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Nicole_Gestalt
01-17-2007, 12:00 PM
Hi,

I wasn't sure where best to ask this so if this is in the wrong forum please forgive me and please let me know where it would be best put.

I was wandering around various publishers sites and came accross one that asked for a marketing plan along with the usual blurb and first few chapters. I've not seen any other publisher ask for this so i am unsure as to what it is, could anyone help me with this please?

This isn't a publisher i'm presently considering but I was just wondering what it means, and what would be expected.

Thanks

Nicole

johnzakour
01-17-2007, 04:44 PM
I general don't trust publishers that asks for a marketing plan from the writer.

Shadow_Ferret
01-17-2007, 05:06 PM
I'd not bother with a publisher that would expect me to market my own book. They are the professionals. They have the marketing department and budget. I'm just a lowly fiction writer with no marketing acumen whatsoever.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 05:11 PM
I hate to say it, but it's becoming par for the course with many smaller publishers. I've been cruising the small press websites, seeing who and what is out there, and this kind of stuff I see becoming more and more common.

Not necessarily a "marketing plan", but they state in no uncertain terms that they want to work with authors who will pull their weight. And these are sites for reputatble small presses.

On one hand, I can't blame them. It's hard out there for the little guys, and to have a stable of authors who do no promotion is a waste of resources for them. Many of these small publishers DON'T have a whole 'marketing department', but a person or two.

Many of them mean - will you do appearances, booksignings, keep up a website, maybe buy an ad or two (this isn't as common, and most times not a deal breaker).

They want to see if they're investing their money in someone who's serious about their business and their books. My publisher sets up my appearances for me, but I do work on getting my own school visits and do my blog and website, myspace, all that stuff.

On the other hand, well, I get that most authors don't expect it, nor are they ready for it.

If you're curious about what this particular publishers is after, just ask, I'm sure they'll tell you.

Norman D Gutter
01-17-2007, 05:40 PM
Actually, every writers conference I have been to has stressed the importance of the author being heavily involved in the marketing of their book, even taking the lead. It was the main thing that turned me off on being an author, and something I have been struggling to overcome. I don't want to be a salesman, yet that is what the pub house will want.

NDG

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 06:16 PM
Somewhere there's a link to Jenna's free e-book "Book Promotion ain't for Sissies!" I used to have it on my computer, and I think I lost it in my last crash, because now I can't find it.

If someone can find the link and post it, I'd appreciate it. It had some great information in there. And Jenna's with some big publishers, so it's not like the information is just for small press authors.

(Whoops, never mind, I found it on my computer. But I'm sure others would benefit from a link)

I talked to my publicist the other day, and she told me one of her clients, who's with a fairly large publisher and IS selling well, was only getting very minimal money put behind her title. She was told that anything else was on her. Sad, but true.

ETA: I found it! (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1023&highlight=Book+promotion+isn%27t+for+Sissies)

victoriastrauss
01-17-2007, 08:30 PM
Yes, publishers do expect writers to be proactive with promotion, both participating in the publisher's publicity and generating their own through things like websites or blogs or attending conferences or setting up appearances/signings. However, that is not the same as requiring authors to provide a marketing plan with their submission. If you're asked for a marketing plan with a novel, it's a warning sign.

Marketing plans are a feature of nonfiction, where platforms and target audiences are very important. For fiction, a platform is not required (yet), and the genre of your novel tells the publisher all it needs to know about your target audience. The publisher, which has been putting out books for some time, or whose staff have worked with other publishers that have been putting out books for some time, knows far more about marketing than you do. A commercial publisher (one that pays advances and is capable of getting books on bookstore shelves) won't ask for a marketing plan with a novel.

Where you do see this request, it's a marker for an amateur publisher (many, many of the POD-based micro-publishers you find online are run by people with abundant goodwill but little relevant experience), or a publisher that relies on its authors as an unpaid sales force, i.e., it will be up to you to bang on booksellers' doors and beg them to shelve your books (this is not supposed to be the author's job; it's the publisher's responsibility to arrange for distribution). Neither is a very good bet if your goal is wide exposure and readership.

