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Promotions, PR and merchandising

'Promotions’ is a loose term usually referring to the linking of two or more items for a joint push to a related market.

For example, newspaper readers might be asked to collect tokens from consecutive issues of a paper towards a free book, or a promotion might be run offering subsidised books on the back of a cereal packet, in return for the customer collecting packet tops. Sometimes a special edition of a book may be produced as a giveaway or ‘cover-mount’ on a magazine.

As books have a high perceived value and are seldom thrown away, they offer strong potential for use in promotions, but, given the cost and time required to set them up, promotions are relatively rare. They are more likely to be arranged for authors who have a strong appeal and a long backlist, or for a new imprint that a publisher is trying to establish.

If you have contacts of your own in this area, do pass them on – even better, get things started, and then pass them on.

Publicity and PR

Book-review columns offer a straightforward way to get coverage for a new book. But reviews are not your only option; many forms of media will be more interested in the author than the book, and feature space may be available for author publicity.

When you have written a book, a wide range of panellist/interviewee opportunities opens up: those who have written about a subject are assumed to be expert/interesting/both. Be aware that little details you would rather were forgotten, or which undermine your seriousness as a writer, may be hugely useful to those handling publicity.

For example, what you have on your mantlepiece, the details of your first sexual experience, and how you feel about your childhood all form the basis for regular features in the press in which authors may appear.

Merchandising

In a publishing context, this means selling further goods to the public which build on the success of the original book – for example, stationery, T-shirts, lunchboxes, soft toys and duvet covers, all of which refer to the original product.

Some bookshops have the space to stock these items, but they appeal particularly to other retail outlets such as superstores, and serve to expand the ’shelf space’ devoted to your book.

Other marketing activities

There are other routine marketing activities. For example, publishers attend international book fairs, and trade delegations may take relevant titles to exhibitions abroad.

Many publishers advertise in the marketing materials put out by wholesalers and retailers, and others will take advertising space in relevant professional publications (for example, for the academic, educational or professional markets).

If you found this article useful, you might want to take a look at:

Book advertising (trade, press, billboards)

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