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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Marketing Case Study: The Gorgeous Books That Get Ignored

Case Study;
Getting Professionalism Wrong
or The Gorgeous Books That Get Ignored
A long time ago, as time is measured in the publishing world, I received a beautiful hardcover book with a slick, arresting dust cover in the mail . Everything about it yelled “professionally published!” right down to the fact that it was written by the president of a well respected company. The trouble was, I hadn’t requested it, there was no personal note, and the letterhead on an enclosed sellsheet didn’t give me an e-mail address. I used the phone number supplied. A pleasant woman couldn’t answer my questions and took my number, but I never heard back from either her or the author. I promptly forgot about it. Then I received a note from one of my SharingwithWriters newsletter subscribers who edited the book asking if I had received it. I told her I hadn’t so she had the PR agency handling the book send me another.
Horrors. I now had two copies of the book. I wanted to bury my head in the sand but instead I thought I’d admit my mistake like any good professional and maybe help the author in the process. Here is my apology and the letter I hope gave her the information she needed to help the--obviously busy--author: 
Dear [Subscriber],
I apology for my part in a minor marketing fiasco. It is story we can learn from—a minor disaster that could be a major one if it is repeated many times. A minor disaster caused by an omission of contact information and a failure to followup on contacts. I hope we can both learn from this experience.
I received the second book you had your PR person send. When I saw it, I remembered that I did get the earlier copy. There was a letter in it both times, but it didn't mention you or our conversation we had. Nor did it include enough contact information to make it easy for recipients to gain access to the author or any other live person. Though it is a beautiful book, I get about two or three unrequested  and unexpected books a week and assumed it was one of those. Still, I take pains to try to contact people who send books to me as a matter of courtesy.  But there was no e-mail so I called. There was no personal contact on the phone, either. Just a person saying they would give the busy author a message. I received nothing back. So, I did a little more than usual. I went to the Website where there was also no personal contact information so I added the e-mail to my contact list, thinking that might work eventually. Apparently the author’s agency/handler did receive one of my e-mails and unsubscribed. So, I finally wrote off the whole experience as an impossible mess..
I don't know what contact/relationship you have with the company who promotes this book or with the author, but as professional as everything looks from the book to the letterhead, there are some gaps in this approach to marketing this book. I suspect the author cares enough about having his book read to pay a small fortune to get the word out there. I also suspect he is a busy businessman depending on other professionals to do what needs to be done to get it read.
And this is exactly why I wrote The Frugal Book Promoter. That is, I want authors to be very clear that no matter who publishers their books, does their publicity, their marketing...well, the more authors know and the more hands-on the process can be, the better it works. 
I hope you'll pass this long to that author if you are in a position to do so. The author is lucky to have you on his side. His book does seem to be full of information that will help many. It is a book that is professionally edited and produced and would therefore make a handsome gift.  Still, I can't help—make that don't have time to help--anyone who has chosen a publishing path so different from what works and that is to make it as easy as possible on the media and other gatekeepers to give them the exposure they need to sell books.. I only hope I am an isolated case.  For his sake and the sake of his prospective audience.
I hope you can see I wouldn't have taken the time to write you this treatise if I didn't care. I am certain you care!
Very best,


 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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