Advertising in the trade press forms an important part of most publishers’ marketing. With so many new books being produced each year, it’s a direct route to the attention of those making stocking decisions. Space may be taken in trade magazines to reach booksellers and persuade them to stock.
In addition to the weekly magazines, there are regular publications of export or ‘buyer’ editions – huge additional volumes that list all the titles in the forthcoming season.
As well as submitting editorial copy and author/cover photographs for their future titles, many publishers make up the option of advertising their books as well.
The logic behind an effective trade advertisement is to persuade the retailer to stock, so the copy will concentrate on anticipated demand for the title and the author’s ability to deliver what the market wants, rather than specific details of the title in question.
In addition to advertising to reach the trade, publishers may put loose inserts in trade magazines or mail them directly, perhaps concentrating on those shops which specialise in the kind of book they are promoting. Most houses will have built up their own mailing lists of those who stock their books, but if not, the relevant trade associations can supply details.
Before publication, this is how most authors imagine that their books will be promoted – and hence often a major source of disappointment.
The theory is that advertisements in the press reach readers and persuade them to buy. The fact is that there are now so many new media formats (for example, the vast range of magazines and broadcast programmes) that planning a ‘media schedule’ (or a list of where and when to advertise) to reach the entire market is both virtually impossible and hugely expensive.
But whilst more press advertising is the one promotional item that most authors say they want, many houses are now devoting attention to securing features through promotional arrangements (reader offers and ’sponsored editorial’ in return for advertising).
In any case, copy that appears as an editorial feature, even if sponsored (i.e. paid for), is more likely to be believed by the reader than advertising copy.
Space advertising in public places
Taking billboard space in the street is very expensive, so unless your book is likely to sell in huge quantities, it is unlikely to be affordable.
On the other hand there are cheaper options through space advertising in transport sites – on the sides of taxis, in the ceiling panels in the carriages of underground trains, in the panels inside buses, ‘cross-track’, on escalator panels and the poster sites on platforms and in passageways – because people are often squashed, can’t get access to their own material, and are happy to daydream.
And books make ideal products for this kind of advertising.
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