Book Marketing 101: What Works and What Doesn’t

Part 1: Start with Great Content

This is the beginning of a series of posts I am calling, “Book Marketing 101: What Works and What Doesn’t.” I have wanted to write this series for a long time. There are so many opinions when it comes to marketing books. I certainly don’t have the last word on this topic, but I do have some experience.

A little boy reading a good book by flashlight

I have been involved in the book publishing industry for 30 years. My career has included working at three different publishers, serving as a marketing director, marketing VP, acquisitions editor, editor-in-chief, publisher, chief operating officer, and now, of course, chief executive officer. I was also a literary agent for six years and have written four books, including one that was on the New York Times bestsellers list for 28 weeks. I am currently writing a new book called, The How of Wow.I’ve been able to experience first and second-hand what works and, mostly, what doesn’t. But before I give my perspective on the various marketing tools and vehicles, I would like to set forth a few basic principles based on my own experience. These are generalizations and there are definitely exceptions to every rule. But I think these apply 95% of the time.

Let’s start with content. What does content have to do with marketing books? Everything.

Several years ago, when I was the publisher of Nelson Books, I had a button made for my staff. It said, “It’s the product, stupid.” I am still convinced that this is the most fundamental truth about publishing. It all starts by acquiring great manuscripts.

Great products make everyone’s job easier. When you have a great book, sales people want to sell it, producers want to book the author, bloggers want to post about it, and booksellers want to carry it.

But we have to be careful how we define “great product.” I am not referring to a book’s literary merit, scholarly research, or enduring value. Instead, I am talking about the book’s commercial viability.

As is the case in the movie business, what the reviewers like and what the general public likes are often two very different things. For example, I have heard many publishing insiders pan The Shack. And yet millions of readers love the book and have bought them by the caseload to pass onto their family and friends. The same could be said of numerous other books, including The Purpose Driven Life.

David Ogilvy, the advertising pioneer, once said, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” Why? Because it contributes to negative word-of-mouth. If the marketing induces people to try the product, and if the product doesn’t deliver what the consumer expects, then the product dies. This is true of consumer products, and it is true of books.

In the book publishing world, when a book is successful, the author usually gets the credit. Conversely, when the book fails, the publisher gets the blame. But I have seen the reverse happen many, many times. The publisher creates a good, perhaps even brilliant marketing plan, but the book doesn’t take off because the content is mediocre.

Again, the yardstick for measuring great content is not the author’s opinion of his own work. Most authors think their work is brilliant. The standard of success in commercial publishing is consumer acceptance and enthusiasm. If the public doesn’t like the book, as demonstrated by purchasing enough copies to recoup the publisher’s investment and enable him or her to make a reasonable profit, then the book is a failure.

Even in the best case scenario, the publisher’s marketing budget will only carry the book so far. The real goal is to ignite word-of-mouth marketing. When this happens, the book “sprouts legs” and begins to run on it’s own. If this doesn’t happen, then the book dies and the publisher moves onto the next project.

The dirty little secret of book publishing is that most books fail. Based on research I have seen through the years, something like 90% of all books published sell fewer than 5,000 copies. And by almost every commerical publisher’s standards, these books are failures. If this is accurate, then it means authors have a one-in-ten chance of being successful. These are tough odds.

But they are even tougher if the content is medicore. If the book is brilliant and the marketing plan is mediocre, the book can still succeed. But the reverse is rarely true. I have never seen brilliant marketing overcome a weak book. The publisher may get the book placed, but it will ultimately boomerang back in the form of returns.

The bottom line: Authors must write great manuscripts. Agents must represent great projects—and have the guts to tell their clients when they have missed the mark. Acquisitions editors must buy great books for their publishing houses. If they don’t do this, all the marketing in the world will not be sufficient to make the book successful.

Question: If you are an author or a publisher, are you willing to pay the price to create great content?
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  • http://flowerdust.net anne jackson

    timely. :) thank you.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I am absolutely willing to create a great book. I’m not one who automatically thinks my books are brilliant. I tend to spend time praying through my books, asking for His insight. And I also have my small critique group read my words. By the time it’s delivered to my publisher, the book has been through a lot of checks and balances.

    The frustration comes when you do feel you’ve created great content, but no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get it into consumer’s hands. When consumers get the book and love it, I am so excited! But figuring out how to make that kind of synergy happen has not been as simple as some would make it sound.

    Creating buzz is not easy.

    I rest in the lines of an old Keith Green song: “Just keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed, and He’ll take care of the rest.” That puts the responsibility on me to do my best at writing and marketing and publicity, but it also helps me to entrust the results of that hard work in God’s hands.

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com Maurilio Amorim

    Great insight Mike. The book has to deliver first and foremost. We have a saying at my company that mirrors your Ogilvy quote: “You can throw money on a bad idea and it will still be a bad idea.”

    Unfortunately even good authors sometimes fail to produce manuscripts that deliver. That’s often when the Publisher gets blamed for their failures.

  • http://flowerdust.net/ anne jackson

    timely. :) thank you.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com/ Mary DeMuth

    I am absolutely willing to create a great book. I'm not one who automatically thinks my books are brilliant. I tend to spend time praying through my books, asking for His insight. And I also have my small critique group read my words. By the time it's delivered to my publisher, the book has been through a lot of checks and balances.

    The frustration comes when you do feel you've created great content, but no matter what you do, you can't seem to get it into consumer's hands. When consumers get the book and love it, I am so excited! But figuring out how to make that kind of synergy happen has not been as simple as some would make it sound.

    Creating buzz is not easy.

    I rest in the lines of an old Keith Green song: "Just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed, and He'll take care of the rest." That puts the responsibility on me to do my best at writing and marketing and publicity, but it also helps me to entrust the results of that hard work in God's hands.

  • http://www.maurilioamorim.com/ Maurilio Amorim

    Great insight Mike. The book has to deliver first and foremost. We have a saying at my company that mirrors your Ogilvy quote: "You can throw money on a bad idea and it will still be a bad idea."

    Unfortunately even good authors sometimes fail to produce manuscripts that deliver. That's often when the Publisher gets blamed for their failures.

  • http://www.pokerleadership.com Raymond E. Foster

    I hope you keep up the posting on this topic – Seems like a no brainer – you got to have content before it will go anywhere. As a writer, damn, I have never sure, stuff I think is absolutely brillant the market sees as tepid, stuff I thought was pretty freaking simple, the market (readers) really likes.

    Would like to see you go more indepth about what AUTHORS can and should do to market.

  • http://www.pokerleadership.com/ Raymond E. Foster

    I hope you keep up the posting on this topic – Seems like a no brainer – you got to have content before it will go anywhere. As a writer, damn, I have never sure, stuff I think is absolutely brillant the market sees as tepid, stuff I thought was pretty freaking simple, the market (readers) really likes.

    Would like to see you go more indepth about what AUTHORS can and should do to market.

  • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

    No–absolutely not—as an author and sometimes publisher, I am not willing to pay the price to create great content. The price, as evidenced by The Shack, may require an author to throw the Bible out the window, forget the teachings of his childhood and ignore his own convictions. I refuse to accept that market viability is the only thing. Yes, it is important, but as authors we have a responsibility to not only give people what they want to read, but to do so without compromising on our responsibility to communicate the things they need to hear. For Christian authors, the heart of that should be the Word of God.

    • Joan Richardson

      Right on, brother! Frequently authors tickle the ears of readers. Words are powerful tools that declare truth or deception. Truth is pure; deception, tainted. Words well designed can artfully ensnare the naiive reader; conversely, they can clearly guide the honest seeker. Content matters because the Judge of all men stands at the door and discerns every idle word. We should take caution in writing and with integrity of heart please the Lord.

  • http://www.theexpertsedge.com/ Chrissy

    Question: If you are an author or a publisher, are you willing to pay the price to create great content?

    Answer: Yes, after reading The Expert’s Edge, by Ken Lizotte, I now know the holes that I need to fill in getting my book written for my audience I believe could benefit the most, because it will pay off in the long run.

    It essentially outlines a road map for successfully navigating your way from professional with pearls of wisdom to savvy expert / thought leader.

    In my opinion book marketing can work.

  • http://www.joetye.com Joe Tye

    It is important for the author, as for the entrepreneur, to know where he or she falls on the mission-market continuum. Michael Dell created a company that is primarily market-driven; they survey markets and pursue them. Steve Jobs created a company that is mission-driven; they don’t survey markets, they create markets. It is, of course, not always an either-or trade-off, but the mission-driven entrepreneur or author is usually taking a much bigger risk.

    As a personal vignette, several years ago I set out to write a simple self-help novelette on the ageless theme of tragedy-trial-triumph, but one of the characters kept insisting that she wanted to be a poet – and a mermaid to boot. “The Healing Tree” is now a self-published novel in which original poetry is woven throughout the story (www.Healing-Story.com). I will sell a lot fewer books, but I could not have let Maggie down. In this case, mission triumphed over market. Time will tell whether the mission eventually creates a market, but I would not trade the experience of having written the book for anything.

  • http://www.timothyfish.net/ Timothy Fish

    No–absolutely not—as an author and sometimes publisher, I am not willing to pay the price to create great content. The price, as evidenced by The Shack, may require an author to throw the Bible out the window, forget the teachings of his childhood and ignore his own convictions. I refuse to accept that market viability is the only thing. Yes, it is important, but as authors we have a responsibility to not only give people what they want to read, but to do so without compromising on our responsibility to communicate the things they need to hear. For Christian authors, the heart of that should be the Word of God.

    • Joan Richardson

      Right on, brother! Frequently authors tickle the ears of readers. Words are powerful tools that declare truth or deception. Truth is pure; deception, tainted. Words well designed can artfully ensnare the naiive reader; conversely, they can clearly guide the honest seeker. Content matters because the Judge of all men stands at the door and discerns every idle word. We should take caution in writing and with integrity of heart please the Lord.

  • http://www.jillsavage.org Jill Savage

    I’m looking forward to this series of posts–thank you for tackling the subject.

    As an author, I am willing to do what it takes to create great content. My books also go through alot of critique by the time I turn them into the publisher. But I would agree with Mary DeMuth that sometimes it is hard to get the book into the hands of the consumers.

    With my first book the publisher placed it in alot of secular bookstores and it took off. Other projects after that were only placed in Christian bookstores and they simply weren’t as available to the general public and they didn’t sell as well.

    I think it’s definitely a mix of responsibility between author and publisher.

  • http://www.theexpertsedge.com/ Chrissy

    Question: If you are an author or a publisher, are you willing to pay the price to create great content?

    Answer: Yes, after reading The Expert's Edge, by Ken Lizotte, I now know the holes that I need to fill in getting my book written for my audience I believe could benefit the most, because it will pay off in the long run.

    It essentially outlines a road map for successfully navigating your way from professional with pearls of wisdom to savvy expert / thought leader.