- Victoria

victoriastrauss
01-17-2007, 08:37 PM
I talked to my publicist the other day, and she told me one of her clients, who's with a fairly large publisher and IS selling well, was only getting very minimal money put behind her title. She was told that anything else was on her. Sad, but true.What this means for a commercially-published author is that they aren't getting lashings of post-publication publicity such as book tours, special advertisements, a publisher-built website, endcap placement in bookstores, or someone to arrange appearances and interviews. What they ARE getting--what any commercially-published author gets--is reliable distribution, review coverage, catalogues, some degree of print advertising, the publisher's sales force--the whole range of basic pre-publication marketing that's absolutely essential to exposure and sales.

Even if the author has to be pro-active with post-publication publicity, she can rely on that basic pre-publication marketing being done for her. A small-press-pubbed author can't count on either one. That's the real difference.

- Victoria

Shadow_Ferret
01-17-2007, 08:44 PM
Not necessarily a "marketing plan", but they state in no uncertain terms that they want to work with authors who will pull their weight.

You mean writing a great novel isn't enough for these people?

There's a reason they are small press. They think small press.

PeeDee
01-17-2007, 09:30 PM
I recall seeing a marketing plan request in the submission guidelines for Medallion Books, one of the reasons I never sent them anything. Marketing plan? Are you kidding? I can't even find my tea.

Publicity is a fine and wonderful thing. I'll go where needed, read what's needed, sign till my arm falls off, and so on. Sure. I can say it sounds like fun, 'cause I haven't done it. However, I don't know beans about setting this up, or making a coherent plan for doing it all.

Kate Thornton
01-17-2007, 10:07 PM
I'm with you on this, PeeDee.

I have been averaging a book signing or appearance of some sort a month (3 in December!) since LAndmarked for Murder came out - but I wouldn't in a bazillion years know how to put the marketing plan together.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 10:19 PM
Well, now, I agree with you Victoria - it's not up to the author to arrange distribution. And even my small press submits titles to the book buyers for stocking, and they are in the process of hooking up with a distributor that will be taking over that stuff.

If they're not doing that, well, then, yes, they're not someone you want to go with. But, seeing what the other side of the fence is like, so to speak, I've seen authors who refuse to do a single thing to promote their title, and then whine when it doesn't sell or no one knows about them.

I mean, even a website or myspace is promotion. Look at JA Konrath (http://www.jakonrath.com). Now, I don't take every word he says as gospel, but he's a promotion machine. He works it for his books, and he's with a commercial, bigger name publisher.

And I hate to say it, but nowandays it's about recognition. You need to make your 'brand' a name. It's a marathon, not a race. You build up your name over the course of several books.

Do big publishers have more bucks? Sure they do, but they also expect authors to do something. I never thought that was so, but have found that for some authors, even being with a big publishers there are certain expectations.

That's not to say that what they want, in your case, ISN'T a red flag. Again, I would ask.

One of our AW'ers, Patti the Wicked, has two books with Keene Publishing (http://www.keenepublishing.com) I lifted this directly from their website.


In these growing years for us as a business, we can only invest in authors who are willing to promote their books (author signings and presentations to libraries, schools and civic groups on a weekly basis during launch year). So, along with your manuscript, please include any marketing or publicity ideas you might have as well as a description of the book’s audience and the book’s competition. Send your edited and proofed manuscript, printed double-spaced, and your marketing information to:



I've seen quite a lot of small publishers with similar sentiments on their pages. Legitimate, established publishers. It sucks, but I have an odd feeling it's only going to get worse.

And, in the OP's case, it may be they want to see something as simple as "Will build and maintain website, go to signings and appearances and attend conventions to promote book." I don't think they want a whole big thing. If they do, then yeah, I'd think twice.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 10:24 PM
What they ARE getting--what any commercially-published author gets--is reliable distribution, review coverage, catalogues, some degree of print advertising, the publisher's sales force--the whole range of basic pre-publication marketing that's absolutely essential to exposure and sales.

Even if the author has to be pro-active with post-publication publicity, she can rely on that basic pre-publication marketing being done for her. A small-press-pubbed author can't count on either one. That's the real difference.

