By Dan Smith
Since Smith Publicity was founded in 1997, every year in the book publishing and book marketing industries has been marked by one constant theme: change. Like many industries, and perhaps more so than most, the book world underwent a massive transformation via the convergence of technology and market changes.
A snapshot from 1997: Press releases were distributed via mail or broadcast fax, media databases consisted of gigantic printed directories, self-publishing was a curious endeavor just starting to raise eyebrows, social networking consisted of actually talking with people at a coffee shop or cocktail reception, and the “big houses” of publishing were still kings and the ultimate literary gatekeepers.
Seems like a different world, doesn’t it?
So here are a few predictions I have for 2015 as it relates to the book industry and book publicity.
- Social media and traditional publicity continue merging from co-existence to cooperative marketing. The rapid evolution of social media made some old school publicists nervous, and prompted overstated predictions from online gurus. Social networking replacing traditional publicity? Didn’t happen and won’t happen. The trend, which will continue through 2015, is the seamless implementation of traditional marketing and social media in book promotion. It won’t be an either-or proposition; both will be used more and more.
I still maintain that in most cases, a book can’t be effectively promoted through only social media, but can be through traditional media outreach. However, the best book marketing includes both traditional publicity and proactive social media elements.
- Book marketing services offered by self-publishing companies will continue to expand. As the number of self-published books has skyrocketed, new publishing companies are popping up to take advantage of this boom. But it isn’t just about publishing books. Many self-publishing companies make a good percentage of their revenue by up-selling services, such as marketing. This will continue to expand in 2015. The allure of one-stop shopping can be attractive, with everything from editing and production to marketing done in one place. As with any service, authors should conduct their due diligence and determine if an outside publicity agency can do a more effective job of marketing their books than a publishing company.
- Media reliance upon authors and publicists will continue to increase. While staff reductions and closings of newspapers and magazines have slowed, most traditional media outlets are still running on very tight budgets and limited staff, struggling to maintain relevancy in an online-crazy world. If you’re worried about rejections when pitching your book to an editor or producer, remember one thing – they need you as much as you need them. This certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be booked on every show you pitch or featured in every print outlet you contact, but it should help put you in a positive mindset for media outreach.
- Radio establishes itself (again) as a mandatory aspect of most publicity campaigns. Talk radio has long been an author and publicist’s trusted friend. The most approachable and responsive media type, radio interviews were typically a mainstay of book publicity campaigns. In recent years, I’ve heard more and more authors downplay radio interviews, essentially classifying them as the “old” way of promoting a book, and not nearly as effective, exciting or potentially rewarding as social media. As the social media revolution reaches a tipping point in 2015, good old radio will once again be considered essential.
- Book-to-screen services hit a wall in 2015. More and more self-publishers and other companies offer “Hollywood” packages for authors in which a film treatment and/or screenplay for a book is developed and pitched to producers, usually at a very hefty price. While I advise authors to consider all marketing options, the book-to-screen service becomes a numbers game. You can see books catch fire and make bestselling lists, but how many have you heard of that actually became films? The ones that do become films are usually discovered by Hollywood, not the result of a pitch.
Here’s to another exciting and always interesting year in the book-marketing world!