Report on Successful Book Marketing

As one century ended and another began, what did publishers learn? Here are the results from one report.

“Books could not permanently create their market through advertising alone.” Advertising could help those books with good potential for sales but couldn’t lift others on the basis only of advertising.

Extensive use of endorsements proved generally helpful. But if even a highly placed, well-respected person gave too many endorsements, the commendation was devalued.

Authors who could be their own salesmen had great success. For authors willing to get out in front of the public and draw attention to their books, sales could pile up.

The right title can be as key as any other type of promotion. A boring title could kill a project. The right amount of spice and intrigue could break it out of the pack.

What was the report? John Tebbel’s history of American book publishing, Between Covers, in which he recounts what publishers were learning a hundred years ago (pp. 175-77) as the nineteenth century became the twentieth.

The well-known, overly prolific endorser? Theodore Roosevelt.

The greatest salesman of his own books? Mark Twain.

The wrong title the author wanted? Sunday as it was written on Sunday afternoons. The right title that became the bestseller? When Knighthood Was in Flower.

The title that flopped? Holy Orders. The title from the same author that became a roaring success? Sorrows of Satan.

If you wonder where to go in the future, one helpful place to look is the past.

Author: Andy Le Peau

I've been an editor and writer for over forty years. I am passionate about ideas and how we can express them clearly, beautifully, and persuasively. I love reading good books, talking about them, and recommending them. I thoroughly enjoy my family who help me continue on the path of a lifelong learner.

One thought on “Report on Successful Book Marketing”

  1. The other day I received notice that John Sandford’s “Wicked Prey” was released and a Kindle version available. I’ve read all previous 18 titles and bought many of them in hardback.

    I could buy the hardback from Amazon and B&N for $16.77 or $16.34 respectively with free shipping because of my membership. But the Kindle version price was $15.37.

    I found this insulting and disrespectful and did not buy the title period. I doubt I will buy it anytime soon because I now feel so badly about how the marketing has proceeded.

    On the other hand I am patiently waiting for the Kindle version for “Love is an orientation” and will purchase it assuming the price does not exceed $9.99.

    Interestingly I know who published the “prey” book and blame the company rather than the author or Amazon for the insult. Usually I don’t know the publisher. I am pretty sure from now on I will pay attention and probably avoid this one.

    I know IVP is the publisher of Love is an orientation because 1) I read a blog where such good things were written about the book; 2) the publisher was also mentioned in good terms in the comment section; and, 3) I recognized IVP because I follow “Andy Unedited.”

    How’s that for marketing information?

    And by the way there is a Kindle user boycott now on Amazon of titles that exceed $9.99. In case you didn’t know thought you might find it interesting.

Comments are closed.