Chip MacGregor is one of the top Christian literary agents. I call him the “Uber-Agent,” because he has such a wealth of CBA experience. He also writes a great blog and recently talked about the lousy marketing strategies employed by most Christian publishers. I couldn’t help but pass along his insightful comments:
More than half of the books released every year in CBA have zero marketing efforts planned for them. Look, the dirty little secret of CBA marketing is that there’s really only ONE marketing plan. It’s true — they just keep changing the cover page and passing the document around between publishers and authors.
Here’s their plan: “We’re going to send a half-dozen copies to those Christian magazines you don’t read. Then, we’re going to send the other half-dozen to the Christian TV shows you don’t watch — the ones where the people all have big hair and cry a lot. Next, we’re going to set you up to do talk shows during the early morning drive time slot in every city of less than 30,000 people. We may send out copies of entire chapters to magazines, so they’ve got something to fill up their recycling bins. And, then we’ll create a cool press kit that has an actual color image of your book cover, as well as generic author questions any moron can parrot so that he doesn’t have to actually read your book. Oh — and we’ll talk to you about the internet, though we’re not sure it really exists, since we don’t use it for much of anything. Then, we’ll claim it cost us tens of thousands of dollars to market your book.”
Therefore, what sort of marketing would I suggest to an author? First, I’d suggest taking control of marketing their own book. Put aside that old-fashioned notion that the publisher is going to market your book for you, and start learning what you can do to help get the word out. Second, I’d suggest some field research — who is the audience for your book? What’s the best way to reach them? Third, I’d start checking out the creative ideas people are using on the web. It’s the place to buy books.
Another area is one that authors could work harder at: Articles. There are newspapers, magazines, and e-zines all over the world, and they’re all looking for content. Yet, I don’t see authors taking their work and reshaping it a dozen times, for a dozen different e-zines, in order to get the word out about their book. It’s probably the most under-utilized marketing method out there. Why won’t most authors do this? Because it means actual work, and let’s face it…most writers are basically lazy.
Wow – great insights from the Uber-Agent! As I’ve mentioned before, the burden of book marketing falls on the author’s shoulders. That’s why WildFire Marketing exists – to help you spread your message in the best ways possible!