Does a Newspaper Article Help Sell Books?
With the age of the internet, is it still a good idea to get an article about a book and its author in a newspaper? If so, should one still created a blog and visit social networks to let the computer savvy readers know about such a newspaper article? Please check out blog below to see such an article.
To be blunt, it's useless in the example provided. He only has two entries on his blog and no followers.
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Just the facts, please
Absolutely, to the first question. The more media coverage, the more people are aware of it. And ditto to question 2 - spread the word far and wide. Why not?
That said, the article in this case was written five years ago. A lot of media outlets today will not write about self-published books. There are simply too many, even for smaller local outlets, and the quality is variable.
Last edited by JournoWriter; 01-24-2013 at 10:00 AM.
Reason: bad math
If you have an article in a newspaper, you're going to need print books in place on bookshop shelves in areas local to that paper's distribution if you want to make the most of the promotional push. People will read the article, wander into their bookshop, see the book on the shelves and have a moment of recognition which will make them pick it up; from then on, the back cover copy and the book's first page or two will have to convince them it's worth buying.
If they don't see the book on a shelf somewhere they're very unlikely to buy it.
If they see it in the paper then go into a bookshop to buy it they're very unlikely to ask a member of staff if the book is in stock; and if it's not in stock they're even less likely to place a special order for it.
practical experience, FTW
My opinion appears different from the others, and thats fine. I've been published for 6 years and during that time I've had several newspaper articles written about my books, as well as two radio interviews. To my surprise there was no significant impact on my site deep hits or royalties during that period.
Frankly, this was a shocker. Only thing I can figure is that when someone see's a book or author name in an article, they are scanning the paper for general news, not to specifically buy a book. By the time they go to actually buy, they've forgotten the title/site info. I've evaluated 24 different promotion avenues using site visit/royalty data and this one was near the bottom of the stack.
Course this is just my experiences, others may differ.
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The effect is cumulative.
Newspaper articles can result in more sales but they only really do so if they're part of a big marketing push which puts a specific book in front of its potential readers.
A single article alone won't achieve much; a few articles, a couple of good reviews, an interview on radio and TV and a personal appearance or book-signing or three and books will probably start to move.
I've seen newspaper interviews with authors directly drive ebook sales, but then only when we're talking about big national papers with online editions too. It's hard to place PR like that with those papers unless there's a news angle associated with it. Is it the new book from an already best-selling author? Is it the first book from a celebrity in another field? Is the book highly controversial somehow, or otherwise novel?
The spike I saw in the most recent case (within the last few weeks) was only a small one in real terms, but you could see the book jumping up the iBooks and Kindle charts for the 24-48 hours or so that the articles were prominent online. That in itself helps drive extra sales, because it shows up in top 10s etc and people discover it that way.
When I sell a piece to a Mac or iOS magazine, my sales jump, but I'm writing for a very specific niche.
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Lisa L. Spangenberg
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I can't view the link at the moment so I can't comment on it, but I saw a very impressive sales boost when I was promoting my work back in 2005 - 2006 in UK news outlets. It was slow to build but it kept working in my favour for years after.
For me, it was useful because the target audience for newspapers (adults) were the parents of the target audience for my book (upper-MG/lower-YA children and teens) and the parents would let their kids know my story and if I had signing coming up nearby.
I wonder if the effect would be as powerful these days. I like to hope so. Printed newspapers aren't as popular, but most newspapers crosspost their stories online.
When I see a 'published author' article in my local paper, nine times out of ten it's an ill-informed puff piece about a self-published or vanity-published author. Those articles might bring in friends & family, but they generally don't impress me enough to look for the book.
figuring it all out
My book is not published yet, but I am thinking there'd be a difference between the results you'd see from promotional fluff pieces, or even a brief review versus getting a feature article. When my non-fiction is published, I plan to approach local magazines & newspapers with a feature story idea that would be of more interest to readers than "local author gets book published" Instead my story would be something like "Local woman gives birth alone, and writes a book about it"
Originally Posted by Filigree
I know I'd be more interested in the second headline (and more likely to read the book) So, my theory is, if how you came to write the book, or who you are is an interesting story it'll be more memorable & more likely to translate into sales.
