by John Koehler
President & Publisher
Marketing a book is one of the most misunderstood aspects of book publishing, especially for new authors. The belief and hope is that the publisher will do most of all of the marketing, and the author will merely have to follow the lead of the publisher and show up at a few events. Alas that were true!
After being in this industry for seven years, I know that for any publisher, large or small, it is critical that the author carry a large part of the marketing load. How much? That depends on the publisher and on the author. I should say anywhere from 50-80%. I do realize that in saying this it may seem like I am avoiding responsibility for marketing our books.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that the author is ALWAYS the most capable salesperson for the book. The best marketing agent and the most personally invested in the story, and most likely to be able to speak about it and arouse interest from readers, the media, booksellers, librarians, reviewers and others in the book industry.
But this does not mean that the publisher does nothing, though perhaps some do nothing. Our marketing program is not exhaustive, but does very particular things that we know will help the author, and will help readers and booksellers fall in love with the title. You can see some of these things we do and also things the author can do and how we coach them on our website at https://www.koehlerbooks.com/publishing-services/support-services/marketing/
One of the first things we do to market a book is conduct a cover poll with our authors, such as the ALCOHOL MEMOIRS poll shown at the top. After working with the author to narrow down our cover designs to the top two, we post the poll on our website at https://www.koehlerbooks.com/cover-polls/ The author sends that link out to their followers (as do we) and folks come and vote for their favorite cover by clicking on it. Quite simple and it provides us with scientific polling data on what people prefer.
For the author book marketing is something that begins with finishing the manuscript and finding a publisher or self-publishing, and ends when…. well it never truly ends until the book goes out of print. Learning good guerrilla marketing techniques that cost little of nothing is key to an author selling books. This starts with the development of a good author website and the accompanying social media tied to the website. I’d rather have an author who does well with a few social media apps then one who tries to do them all poorly.
Blogging can be effective, along with giveaways, book tours to bookstores and libraries, talks to groups and the media, running an author blog and doing a blog tour by following bloggers who cover material in your book.
I would recommend that new authors consider a marketing class, and read books about marketing. Build your website and social media early. Talk to other authors. Find a publisher who will assist you with your marketing and will do their own part to help market the book.
You will also find some helpful marketing information in our POCKET GUIDE TO PUBLISHING, which is a free download at the bottom of our homepage.
John Koehler is the Koehler Books founder and runs its day-to-day operations. He is an award-winning graphics designer, and the author of seven books. He was awarded the lifetime achievement Silver Medal by the Advertising Federation of Hampton Roads in 2016. He earned a BFA in Communications Arts and Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended graduate studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. John’s professional career includes being senior art director of a major advertising agency and running a design studio. John lives in Virginia Beach, VA and is active in his church. He has helped run a ministry dedicated to helping children with disabilities, a cause he is still very much dedicated to. John made an international splash in 1991 by winning the Boomerang World Championship in Perth, Australia and was a member of the Foster’s Boomerang 2000 Team, a touring troop that taught professional athletes, and others, the gospel of boomerangs.