    In my opinion book marketing can work.

  • http://www.rickfrishman.com/ Rick Frishman

    Mr. Hyatt- What a wonderful post! Cant wait to read part 2. You tell it the way it is. I have promoted books for over 30 years. You hit it on the nose. Don’t expect your publisher to do the heavy lifting. You the author must take charge- and start 4 months before pub date! Yes – good content is first step- but you must promote, promote, promote-every day and don’t stop.
    It is easy to get lost with so many books coming out every day- but don’t give up.Listen to the master- Mike has got it right!

  • http://www.rickfrishman.com Rick Frishman

    Mr. Hyatt- What a wonderful post! Cant wait to read part 2. You tell it the way it is. I have promoted books for over 30 years. You hit it on the nose. Don’t expect your publisher to do the heavy lifting. You the author must take charge- and start 4 months before pub date! Yes – good content is first step- but you must promote, promote, promote-every day and don’t stop.
    It is easy to get lost with so many books coming out every day- but don’t give up.Listen to the master- Mike has got it right!

  • John Young

    It seems like when publishers sign a deal nothing stops a title from coming out even if the landscape has changed since it was agreed on a year before release. Let’s say you and Gail were building a house and it looked dandy on paper and suddenly the kitchen just wasn’t working. Would you stop, revise and redo the kitchen? Yup.

    In former times a pub with an unknown author had media relationships, sent out review copies and followed up consistantly even giving a sales pitch. Now it’s email blasts that may or may not get past junk filters and “marketing” is often waiting for someone to call for followup. Thank goodness other businesses aren’t this casual.

    Company’s get caught up in their “Brand authors” for most of the attention and a manuscript from an unknown like William Paul Young comes in with no agent and everybody passes. Then “The Shack” becomes a big seller and from business to leadership to many devotional books, customers tell me a lot of content looks the same.

    It might just seem tough because we’re living in post-Jabez, Left Behind, Purpose Driven days when multiple copy sales make it easy.
    But when Stephanie Meyer had 4 of the top 5 recently, I think we could agree, something is wrong with this picture.

    You’re on to something because without using the economy as an excuse, many would agree publishing content has just been rather uninteresting this year and we have the lack of sales to prove it.

    Maybe fresh starts will correct this with revised policies and people. Isn’t Nashville a city where many of the same people bounce from one publisher to the next without a lot of new people coming in?
    Maybe the old fact of having to know someone to get published is part of the problem.

    While authors work on content maybe publishers could work on context. Couldn’t hurt. A lot of opportunities to reach an audience was lost due to quantity of releases vs quality of product.

  • John Young

    It seems like when publishers sign a deal nothing stops a title from coming out even if the landscape has changed since it was agreed on a year before release. Let’s say you and Gail were building a house and it looked dandy on paper and suddenly the kitchen just wasn’t working. Would you stop, revise and redo the kitchen? Yup.

    In former times a pub with an unknown author had media relationships, sent out review copies and followed up consistantly even giving a sales pitch. Now it’s email blasts that may or may not get past junk filters and “marketing” is often waiting for someone to call for followup. Thank goodness other businesses aren’t this casual.

    Company’s get caught up in their “Brand authors” for most of the attention and a manuscript from an unknown like William Paul Young comes in with no agent and everybody passes. Then “The Shack” becomes a big seller and from business to leadership to many devotional books, customers tell me a lot of content looks the same.

    It might just seem tough because we’re living in post-Jabez, Left Behind, Purpose Driven days when multiple copy sales make it easy.
    But when Stephanie Meyer had 4 of the top 5 recently, I think we could agree, something is wrong with this picture.

    You’re on to something because without using the economy as an excuse, many would agree publishing content has just been rather uninteresting this year and we have the lack of sales to prove it.

    Maybe fresh starts will correct this with revised policies and people. Isn’t Nashville a city where many of the same people bounce from one publisher to the next without a lot of new people coming in?
    Maybe the old fact of having to know someone to get published is part of the problem.

    While authors work on content maybe publishers could work on context. Couldn’t hurt. A lot of opportunities to reach an audience was lost due to quantity of releases vs quality of product.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    I’ll be watching this series for sure, Mike! Another thing that helps create a great book is great editing. Editors are too often overlooked as one of the key pieces of that great book. Ami McConnell is the best. She’s worth being at TN for just to have her on my team! She’s willing to say the hard things even when it hurts us both. THAT’S a real editor!

  • http://www.joetye.com/ Joe Tye

    It is important for the author, as for the entrepreneur, to know where he or she falls on the mission-market continuum. Michael Dell created a company that is primarily market-driven; they survey markets and pursue them. Steve Jobs created a company that is mission-driven; they don't survey markets, they create markets. It is, of course, not always an either-or trade-off, but the mission-driven entrepreneur or author is usually taking a much bigger risk.

    As a personal vignette, several years ago I set out to write a simple self-help novelette on the ageless theme of tragedy-trial-triumph, but one of the characters kept insisting that she wanted to be a poet – and a mermaid to boot. "The Healing Tree" is now a self-published novel in which original poetry is woven throughout the story (www.Healing-Story.com). I will sell a lot fewer books, but I could not have let Maggie down. In this case, mission triumphed over market. Time will tell whether the mission eventually creates a market, but I would not trade the experience of having written the book for anything.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    I just realized how my previous post might have sounded and I KNOW my books aren’t the great novel. LOL But if any of us ever hope to write it one day, we need that great editor. :)

  • http://www.jillsavage.org/ Jill Savage

    I'm looking forward to this series of posts–thank you for tackling the subject.

    As an author, I am willing to do what it takes to create great content. My books also go through alot of critique by the time I turn them into the publisher. But I would agree with Mary DeMuth that sometimes it is hard to get the book into the hands of the consumers.

    With my first book the publisher placed it in alot of secular bookstores and it took off. Other projects after that were only placed in Christian bookstores and they simply weren't as available to the general public and they didn't sell as well.

    I think it's definitely a mix of responsibility between author and publisher.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15370430524377814234 Addie Owens-Donovan

    Personally, I never want to deliver a product that is mediocre. I would rather hear that what I have written is junk, than be strung out on the media clothes line and beaten like a pinata.
    It seems as though everyone has a book deal these days. I read today that Tia Tequila just “wrote” a book. I can’t imagine that being a book worth the paper it is written on. My hope is that publishers would stop feeding consumers junk. If they know it’s junk when it is first written, why publish it? Thank goodness for publishers like Thomas Nelson, who deliver a great product more often than not!

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    Allow me to be so bold as to speak for all publishers when I say this: Nothing fires up a marketing director more than an author or artist who is the most committed, hardest working person on the team.

    Conversely, nothing pours cold water on a marketing fire faster than the feeling that the publisher will have to “do it all.”

    While it is true that 90% of all books sell 5,000 or less, a successful book can be measured by just 15,000 units sold. That may not be enough to sustain a publisher relationship long term, but 5,000 to 15,000 can then easily become 30,000…or, 80,000.

    Most of the time, success can be the simple byproduct of the word of mouth that comes from one fan telling another. And I definitely believe the future of all publishing is going to amount to precisely that.

    It bears observing that Garrison Keillor retired from Prairie Home Companion because he felt no one cared — and then his overnight success happened. He actually had to un-retire to catch up with the tidal wave of “success!”

    The fact is, publishers relish authors who get their hands dirty and do what they can to find their own audience, whether the book company gets it or not. If an author wants a big marketing budget, then make your publisher feel like they are going to leave you hanging if they don’t do their part…because by golly you are doing your part REGARDLESS, and you won’t stop until it’s done.

    If the publisher won’t or can’t hire a publicist, YOU hire one. If they won’t buy the ads, offer to pay for some if they will get you their discount. Don’t know how to do email marketing? Ask your publisher for a good reference and for a fair price. Find someone who knows how to do it and get them working pronto.

    Let everyone feel the angst of not doing enough, and see how far the team will go to make sure you don’t fail alone.

    Successful brand marketing begins with the product, and the product is not a book or a record. It’s the author and artist, first, and last. And no matter who does what, the bottom line is this: YOU are the leader of your company.

    Ask yourself: Would you follow you?

    One of my heroes is Dave Ramsey, who started his career right over at Nelson. He’s still there hammering out top selling books and now does curriculum, web sites, television, radio, and anything else. No doubt you know Dave, so you ask yourself, do you think Dave is sitting around waiting for Nelson to do their thing so he can do his? No way. Dave is leading the entire charge, and his publisher is working like mad to keep up. Not too long ago Dave was a total unknown outside of Nashville. He’s on Fox News almost as much as Neil Cavuto now. The man personifies his brand; His books simply reflect his leadership.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com/ Colleen Coble

    I'll be watching this series for sure, Mike! Another thing that helps create a great book is great editing. Editors are too often overlooked as one of the key pieces of that great book. Ami McConnell is the best. She's worth being at TN for just to have her on my team! She's willing to say the hard things even when it hurts us both. THAT'S a real editor!

  • http://www.colleencoble.com/ Colleen Coble

    I just realized how my previous post might have sounded and I KNOW my books aren't the great novel. LOL But if any of us ever hope to write it one day, we need that great editor. :)

  • http://blog.publishedandprofitable.com Roger C. Parker

    Your post, and its emphasis on content, is very refreshing. I, too, will be watching the series unfold and recommending it to others.

    I agree with your emphasis on content as the generator of reader satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations, but your emphasis on content raises numerous questions that I mentioned in my Published & Profitable blog.

    For example, how can “reader satisfaction” be quantified and optimized before the printing presses are turned on?

    Another question is, “How long can authors and publishers wait for a book’s Tipping Point?” Are there things that can speed-up word of mouth recommendations?

    Thank you and congratulations on what I hope will be a long and provocative dialog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15370430524377814234 Addie Owens-Donovan

    Personally, I never want to deliver a product that is mediocre. I would rather hear that what I have written is junk, than be strung out on the media clothes line and beaten like a pinata.
    It seems as though everyone has a book deal these days. I read today that Tia Tequila just "wrote" a book. I can't imagine that being a book worth the paper it is written on. My hope is that publishers would stop feeding consumers junk. If they know it's junk when it is first written, why publish it? Thank goodness for publishers like Thomas Nelson, who deliver a great product more often than not!

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    Allow me to be so bold as to speak for all publishers when I say this: Nothing fires up a marketing director more than an author or artist who is the most committed, hardest working person on the team.

    Conversely, nothing pours cold water on a marketing fire faster than the feeling that the publisher will have to "do it all."

    While it is true that 90% of all books sell 5,000 or less, a successful book can be measured by just 15,000 units sold. That may not be enough to sustain a publisher relationship long term, but 5,000 to 15,000 can then easily become 30,000…or, 80,000.

    Most of the time, success can be the simple byproduct of the word of mouth that comes from one fan telling another. And I definitely believe the future of all publishing is going to amount to precisely that.

