Taking the Offensive in Book Marketing

3 Ways The Publishing Industry Can Go on the Marketing Offensive

In your marketing strategy, are you thinking about how you can approach marketing offensively through innovation, creativity, tools, and execution?

Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk just released this video. It challenged me to think about how the publishing industry could quit being defensive, but in fact, take the offensive. 


We all know the publishing industry is behind the bell curve when it comes to marketing, but we don’t have to be. Here are three ways we can take the offensive and be better for it:

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Management What You’re Doing Isn’t Working – We need to be honest with ourselves that the majority of where we as publishers are spending our marketing dollars aren’t working. The game is changing, yet we don’t want to admit it. The way people are discovering books is drastically different today than it was 1 year ago and especially 5 years ago. The problem is we’re still marketing like things are the same. You’ll be surprised how they respond!
  2. Build Strategies to Directly Reach Consumers – Take a portion (possibly even greater than 50%) of your annual budget to focus on building your own database of consumers. This could be focused on your email lists, social media, or a blog to gain readership in a specific category.
  3. Allow Your Team to Experiment & Analyze – Let’s eliminate the plug and play marketing plans. We need to unleash our teams to think outside the box. I know that I’ve done that, I’ve been impressed with the ideas that end up being unleashed. 

It’s important now more than ever that we’re the experts in the publishing industry if we want to continue to add value for our authors. Sure, authors are focused on building their platform numbers, but very few of them know how to sell books to that platform effectively. I don’t have it all figured out, but if you start with these three things, you’ll be taking small steps in the right direction. 

  • Daniel Decker

    Love this and well put! I honestly scratch my head almost weekly at the things that most publishers spend their author marketing dollars on. It’s crazy. Things that MIGHT have worked several years ago that just don’t today. Or things that never actually worked but they "sound" good.

    Going on the offense is a great idea. I always equate my marketing strategy approach to building a mouse trap. You build it and if it’s effective it catches a mouse. But eventually the mice learn to avoid it (or become smart enough to take the cheese without getting caught). As a result we have to stay ahead of the mouse by building a better mouse trap. Not that we’re trying to trap consumers but the principle is being proactive, creating, innovating, not resting on what was.

    • Thanks for the comment, Daniel. I love the mouse trap analogy. I’m going to use that. It’s easy to remember since it was one of my favorite games as a child. 🙂

  • Coming from the music world, we still operate under a very old mindset.
    What I find so interesting is the control that is felt in this building falls in line with the old model. And most people are very afraid of the new, the 2014 of marketing.

    Another huge issue I see facing the challenge of marketing in 2014: marketing directors don’t know how to use the tools of 2014. I see this daily in the way they talk, strategize, and most importantly…spend marketing dollars.

    Point 1 sticks out to me the most. The ability to impact bosses is there, because they don’t understand the tools. Delivering solid plans that have success gives more and more power to 2014 marketing, not 1999 marketing.

    • Yeah man, I totally hear ya. There needs to be a huge shift. Unfortunately, the ‘people’ problem exists and they’re comfortable marketing like it’s still 2009, even though there isn’t regard for what’s working or not. That’s a whole other issue. 🙂