Book Marketing in 2014
2013 has passed in a flash and now we are into a new year with new goals and resolutions. Did you make yours yet? Or have you broken them already? In the last year the publishing world has changed drastically. Penguin and Random House merged to make a giant publishing house. Amazon bought Goodreads. Goodreads membership doubled. Crowdfunding grew in books (Bookkus, Pubslush, Unbound). 2014 will see more changes and more growth, but where does this leave book marketing in 2014? Well, let’s delve into the 4 P’s of marketing: Promotion, Price, Place, and Product.
Netgalley is a high cost tool for gaining book exposure. It is a staple for getting into hard-to-reach blogs, libraries, and bookstores. In 2014, the need for a gatekeeper to important people will still be needed. Netgalley will only increase in its usefulness. Keep an eye on their growth and price rises in this already pricey service in order to keep high quality books on the site and not flooding their reviewers.
Bookbub sends out promotions to lists of genre readers. It gives them low prices for otherwise high-priced books. This gives authors a huge boost in quick sales, albeit with low profits. This is good for increasing rankings and getting some reviews quickly. In 2014, getting your book into people’s hands at any price will grow as a marketing tool and Bookbub, as one of the best places to do this, will increase in demand.
Blogs have been hit or miss for reviews. Blog don’t get many hits and aren’t super popular. They are easier to get on (if you can get past the list of self-published books being reviewed) and can give some exposure on Goodreads with complimentary reviews. I see blog amounts increasing, but there will still only be a limited number of books that really make the difference for getting books sold. These ones will still be swamped and will look for reviews on Goodreads, but they will offer advertising opportunities elsewhere.
Literary Magazines still provide a great medium for librarians and bookstores to make their market selections. Although most choices have already been made for 2014, there will still be a need to get these books into stores and get them selling. They are costly per book for indie and self-published authors, but their value can’t always be determined quickly.
Well, Smashwords CEO Mark Coker already went over book marketing in 2014. He believes book prices will be dropping, so who am I to argue with him? Prices need to drop for ebooks. Paperbacks probably won’t change much. I’ve already decided on lower prices for Bookkus books: $5.50 for ebooks and $11.95 for paperbacks.
IngramSpark vs. CreateSpace vs. Vook
In 2013, one print-on-demand (POD) publisher was available for the self-published author. There are now three players, with two arguably huge players, Ingram and CreateSpace. Vook is really new and not well known but provides another medium to get books into readers’ hands through major bookstore catalogs. Ingram takes on CreateSpace head to head and I’ve already seen some better things come through from IngramSpark than I saw through Lightning Source (the small press alternative). It’ll be interesting to see if CreateSpace changes their distribution prices to compete more directly with Ingram since Ingram has really low costs for getting into other markets outside of Amazon, while Createspace has Amazon locked down. I moved our title into both in order to ensure my book was not shown as ‘temporarily out of stock’ on Amazon. Keep your eyes on the forums to see where people are moving.
Amazon pulling the strings of Goodreads
So far it seems like Amazon hasn’t taken advantage of their new acquisition. What is going to happen in the new year? Well, I have some theories. Amazon built a huge business out of its affiliate marketing program and I can only see this being built more heavily into Goodreads while letting them retain the core of the website. Amazon marketing services may take over the advertising efforts on Goodreads, which are currently sub-par but great for views (I always bid the lowest and get the most views for the money I possibly can over a few months: exposure vs. buying). I don’t think Amazon will force themselves into changing the way Goodreads is doing, but you will see smaller changes that will favor Amazon as a seller.
Write uniquely, write often and write well. Without good writing books are still lost in the ever-growing mound of online material. Honestly, if you are an author it is easier than it ever was. You have the same resources you always had: offline writers’ groups, MFA programs, books, libraries, etc. Now it is even bigger. Go get your writing on Scribophile.com for online editing, getting a following, and learning. Learn about publishing,writing, and marketing on mywriterscircle.com or absolutewrite.com forums. It is easier than ever to get your writing looked at on authonomy and Book Country. Bookkus provides feedback for great writing. Make your product the best it can be before you invest your time and effort marketing it to readers, agents, or publishers. Take criticism constructively and work hard.
What do you think about book marketing in 2014?