    It bears observing that Garrison Keillor retired from Prairie Home Companion because he felt no one cared — and then his overnight success happened. He actually had to un-retire to catch up with the tidal wave of "success!"

    The fact is, publishers relish authors who get their hands dirty and do what they can to find their own audience, whether the book company gets it or not. If an author wants a big marketing budget, then make your publisher feel like they are going to leave you hanging if they don't do their part…because by golly you are doing your part REGARDLESS, and you won't stop until it's done.

    If the publisher won't or can't hire a publicist, YOU hire one. If they won't buy the ads, offer to pay for some if they will get you their discount. Don't know how to do email marketing? Ask your publisher for a good reference and for a fair price. Find someone who knows how to do it and get them working pronto.

    Let everyone feel the angst of not doing enough, and see how far the team will go to make sure you don't fail alone.

    Successful brand marketing begins with the product, and the product is not a book or a record. It's the author and artist, first, and last. And no matter who does what, the bottom line is this: YOU are the leader of your company.

    Ask yourself: Would you follow you?

    One of my heroes is Dave Ramsey, who started his career right over at Nelson. He's still there hammering out top selling books and now does curriculum, web sites, television, radio, and anything else. No doubt you know Dave, so you ask yourself, do you think Dave is sitting around waiting for Nelson to do their thing so he can do his? No way. Dave is leading the entire charge, and his publisher is working like mad to keep up. Not too long ago Dave was a total unknown outside of Nashville. He's on Fox News almost as much as Neil Cavuto now. The man personifies his brand; His books simply reflect his leadership.

  • http://www.lynnsquire.com/ Lynn Squire

    I am willing to write to the best of my ability as unto the Lord – and to continue to learn and grow so that my ability becomes greater. However, because I would write as unto the Lord, does not guarantee that what I would write will be what readers want to read.

    Personally, I believe that most readers just want “their ears tickled” and to be entertained. There is a place for entertainment, especially when the focus of such is to glorify God, but to write merely to gain readership is equivalent to coveting. And truthfully, I don’t believe this is the only nor the primary goal of most, if not all, Christian publishers (I believe most have the heart to edify Christians). In today’s market, is it possible to publish life-changing works like “Pilgrim’s Progress”; “In His Steps”; “Redeeming Love”, and other classics? These books can still be found in bookstores, but if an unknown author wrote such books, would they get published today and would they gain readership in today’s market?

    I’m looking forward to this series.

  • http://www.lynnsquire.com Lynn Squire

    I am willing to write to the best of my ability as unto the Lord – and to continue to learn and grow so that my ability becomes greater. However, because I would write as unto the Lord, does not guarantee that what I would write will be what readers want to read.

    Personally, I believe that most readers just want “their ears tickled” and to be entertained. There is a place for entertainment, especially when the focus of such is to glorify God, but to write merely to gain readership is equivalent to coveting. And truthfully, I don’t believe this is the only nor the primary goal of most, if not all, Christian publishers (I believe most have the heart to edify Christians). In today’s market, is it possible to publish life-changing works like “Pilgrim’s Progress”; “In His Steps”; “Redeeming Love”, and other classics? These books can still be found in bookstores, but if an unknown author wrote such books, would they get published today and would they gain readership in today’s market?

    I’m looking forward to this series.

  • http://blog.publishedandprofitable.com/ Roger C. Parker

    Your post, and its emphasis on content, is very refreshing. I, too, will be watching the series unfold and recommending it to others.

    I agree with your emphasis on content as the generator of reader satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations, but your emphasis on content raises numerous questions that I mentioned in my Published & Profitable blog.

    For example, how can "reader satisfaction" be quantified and optimized before the printing presses are turned on?

    Another question is, "How long can authors and publishers wait for a book's Tipping Point?" Are there things that can speed-up word of mouth recommendations?

    Thank you and congratulations on what I hope will be a long and provocative dialog.

  • Cezar Elmi

    How can an artist become a marketing expert without the help of a marketing expert? It is a totally different business. The publishers, agents and publicits are the experts and it is their job to sort out good works from the bad. Their recommendations based on their experience is like gold to the author. The publisher can sell alot of books just by asking their best selling clients to comment on it. I don’t think it is as hard as many say it is as long as people are buying books. If they are not, then that’s a totaly different argument. Also, it is a shame the way some of these so called “Christian agents” treat the unknown author as if he or she is better off knocking on someone elses’ door. Let them try pouring sweat and blood on a project for five years.

  • Cezar Elmi

    How can an artist become a marketing expert without the help of a marketing expert? It is a totally different business. The publishers, agents and publicits are the experts and it is their job to sort out good works from the bad. Their recommendations based on their experience is like gold to the author. The publisher can sell alot of books just by asking their best selling clients to comment on it. I don't think it is as hard as many say it is as long as people are buying books. If they are not, then that's a totaly different argument. Also, it is a shame the way some of these so called "Christian agents" treat the unknown author as if he or she is better off knocking on someone elses' door. Let them try pouring sweat and blood on a project for five years.

  • David in Nashville

    Michael

    Thank you for the insight into the industry.

    I wonder what thoughts of “markteting” were on their minds as some of the greatest writers ever penned their thoughts in the “greatest book ever written.”…God’s Holy Book.

    Personally, I doubt that merketing ever crossed their minds as they poured their hearts and souls out to their brothers and sisters and closest loved ones as the Holy Spirit gave unction.

    Praise God…He provided pen and paper or whatever was necessary to record these heartfelt words and preserve them for generation after generation.

    I guess it gets to the core when asking yourself these questions:
    “Why am I writing this anyway?”
    “Who is my real audience?”
    “Should I write it if it will not sell?”

    How many authors penned “The Good Book?”

    Praise God…each of them had the greatest marketer and publisher that ever lived…God himself and His Holy Spirit.

    Where would we be today if some marketing consultant or publisher rejected those “letters of love” written to the ones they cared about most?

  • David in Nashville

    Michael

    Thank you for the insight into the industry.

    I wonder what thoughts of "markteting" were on their minds as some of the greatest writers ever penned their thoughts in the "greatest book ever written."…God's Holy Book.

    Personally, I doubt that merketing ever crossed their minds as they poured their hearts and souls out to their brothers and sisters and closest loved ones as the Holy Spirit gave unction.

    Praise God…He provided pen and paper or whatever was necessary to record these heartfelt words and preserve them for generation after generation.

    I guess it gets to the core when asking yourself these questions:
    "Why am I writing this anyway?"
    "Who is my real audience?"
    "Should I write it if it will not sell?"

    How many authors penned "The Good Book?"

    Praise God…each of them had the greatest marketer and publisher that ever lived…God himself and His Holy Spirit.

    Where would we be today if some marketing consultant or publisher rejected those "letters of love" written to the ones they cared about most?

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @David:

    Actually, I think there was a kind of “market acceptance” in the process of the church recognizing those works as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Scores of books were written in the first three centuries that claimed to be inspired. Some were heretical, some merely edifying, a few actually inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    It wasn’t until 367 AD that we find the first listing of the books in the New Testament canon. This was in large part a listing of the books that Christians everywhere had begun to acknowledge as different (or holy) than other writings.

    Books that were not inspired didn’t have to be banned. They just didn’t gain any traction with the early Christians.

    So again, I think the audience ultimately recognizes great writing and rewards it by reading it, promoting it via word-of-mouth, and keeping it in print.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @David:

    Actually, I think there was a kind of “market acceptance” in the process of the church recognizing those works as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Scores of books were written in the first three centuries that claimed to be inspired. Some were heretical, some merely edifying, a few actually inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    It wasn’t until 367 AD that we find the first listing of the books in the New Testament canon. This was in large part a listing of the books that Christians everywhere had begun to acknowledge as different (or holy) than other writings.

    Books that were not inspired didn’t have to be banned. They just didn’t gain any traction with the early Christians.

    So again, I think the audience ultimately recognizes great writing and rewards it by reading it, promoting it via word-of-mouth, and keeping it in print.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

      Interesting. Never thought of it like that.

  • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

    Great post! Here are two comments I want to highlight.

    Mike Rapp said: “Most of the time, success can be the simple byproduct of the word of mouth that comes from one fan telling another. And I definitely believe the future of all publishing is going to amount to precisely that.”

    Roger Parker wrote: “Are there things that can speed-up word of mouth recommendations?”

    Assuming great content, Mike, how *can* a publisher and author together encourage word of mouth?

    I have some strong ideas (patent pending) on this subject, but I’m waiting until I have an agent to share them with a publisher.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Great post! Here are two comments I want to highlight.

    Mike Rapp said: “Most of the time, success can be the simple byproduct of the word of mouth that comes from one fan telling another. And I definitely believe the future of all publishing is going to amount to precisely that.”

    Roger Parker wrote: “Are there things that can speed-up word of mouth recommendations?”

    Assuming great content, Mike, how *can* a publisher and author together encourage word of mouth?

    I have some strong ideas (patent pending) on this subject, but I’m waiting until I have an agent to share them with a publisher.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

  • http://cjdarlington.blogspot.com/ C.J. Darlington

    Thanks so much for doing these posts. I am listening carefully. I want to be the best author I can be, and I appreciate this first principle—write a great product. Sometimes that’s overlooked, and it encourages me to keep honing my craft and never settle.

  • http://cjdarlington.blogspot.com C.J. Darlington

    Thanks so much for doing these posts. I am listening carefully. I want to be the best author I can be, and I appreciate this first principle—write a great product. Sometimes that’s overlooked, and it encourages me to keep honing my craft and never settle.

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com Larry Shallenberger

    @Timothy Fish,

    Come on, The Shack’s theology (such as it is)didn’t make it a great product. It was great story telling.

    Remember how Christians flinched when the DaVinci Code and the Golden Compass came to the big screen? Those movies had no traction in our culture because the movie version of the product stunk.

    The idea that you can’t write a great product without compromising your understanding of scripture is a cop out.

  • g wagner

    Totally agree this is the rule of thumb and the ultimate goal. The fact is however, sometimes “stupid” things work. Like “low cut jeans”, “no-payment plans”.
    Consumers are fickle. I have won awards for projects we all thought were great yet at the end of the day…the consumer said, “No”.
    Product development and marketing is not for the weak at heart. It takes marketing intelligence and meeting needs, and lots of prayer. Maybe if we spend more on last, we would see better results. Most of the time it’s a continuous practice with lots of errors.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Thanks, Mike, for this blog. I love books. I love marketing. And I love great products. It wasn’t until I started reading Al Ries that I realized what a waste of money many advertising dollars can be. There’s something to be said about a marketing dept. that invests some of its budget into product development. I love that “fail faster” quote, by the way.

