The Value of Author Promotion

In your experience, do you believe an author's involvement in promotion makes a difference in sales?

Author involvement = sales. The more an author is involved, the more books I'll sell. An author can reach people on a human interest level. A publisher can't do that.

Everyone has a circle of influence—a group of people that take an interest in them as a person—family, friends, neighbors. When an author lets these people know they've published—via e-mail, blog, personal conversation—it raises an awareness of and interest in the book. This translates into book sales. The people within your circle of influence also have a circle of influence. They will tell their friends about you and your book. This translates into book sales. This is the minimum level of promotion that I expect and attempt to demand from my authors.

From there, the more community involvement, speaking engagements, blogging, etc. that an author does to promote their book, the more they become real to readers. The stronger the connection between the author and the potential reader, the more likely that reader is to buy the book.

Does an author's involvement in promoting his/her book influence you when you consider publishing another one of his/her books? Does lack of involvement in promotion affect your decision?
Yes. Other publishers may feel differently about this.

During the submission process, I will have at least one conversation with an author about promotion and what I expect from them. I have, once or twice, accepted a "borderline" book because of the enthusiasm the author had and the promotion they had already started to do and/or were willing to do.

I have what I think is a perfect example of how author promotion influences book sales. I accepted a book by an author who made it clear that the promotion they did would be limited. The book was wonderful—absolutely blew my socks off. There was nothing like it in the market, it filled a real need, and the book practically sold itself. In the beginning, the author did regular speaking engagements and book signings and the book became one of my best sellers. When the author stopped doing public appearances, the book continued to sell well enough, but not at the same level. It gradually dropped by about one-third and continues to hold steady. When the author does do a speaking engagement, book sales in that area almost double for about a month, then go back down.

I accepted a second book from this author. It is a wonderful book, but written in a different style and format than their first one. It doesn't sell itself. I can always tell when the author has made a public appearance (which they do once, maybe twice a year) because sales immediately soar on this book, then drop again within a few weeks to almost nothing.

Will I accept a third book from this author? This is one of those really, really tough questions. If I think it will sell itself, like the first book did, I probably will. But if it's more like the second one, no.

The sad thing is, if another author submitted a book of the same quality as this author's second one, and they were willing to promote it, I'd take it in a heartbeat.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

What advice do you have for LDS authors who live outside of Utah? It seems like a majority of our market lives in Utah, but distance makes it difficult to do lots of promotions. Have you ever turned down a book because the author lives out of state and you feel the promotions would be less effective?

Annette Lyon said...

In my experience, it's tough to know just how much promotion efforts help. Sometimes, comparing efforts with sales, it seems like self-promotion doesn't make any difference whatsoever. Not that I'll stop, by any means. I just know that I'm one person--I can't expect huge results.