- Victoria

Actually, no. I asked. My publicist said this author's publisher said they would make sure exactly ONE review copy went to a magazine. One. I couldn't believe it. My jaw dropped actually. I thought it must be a mistake, but no. And this for an author who is actually selling well. Not off the charts, but well enough.

Now, she will be in the stores, which was what I said to her, which is the biggest thing.

And at my little press, I do get a certain amount of ARC's and they are sent out in advance of release. I haven't yet rated a review in any trades, but they were sent at least. We make the effort, but don't have the capital to do what the big guys do. It's the curse of small press.

Better than vanity :)

veinglory
01-17-2007, 10:37 PM
What it means depends on the publisher. I can be anything from 'we expect you to buy your own books and tour the country selling them at speaking engagements' to 'we are an epublisher--so please have a website even if it's just myspace'.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 11:18 PM
What it really, IMO, comes down to, is money. Are they asking you to put out cash.

Not for stuff like cons, because odds are you're probably going to enjoy going to those anyway (and if you're presenting or promting, it's a tax write-off), but money for stuff like advertising and mailers, etc...
Personally, I don't have a problem putting up a small amount of money for banner ads on places like MyShelf.com, or even an AW banner, but money for stuff like print ads is a little too much for me.

I do as much as I can for free. I mean, I pay for my website and such, but that's a normal thing, outside of the publisher.

victoriastrauss
01-17-2007, 11:26 PM
Actually, no. I asked. My publicist said this author's publisher said they would make sure exactly ONE review copy went to a magazine. One. I couldn't believe it.That is pretty unbelievable. Who's the publisher? With a policy like this, they are cutting their throats, not just the author's. One important measure of a publisher's marketing smarts/effectiveness is its ability to get its books reviewed in industry magazines.

We do get into an area of definition here, and that can be contentious. Since my baseline criteria is an ability to get books into stores, I suspect that my definition of an established independent publisher differs substantially from many other people's.

- Victoria

johnzakour
01-17-2007, 11:31 PM
I don't mind doing PR work for my books at all, but I still would be leery of a company that wanted a marketing plan as part as a submission.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 11:38 PM
I'm not totally certain, but if it's one of the clients I'm thinking of (we didn't discuss specifics) either Kensington, Dorchester or St. Martins'. Her three biggest 'name' clients are with them. She also has one with Triskelion, but they're not that big a press.

That's the reason those authors hire her. They're not getting the exposure they want from their publishers. (not, me she works for my publisher, so I lucked out)

veinglory
01-17-2007, 11:41 PM
I have done marketing plans for two publishers and gone on to be very happy with both (one epub, one academic press)--neither required me to pay any money or even leave my house. They seemed to want to see that I knew my target audience (and had one).

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 11:42 PM
I think that's most of what it is, VG. What books are you competing with, who is going to want to read your book.

I'm going back to Jenna's e-book, because she outlines this very well. I'm glad I re-found it, because she's got a great presentation.

I was still floored by the lack of help by that author's publisher though. I don't know what the reasoning behind it was, and I wish I did.

johnzakour
01-17-2007, 11:44 PM
That is pretty unbelievable. Who's the publisher? With a policy like this, they are cutting their throats, not just the author's. One important measure of a publisher's marketing smarts/effectiveness is its ability to get its books reviewed in industry magazines.



That doesn't make sense to me either, unless she meant they won't send multiple books to the same magazine. That I can see is these tight times.

veinglory
01-17-2007, 11:48 PM
I do think publishers asking for this should give a guide as to what they want, some basic headings and suggestions. Outside of certain non-fiction proposals the authors can't be expected to know what is required.

Christine N.
01-17-2007, 11:49 PM
Nope, she said the publisher said they would make sure she was reviewed in one mag. I can't imagine it either, and I'm wondering if that was the only one they would guarantee a review in, or whether that was the only one they were sending. This publicist works with a lot of Romance writers, so whether they were getting her a review in Romantic Times, which requires the reviewee to purchase an ad (which kinda rubs me the wrong way, but I don't write Romance) I don't know.

Sounds hinky, but she has quite a client list and it's growing, which says to me that more authors are taking matters into their own hands. And not just the self-pubbed or small press ones either - those three pubs I mentioned are not small potatoes, at least not Kensington and St. Martins'. I forget, is Dorchester a pay to play one? For some reason my brain has shut off on that.

