A few weeks ago, successful non-fiction author turned novelist Chris Malburg stopped by to talk about his new book. Today he’s back to chat with us about book marketing. What works, what doesn’t, and what you need to do to build an online presence even though it may not directly sell books.
KB: Welcome back, Chris. Tell us about how you publish your books and why. Are you an indie author, traditionally published or both?
CM: I have 21 books now in print. Nineteen of them are nonfiction, dealing with various aspects of corporate finance and business strategies and tactics. These have all been published by the big houses worldwide: McGraw Hill, Simon & Schuster, GP Putnam, John Wiley & Sons, Berkley.
My two novels were published independently through Smashwords. The reason is that I was unable to secure a literary agent to represent these two books. Without an agent, there’s little hope of gaining a publishing contract. I’ve learned a lot about the entire publishing business by vertically integrating this aspect of my career. When the time comes to negotiate with a publishing house for my next novel, I’ll certainly be in a position to demand answers to the hard questions. If I’m not satisfied with the answers or the terms of the deal I know I can always do it all by myself and enjoy considerable success.
KB: With your traditionally published books, how much marketing support did you get from your publisher?
CM: The business proposition the mainstream publishers offer their authors has considerably diminished with the coming of self-publishing, CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords (my favorite). A big publishing house absolutely must deliver a larger royalty stream than authors can get by doing it themselves. That’s a tall order considering very few authors can command the expert in-house marketing attention and budget needed to push a book up the best seller lists.
Here’s an example: I had written a book called, Surviving the Bond Bear Market with a subtitle of, The Bond Market’s Nuclear Winter. It was being published by Wiley. A week before release, one of their marketing people called saying, “Chris we’re not sure about this subtitle, Nuclear Winter. What if someone wants to buy the book in the spring or the summer?” Enough said about the capabilities of large publishers.
KB: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
CM: Covers play a huge part in the buying decision. I created the cover for God’s Banker. I created the idea, pulled together the artwork, and designed it on Photoshop. I take full responsibility. This cover has been criticized by some. It’s not offensive. They say it’s just dull. I get it. I did the best job I could. Now, we’re thinking of redoing the cover. So many bestselling books feature scantily clad people. I just might do that and see what happens. I ran just such a photo image by a fan group of about 60 people. The guys loved it and were very encouraging. Then my female audience chimed in, calling me all sorts of unflattering things. These are the ones I listen to most closely. So, my cover is still in play. Any ideas?
KB: Hmmm. It's funny authors think scantily clad women will sell books when the majority of book buyers are women. Have you tried scantily clad men? Just a thought. Covers aside, do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
CM: Yes! Create a marketing plan as best you can. It may not be complete. It may have left out something. But create one, then execute. You’ll find that the more you’re involved in the marketing of your own book, the more opportunities will surface for you. I’ve found that authors are a pretty giving lot. I’ve received some wonderful advice from other authors. I’ve also given over some of my best marketing ideas to other authors. I am their best cheering section.
For God’s Banker we did a highly concentrated pre-launch and launch across all the most popular forms of social media. We used Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, targeted emailings from the book’s characters, Goodreads, Book Gorilla, Kindle Daily Nation with a special discount off the retail price. It was during this campaign that God’s Banker rose up the charts. I did a blog tour as a follow-up to the launch campaign. I’ve been the featured daily mystery writer on Book Gorilla and Kindle Daily Nation. I’ve had my book featured in Thrill, the e-zine for the International Thriller Writers Association. I’m one of the featured authors at my city’s local author book fair coming up later this month. I do everything I can to promote my book.
This isn’t for the money. Not many authors make a living from their books. I certainly don’t. I deliberately price God’s Banker at the low price of $2.99. I simply want to entertain my readers. I worked really hard to create a high quality story for them to enjoy. My job now is to make sure they know about it.
KB: What is your view on social media for marketing?
CM: In my opinion social media marketing is essential. It’s time consuming considering the meager return for the effort expended. But you must create a presence. I don’t think people necessarily will buy a book because someone tweeted something to 2,000 of their closest friends. However, if you see that tweet, then it’s followed up with a message from someone you know on Facebook, then you receive an email from a LinkedIn member about the same book, now I have your attention. Then maybe you’ll see this blog interview. Perhaps you’ll notice the book trailer for God’s Banker on YouTube.
What really does get people to buy the book is a recommendation from someone whose literary taste they trust. Also, if they have somehow learned something about the author—as I’ve done in the two videos I created and here in this blog interview. One video is meant to be funny and to introduce the characters while I’m portrayed as having a particularly difficult telephone conversation. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7vy3UNAQJQ
The other video allows me to talk about the business of writing and my love affair with the craft. From these two pieces, they’ll get to know me. If they like the person they see, maybe they’ll consent to spend a few hours with me as I tell them a story. What an honor that is for me. Here’s the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYj141J8P0A
KB: Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
CM: I love the book trailer I created for God’s Banker. I did it all by myself. What you see is who I am and what you’ll see in the book. I like that level of honesty with my readers. You can see my God’s Banker trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPhjwi6maQk
KB: In what formats are your books available?
God’s Banker is available on most every eBook platform. The most popular are Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. It is available as an eBook compatible with every reading device known to mankind. It’s also available in paperback from Amazon.
KB: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
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