    Regarding David’s comment about the Bible, I think that this only supports Michael’s point that ultimately great products succeed and poor products don’t. Given that so many people’s lives have been changed by the Bible, you can’t argue with a billion testimonials. So, in a sense, the Bible is one of the best-marketed books out there and has been using millenia-old tactics of word-of-mouth appeal that are now just beginning to become cutting-edge in the book industry.

    Amazing, if you ask me.

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com/ Larry Shallenberger

    @Timothy Fish,

    Come on, The Shack's theology (such as it is)didn't make it a great product. It was great story telling.

    Remember how Christians flinched when the DaVinci Code and the Golden Compass came to the big screen? Those movies had no traction in our culture because the movie version of the product stunk.

    The idea that you can't write a great product without compromising your understanding of scripture is a cop out.

  • g wagner

    Totally agree this is the rule of thumb and the ultimate goal. The fact is however, sometimes "stupid" things work. Like "low cut jeans", "no-payment plans".
    Consumers are fickle. I have won awards for projects we all thought were great yet at the end of the day…the consumer said, "No".
    Product development and marketing is not for the weak at heart. It takes marketing intelligence and meeting needs, and lots of prayer. Maybe if we spend more on last, we would see better results. Most of the time it's a continuous practice with lots of errors.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/ Jeff Goins

    Thanks, Mike, for this blog. I love books. I love marketing. And I love great products. It wasn't until I started reading Al Ries that I realized what a waste of money many advertising dollars can be. There's something to be said about a marketing dept. that invests some of its budget into product development. I love that "fail faster" quote, by the way.

    Regarding David's comment about the Bible, I think that this only supports Michael's point that ultimately great products succeed and poor products don't. Given that so many people's lives have been changed by the Bible, you can't argue with a billion testimonials. So, in a sense, the Bible is one of the best-marketed books out there and has been using millenia-old tactics of word-of-mouth appeal that are now just beginning to become cutting-edge in the book industry.

    Amazing, if you ask me.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulmerrill/ Paul Merrill

    LOVE the photo – brought back some fond memories.

  • Mary

    @Cezar Elmi – Jack Canfield gives lots of tips to do exactly that in his book The Success Principles. I’m not a writer – just a book lover – but I noticed lots of marketing tips for writers when I read Canfield’s book.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/paulmerrill/ Paul Merrill

    LOVE the photo – brought back some fond memories.

  • Mary

    @Cezar Elmi – Jack Canfield gives lots of tips to do exactly that in his book The Success Principles. I'm not a writer – just a book lover – but I noticed lots of marketing tips for writers when I read Canfield's book.

  • http://www.sowowme.com/ David DeLozier

    Michael,
    “Start with Great Content” is a great post. Thanks for sharing your insights on this blog; I look forward to reading other posts in your “Marketing 101″ series. I discovered early in my career there is a direct relationship between how much marketing a product needs and how well it has been designed. If something is truly remarkable, it sells itself. If it requires gimmicks and crafty campaigns, something is inherently flawed in the product. I spent years in real estate development, and for that industry, this principle translates into great architecture. Great books are no different. People know immediately when they’re looking at a beautiful building , just like they can tell after about five sentences whether a story is well told or not. Here’s to the pursuit of great content – something worth saying, said well.
    David DeLozier

  • http://www.sowowme.com David DeLozier

    Michael,
    “Start with Great Content” is a great post. Thanks for sharing your insights on this blog; I look forward to reading other posts in your “Marketing 101″ series. I discovered early in my career there is a direct relationship between how much marketing a product needs and how well it has been designed. If something is truly remarkable, it sells itself. If it requires gimmicks and crafty campaigns, something is inherently flawed in the product. I spent years in real estate development, and for that industry, this principle translates into great architecture. Great books are no different. People know immediately when they’re looking at a beautiful building , just like they can tell after about five sentences whether a story is well told or not. Here’s to the pursuit of great content – something worth saying, said well.
    David DeLozier

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    Mary is right, the results must absolutely be placed in God’s hands or we would go crazy after giving our all and falling into that 90%, or into the numbers of the unpublished. Timothy, since the question about “good” content came from Mike, I already assume we speak of content inviolate of God’s Word.

    … are you willing to pay the price to create good content?

    Mike, what author would answer “no” to your question, even after thoughtful consideration? We are driven by an intimate yet not fully understood force that compels us to write, and to be heard at any price. Exactly what is that price?

    An author of historical fiction, I pride myself on meticulous research and uncompromising attention to factual detail (no matter the effort to track down information) and of performing endless re-writes to conform to newly discovered tidbits.

    But I’m constantly frustrated by time diverted to research on marketing and platform. Tribes languishes unread on my nightstand. Your many valuable tips remain unimplemented because the learning curve to use the available technology will cost time I can only give at the cost of excellence in writing. I failed to locate it in your archives, but didn’t you recommend that we focus on what we do best and allow others to perform tasks at which we don’t excel? How is this done without deep pockets?

    Authors are willing to pay the price to create a good product, but isn’t far more asked of us from publishing?

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    Mary is right, the results must absolutely be placed in God’s hands or we would go crazy after giving our all and falling into that 90%, or into the numbers of the unpublished. Timothy, since the question about “good” content came from Mike, I already assume we speak of content inviolate of God’s Word.

    … are you willing to pay the price to create good content?

    Mike, what author would answer “no” to your question, even after thoughtful consideration? We are driven by an intimate yet not fully understood force that compels us to write, and to be heard at any price. Exactly what is that price?

    An author of historical fiction, I pride myself on meticulous research and uncompromising attention to factual detail (no matter the effort to track down information) and of performing endless re-writes to conform to newly discovered tidbits.

    But I’m constantly frustrated by time diverted to research on marketing and platform. Tribes languishes unread on my nightstand. Your many valuable tips remain unimplemented because the learning curve to use the available technology will cost time I can only give at the cost of excellence in writing. I failed to locate it in your archives, but didn’t you recommend that we focus on what we do best and allow others to perform tasks at which we don’t excel? How is this done without deep pockets?

    Authors are willing to pay the price to create a good product, but isn’t far more asked of us from publishing?

  • http://www.publishedauthors.net/robsargeant Rob Sargeant

    Christ said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” When I decide to write a book, I write it from my heart, with a passion, mindful of this truth. This passion carries me through the whole process, and helps to keep me focused while doing the research and rewrites. I believe that books written with this kind of passion will have good word-of-mouth. In all honesty though, I think God is more concerned with developing my character into a holier one, than he is with making me a successful author.

  • http://sharonlavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    Thank you for the post. I eagerly await the next in the series.

  • http://sharonlavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    PS what are you doing peeking into my grandsons windows LOL.

  • http://www.kimmirich.wordpress.com Kimmi

    Hi, Michael I look forward to more of these posts.

    As a debut author, I’m committed to being extremely proactive with every aspect of my book–especially marketing. And I never forget: writing was only half way there–I must now kick in with the second half; promoting. And I’m finding it a 24/7 job, not for the faint of heart. But I’ve been rewarded by many great people coming in and offering support, from filmakers, award winning authors, journalists, media and huge advocate groups.

    And I am most grateful, and realize the blessings as I couldn’t afford a big publicist.

    But, but but, I work very hard and have, I feel, earned.

  • http://www.publishedauthors.net/robsargeant Rob Sargeant

    Christ said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing." When I decide to write a book, I write it from my heart, with a passion, mindful of this truth. This passion carries me through the whole process, and helps to keep me focused while doing the research and rewrites. I believe that books written with this kind of passion will have good word-of-mouth. In all honesty though, I think God is more concerned with developing my character into a holier one, than he is with making me a successful author.

  • http://sharonlavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    Thank you for the post. I eagerly await the next in the series.

  • http://sharonlavy.blogspot.com/ Sharon A Lavy

    PS what are you doing peeking into my grandsons windows LOL.

  • http://www.kimmirich.wordpress.com/ Kimmi

    Hi, Michael I look forward to more of these posts.

    As a debut author, I'm committed to being extremely proactive with every aspect of my book–especially marketing. And I never forget: writing was only half way there–I must now kick in with the second half; promoting. And I'm finding it a 24/7 job, not for the faint of heart. But I've been rewarded by many great people coming in and offering support, from filmakers, award winning authors, journalists, media and huge advocate groups.

    And I am most grateful, and realize the blessings as I couldn't afford a big publicist.

    But, but but, I work very hard and have, I feel, earned.

  • http://www.donnapartow.com/ Donna Partow

    Mike, the best insight you ever gave me was this rule of thumb: it’s the publisher’s job to get 10,000 copies of the book into readers’ hands. It’s up to the book (content) to do the rest.

    Once my publisher has put forth their best effort to get 10,000 books circulating (which they have done in the case of most of my 26 books), if the book doesn’t take off, I blame the book and the woman in the mirror.

    In those instances where the publisher failed to get the first 10,000 copies out the door, I think they felt short of a first-class effort.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more on this topic.

    Blessings
    Donna Partow

  • http://www.donnapartow.com Donna Partow

    Mike, the best insight you ever gave me was this rule of thumb: it’s the publisher’s job to get 10,000 copies of the book into readers’ hands. It’s up to the book (content) to do the rest.

    Once my publisher has put forth their best effort to get 10,000 books circulating (which they have done in the case of most of my 26 books), if the book doesn’t take off, I blame the book and the woman in the mirror.

    In those instances where the publisher failed to get the first 10,000 copies out the door, I think they felt short of a first-class effort.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more on this topic.

    Blessings
    Donna Partow

  • http://www.donnapartow.com Donna Partow

    Mike, the best insight you ever gave me was this rule of thumb: it’s the publisher’s job to get 10,000 copies of the book into readers’ hands. It’s up to the book (content) to do the rest.

    Once my publisher has put forth their best effort to get 10,000 books circulating (which they have done in the case of most of my 26 books), if the book doesn’t take off, I blame the book and the woman in the mirror.

    In those instances where the publisher failed to get the first 10,000 copies out the door, I think they felt short of a first-class effort.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more on this topic.

    Blessings
    Donna Partow

  • http://www.donnapartow.com/ Donna Partow

    Mike, the best insight you ever gave me was this rule of thumb: it's the publisher's job to get 10,000 copies of the book into readers' hands. It's up to the book (content) to do the rest.

    Once my publisher has put forth their best effort to get 10,000 books circulating (which they have done in the case of most of my 26 books), if the book doesn't take off, I blame the book and the woman in the mirror.

    In those instances where the publisher failed to get the first 10,000 copies out the door, I think they felt short of a first-class effort.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more on this topic.

    Blessings
    Donna Partow

  • Larry Stone

    Right on! Great marketing starts with a “great” book. But like beauty, “great” is in the eye of the beholder. That’s where the role of the publisher becomes so important.

    It’s the publisher’s job to choose manuscripts for which the publisher knows (1) there is an identifiable market and (2) the publisher can effectively and efficiently reach that market.

