Can authors and publishers market books together effectively?

portraits of Dan Balow taken April 9, 2010By Dan Balow

Everyone knows that more can be accomplished when people work together. Whether it is a family or a community, church, ministry, business or country, the principles of cooperation and collaboration are always key to solving problems or accomplishing great things that benefit everyone.

Keys to collaboration are mutual benefit and humility. In fact, it has been said that there is no limit to what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.

Does this apply to publishing? Of course.

Effective marketing of books requires that both authors and publishers cooperate in everything. But this is often the weakest link in the publishing “chain.”

The process of marketing and promoting a book begins well before the book actually is published. The digital world of social media and online selling has made cooperation even more important. Starting a conversation after the book is printed will not work well.

Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria breaks down the process into three parts, his “Triple P Pusonnam YiriConcept:”

Pre-Production
Production
Post-Production

From here we can create an effective list of actions that will sell more books. In each phase, authors and publishers have tasks to accomplish that eventually lead to effective cooperative marketing. If they are not working together, Pusonnam compares them to a mismatched relationship: “When a fish marries a bird, where will they live after the wedding?”

The most important first step to effective marketing of a book is for the author and publisher to meet together and discuss specifics how to work collaborate. While this seems obvious, most publisher/author problems relate to a lack of communication. Each side assumed the other would take care of marketing.

Step #1 – Meet early in the process (Pre-Production Phase) to specifically discuss marketing collaboration.

Step #2 – Develop a specific plan of action with dates to accomplish and assignments for specific people.

Step #3 – Make ongoing communication (Production Phase) a priority. Schedule regular times to communicate (in-person, phone or email).

Step #4 – Decide to enjoy the process of collaboration and leave the results to God. (Post-production Phase) Disagreements will happen, but when each side views everything as a journey rather than needing to win or lose, good things happen.

Marketing plans are not chiseled on stone tablets like Moses on Mount Sinai! They are written on paper for good reason and can be changed when needed. If something is not working, change it and move on. Often problems occur between authors and publishers when one or both refuse to admit something isn’t working well.

Finally, we all know that when we serve each other and work together to accomplish something, God is honored and others are blessed by the humble testimony.

When publishers pray for their authors and authors pray for publishers, the barriers between them are broken down and great things can be accomplished.

When that happens, everyone wins.

This article is based on a webinar that Dan Balow and Pusonnam Yiri led for MAI in August. Watch the webinar video archive. Dan and Pusonnam will also be leading a workshop on this topic at LittWorld 2015 in Singapore.

Dan is director of publishing development and a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency in the US. He began in Christian publishing in 1983, and over the last 30 years he has been involved in the business side of the industry in marketing, sales, rights management, foreign sales, audio books, digital publishing, web management and acquisitions.

My Family

Ruth O'NeilIn the 25-plus years I’ve been writing, social media went from non-existent to a way of life for many. Yes, I have jumped on this bandwagon, too. At first it was all about promoting myself and selling my books, but then it became something else. Those fellow authors who are more than willing to Tweet and Retweet for me are also more than willing to pray for me, and I am more than willing to pray for them. We may never have met in person, only through the pages of books and online screens, but we are a family. We pray for each other when there is a new book launch. We pray for each other when there are difficult times in our personal lives.

I love that I have been able to connect on some level with writing friends from all over the world. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people of all nationalities are lifting you up to the Savior. We may write different genres; we may not worship exactly the same; we may look a little different; we may sleep at different times, but there is something we all have in common that brings us together. We are all children of the King. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family.

I love 2 Thessalonians 1:11. “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”

First of all, we do need to pray for each other constantly. Writing is a calling for many of us. For those who have been writing for any length of time, I’m sure you have stories of one hurdle after another to jump over when trying to put out something that you knew would make a difference in many lives. Satan does not want those articles/stories to make it to publication.

Remember to pray for your writing friends today. We all go through difficult times. Even if you don’t know what’s going on in our lives specifically, God does, and He will hear your prayers.

Lord, Help me to constantly lift up before You my fellow writers who are trying to spread Your Gospel. They need You; I need You. Amen.

Ruth O’Neil has been a US freelance writer for 20-plus years. She sees everything as a writing opportunity in disguise, whether it is an interesting character, setting or situation. When she’s not writing or homeschooling her kids, Ruth spends her time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping and hiking with her family.

This article was an entry in our LittWorld 2015 Devotional Writing Contest.

How to Care and Feed Your Flock via Social Media

Is social media worth the time and effort it requires? Bestselling author Robin Gunn shares how Christian authors can care for their readers, the flock that God has entrusted to them, via social media.

How have you used social media to connect effectively with your audience?

This video is one of a series of 3-5 minute teaching videos based on workshops led by top international Christian publishing professionals at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya. We give thanks for the dozens of dedicated men and women who serve as our volunteer trainers, many of whom shared their expertise in these videos.

These mini videos on writing, editing, marketing, design, digital publishing, leadership, and more, were shot and produced by Good News Productions, enabling us to bring them to you.