by Janet Kobobel Grant
Most authors–sometimes even established authors–don’t know what to ask their marketing team. We’re talking about the people who will promote your book.
One of my clients, Judy Douglass, is headed to a visit with her publishing team at Bethany House. Her book, When You Love a Prodigal, releases in September (but it is available for pre-order now). Judy is an organized person; so, in preparation for her travels, she assembled a number of questions she hoped would be answered during her visit.
I thought her queries were spot on and were designed (without her realizing it) to cover the bases to prepare with the marketing team for her book launch. After I admired her astute questions, I asked her if I could share them with you. Just in case you someday find yourself sitting in a conference room with marketing personnel and no idea what to ask them.
But before we delve into her sheet, if you missed reading my blog post on the difference between marketing and publicity, you might want to read that first. You can find it here. (It posted on April 17, while Judy and I were, in fact, visiting Bethany House and sitting in their conference room.)
Questions to Ask the Marketing Team
Judy started off with three questions that are the most obvious, but to some writers it might seem they are too general. What:
- Do you do?
- Do I do?
- Will you help me with?
Ultimately, these are the foundation for deciding everything else that the author and the marketing team will construct to promote the book. If you don’t understand what others are doing, how you know what you should put on your to-do list?
Also helpful is knowing what the marketing team will do to support your efforts. This question likely will be answered after the team understands more completely what you will do to promote your book.
Another essential question
If you’ve never worked with a marketing team, it’s challenging to know what kind of space you should make in your calendar for promoting efforts. When will various phases of marketing/publicity kick in, as you move toward the book’s release date. Especially when you have a heavy travel schedule, as Judy does in her roles with Cru, which includes significant international travel.
Hence Judy’s next question: Timing for different activities
More Directed Questions
Judy evaluated her strengths and weaknesses as an author/promoter before she posed the next questions. Obviously these will vary from author to author, but they give you an idea of how to think about your own strengths and weaknesses.
Subjects I would appreciate input on:
- How to see status
- How to update my author page
- Rules on reviews
- How to get the best results
I especially like her last point: How does an author achieve the best results possible from Amazon? While the basics remain the same for all authors, digging into the specifics for a certain author and her book can yield some important strategy decisions.
Input on making an author page
General thoughts on using for promotion
My greatest strength/engagement is on FB.
Probably where most of my audience is
Judy wisely points out that focusing promo efforts on Facebook might well make the most sense since she’s developed her strongest social media platform there, and that’s where her readers reside as well. This sort of info is invaluable to a marketing team because it helps them focus their efforts as well.
- Launch Party
- Visibility (ways to gain visibility for her book during its launch)
Judy has recorded the various efforts she’s considering to make for her book’s launch. She’ll want to consult with the marketing team on which of these bring the greatest benefit, why some might not be worth the energy, and how to accomplish those worth pursuing.
Webpage and blog
- Planning to re-theme it and redesign it
- Tie it into book, but not make it just about book
- Adding videos/speaking
- Ideas for using it well?
Once again Judy has arranged the topic based on her plans and then asking for input. By telling about her plans first, she gives the marketing team ideas of the best ways to direct her.
Excerpts from Book
Since each devotional is a perfect fit for a blog post—
- May I submit some to guest on blogs?
- May I offer excerpts to people who want to use them?
These are boundary questions. She’s thinking of possible requests she’ll receive and ways to connect through others’ blogs.
- Guest posting. I’m assuming Judy will ask the publishing team if they’ll assist in her doing some guest posting on others’ blogs.
- Radio interviews–you set these up?
- Podcasts–I am making a list of ones I have connections with
Other Social Media use and recommendations
This list will engender a conversation about what engagement the publishing house expects of Judy, what she’s prepared to do to be engaged, and an evaluation of her strengths/weaknesses in various social media.
YouVersion Bible plans
I have someone to help turn each chapter into 8-10-day Bible plans.
Here Judy is making an offer of something she can have done to promote the book that is a good fit for When You Love a Prodigal and for its intended audience.
- How many books do I get to give away?
Giveaways are tricky. The author wants to give copies for free but not so many copies that readers who would gladly have paid for the book now won’t have to. The idea of giveaways is to sell copies, after all.
What territory might you want to cover with a publishing team that Judy didn’t?
What questions should an author ask his marketing team? Click to tweet.
Stymied about what to ask your publishing house marketing team? This blog post offers help. Click to tweet.