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March 29, 2010
Can't Sell Books by Their Covers

Books aren't selling in the say way(s) they used to. If you're writing a book, or advising clients who are, you might appreciate Jane Genova's insights into changing currents in book marketing. They're based in part on her experience in helping to promote Robert Dilenschneider's "The AMA Handbook of Public Relations," sales of which, Genova notes, "could be much better."

It's not that the Dilenschneider work doesn't take account of changing currents in the practice of public relations. Section One is entitled "Prequisites for Digital Communication" and includes chapters on Web sites, blogs, and microblogs and monitoring the Internet.  

Rather, Genova notes, decided changes have occured in the book-marketing game. Prefaces written by big-name folks don't move books. Neither does a book's launch matter as much as "the long tail created by relentless, inventive promotion."

"There is not enough of (a) devoted reading public to keep a book alive on its own merits," she writes. "Don't publish without a sustained commitment to promote."

Neither do price points nor using experienced agents or well-known publisher matter as much as they used to. A market still exists for books, Genova feels, "it's just that it keeps mutating."

Clearly, this isn't an era of the written word as much as earlier times. People need to have their attention grabbed by visual means, but book covers aren't necessarily a hugely effective way to do that. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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