Eta: I absolutely would not consider newspaper a substitute for an online presence. As a reader, if a newspaper article resonates with me & I remember the author's name, I'm likely to google it later, maybe read their blog or buy the book on amazon and definitely send links to their material to friends who'd be interested in reading.
Last edited by Lia_joy; 01-31-2013 at 01:58 AM.
Reason: additional thought
I cover books for a regional alt-weekly newspaper (with website), and I agree.
Originally Posted by Lia_joy
We don't run "This guy published a book" pieces; I vet everything. But we do write about self-published books if they fall into one of two categories: 1. Fiction, essays or poetry written on a truly professional level — these we review; 2. Nonfiction with a good local story attached — this might be a feature.
In terms of effect on sales, I only have anecdotal evidence. A local indie bookseller told me he had seen greater demand for books I reviewed. (Most of these aren't self-published, though.) Occasionally a reader will write me asking to be reminded of the title of "that book about the German kid who sheltered a Jewish kid during WWII," or whatever, because the description apparently stuck with them.
We have had local self-publishing successes, but they're mostly due to the authors' relentless promotion of hard copies, not to press coverage. I know an author who's sold about 10K of a lighthearted nonfiction book by getting it stocked at gas stations, general stores and other atypical places. (It works because of her strong, humorous local angle.) I know another who has a great platform (local actor doing one-man shows) and carries his books in his car trunk ready to hawk them to everyone he meets.
If you do approach a newspaper, it's good to know what kind of book coverage they do, if any. Many daily newspapers no longer run reviews, but ours occasionally rounds up books (including self-published ones) and blurbs them. (The blurbs basically just say what's on the back cover.) We try to do substantive coverage (meaning: I actually read the book), but we lean heavily toward the literary. You may have the next Chicken Soup for the Soul, but that's not a good fit for our audience, so you're better off pitching it elsewhere.
And if you get a good review, by all means, tweet or blog it. There's a best-selling, trade-published local author who gets reviewed in all the big papers and still bothers to tweet my reviews, because no press is too insignificant for him to care about. (Of course, he also has a ton of followers...)
ETA: I wonder if there's been an increase in the number of people who read newspaper reviews online and then go directly to the e-book, making the presence of books on shelves irrelevant. Around here, most people still seem to prefer print. But I've certainly read about interesting titles online (at AW, among other places) and gone directly to iBooks to get a sample — it's just a few clicks away, after all.
Last edited by Fuchsia Groan; 02-11-2013 at 05:04 AM.
figuring it all out
you have said what I want to say. the more coverage the better for your sale, no doubt about it.
Originally Posted by JournoWriter
It didn't have any impact on my sales since I had no bookstore placement. I was a front--page story in the largest regional paper we have here. Alas, no sales. Doesn't mean there can't be any--it just depends on well you're set up to move e-book and print.
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I was published in an article yesterday. I had 10 new sales today, e-book version. *shrug* Better than nothing!
Multi-published author of contemporary romance with Avon, Berkley, and Entangled Publishing.
That's pretty good! I'm planning to send out news releases to local newspapers and magazines to see what happens. It doesn't cost me anything except my time.
Originally Posted by MeganJoWrites
practical experience, FTW
I had a review in one regional newspaper and a review/feature article in another regional free newspaper here recently. My book is in in the stores, but haven't had the first royalty report yet so I'm not sure how it affected print sales. I saw no jump in ebook sales after the articles. The newspaper articles are also online so I can link up with my blog and social network avenues.
The more I look into promotion and the more I see the older pros doing it the more I am convinced that it is important to talk about something other the product you are selling. Like Lia Joy says, the audience is more interested in the person than the product. An interview in a newspaper or a blog is probably more valuable than a simple newspaper review of a book/product by a hack in a small paper.
Still, I'll take any coverage, good or bad, that lets the readers know the book is out there.
Personal appearances at art shows and lit events are also not to be overlooked. The newspaper article is all part of a larger promotional push that the indie writer (like myself) has to create.