    “Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross” is a $35 book that I think has sold well in excess of 100,000 copies. It’s certainly “commercially viable.” But I doubt Pantheon (publisher of “Mythology”) would have a clue what to do with a book by Charles Stanley and I doubt Thomas Nelson would have a clue what to do with “Mythology.”

    Successful book publishing is a partnership with an author and publisher working together.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/RachelHauck/ Rachel Hauck

    Wow, great post and by the time I read through the comments to post my own, I forgot the question.

    Yeah, I’m tired. :)

    First of all, ditto to Colleen’s comments on Ami McConnell. She is insightful, smart, encouraging, a writer’s friend. I love her unique approach to editing and relating to authors.

    As to the question, are you willing to pay the price…

    I’m always listening, looking, praying for ideas. My husband warns people, “Everything you say and do may end up in one of Rachel’s books.”

    I research a ton so I can create an authentic feel for the setting, dialog and characters. I called my husband once to ask how long h.s. football practices last so I could get the right hour in a line of dialog.

    (And research is not my fav thing. But authentic dialog is… )

    Currently I’m on my twelfth, twelve-hour-day rewriting and editing my current manuscript due “any day now.”

    I missed a Christmas dinner. My back hurts, my legs cramp, my eyes are blurry and I’m positive I gained about five pounds but I’m too chicken to get on the scale.

    I want this book to be all it can be. I’m constantly thinking and editing, rewriting. Asking, “why.” I call friends to brainstorm.

    I rarely think my work is brilliant. More like “ill” than “br” and “ant.”

    (enter Ami Mac! to the rescue!)

    One Sunday, I sat fifteen hours in a chair to finish a ms. I wrote about 10K words.

    I’ve spent money to promote a new release instead of buying a new computer.

    I dialog with Jesus over every book, the story line, the plot, asking what’s in His heart. What does He want to tell?

    If the characters are in my heart, and I’m in Christ, then so are my characters.

    I go to writer’s conferences to learn and network.

    I made twice as much money in my corp job as I do as a writer.

    Yet, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I absolutely love what I do and know that I know that I know God has brought me to this place. He’s put this on my heart.

    If I am any success at all, it’s because of Him. Even in my failings, I lean and learn.

    Writing is deeply satisfying. The price is worth it.

    I suppose there’s always more I can and should be doing. I’m not even sure all the things I listed create great content or a great product, but I am willing, I am willing.

    Rachel

  • Larry Stone

    Right on! Great marketing starts with a "great" book. But like beauty, "great" is in the eye of the beholder. That's where the role of the publisher becomes so important.

    It's the publisher's job to choose manuscripts for which the publisher knows (1) there is an identifiable market and (2) the publisher can effectively and efficiently reach that market.

    "Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross" is a $35 book that I think has sold well in excess of 100,000 copies. It's certainly "commercially viable." But I doubt Pantheon (publisher of "Mythology") would have a clue what to do with a book by Charles Stanley and I doubt Thomas Nelson would have a clue what to do with "Mythology."

    Successful book publishing is a partnership with an author and publisher working together.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/RachelHauck/ Rachel Hauck

    Wow, great post and by the time I read through the comments to post my own, I forgot the question.

    Yeah, I'm tired. :)

    First of all, ditto to Colleen's comments on Ami McConnell. She is insightful, smart, encouraging, a writer's friend. I love her unique approach to editing and relating to authors.

    As to the question, are you willing to pay the price…

    I'm always listening, looking, praying for ideas. My husband warns people, "Everything you say and do may end up in one of Rachel's books."

    I research a ton so I can create an authentic feel for the setting, dialog and characters. I called my husband once to ask how long h.s. football practices last so I could get the right hour in a line of dialog.

    (And research is not my fav thing. But authentic dialog is… )

    Currently I'm on my twelfth, twelve-hour-day rewriting and editing my current manuscript due "any day now."

    I missed a Christmas dinner. My back hurts, my legs cramp, my eyes are blurry and I'm positive I gained about five pounds but I'm too chicken to get on the scale.

    I want this book to be all it can be. I'm constantly thinking and editing, rewriting. Asking, "why." I call friends to brainstorm.

    I rarely think my work is brilliant. More like "ill" than "br" and "ant."

    (enter Ami Mac! to the rescue!)

    One Sunday, I sat fifteen hours in a chair to finish a ms. I wrote about 10K words.

    I've spent money to promote a new release instead of buying a new computer.

    I dialog with Jesus over every book, the story line, the plot, asking what's in His heart. What does He want to tell?

    If the characters are in my heart, and I'm in Christ, then so are my characters.

    I go to writer's conferences to learn and network.

    I made twice as much money in my corp job as I do as a writer.

    Yet, I can't see myself doing anything else. I absolutely love what I do and know that I know that I know God has brought me to this place. He's put this on my heart.

    If I am any success at all, it's because of Him. Even in my failings, I lean and learn.

    Writing is deeply satisfying. The price is worth it.

    I suppose there's always more I can and should be doing. I'm not even sure all the things I listed create great content or a great product, but I am willing, I am willing.

    Rachel

  • http://theauthorsedge.com Chris Simeral

    Absolutely dead-on accurate post.

    Great marketing can never save a bad book (or product). What’s a real shame, though, are all the great books out there that could bring real value and touch lives that fail because of bad marketing.

    I put together a special report on my online book marketing site that talks about some of the ways authors should be marketing themselves and their work today — in the age of Twitter and Facebook, Squidoo and YouTube.

    Some of the methods may have changed, but the one thing that hasn’t, as you point out, is the need to have great CONTENT in the first place.

  • http://theauthorsedge.com/ Chris Simeral

    Absolutely dead-on accurate post.

    Great marketing can never save a bad book (or product). What's a real shame, though, are all the great books out there that could bring real value and touch lives that fail because of bad marketing.

    I put together a special report on my online book marketing site that talks about some of the ways authors should be marketing themselves and their work today — in the age of Twitter and Facebook, Squidoo and YouTube.

    Some of the methods may have changed, but the one thing that hasn't, as you point out, is the need to have great CONTENT in the first place.

  • http://thebookishdilettante.com Kat Meyer

    Hi Michael: That’s a fantastic post. As a book marketing consultant, I work with many self-published authors who come to me late in the game (that is, after they have had their book published) to seek promotional and marketing advice. The unfortunate truth for many of these indie authors is, they don’t have a quality “product” to market, and w/out that it’s truly a losing proposition.

    As the tools of publishing and distributing a book become more accessible and easy to utilize, it’s increasingly going to be those who possess the talents required to shape and produce a marketable book who will be making or breaking a book’s success — for both traditionally and for non-traditionally published books.

    In the world of traditionally published books, the role of agents and editors (or at least their perceived role) is also changing from that of gatekeeper to that of curator — shepherding the best writing into the hands of the skilled developmental editors, copyeditors, designers, illustrators, production managers, and sales and marketing personnel whose work to optimize the book gives it a fighting chance in a crowded marketplace.

    For self-published authors seeking to play in that same market, having similar talent and skills behind their own books is vital. And, for all books – that’s just the basic requirement to get into the game.

    Beautiful, well-made books are not easy to come by. Neither traditional nor indie-minded authors should ever allow their hard work to fail as a result of poor editing or design.

    And as for marketing — that’s a whole other ball of wax!

    Thanks again for the post, Michael. I look forward to reading Part II. And for those who are interested, I created a marketing workbook for self-published authors, called Book Marketecture. It’s available for free download as a pdf from the company I work for (it’s a large file, and can take a while to download if you do not have broadband, btw).

    Cheers!
    ~ Kat Meyer

  • http://thebookishdilettante.com/ Kat Meyer

    Hi Michael: That's a fantastic post. As a book marketing consultant, I work with many self-published authors who come to me late in the game (that is, after they have had their book published) to seek promotional and marketing advice. The unfortunate truth for many of these indie authors is, they don't have a quality "product" to market, and w/out that it's truly a losing proposition.

    As the tools of publishing and distributing a book become more accessible and easy to utilize, it's increasingly going to be those who possess the talents required to shape and produce a marketable book who will be making or breaking a book's success — for both traditionally and for non-traditionally published books.

    In the world of traditionally published books, the role of agents and editors (or at least their perceived role) is also changing from that of gatekeeper to that of curator — shepherding the best writing into the hands of the skilled developmental editors, copyeditors, designers, illustrators, production managers, and sales and marketing personnel whose work to optimize the book gives it a fighting chance in a crowded marketplace.

    For self-published authors seeking to play in that same market, having similar talent and skills behind their own books is vital. And, for all books – that's just the basic requirement to get into the game.

    Beautiful, well-made books are not easy to come by. Neither traditional nor indie-minded authors should ever allow their hard work to fail as a result of poor editing or design.

    And as for marketing — that's a whole other ball of wax!

    Thanks again for the post, Michael. I look forward to reading Part II. And for those who are interested, I created a marketing workbook for self-published authors, called Book Marketecture. It's available for free download as a pdf from the company I work for (it's a large file, and can take a while to download if you do not have broadband, btw).

    Cheers!
    ~ Kat Meyer

  • http://michaeldmiller.wordpress.com mike miller

    Mike thanks for the post! You are spot on! As a fellow publisher it is ALL about the content or as we say it at NavPress the message!

  • http://michaeldmiller.wordpress.com/ mike miller

    Mike thanks for the post! You are spot on! As a fellow publisher it is ALL about the content or as we say it at NavPress the message!

  • http://www.chastekeepers.org Beverly Taylor

    What a wonderful article. It was very honest and informative. I have written a Christian fiction romance/family saga and am searching for an agent. I am confident once this novel gets into the public’s eyes, it will bless many souls. In this business, it’s all in “who you know.”

    Please, anyone–if you read this post, please contact me if you know of an agent or publisher that is looking for a wonderful, well written novel that EDUCATES, Entertains and Inspires. My email address is beverly.taylor@hotmail.com.

    God Bless us everyone ~

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael S. Hyatt

    @Beverly: You can find a list of literary agents here. Thanks.

  • http://www.chastekeepers.org/ Beverly Taylor

    What a wonderful article. It was very honest and informative. I have written a Christian fiction romance/family saga and am searching for an agent. I am confident once this novel gets into the public's eyes, it will bless many souls. In this business, it's all in "who you know."

    Please, anyone–if you read this post, please contact me if you know of an agent or publisher that is looking for a wonderful, well written novel that EDUCATES, Entertains and Inspires. My email address is beverly.taylor@hotmail.com.

    God Bless us everyone ~

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com/ Michael S. Hyatt

    @Beverly: You can find a list of literary agents here. Thanks.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    To the above question from Robert Treskillard regarding word of mouth:

    I’ve been fortunate to work on many projects that became “word of mouth” successes. I’ve also done many campaigns that tried to generate word of mouth that failed miserably. So, let me first say what David Ogilvy observed: Great marketing can’t make a crappy product succeed. In fact, it will make a bad product fail faster.

