| Maris Kreizman, Barnes and Noble
Larry Norton, InScribe Digital
Thubten Comerford, WePost Media
Rachel Chou, Open Road
Pamela Spengler-Jaffee, Avon
Tina Smith, epublishing Works
|MJ Rose (moderator), author and AuthorBuzz,
Barbara Freethy, author
Julianne MacLean, author
Denise Agnew, author
Jean Brashear, author
Laura Castoro, author
“What elements are essential to have in place before using social platforms for book promotion?”
Quick answers from our panel included a website, a newsletter, a great cover, a pricing strategy, clean formatting, and a genuine voice. Ideally, an author should have a complete promotion plan in place before a given book is launched.
One digital media expert suggested that having a plan for pricing required fully understanding and exploring the options. Authors should not be afraid to start at prices above $3.99, as there appears to be more elasticity in prices than previously thought. Starting out at a higher price gives the author room to lower the cost for special promotions, such as a celebration tied to a milestone (e.g., making a Top 100 list).
Where can indies go for advice on pricing? An industry publicist suggested that traditional publishing gives the benefit of a marketing team that can manage pricing strategies, allowing house authors to coordinate their indie releases with their traditional releases. Publishers are willing to coordinate because their goal is to build a brand. A representative from a digital media company specializing in backlist said she found the “Big 6” publishers very willing to coordinate frontlist with backlist releases. However, an author publishing both ways noted that she had been unsuccessful in getting her traditional publisher to accede to her requests about pricing.
How far in advance do authors need to start working on a plan? According to one social media expert, an author should start a year in advance building an audience “around” a future book. The more time you have to build up the audience, the better. But as several others pointed out, it is never too late to start social media, because no book ever “dies” anymore; each can be promoted forever. One marketer described her digital publisher’s process of determining three to five demographic groups they believe might be interested in the book. (For example, younger men who live in a particular region of the country.) They look at where that demographic is likely to be online, and they target those sites. Every quarter they concentrate on a different demographic, producing a plan for the year. A representative from an ebook retailer said that a couple months’ notice was adequate for one of their promotions, if the author presented a full-fledged plan.
How can indies deal with the uncertainty of the timing of price changes when planning promotions? One author suggested submitting directly to every retailer possible, including, Apple, Kobo, Amazon, and PubIt, to maximize control. However, it was also noted that authors frequently have difficulty in reaching individuals at the retailers with questions or concerns. A representative from a publicity firm noted that larger entities have better access to retail representatives, which is a benefit to their clients.