Simon Woodhouse
01-17-2007, 11:50 PM
I don't baulk at the idea of having to try and help sell a few copies of my book, though if I was asked for a marketing plan I'd be a bit lost. Perhaps the publisher isn't expecting anything too flash, just something to show you've thought about marketing.

The publisher I'm with is a small press, and the head honcho there quite often tries to encourage her authors to do whatever they can to raise the profile of their books. Like many other fledgling authors, I purchased a domain name and set up my own website. Recently I've had a spot of luck with raising my profile. There's a new TV chef whose first series has just started on one of the Discovery channels in the UK, and his name is also Simon Woodhouse. Over the last couple of weeks traffic to my website has really picked up, with most people arriving via Google searches. All I can think of is people are searching for the other Simon Woodhouse, and finding me. But every little helps. I also seem to get a disproportionately large number of visitors from Norway.

victoriastrauss
01-18-2007, 12:04 AM
I'm not totally certain, but if it's one of the clients I'm thinking of (we didn't discuss specifics) either Kensington, Dorchester or St. Martins'. Her three biggest 'name' clients are with them. She also has one with Triskelion, but they're not that big a press.My bet would be that it was Triskelion, which seems to be primarily an epublisher. Maybe I'm delusional, but I find it inconceivable that St. Martin's would send out only one review copy. Dorchester and Kensington do a lot of mass market; review venues for mass market are fewer than for trade paperback or hardcover, but even so, there are quite a few, and it's hard for me to imagine these publishers sending out just one review copy either. Or is it maybe a genre with a very restricted readership, such as erotica? I can imagine that there wouldn't be so many review venues for that. Even so, one review copy seems insane.

One of my books was reviewed in Romantic Times. I did not have to buy an ad (not sure if my publisher did).

- Victoria

Christine N.
01-18-2007, 12:28 AM
I asked; there's no reviews in RT without an ad. At least that's what my info tells me. I'd bet your pub purchased the ad.

veinglory
01-18-2007, 12:35 AM
Although it is not stated in so many words, small presses/small press authors need to buy an add to get a (not guaranteed) chance of a review (m/m ads are taken but books are not reviewed, for example). I believe that major presses do not suffer under this constraint. Which probably explains why there are so many ads for small presses and epubs in RT.

Christine N.
01-18-2007, 12:45 AM
See, that's what I thought too, that there were some 'no-ad' reviews. I think my publicist has it wrong. Anyway, the whole thing reeks to me, but I guess that's how RT keeps down the amount of small press reviews they have to do.

veinglory
01-18-2007, 12:52 AM
I am uneasy about it too--but saying as much in romance forums gets me pelted with blunt objects (and small furs) so I can only assume it is considered not abnormal for the genre.

johnzakour
01-18-2007, 01:16 AM
I asked; there's no reviews in RT without an ad. At least that's what my info tells me. I'd bet your pub purchased the ad.

My books somehow get reviewed there and I don't think Daw buys ads there. But I may be wrong. (I'm always shocked when they review mine as they are certainly not romance titles....)

Norman D Gutter
01-18-2007, 03:28 AM
Terry Whalin, formerly fiction acquisition editor with Howard Books and now a literary agent, discusses marketing by authors in his blog today.

http://terrywhalin.blogspot.com/2007/01/if-you-hate-marketing.html#comments

He has had other posts on marketing over the last several months.

johnzakour
01-18-2007, 04:58 AM
There is certainly nothing wrong with authors doing marketing, I just get a bit worried when publishers want a marketing plan to go with a submission.

Nicole_Gestalt
01-18-2007, 07:16 AM
Wow, thank you all for the vast amount of information.

I wasn't thinking of going with this publisher however the marketing plan part of the guidelines caught my eye and I wanted to know more.

I dont mind doing book signings, going out and meeting the readers, creating websites etc I'm perfectly happy to do all those and consider them to be just something you do as a writer.

As for who the publisher is I will look back through my records to see if I can find the url.

Thanks all again, I guess when a publisher is so open ended about what they want the best thing is to contact them directly and ask for more guidelines with regards to the actual plan.