A review of Book Marketing From A-Z by Francine Silverman

Francine Silverman, more editor than author on this project, has produced a book which is unique in its approach, even in this suddenly crowded market. What it does is to provide a series of examples, anecdotes or advice from experienced authors in a structured format on what has worked, promotionally, for them. Taken collectively, the book is full of information which is often novel, and almost always interesting, because in the context of an actual experience.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Book Marketing From A-Z
By: Francine Silverman
Infinity Publishing, www.InfinityPublishing.com
ISBN: 0-7414-2431-2, 2005, Paperback, 400 pages, $18.95

There seems to be a sudden explosion of books which teach writers how to market and sell their books. The reason is obvious. The penny has finally dropped that the key difference between good and poor book sales is the author’s marketing skills. With the advent of inexpensive self-publishing, many authors are having to learn how to manage all aspects of book publishing, including marketing and selling the book, sometimes by hand. Even authors who have books with the big mainstream publishing houses, the marketing budgets have significantly decreased, and new authors are finding that the only way to stay out of the remainder pile is to do most of the marketing themselves. Most of the books I’ve read on this topic have been well researched, with easy to follow, helpful suggestions. Francine Silverman, more editor than author on this project, has produced a book which is unique in its approach, even in this suddenly crowded market. What it does is to provide a series of examples, anecdotes or advice from experienced authors in a structured format on what has worked, promotionally, for them. Taken collectively, the book is full of information which is often novel, and almost always interesting, because in the context of an actual experience.

The book is organised into 35 alphabetised sections, each looking at a single aspect of book promotion. The book starts with Advertising, and ends with Zero Promotion, and for each section, there are a wide range of invited anecdotes, suggestions, tips, pitfalls, and other pieces of useful information from authors who have been there. The authors are wide ranging, and include the self-published, publishers, promotion experts, Internet personalities, and authors who are published with large publishing houses. The advice spans a wide range of areas of book promotion,

The book’s structure is just a little haphazard in its current alphabetised form, and might have worked better, particularly for those new to book promotion, if it were structured in the order in which the activities occur. However, the A-Z format does have the advantage of making it easy to find advice on a specific topic, and deciding at which point each of these activities should occur isn’t that straightforward anyway. Creating a book cover obviously precedes holding a book signing, but some of the activities, like setting up a website, creating a press kit, or branding yourself, can occur at anytime, including prior to a book’s completion. One other problem with the book is that contributor promotional information occurs just after their tips, which is probably a good thing for the contributors but as it is often lengthy (sometimes lengthier than the tip), it can be distracting. It would have been better to have an alphabetised list of contributors with their bios at the end of the book, which would also mean one bio per contributor rather than coming across the same bio repeatedly. Minor problems notwithstanding, this is still an extremely useful book and is full of so much information that readers will find themselves returning to it regularly.

Some of the more innovative ideas include Lara Zeises’ suggestion about making use of college alumni magazines:

I went to the University of Delaware, which has a student population of 16,000 at any given time…I e-mailed the ‘news & Notes’ section about my first novel,Bringing Up the Bones (Delacorte/Random House 2002), and they ended up writing a full-page article with four-color photo about me. I got several speaking gigs and subsequent interviews for other publications, all from theat (free!) piece of publicity.(72)

Another of the many gems in this book of gems is from author Don Keith, who suggests the use of viral marketing by creating a humorous and forward able email and sending it to a relevant group of people:

Within two days, I had heard from over 50 people. Many of the folks I heard from didn’t receive the original mailing to the 30 people. It was forwarded to them. One person told me he received the forwarded e-mail from three different people!) In addition, the list, along with the info at the end, has been reproduced in several broadcasting trade publications and on websites.(204)

Many of the ideas will inspire and fire authors to go out and try more creative approaches to promoting their books. There are certainly enough of those in here, plus a welter of links and further information, including a section on additional author services. This is a nicely pulled together, easy to read and practical set of very useful advice, given in the context of real life anecdotes. Book Marketing from A-Zis a fun to read resource full of a tremendous amount of innovative information on getting your book in the hands of readers.

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