    That said, assuming you have a viable product…

    1. You might succeed via word of mouth by doing almost nothing. It does happen.

    2. However, doing nothing could lead to nothing. So, I’ve never believed in “word of mouth” campaigns in and of themselves. I’ve believed in good campaigns. Period. Good campaigns all have the same things in common: A sound strategy, a unique and creative execution, and strong, relentless followthrough even when it seems no one cares.

    On the nuts and bolts, Robert, if I were a budding young artist, here’s what I’d do to “generate” word of mouth.

    1. Create some sort of a custom web presence. A great blog (with strong branded art), or better yet a good custom web site that has email list signup, message boards, and a solid content management system that provides search engine optimization keyword tools.

    2. Email your fans with new content updates. It’s astounding to me how few authors and artists actually email their fans on a timely basis.

    3. Have new content at your site all of the time. New content doesn’t have to cost money; It can be photos, videos, or just your own ramblings. I’ve had clients say, I just don’t have anything to say. My response: Then by all means, say that. The only people who will care are the true, hard core fans.

    4. Nurture the hard core fans. Don’t worry that you only have 15 fans. Or 150. Believe me, if you have 150 committed, devoted fans, you have the raw materials to get real, honest to goodness word of mouth going. And once your site gets to critical mass, your community will run the site for you.

    5. Ask your fans for help. You have not because you ask not. Go to your site and ask for their help spreading the word on blogs and web sites. Ask them to buy your books. Ask them to pray for you. Ask them to give you advice on where to speak, what to say, and what you can do better.

    6. Take advantage of every public appearance. Meet people and provide them the chance to get on your email list. Our clients take their laptops to their events and literally add their fans directly to their email list. And take pictures of you with them all of the time and post them to your site. Live events are the fuel that will feed your fire.

    If you get the idea that I am bullish on the web, it’s because I spent millions on traditional advertising and I know how it works. I also publish VandySports.com, the largest Vanderbilt fan site on the web. We have just 400 paid members and we make well into five figures on the site. IT WORKS.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    To the above question from Robert Treskillard regarding word of mouth:

    I've been fortunate to work on many projects that became "word of mouth" successes. I've also done many campaigns that tried to generate word of mouth that failed miserably. So, let me first say what David Ogilvy observed: Great marketing can't make a crappy product succeed. In fact, it will make a bad product fail faster.

    That said, assuming you have a viable product…

    1. You might succeed via word of mouth by doing almost nothing. It does happen.

    2. However, doing nothing could lead to nothing. So, I've never believed in "word of mouth" campaigns in and of themselves. I've believed in good campaigns. Period. Good campaigns all have the same things in common: A sound strategy, a unique and creative execution, and strong, relentless followthrough even when it seems no one cares.

    On the nuts and bolts, Robert, if I were a budding young artist, here's what I'd do to "generate" word of mouth.

    1. Create some sort of a custom web presence. A great blog (with strong branded art), or better yet a good custom web site that has email list signup, message boards, and a solid content management system that provides search engine optimization keyword tools.

    2. Email your fans with new content updates. It's astounding to me how few authors and artists actually email their fans on a timely basis.

    3. Have new content at your site all of the time. New content doesn't have to cost money; It can be photos, videos, or just your own ramblings. I've had clients say, I just don't have anything to say. My response: Then by all means, say that. The only people who will care are the true, hard core fans.

    4. Nurture the hard core fans. Don't worry that you only have 15 fans. Or 150. Believe me, if you have 150 committed, devoted fans, you have the raw materials to get real, honest to goodness word of mouth going. And once your site gets to critical mass, your community will run the site for you.

    5. Ask your fans for help. You have not because you ask not. Go to your site and ask for their help spreading the word on blogs and web sites. Ask them to buy your books. Ask them to pray for you. Ask them to give you advice on where to speak, what to say, and what you can do better.

    6. Take advantage of every public appearance. Meet people and provide them the chance to get on your email list. Our clients take their laptops to their events and literally add their fans directly to their email list. And take pictures of you with them all of the time and post them to your site. Live events are the fuel that will feed your fire.

    If you get the idea that I am bullish on the web, it's because I spent millions on traditional advertising and I know how it works. I also publish VandySports.com, the largest Vanderbilt fan site on the web. We have just 400 paid members and we make well into five figures on the site. IT WORKS.

  • http://kenstoll.wordpress.com/ ken stoll

    I am so looking forward to reading the rest in this series! You are so helpful.

  • http://kenstoll.wordpress.com/ ken stoll

    I am so looking forward to reading the rest in this series! You are so helpful.

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Mike (Rapp),

    Thanks for including such excellent content in your reply.

    I’d have to highlight TN’s own Wayne Thomas Batson for doing a lot of the things you recommend. (his website’s at http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/ ). I don’t know that he has a forum per se, but I’ve taken note of his incredible efforts to mobilize his fans to spread the word and help sell his books. And his heart shows through that he cares for his readers.

    For me personally, I’m attempting to build a mailing list and a blog following. Being unpublished, that’s a little more difficult, although I’ve had some success at it.

    I expect we’ll have to wait until after Christmas to get another post on this subject. Even CEOs need a holiday!

    Christmas blessings, everyone.

  • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

    Mike (Rapp),

    Thanks for including such excellent content in your reply.

    I'd have to highlight TN's own Wayne Thomas Batson for doing a lot of the things you recommend. (his website's at http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/ ). I don't know that he has a forum per se, but I've taken note of his incredible efforts to mobilize his fans to spread the word and help sell his books. And his heart shows through that he cares for his readers.

    For me personally, I'm attempting to build a mailing list and a blog following. Being unpublished, that's a little more difficult, although I've had some success at it.

    I expect we'll have to wait until after Christmas to get another post on this subject. Even CEOs need a holiday!

    Christmas blessings, everyone.

  • Mary

    @Rachel Hauck: Why does your name link to an empty blog instead of your web page? It seems like you are missing a chance to introduce people to your writing that way.

  • Mary

    @Rachel Hauck: Why does your name link to an empty blog instead of your web page? It seems like you are missing a chance to introduce people to your writing that way.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    Robert (above),

    If you’d like, we can correspond off of Mike’s blog about some recommendations and advice. You have the right attitude and certainly appear to be motivated — two things many authors and artists don’t have when it comes to marketing themselves.

    My only advice here to everyone is that email works, especially if you have a list that is opted into. Mass mail lists in general are a waste of time and money; I’ve gotten almost zero response from emails that went out to so-called “qualified best lists.”

    But, private lists, working with a solid email provider (Generator is one, but there are many that we have used, including Emma) are without a doubt the most cost effective marketing YOU can do. The folks at Emma recently told me that for ever dollar spent in email, it returns $47.

    I have a client that started with a list of 800 names, cobbled together from a variety of lists over the years. We brought in nearly $20,000 in ecommerce income in two months, with just four email messages. Yes, the emails looked like a million bucks, and he had brand recognition. But he had never had a custom web site before, over 25 years in ministry, and had never done a single email to his fans.

    Of course I’ve also done email that looked and sounded right that failed. But, email and solid opt-in email list software is the best marketing you will ever do. Even when your publisher loses interest, you will still have a direct relationship with your readers and fans.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    Robert (above),

    If you'd like, we can correspond off of Mike's blog about some recommendations and advice. You have the right attitude and certainly appear to be motivated — two things many authors and artists don't have when it comes to marketing themselves.

    My only advice here to everyone is that email works, especially if you have a list that is opted into. Mass mail lists in general are a waste of time and money; I've gotten almost zero response from emails that went out to so-called "qualified best lists."

    But, private lists, working with a solid email provider (Generator is one, but there are many that we have used, including Emma) are without a doubt the most cost effective marketing YOU can do. The folks at Emma recently told me that for ever dollar spent in email, it returns $47.

    I have a client that started with a list of 800 names, cobbled together from a variety of lists over the years. We brought in nearly $20,000 in ecommerce income in two months, with just four email messages. Yes, the emails looked like a million bucks, and he had brand recognition. But he had never had a custom web site before, over 25 years in ministry, and had never done a single email to his fans.

    Of course I've also done email that looked and sounded right that failed. But, email and solid opt-in email list software is the best marketing you will ever do. Even when your publisher loses interest, you will still have a direct relationship with your readers and fans.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com matt

    As an author (and who isn’t an author these days?), I think the answer to your closing question for me is, yes. I’ve been working on a book for a year after I finished it. It is much shorter, but richer. Extraneous matter has been cut, detail enlarged. In short, the book has become more focused in the year since I “finished” it and wrote the still-not-submitted proposal. But that is not the only work I am doing. I have contacted the most important childrens’ bookstore (it is a childrens book) on the west coast to discuss the book with them, and they have said they will gladly have me for a signing once the book is published.
    Also, I am teaching myself HTML so I can build a website to promote the book.
    Now I just have to finish the last re-write…

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com/ matt

    As an author (and who isn't an author these days?), I think the answer to your closing question for me is, yes. I've been working on a book for a year after I finished it. It is much shorter, but richer. Extraneous matter has been cut, detail enlarged. In short, the book has become more focused in the year since I "finished" it and wrote the still-not-submitted proposal. But that is not the only work I am doing. I have contacted the most important childrens' bookstore (it is a childrens book) on the west coast to discuss the book with them, and they have said they will gladly have me for a signing once the book is published.
    Also, I am teaching myself HTML so I can build a website to promote the book.
    Now I just have to finish the last re-write…

  • http://profile.typekey.com/JosephineDamian/ Josephine Damian

    Donald Maass told me it’s what’ between the book’s cover – the commercial appeal of the content -that sells books and nothing more.

    He’s one of the few agents that does not believe an auther has to blog or be on Facebook/MySpace to succeed.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/JosephineDamian/ Josephine Damian

    Donald Maass told me it's what' between the book's cover – the commercial appeal of the content -that sells books and nothing more.

    He's one of the few agents that does not believe an auther has to blog or be on Facebook/MySpace to succeed.

  • http://championyourdreams.blogspot.com/ Lauren Caldwell

    The problem could be that “commercially viable” can mean fifth grade-level writing but scintillating ideas that appeal to today’s reader- which is not necessarily a refined, insightful reader loving challenge and debate. Today’s reader is a reflection of today’s culture- and that means we have people who want it fast, easy, and exciting at the same time.

    Take Dr. Augusto Curry’s new book,Think and Make it Happen. I’ve read some reviews on this book and I’m frustrated by the ignorant and shallow responses to this book. I know why some Christian readers think this book is too scholarly or uses too much “psycho babble” and I could come up with a streamlined version of this book- if I was an editor- but I’d be mad that I have to do this in order to get people to read and understand this book.

    I doubt this book will be commercially viable and successful. But it is a “great” book. Dr. Curry delivered the goods. But it wasn’t good enough for today’s spoiled reader, I think. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I find out that today’s readers will dig through treasure and work for the reward- and be glad that they did.

