At last week's Book Industry Study Group's Making Information Pay conference, Carol Fitzgerald, co-founder and president of the Book Report Network, gave tips on marketing on the Web and offered several case histories based on her experience.
The Book Report Network has seven sites about books and authors, has built more than 100 author Web sites and done Internet marketing campaigns for more than 80 books as well as a lot of marketing directly for authors. The company is 10 years old.
Among early Internet campaigns she worked on: Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, a PublicAffairs title about American submarine espionage. "We talked with Navy sub vets who congregated on particular Web sites and found submariners holding reunions," she said. They soon got reunion coordinators to distribute fliers about the book. The title had a 12,000 first printing and has 440,000 copies in print.
For the 2004 book Yiddish With Dick and Jane by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman, Little, Brown schlepped the message online with a "really funny" video that cost about $10,000. "Everyone wants to break up the work day by passing along and reading funny e-mails," she said. The book's first printing was 27,500; it now has 175,000 copies in print. Fitzgerald did caution that with viral videos, "sometimes funny falls flat, but it really works when it's fun."
Last November, Bobby Henderson put a petition on his Web site related to his forthcoming The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The day before the book came out in March, Villard did an e-mail blast to the 12,000 people on the list, which was enough to move the title on Amazon. Other Internet elements of the campaign include banners on popular Web sites like facebook.com. The online costs were $5,000; offline were another $5,000. After a 15,000 first printing, 40,000 copies are in print.
Perigee, which has a specialty in autism and special needs titles, has developed online contact lists and regularly sends e-mail releases to them. Now it has created a full-fledged e-mail newsletter whose inaugural issue began in April in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month. Some of its titles, like The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, released last month, have "very small initial sales but become backlist staples" and sell well on Amazon.com.
For Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure by Colleen Kinder, Running Press created a Delaying the Real World Fellowship that college graduates could join and that offered them prizes. Other Internet promotions for the book have included ads on Google and visibility on college career centers and college oriented sites like Fastweb as well as e-cards. After an initial investment of about $7,000 for the Web site and e-card, the publisher spends about $3,000 a year on Internet promotions, and is able to tap new readers "because there are always new grads coming out."
Among general tips Fitzgerald offered:
- Develop a Web marketing strategy with the original marketing plan; don't think that "after all else has failed," a late Web plan will save the book.
- Do a lot of research into online sites. "There are hundreds of millions of Web sites out there, and many are not useful." Still, Fitzgerald added that compared to the late '90s, "most sites now will stay around. It's not as fly by night as it used to be."
- Think quality over quantity. "Get the one right place; it will grow from there."
- "Think targeted, think wide. Then think even wider and deeper."
- Test and keep results of what works and doesn't work. "With your second campaign, you'll know where to start."
- Above all, "be patient and realistic."
From Shelf Awarness