Traditional Marketing

I believe if authors knew exactly how the publishing industry works, then they would be able to plan accordingly. I hear this statement all the time, “Traditional publishers have changed. If they won’t market me, then what do I need them for?”

There are two facts authors need to remember:

Bad News: It is harder than ever to sign with a literary agent and traditional publisher.

Good News: Authors have more resources and opportunities than ever before.

Ten years ago, here is how traditional publishers marketed their authors:

* 80% of their marketing budget went to 20% of the top authors.

* 20% of the marketing budget was dedicated to 80% of the bottom authors.

* Example: If a medium size publisher had a marketing/PR budget of $500,000 and they housed 120 authors, this would be the breakdown:

$16,600 of marketing dollars would be dedicated to EACH of their top 24 authors. This money is dedicated to the authors that already have several books published, a large following, and creating steady cash flow into the publishing house.

$1,000 of the marketing dollars would be dedicated to EACH of the bottom 96 authors. So if you are a new author at a medium publishing house, expect them to dedicate $1,000 toward your marketing.

Because of the economy, traditional publishers now dedicate 99% of their marketing budget to only 1% of the their top authors. That means that 1% of their marketing budget is for 99% of their bottom authors.

Example: Let’s say Random House is working with 5,000 authors this year and they have a marketing budget of $1 million.

They would dedicate $990,000 to their top 50 authors.

$10,000 would be dedicated to their bottom 4,950 authors. 

How do you work your way from the bottom to the top? Let’s say you were hired in the mailroom of a Fortune 500 company and you had aspirations of someday becoming CEO. How long would that take? You must be dedicated, always learning, patient, have faith, network, improve everyday, and your work ethic must be oustanding. If you do those things, you can and will make it to the top.

It’s the same thing with publishers. Authors who want a publishers marketing dollars and their attention, will have to move from the bottom 99% into that top 1%.

Now that you are aware of this, what is your reaction?

1. “Forget it. Sounds too difficult. I can’t even get into the door, much less work my way up.”

2. “Bring it on! I am an author and willing to work hard just like any other profession or trade!”

I am assuming you wrote that book on your own. It only makes sense you market that book on your own. When you build, network, and improve, others will notice and WANT to help you.

Authors that are now making millions, first had to deal with many rejection letters over several years. Why did someone finally sign those authors? Was their latest query letter sprinkled with Fairy Dust?

Here is what those authors did:

1. Read every single day.

2. Kept writing new books.

3. Networked and built their audience.

4. Had their own marketing plan. (And invested their time/resources in that plan.)

5. They never gave up.

And remember that authors did not always have access to the Internet, emails, Google, and Blogs. You have a huge advantage over what they went through.

I had lunch with my PR rep yesterday and she wanted me to add one more piece of advice to this blog: “Amazon is not a marketing plan.”

Successful authors do the following:

1. Read everyday.

2. Keep writing books.

3. Market before, during, and after they are published.

When you type the last words of your next book, do not write “The End.” Instead, when you finish your manuscript, take a deep breath, smile, and write these two words…”The Beginning.”

Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

Novelist, Reader, and Co-Founder of UP Authors

Manager: Melissa Link


Ron Knight

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