  • http://championyourdreams.blogspot.com/ Lauren Caldwell

    The problem could be that "commercially viable" can mean fifth grade-level writing but scintillating ideas that appeal to today's reader- which is not necessarily a refined, insightful reader loving challenge and debate. Today's reader is a reflection of today's culture- and that means we have people who want it fast, easy, and exciting at the same time.

    Take Dr. Augusto Curry's new book,Think and Make it Happen. I've read some reviews on this book and I'm frustrated by the ignorant and shallow responses to this book. I know why some Christian readers think this book is too scholarly or uses too much "psycho babble" and I could come up with a streamlined version of this book- if I was an editor- but I'd be mad that I have to do this in order to get people to read and understand this book.

    I doubt this book will be commercially viable and successful. But it is a "great" book. Dr. Curry delivered the goods. But it wasn't good enough for today's spoiled reader, I think. I hope I'm wrong. I hope I find out that today's readers will dig through treasure and work for the reward- and be glad that they did.

  • http://www.MarriageStudies.com Dr. David Frisbie

    We do book signings everywhere. These are usually counter-productive from an economic standpoint. Simply put, we lose money just by showing up.

    In the broader picture though, we interact with readers. We listen and we learn. Being family counselors, we also end up doing a lot of free “open-air counseling” sessions.

    We believe that over time, meeting individual readers one at a time is one of the best ways we can consistently improve our content, our product, and thus our commercial marketability.

    It’s been a long journey for us: we started out almost despising “commercial marketing” as a concept. And selling ourselves? We’d rather have a nice root canal.

    God is good and we’re learning. More to the point, we are being as faithful to His call as we know how to be.

  • http://www.MarriageStudies.com/ Dr. David Frisbie

    We do book signings everywhere. These are usually counter-productive from an economic standpoint. Simply put, we lose money just by showing up.

    In the broader picture though, we interact with readers. We listen and we learn. Being family counselors, we also end up doing a lot of free "open-air counseling" sessions.

    We believe that over time, meeting individual readers one at a time is one of the best ways we can consistently improve our content, our product, and thus our commercial marketability.

    It's been a long journey for us: we started out almost despising "commercial marketing" as a concept. And selling ourselves? We'd rather have a nice root canal.

    God is good and we're learning. More to the point, we are being as faithful to His call as we know how to be.

  • Mary

    Sorry to put this here (I tried to email you a link but it bounced back with an out of office autoresponder.)

    Try http://www.entourage.mvps.org/database/archive.html for an Entourage archiving solution. Hope this helps … (I don’t use a mac nor do I use Entourage but the documentation seemed pretty decent.

  • Mary

    Sorry to put this here (I tried to email you a link but it bounced back with an out of office autoresponder.)

    Try http://www.entourage.mvps.org/database/archive.ht… for an Entourage archiving solution. Hope this helps … (I don't use a mac nor do I use Entourage but the documentation seemed pretty decent.

  • http://www.hopechurch.tv PLC

    good stuff – the early writers may not have been thinking about marketing…but, God was… rainbows, shooting stars, molting eagles, silkworms, sunsets – that’s some great advertising!
    Jesus was commercially ‘viable’ – there were the blind gaining sight, the dead rising to life, the crippled healed – just to mention a few things that attracted people to Jesus – and, then, he delivered the content.

  • http://www.hopechurch.tv/ PLC

    good stuff – the early writers may not have been thinking about marketing…but, God was… rainbows, shooting stars, molting eagles, silkworms, sunsets – that's some great advertising!
    Jesus was commercially 'viable' – there were the blind gaining sight, the dead rising to life, the crippled healed – just to mention a few things that attracted people to Jesus – and, then, he delivered the content.

  • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com daniel d

    Content is always king. That’s the hardest part though. Good content is subjective and one never really knows what will be a true break-away hit to a mass audience. No one could have predicted “The Shack” or even “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” which was initially turned down by a number of publishers before finial being printed.

    Sure there are fundamentals but if someone could predict what will have the best market viability then that person / publisher would have an grip on the NY Times #1 spot ongoing. As I read on Mike’s blog sometime ago: “Effective marketing is not one thing, it’s hundreds of little things done well.”

    To me, relating back to content, I think there is also an element of timing in the mix here. Every good thing has its season. Authors need to understand that the book biz is a long-term deal. Marathon, not a sprint. Focus on writing good content, not just good by your own perspective but accepting insight and suggestions from others who are qualified to help nurture the content (editors, agents, even friends who will give unbiased insight when reading a manuscript).

    Understand that many “overnight” best-sellers where often years in the making (authors platform building, tireless promotion, authors learning how to define and write to their niche or audience, etc).

    Most of all though, for first time authors, I’d suggest checking the motives of why you want to write a book in the first place. Is it because you actually have something to say (in a unique way that adds value to others or is quality entertainment) OR… is it because you think authors make lots of money or because you want validation and “people approval” from others? Seriously. This may sound odd but lots of people want to write for the wrong reasons and that is often the baseline for the foundation of good or bad content (in my opinion). Successful authors don’t just write a book. They are passionate and driven about the content. That shows.

  • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com/ daniel d

    Content is always king. That's the hardest part though. Good content is subjective and one never really knows what will be a true break-away hit to a mass audience. No one could have predicted “The Shack” or even “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” which was initially turned down by a number of publishers before finial being printed.

    Sure there are fundamentals but if someone could predict what will have the best market viability then that person / publisher would have an grip on the NY Times #1 spot ongoing. As I read on Mike’s blog sometime ago: “Effective marketing is not one thing, it’s hundreds of little things done well.”

    To me, relating back to content, I think there is also an element of timing in the mix here. Every good thing has its season. Authors need to understand that the book biz is a long-term deal. Marathon, not a sprint. Focus on writing good content, not just good by your own perspective but accepting insight and suggestions from others who are qualified to help nurture the content (editors, agents, even friends who will give unbiased insight when reading a manuscript).

    Understand that many "overnight" best-sellers where often years in the making (authors platform building, tireless promotion, authors learning how to define and write to their niche or audience, etc).

    Most of all though, for first time authors, I'd suggest checking the motives of why you want to write a book in the first place. Is it because you actually have something to say (in a unique way that adds value to others or is quality entertainment) OR… is it because you think authors make lots of money or because you want validation and "people approval" from others? Seriously. This may sound odd but lots of people want to write for the wrong reasons and that is often the baseline for the foundation of good or bad content (in my opinion). Successful authors don’t just write a book. They are passionate and driven about the content. That shows.

  • http://www.freshword.com john mason

    Mike,

    Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement as I”m leaving for a writing sabbatical starting Jan 2. It’s been four years since my last book.

    One of my strategies has always been to write books people will actually read (I’m inspired by a study that suggests 70% of books purchased are not read). Maybe that’s why so many “fail”.

    I’ve found people do this when they actually finish reading a book…tell others. And as you said, that’s a great way to sell books.

    John Mason

  • http://www.freshword.com/ john mason

    Mike,

    Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement as I"m leaving for a writing sabbatical starting Jan 2. It's been four years since my last book.

    One of my strategies has always been to write books people will actually read (I'm inspired by a study that suggests 70% of books purchased are not read). Maybe that's why so many "fail".

    I've found people do this when they actually finish reading a book…tell others. And as you said, that's a great way to sell books.

    John Mason

  • http://www.ColemanUnlimited.com Sonia Coleman

    This was an excellent post. I’ve made my living as a writer for years, although it’s not been in the book publishing world.

    Bottom line: God gives us the talent, but we can choose to multiply it or bury it in the ground.

    I like that Mike pointed out that it takes hard work to be successful–whether that be in writing, editing, communicating, public relations, or marketing. God can help us in all of these areas, but we still have to put our foot forward and run the race set before us.

  • http://www.ColemanUnlimited.com/ Sonia Coleman

    This was an excellent post. I've made my living as a writer for years, although it's not been in the book publishing world.

    Bottom line: God gives us the talent, but we can choose to multiply it or bury it in the ground.

    I like that Mike pointed out that it takes hard work to be successful–whether that be in writing, editing, communicating, public relations, or marketing. God can help us in all of these areas, but we still have to put our foot forward and run the race set before us.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com Mike Rapp, Generator LLC

    Responding to several of the posts above, a commercially viable book is simply one that makes more money than it cost to create and market. I think we’d all agree that there have been literally countless bad books that were commercially viable.

    My point is, commercial success does not make a bad book good; It only makes it commercially viable. Conversely, many great books, CDs and movies simply didn’t reach the masses.

    Joel and Ethan Cohen plan to make movies that barely make money. They are all brilliant movies, but rarely blockbusters. They are successful by almost any standard, but that’s because they make compelling films on medium budgets with realistic profit projections. Transformers is a great mass appeal movie that I really love…but it ain’t Fargo.

    My point is, to say “you need great content” really misses the point. Great content is in the eye of the beholder.

    I always assume that if you are given the task and the budget to market a product, the product is viable. Marketing is NOT product development. Marketing is connecting a developed product with its marketplace. Ultimately it is not the marketing department’s job to determine whether or not a book is “good enough” to be marketed well.

    So what makes a good marketing campaign? It’s quite simple, and it’s always the same equation:

    1. Who is your target market? Don’t tell me your book is pretty much right for everyone. Blah. Be as specific as humanly possible. You will NEVER have enough money to market to everyone.

    2. What is your unique selling proposition? IOW, what can you say that no one else can say? Sometimes I call this my headline idea. What can you say that is unique, compelling AND relevant to the target market?

    3. What’s the creative twist? Go beyond blaring your selling statement. DEMONSTRATE your idea in a creative way. And you don’t need to say a single word to do it. Some of the greatest ads didn’t even use words. But they had that “A ha” moment where you “got it.”

    This is what separates the marketers from the creatives, and not everyone has it. Find someone that works in big ideas and knows the difference between a strategy and a concept. And pay them what they require to give you breakthrough ideas.

    4. Stay on target. Don’t stray from your creative strategy. Keep talking in one tone of voice, everywhere. Repetition is fundamental to marketing success.

  • http://www.generatornetwork.com/ Mike Rapp, Generator

    Responding to several of the posts above, a commercially viable book is simply one that makes more money than it cost to create and market. I think we'd all agree that there have been literally countless bad books that were commercially viable.

    My point is, commercial success does not make a bad book good; It only makes it commercially viable. Conversely, many great books, CDs and movies simply didn't reach the masses.

    Joel and Ethan Cohen plan to make movies that barely make money. They are all brilliant movies, but rarely blockbusters. They are successful by almost any standard, but that's because they make compelling films on medium budgets with realistic profit projections. Transformers is a great mass appeal movie that I really love…but it ain't Fargo.

    My point is, to say "you need great content" really misses the point. Great content is in the eye of the beholder.

