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13 Ways to market your textbook before, during & after publication

Textbook StackMarketing your textbook is about author-publisher cooperation, says mathematics author Michael Sullivan. He shares 13 ways authors can market their textbook before the writing begins, as the writing progresses, before publication, after publication and when preparing for the second edition.

Before the writing begins:

  • Establish a reputation. Request a day-long meeting with the publisher. Meet the marketing people, the sales director and the designer, art/illustrator, etc. Attend professional meetings and give presentations that include academic research and classroom strategies.
  • Get known by editors. Visit publisher exhibits and introduce yourself. Have a secure knowledge of existing books. Indicate an interest in writing a book, assisting with a revision, and/or coauthoring. Agree to review or assist in the writing process.

As the writing progresses:

  • Continue to attend professional meetings and build your reputation.
  • Give presentations that relate to the particular point of view of your book.
  • Class test the book in your classes; ask a friend to do the same.

Before publication:

  • Request a day-long meeting with the publisher. Meeting the marketing people and the sales directors and others who will work on your book.
  • Ask to attend the national sales meeting. Meet and greet the sales and marketing people. Don’t be pushy and don’t ask to present. “Have drinks with them; exchange your business card and email address; and let them know that you are available to them,” he said.
  • Get to know the marketing people. Offer to help them understand your product. Offer to proofread marketing materials.

After publication:

  • Work the publisher’s booth at the book exhibits of professional meetings. “It’s important to be there,” he said. “Many times questions will come up that only you can answer. Offer to help set up the exhibit, and stay on the last day and help break down the booth.” Tactfully assist in selling situations with your book: “Don’t oversell your stuff. I wait for questions to come to me rather than saying things I think the person wants to hear.” When it comes to sales, though, he said, you have to be good at it: “You don’t want to screw up a sale.”
  • Give sales reps your e-mail address and encourage them to contact you.
  • Offer to go on sales calls and/or give talks at schools that might adopt your book.

Preparing for the next edition:

  • Ask the editor for diary reviews from users. Diary reviews are first semester usage reviews by users of the book. The publisher slices the binding off the book, creates a three-hole punch, and puts it in a binder with blank pages in between each text page. Diary reviews offer quick, right after teaching reactions to the text; are good for reprint errors; and can be used to begin a file for a revision.
  • Ask your editor for reviews from users of competing texts. If your book didn’t win the adoption, this helps you find out why. It’s important for revision purposes, and to establish a relationship with the school so that you may get the adoption next time (with the hope that once you get it you will keep it).