Thursday, July 03, 2008

Marketing Books

I went downtown this morning to renew my driver's license, which is always something of an epic adventure. I decided to get it over with instead of waiting until almost my birthday, since I'll be out of town on my birthday, and it would be nice to have the new license before I travel. I tend to treat this like school picture day, agonizing over what to wear and doing my hair and makeup just right. But when you think about it, you show that picture to a lot of people. They've somewhat streamlined the process, so it only took about an hour, and only a little of that was actually waiting in line. You used to have to wait in line that whole time, but now they screen ahead of time to see what you need, then give you a number and send you to a waiting room, then call numbers in small groups to go wait for the clerks. Of course, I didn't think to bring a book because I didn't know about the waiting room. DPS clerks have a pop culture reputation for being surly, but all of these seemed to be very nice and cheerful.

And then since I was already downtown, I hit the big library. Picking specific titles out of the catalog and having them delivered to my branch is nice, but there's nothing like browsing the shelves in the main library every so often. I'd checked out a couple of marketing books based on the online catalog, but they were pretty useless, so I wanted to browse the shelves. I didn't find much that might apply to me, but we'll see if what I got gives me some ideas.

One book I'd checked out and flipped through before returning today was specifically about marketing books, but it seemed to be aimed more at publishers or self-published authors, and everything in it that authors can actually do I already knew. One of their "tips" for making your book a bestseller was to get on a national television talk show, since Oprah can be very influential for book sales. Um, okay, I'll get right on that. Their case study for how to make a book a bestseller involved a $750,000 marketing budget (ten years ago). It definitely reinforced the fact that while an author can nudge the needle a little bit, you're not going to be a bestseller unless your publisher decides to make you one.

Now I need to come up with more ideas for nudging the needle. Book trailers seem to be pretty hot right now, but I'm still now sure how effective they really are outside the publishing community. The ones that seem to get buzz involve famous people the author happens to know who volunteer to appear in her trailer, or else the author knows a filmmaker who makes a really cool book trailer as a favor.

I suppose I could start a feud with some bigger-name author, and that gets some attention, but again, I think that's something only people in publishing care about. There does seem to be a lot of tunnel vision in the publishing world, where they seem to think that things that are really important, interesting and exciting to them are automatically as important, interesting and exciting to the rest of the country. That seems to be where the biggest bombs come from, where the book is really something that only would matter to people in the publishing industry, but because it really, really matters to them, they think it's going to be huge, and then they're surprised when it isn't a major hit, even though all the people in the country who might care about it are able to get free copies through their jobs.

In other news, I got the copies of the Japanese edition of Damsel Under Stress today, and they're so cute. They have little drawings of various scenes in the book on the cover, and the artist has definitely read the book. I've tried finding an image online, but all I've found so far was the Japanese listing for the American edition, with the American cover art. I'm not even sure what to Google to find the Japanese cover. The title and "Japan" didn't seem to work, and even checking the "also bought" list at Amazon Japan didn't bring it up. I may have to resort to the scanner.

And now I need to hit the bank and the grocery store before the holiday weekend. I'm not sure what I'm going to do on the Fourth itself. I may get wild and crazy and declare it a holiday instead of trying to work. I love fireworks shows, but getting to and from them can be a real pain because there's serious traffic, and they aren't held in places I can get to via public transportation -- and if they are, they cut the schedule back on holidays so that the public transportation isn't running at the time of the show. So I may be watching the fireworks from Boston on TV (now, there was a fireworks show you could get to without a car). Then I'm busy the rest of the weekend with fun stuff.

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