’t going to work for us, and I wanted to explain why. This is going to sound harsh–but you will be wondering why your proposal isn’t even being answered–and I’m going to tell you, because I believe you have a right to know, and that once you understand, you’ll be in a better position to do it differently, and perhaps eventually find the publisher you seek. I am guessing my response will be the only answer you get other than a form note saying thank you, not interested.
1. If you want to be taken seriously in the publishing world, you need to do your research. You would see that my firm doesn’t publish books like this, and in fact doesn’t publish books by other authors. Just as you wouldn’t propose a business venture to a car manufacturer to make breakfast cereal, so you wouldn’t query a business book publisher with one author about a book that is not about business.
2. No publisher wants to know that you’re sending this around to lots and lots of publishers. You want to make the publisher feel special, talk about the books they’ve done that are in the same market, show them you know something about their company–and with the Internet, it’s so easy to do this now.
3. A book proposal should focus on why it is to the advantage of *the publisher* to take on this project. That means you look at how similar books have performed, you demonstrate the size of the audience, and you show the publisher how you intend to reach this audience through your speaking and writing, your personal networks, the publications with which you have relationships, etc.
4. Your proposal shows a lack of understanding about the industry. Most publishers do not translate in-house; they sell the rights to a publisher that produces books in that language (and not all books get translated–there has to be a publisher interested in the destination country). And publishers don’t find you a “famous book store.” Most publishers reach bookstores through distributors and wholesalers, and those orders occur for the most part when you, the author, generate interest in the book through media interviews and other methods (I go into this in detail in my own book Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers).
I would suggest that you visit http://www.grassrootsmarketingforauthors.com and purchase a copy of my book Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers. Orders from that website (either printed book or electronic edition) include several bonuses, including a five-chapter e-book called “How to Write and Publish a Marketable Book” (which I think would be extremely helpful to you). It also includes two actual marketing plans that you can use either to use as a model for your book proposal (though you would have to add an analysis of competing titles and your own credentials) or to map out a workable strategy for becoming your own publisher.
Wishing you the best of luck,
Shel Horowitz, Publisher