I imagine that anyone who has ever done a course in marketing will have heard of The Four P’s that form the basis of marketing strategies – Product, Price, Promotion and Place. But how does that apply to publishing? This series will look at what you need to know about the Four P’s and what you can do to successfully market your book.
But before we get into the Four P’s, we need to look at the different ways to get published, because the publishing route you choose will dictate how much input you have into the marketing process. There are three main ways of getting your book published: trade publishing, subsidy publishing and self-publishing.
Trade Publishing is the accepted term for the traditional royalty-paying publisher (also referred to as a legacy publisher). You may receive an advance (particularly for second and subsequent books), and you will be paid a defined amount for each copy of the book sold. Actual terms will be outlined in a detailed contract, and for your own protection, you should have this reviewed by a professional before signing.
The Big Six publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster, along with all their associated imprints) will almost always only accept manuscripts from a recognised literary agent. Unsolicited submissions are likely to be returned unread (or, worse, trashed unacknowledged and unread).
There are many small press publishers that still accept direct author submissions, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. However, while they do accept unagented submissions, they may well request that all manuscripts have been professionally edited prior to submission.
These small presses are a lot more likely to work with the author to develop the product, such as having a say in choosing the title of the book and the cover artwork (which means that your novel with a dark-haired heroine is less likely to appear with a blonde bombshell on the cover). However, they will not have the same level of marketing support, or the in-store brand recognition of Zondervan or other major Christian imprints.
If you receive a contract from a trade publisher, they will make the decisions around product, price and place (and you might even find yourself disagreeing with those decisions). The author will be expected to contribute to the promotion of the book, through a combination of organised promotional efforts, and through leveraging their own contacts. They are unlikely to publish a hardcover edition of a novel, but will almost certainly publish both a paperback and an e-book version.
My next post will look at Subsidy Publishing and Self-publishing.