Sunday, September 02, 2007

Publicity ≠ Love...or Sales

Last month a publicity director told me, "A tour does not equal love"--meaning that sending an author out on tour doesn't guarantee adoring crowds. The next day, an agent wanted me to quantify the value of my workshops and consulting.

"Never mind all this touchy-feely stuff about giving authors the confidence to do their own publicity," she said. "When I look at their BookScan numbers, how much of a difference am I going to see?"

No one had ever asked me that before. Stumped, I attempted to make the case that it's hard to put a dollar value on the benefits of publicity, and that the touchy-feely stuff is exactly the point of what I'm doing. An author who's confident about self-promotion and how to go about it will garner more and better publicity, professional recognition, word of mouth about the book, better sales and a better deal for the next book.

She wasn't buying any of it, but her junior colleagues were. (Thank dog!) Better still, I--and that publicity director--got vindication in today's NYT, in the article mentioned in the below post. It concludes:

Although authors say that the virtual tours generate traffic for their Web sites and that they have seen their online sales increase, it is difficult to tell how much blog book tours increase sales.

“I haven’t been following that or charting it in a quantitative way,” said Dave Weich, director of marketing and development at Powell’s Books, a bookseller in Portland, Ore...But then, the dirty little secret of real-life author tours, he said, is that “most of the people who go to events don’t buy books.”


Eric Riback said...

That agent just does not get PR.

Aside from the few who get on Today or Oprah, few individual PR activities can have a visible, measurable effect on sales (of anything). But a smart campaign, including old media, online media and events, can and will, if the product is any good.

What's her alternative? Just sign established authors who either don't need publicity or will get enough attention from the publisher's PR department? Run ads in the NY Times Book Review (a classic waste of $ in most cases)? Sit back and hope that the book catches fire on its own?

In the rest of the business world, companies that make products promote them, and they only make products to which they are prepared to make a marketing commitment. Not so in publishing, thus it is up to the creator of the product (author) in most cases to do the marketing. And most authors (probably as would be the case for the detergent scientist at Proctor & Gamble) is not trained nor necessarily well-suited for this job. Thus, she needs encouragement and training, and an understanding of how she can apply her personality and talents to this enterprise.

Sustenance Scout said...

Hi Bella! I'm so glad to have discovered your blog (and Literary Ladies) via Carleen Brice, another Denver author. What a terrific resource; I'll be back to read more. For those of us whose books are in print with small publishers, self-promotion is the only way to go. I found reaching out to local book clubs a fun way to self-promote, and look forward to doing virtual book tours sometime in the future. Carolyn Howard-Johnson's The Frugal Book Promoter is a terrific title for anyone trying to promote a book on a tight budget. All it takes is LOTS of time, which some of us don't exactly have either! Whatever works! K.