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Invaluable Lessons in Book Marketing

By Dennis Meredith

Since Oxford published my book Explaining Research in February, I’ve learned a great deal about book marketing. And since the success of a book depends so critically on adept marketing, I’d like to share those lessons.

First of all, authors should always consider themselves critically important marketers of their own books. After all, it’s your book, so who else would know the most about it and care most about its success? Begin by assiduously filling out your publisher’s author questionnaire, supplying comprehensive information on the book description, unique features, newsworthy topics, audience, promotional targets, and sources for advance comment. Many departments, from marketing to sales, will use this information as a guide to their marketing efforts.

While your publisher will manage such marketing efforts as sales and distribution, sending review copies, and advertising, there are many marketing efforts you can make as well. The good news is that most of these are free or very inexpensive. Here are some marketing tips that I found most effective:

– Work with your publisher to notify your institution’s news office and professional associations about your book. The news office will likely do a news release and promote you to the media, while your associations may review on its website and in its publications. Also, notify internal publications such as the alumni magazine. They’ll likely review it.

– Offer to be a “media expert” on your topic. Volunteer to be listed on your institution’s list of people willing to talk to media, as well as in national experts directories such as Profnet, Help a Reporter Out, PitchRate and the AAAS Science Talk Experts Director & Speakers Service.

– Promote your book and drive sales at your publisher’s website by including your book’s information in your email signature, in talks and articles, and on your institutional web page.

– Blog about your subject by creating your own blog and by “guest blogging” on others’ blogs about your topic. For example, I’ve created the blog Research Explainer, in which I offer tips on communicating research. I’ve also found the blog useful in updating and expanding on the information in my book.

– Write articles and op eds about your book topic for professional and popular publications and Web sites. Make sure the author identification mentions your book.
Market on Amazon. Ask readers who like your book to write a positive review. Create an author page. See Amazon’s Author Central for information. Have your blog posts automatically feed to your author page. Ask Amazon top reviewers to review your book. See this guide to getting your books reviewed on Amazon.

– Give public and professional talks about your book’s subject, in which you mention the book. Work with your publisher to organize book sales at public talks.

– Distribute your talk on the Web as a narrated “slidecast” via such services as SlideShare or Slideboom. For example, my slidecast talk “Using Multimedia to Advance Your Research” has received more than 2,000 views.

– Track Web mentions of your book using Google Alerts. Such alerts will notify you of reviews of your book and other mentions.

– Offer to make “virtual” appearances using Skype. Buy a quality webcam, set up a well-lit area with a nice backdrop, and advertise your availability for video talks to seminars, classes, book clubs, and other groups of potential customers.

Importantly, before you even begin these efforts, give your publisher’s marketing contact a complete copy of your marketing plan, so your efforts will be coordinated with theirs. Also, they are the experts at marketing, and may well have suggestions and contacts to make your efforts more effective.

Finally, keep your marketing contact in the loop, letting him/her know about talks you’re giving, reviews, articles on your book, and other developments. Your marketing contact knows how to use such information to your book’s best advantage.

Dennis Meredith‘s career as a science communicator has included service at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has served on the executive board of the National Association of Science Writers, and has worked with science journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written thousands of news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

Recent Comments

  1. Shelley

    This is helpful, thanks.

    But as a writer, I like to be (a)quiet, (b)alone.

    Guess I’d better get over it!

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