    I always assume that if you are given the task and the budget to market a product, the product is viable. Marketing is NOT product development. Marketing is connecting a developed product with its marketplace. Ultimately it is not the marketing department's job to determine whether or not a book is "good enough" to be marketed well.

    So what makes a good marketing campaign? It's quite simple, and it's always the same equation:

    1. Who is your target market? Don't tell me your book is pretty much right for everyone. Blah. Be as specific as humanly possible. You will NEVER have enough money to market to everyone.

    2. What is your unique selling proposition? IOW, what can you say that no one else can say? Sometimes I call this my headline idea. What can you say that is unique, compelling AND relevant to the target market?

    3. What's the creative twist? Go beyond blaring your selling statement. DEMONSTRATE your idea in a creative way. And you don't need to say a single word to do it. Some of the greatest ads didn't even use words. But they had that "A ha" moment where you "got it."

    This is what separates the marketers from the creatives, and not everyone has it. Find someone that works in big ideas and knows the difference between a strategy and a concept. And pay them what they require to give you breakthrough ideas.

    4. Stay on target. Don't stray from your creative strategy. Keep talking in one tone of voice, everywhere. Repetition is fundamental to marketing success.

  • http://seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com L.L. Barkat

    I am struck by your question. I wonder what you think “the price” is. Maybe that is grist for another series.

  • http://seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com/ L.L. Barkat

    I am struck by your question. I wonder what you think "the price" is. Maybe that is grist for another series.

  • http://ero-foto.com/ MarkZM

    Íå çà÷¸ò

  • http://ero-foto.com/ MarkZM

    Íå çà÷¸ò

  • CharleneNeedles

    Hi I’m sixteen and I am aspiring to be an author, but I want to edit books too. What should I major in and what degree should I aim for? What did you major in in college and how did you become so successful?

  • CharleneNeedles

    Hi I'm sixteen and I am aspiring to be an author, but I want to edit books too. What should I major in and what degree should I aim for? What did you major in in college and how did you become so successful?

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com Angie Breidenbach

    This is a great overview and lead in for part two. As the new ACFW Publicity Officer, I’m eager to read part two :-)

    Angie

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com Angie Breidenbach

    This is a great overview and lead in for part two. As the new ACFW Publicity Officer, I’ve signed up for your posts to come directly to me as I’m eager to read part two :-)

    Angie

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com/ Angie Breidenbach

    This is a great overview and lead in for part two. As the new ACFW Publicity Officer, I'm eager to read part two :-)

    Angie

  • http://GodUsesBrokenVessels.blogspot.com/ Angie Breidenbach

    This is a great overview and lead in for part two. As the new ACFW Publicity Officer, I've signed up for your posts to come directly to me as I'm eager to read part two :-)

    Angie

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Matt

    Michael, I was with you on content until this week. I was given a very popular Christian title as a Christmas present. I read it one sitting and was appalled. It was bad theology on almost every page. And the writing was even worse. It was bad theology on almost every page. And the writing? It horrible. From misused words to repetitive hyperbole it read like a high school student wrote it. And then there was the story. Like an Ayn Rand novel the story in this book only exists as framework to hang dialogs and speeches on. It was such a bad story that I knew in the second chapter how the book would end.

    So what is driving this books sales? Marketing. Pure and simple. It is garbage and people are eating it up.

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com/ Matt

    Michael, I was with you on content until this week. I was given a very popular Christian title as a Christmas present. I read it one sitting and was appalled. It was bad theology on almost every page. And the writing was even worse. It was bad theology on almost every page. And the writing? It horrible. From misused words to repetitive hyperbole it read like a high school student wrote it. And then there was the story. Like an Ayn Rand novel the story in this book only exists as framework to hang dialogs and speeches on. It was such a bad story that I knew in the second chapter how the book would end.

    So what is driving this books sales? Marketing. Pure and simple. It is garbage and people are eating it up.

  • Dr Robert E McGinnis

    I didn’t post a URL because it might be construed as advertising as all my webs are related to my reading clubs for children or my books for youngsters.

    As a retired teacher and my concern for the non reading student, I decided I could create books that were easy to read with an agile hand at guiding my young readers to think about self worth, self improvement and making the most of their skills and talents. I wanted to create wholesome characters that made the right decisions in a world full of mystery, suspense and methods for problem solving.

  • Dr Robert E McGinnis

    I didn't post a URL because it might be construed as advertising as all my webs are related to my reading clubs for children or my books for youngsters.

    As a retired teacher and my concern for the non reading student, I decided I could create books that were easy to read with an agile hand at guiding my young readers to think about self worth, self improvement and making the most of their skills and talents. I wanted to create wholesome characters that made the right decisions in a world full of mystery, suspense and methods for problem solving.

  • rex correll

    I thought it great, your writing. I guess my main question is, if you have some stories written and want to be bluntly told yea or nay. How can someone with no renown get someone to read it.

  • rex correll

    I thought it great, your writing. I guess my main question is, if you have some stories written and want to be bluntly told yea or nay. How can someone with no renown get someone to read it.

  • Dave Veerman

    Sorry for being so late to the conversation, Mike.

    I was surprised to read your comment about authors getting credit for books that sell well, while publishers get the blame when they don’t sell. That may be true with books. I’ve had 60 or so books published, and I have to admit that I’ve had those thoughts about the various publishers. So you may be onto something.

    My experience has been the opposite, however, with Bibles. I sat in a meeting with a Bible publisher where I had just made a presentation for a new product, and the publisher began reciting a list of “our” products that hadn’t done well. Yet for the ones that we had helped to produce that had been immensely successful the publisher took all the credit. Our company, Livingstone, has helped produce more than 150 Bibles in our 20 years of doing business, and we find ourselves at the mercy of many publishing decisions that directly affect sales: no. of colors, paper weight, price point, distribution channels, title, marketing budget, timing of release, and so forth.

    Also, content may be king, but, it seems to me that most publishers don’t seem to act that way. Instead, “celebrity” or “platform” seem to rule. A good exercise might be to scroll down the list of best-selling books: hmmm, here’s one by a pastor of a mega-church, here’s one with a popular TV show, here’s a TV preacher, . . . and don’t forget the popular athlete, coach, entertainer, or politician. I’m not criticizing publishers for choosing those “authors” and promoting those titles, but in most of those cases, the content was a secondary concern.

    And then let’s take the issue of marketing self-fulfilling prophecy. With some publishers it works this way: the book or Bible concept is run by the sales force and major accounts to get their sales projections. With those projections, a marketing budget is determined. So, if the projection is that 10,000 copies will be sold, a marketing budget of X dollars is committed toward that product. And then, voila, what do you know, sales don’t exceed the projection. From my limited vantage point, it seems that many publishers throw a bunch of products up against the wall to see what sticks. THEN they get behind the sticky ones. Again, I’m not sure that content is the foremost concern in that process.

    Most authors that I know are totally committed to their book and will do anything and everything in their power to promote it. After all, it’s his or her “baby.” Publishers, however, don’t have that luxury. After a few months acquisitions editors, marketing managers, sales reps., and others have to move on to the next project (unless, of course, this one “sticks”).

    I wish that content were king–I really do.

  • Dave Veerman

    Sorry for being so late to the conversation, Mike.

    I was surprised to read your comment about authors getting credit for books that sell well, while publishers get the blame when they don't sell. That may be true with books. I've had 60 or so books published, and I have to admit that I've had those thoughts about the various publishers. So you may be onto something.

    My experience has been the opposite, however, with Bibles. I sat in a meeting with a Bible publisher where I had just made a presentation for a new product, and the publisher began reciting a list of "our" products that hadn't done well. Yet for the ones that we had helped to produce that had been immensely successful the publisher took all the credit. Our company, Livingstone, has helped produce more than 150 Bibles in our 20 years of doing business, and we find ourselves at the mercy of many publishing decisions that directly affect sales: no. of colors, paper weight, price point, distribution channels, title, marketing budget, timing of release, and so forth.

    Also, content may be king, but, it seems to me that most publishers don't seem to act that way. Instead, "celebrity" or "platform" seem to rule. A good exercise might be to scroll down the list of best-selling books: hmmm, here's one by a pastor of a mega-church, here's one with a popular TV show, here's a TV preacher, . . . and don't forget the popular athlete, coach, entertainer, or politician. I'm not criticizing publishers for choosing those "authors" and promoting those titles, but in most of those cases, the content was a secondary concern.

    And then let's take the issue of marketing self-fulfilling prophecy. With some publishers it works this way: the book or Bible concept is run by the sales force and major accounts to get their sales projections. With those projections, a marketing budget is determined. So, if the projection is that 10,000 copies will be sold, a marketing budget of X dollars is committed toward that product. And then, voila, what do you know, sales don't exceed the projection. From my limited vantage point, it seems that many publishers throw a bunch of products up against the wall to see what sticks. THEN they get behind the sticky ones. Again, I'm not sure that content is the foremost concern in that process.

    Most authors that I know are totally committed to their book and will do anything and everything in their power to promote it. After all, it's his or her "baby." Publishers, however, don't have that luxury. After a few months acquisitions editors, marketing managers, sales reps., and others have to move on to the next project (unless, of course, this one "sticks").

    I wish that content were king–I really do.

  • http://mum2twelve.blogspot.com/ Christi

    Do you have a part two? Just found you!
    Blessings
    Christi AKA mum2twleve now a bakers diz.

  • http://mum2twelve.blogspot.com/ Christi

    Do you have a part two? Just found you!
    Blessings
    Christi AKA mum2twleve now a bakers diz.

  • Patricia Griffin

    I'm new to blogging and have a question concerning marketing a novel. Are there guidelines when it comes to posting an excerpt on a website or Facebook? And does posting an excerpt negate future publishing contracts in some way?

  • Patricia Griffin

    I'm new to blogging and have a question concerning marketing a novel. Are there guidelines when it comes to posting an excerpt on a website or Facebook? And does posting an excerpt negate future publishing contracts in some way?

  • http://oixypea.com/oxoxrqr/5.html John789

    Very nice site!

  • http://oixypea.com/oxoxrqr/5.html John789

    Very nice site!

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    I think a key element to writing a successful book is that IT IS A PROCESS. Many authors type out a manuscript and after limited editing, consider it the concrete, finished product. A good book is a PROCESS. Be open-minded. Revise your book. Get input from every source possible. Listen carefully to feedback. Trim the fat out of your manuscript. Make it more simple. Your book needs to grow. And so do you.

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    I love that Ogilvy quote. This idea of putting content first may be the one thing that’s currently keeping me from pursuing a book. I don’t know that I have the right content yet.

  • http://twitter.com/sarahmaewrites Sarah Mae

    So wow, under 5000 is failure. Is anything over 5000 considered a success? I’m wondering because I released an ebook recently and I’m curious…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can’t give you an exact number. It all depends on the amount of the advance and the investment in marketing. At Thomas Nelson, I would say anything less than 15,000 is a failure commercially. In other words, we lose money.