Penny Sansevieri - Author Marketing Experts - An Interview - Behind the Scenes
We’re delighted this month to welcome Penny Sansevieri with Author Marketing Experts. In addition to taking a number of authors to best seller status, Penny has also written several books on marketing for authors.
Penny, what in your background led you into marketing for authors?
Actually my background is primarily in marketing and advertising. My love for books came naturally because I loved to write and prior to starting my company I had done a lot of writing and some freelancing. When I started Author Marketing Experts, Inc. now 13 years ago, I realized that there was a huge need for a company that could work with small press, boutique and quality self-published authors.
How do you go about creating a marketing plan for your clients? Do you request a blurb of the book or an excerpt?
Well yes, we do that but a marketing plan is so much more involved. I also take into consideration the author’s goals, their long-term objectives, whether they are writing other books, what their current platform is like (if they have one), their genre, budget, etc. Marketing plans are pretty involved these days because there can be so many pieces to a campaign and there are so many areas to consider.
What differences do you have to take into consideration when you work with a fiction author vs. a non-fiction author?
A lot actually. First off we have to look at the type of fiction, so genre fiction, etc. because that matters, too. For non-fiction you know it’s quite a bit different, I mean we have the author platform, possibly their business, speaking, etc. So it’s decidedly more different.
What is the biggest mistake authors make in their marketing when they do their own?
I would say their biggest mistake is not having solid, realistic goals. Let’s face it; hope is not a marketing plan. In a world where there are thousands of books published each day, you have to be laser focused in your approach. Scattershot just doesn’t work.
The other mistake I see is authors who think that because they wrote a book, they’ll be successful. That rarely, if ever, works out. Most of these authors just end up languishing in obscurity. Publishing a book is not the field of dreams, just because you wrote it doesn’t mean they’ll build a path to your door.
How successful is marketing on social media? Does the type of book determine which social media platform you should use?
Social media can be great if it’s done right and by done right I mean: focused. So what type of social media works for your audience? You need to know that before you start. For example, if you have a business book you should consider LinkedIn. Got a cooking book or something else visual? How about Pinterest? Social media can work well but more is not always better, often it’s just more. What I mean by this is, some folks feel that if they’re on every site that means someone will find them and will result in a book sale (or two) but that’s often far from the truth. You’re better off being on one site that matters, than 10 that don’t.
Also consider this: you only have so much time, would you rather spend it fragmented across a bunch of platforms or focused on just one site?
Having marketed a lot of books, what do think is the secret to the books that sell?
I really wish I knew the answer to that. But I can tell you how you can craft a book that won’t sell:
Editing: authors often cut this out or ask their neighbor, friend, etc. to do their editing. Would you send a resume out for a job that had typos in it? My point exactly. Spend the money on editing; it could make all the difference in the world.
Market: is there a market for your book? This is really important because if there isn’t a market you may want to find out why. It could be that this is a new trend which is great or it could be that there just isn’t an audience for the book. For example, years ago I worked with a guy who wrote a self-help book for guys. Problem was 93% of self-help is bought by women. So research your market, that’s key.
Cover: Wow I can’t tell you how many books I’ve gotten over the years. Really great books buried in horrible covers. Get a cover done, don’t do it yourself, don’t get someone to design it that doesn’t have knowledge of book cover design. Make it look good, it will make all the difference in the world.
The piece of this that’s really important to understand is that in order to make sales, you first have to have a saleable project. You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars marketing a book but if the package and the contents aren’t good, none of that will matter.
Do you think authors who are actively involved in marketing their books sell better than those who turn that area over to a third party?
Yes, I do – I think that authors should always, always be engaged in their own success. An author who doesn’t have time to market will never be as successful as the author who spends at least an hour a day doing something – whether that’s blogging, being on social media, whatever.
What is the best way for an author to obtain a newspaper or magazine interview, even if it is for a local publication?
We find that most local media is interested in regional authors but the key is understanding that the media needs to make this interesting to their reader.
Are writer’s conferences beneficial to an author?
Yes I feel that they are. Conferences can be great for networking. When you attend a conference be sure you can have access to networking and great sessions, that way you’re getting two great benefits. For example I know that Romance Writers of America runs a fantastic event wonderful for networking and learning. Always a terrific opportunity to meet other writers!
How about bookstore signings for authors that have books in print that the store will order?
I love doing author events, I really do. But I’d rather see an author do a talk or some other program. If it’s a cookbook perhaps doing a cooking demo or something. I always say that book signings are boring, get up and move, talk and engage. Also, consider doing events in non-bookstore markets. So for example fitness centers, coffee houses like Pete’s Coffee, Starbucks, etc. And perhaps also in Hallmark stores, gift shops and the like. I’ve planned events in all of these places and here’s a tip: never go through corporate to do these. Always target the regional managers and see what they say. Regional managers often have a lot of leeway to plan events and if you go through corporate, it could take months before anything is approved!
If an author only has the money to invest in one piece of marketing material, what would you suggest that be?
It’s hard to know really. I would suggest that they consult a marketing person and ask them what’s the best use of their money – in fact if you have time I’d recommend getting a few opinions. Also, perhaps there’s a way that an author can stretch their money across a number of different things, like let’s say a blog tour and review campaign, or pitching to traditional media and doing events, or something like that. Get some ideas, talk to some professionals and then decide where is best to put your money!
You can connect with Penny at: http://www.amarketingexpert.com/about-ame/penny-sansevieri/
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf enjoys writing Paranormal/Fantasy with a twist of humor and heat. Her Magical Love series is available in print and eBook at Passion in Print and other sellers. Beyond Magic, the first book in the series won the 2012 AOE Best Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-Fi. The DEAD series is available through Musa Publishing where she also has two Christmas novellas, the Contemporary Fantasy, Forget the Mistletoe and Making Christmas, the LRC Best Historical winner and the 2012 Aspen Gold Best Novella winner. Re-releasing June 2013, two expanded Erotic Contemporaries, Barely Legal and Educating Amber.