TAA PODCAST: Tips & Strategies for Successfully Marketing Your Textbook

Robert ChristophersonIn this TAA podcast, Robert Christopherson, author of the leading physical geography textbooks in the US and Canada, shares strategies authors can use to successfully market their textbook, including participation in national sales meetings, an author’s blog linked to the text, an interactive web site, and more.

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Use YouTube videos to promote your textbook

Textbook videosLydia Cline, a drafting professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and the author of five text and trade books, said she has found that posting short videos on her books’ topics to YouTube can be an effective way to promote them.

She originally created her channel, ProfDrafting, to post classroom topics for her students. “They enjoy the videos as a supplement to their text,” said Cline. On the advice of her TAB/McGraw-Hll editor, she added book content videos. In less than a year she collected 137 subscribers and over 31,000 views, even though she does no promotion beyond telling her students about it. “The channel has returned benefits in ways I didn’t anticipate. With YouTube’s amazing analytics, I can see how long viewers watch the videos, which videos are popular, and which are ignored. My observation is that once a channel starts attracting views–mine were initially from my students–YouTube starts promoting it via the Suggested Videos sidebar and the videos also appear in a Google search. I can see who the subscribers are, and most are NOT my students. They’re from all over the world. I knew YouTube had a global audience, but wow, my subscriber list really hammers that home to me.” [Read more…]

How to get your textbook noticed by librarians and book buyers

Here’s what every book promoter and author should know: Libraries (and your local bookstore) provide a significant market for independent titles—especially self-published or those from small presses, said Kimber Bilby, ForeWord Reviews marketing director.

The American Library Association reports that public, school, college and university libraries spent over $1.9 billion on book purchases in 2007. Before you mail out copies of your book, said Bilby, keep the following in mind:

  1. List all wholesalers and distributors for your title, and place ordering information prominently on your sales sheet, including ISBN / Genre / Publisher / Publishing Date / Binding / Price / Page Count.
  2. Promote your book with a brief description (no more than three sentences). Focus on why your book would be popular. Does is touch on a hot topic, focus on health, feature zombies, or is it a patron-pleasing mystery?
  3. List your credentials.
  4. Include copies of professional book reviews. With mention of these, many libraries can then show a need to buy for their collection.
  5. Address your book and sales sheet to the library’s acquisition buyer or director.

Textbook promotion: How to earn local, national media attention

Michelle A. Blackely

Michelle A. Blackley

“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt putting a halt on buying any new manuscripts”

“Publishing companies will no longer expense (extravagant) lunches with literary agents”

“Plunging sales and stocks reported from booksellers”

With headlines like these, the publishing community is wondering how the book industry will survive in a rocky economy, especially those in publicity. Anyone in public relations, media and even writers know promotion is needed to sell books but convincing upper brass can sometimes be an uphill battle. The good news is anyone can promote his or her work. A fancy Manhattan PR firm doesn’t have to be hired for big dollars.

Consider these tips to earn local and national media attention for your work:

  • The United States has a brand name society and the American consumer trusts what they know. If you are an author, especially a first-timer, creating a strong name and reputation for yourself in the book business matters most. Show your efforts, your credibility and highlight your book(s) on your website, signatures of emails, college/university newsletter, etc.
  • “Doing lunch” is still possible, just scale it down. Ask a publisher out for coffee and be ready to go Dutch.
  • Bigger isn’t always better. If your usual publishing house is going to drop your second or third book option, or flat out reject you, don’t fret. Look for a smaller house that may even have a budget set aside for an in-house publicity campaign. If that fails, self-publishing is becoming more popular and outsourcing provides great economical relief.
  • One of the great alternatives to traditional marketing is the use of publicity. Having an article written about you in the local newspaper or being interviewed by the news media positions you as an expert in your community. The best way to get this free publicity is by writing a well-written press release. A press release, simply put, is a statement prepared for the media that provides them with useful, accurate and interesting information. Remember, journalists are constantly searching for their next story and a well-written press release fulfills that need.

With the economy giving everyone a run for his or her money, it doesn’t mean it’s time to hide your important work and become invisible. Whether your goal is to have a book adopted in a college class or get an invitation from Oprah, it’s essential to lead with positivity and creativity. Don’t just sell – promote.

Michelle Blackley is a literary publicist in Buffalo, NY. She is also an adjunct lecturer of communication at Buffalo State College and a freelance writer.

How to leverage a book award

kaiser_website_screensnapReceiving a book award is not only a great honor, it can also be used to increase book sales and advance your writing career.

Judy Rasminsky, coauthor of Challenging Behavior in Young Children and Challenging Behavior in Elementary and Middle School, both of which have received TAA Textbook Excellence (Texty) Awards, said she and her coauthor Barbara Kaiser have leveraged the award in several ways, including:

  • Posting the Texty logo in several places on their challenging behavior websites www.challengingbehavior.com/middle.html and www.challengingbehavior.com/young.html
  • Sending a press release announcing the award to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC included information about the award in its catalog, newsletter, and journal, and also purchased Texty seals to put on the books they sell.
  • Asking their editors to notify sales reps about the award.

Chuck Corbin, whose physical fitness textbooks have won both TAA Textbook Excellence Awards and a McGuffey Longevity Award, added the awards to his curriculum vitae. He and also included the award in his website bio and plans to mention it in the prefaces of future editions of each book. Corbin also notified his university and local newspapers in order to publicize the award to students, faculty, and the community.

Both Rasminsky and Corbin also recommend including information about the award on conference presentation slides and handouts.

Eric Schulz, coauthor of Calculus, which won a 2011 TAA Textbook Excellence Award, encouraged his publisher to promote the award as much as possible. Pearson posted an announcement about the award on Facebook and included information about it in their literature. Schulz also let Wolfram, the technology company that makes the unique software used to create the e-book version of Calculus, know about the award. Wolfram published a press release on their blog. Like Corbin, Schulz also worked with his university to spread the word to his local academic community.

Dionne Soares Palmer is a freelance writer based in northern California.

Marketing strategies: Reinforce textbook adoptions with promotional calendar

Robert ChristophersonPhysical geography author Robert Christopherson recently published a calendar to promote the seventh edition of his award-winning textbook, Geosystems.

The calendar’s two opening pages describe the strengths and new features of the new edition, and list the accompanying student and instructor supplements. The calendar itself features factoids that match physical geography and Earth systems science events, as well as photos for each month depicting physical geography subjects, such as the rapeseed crop in full bloom in northern Scottland; frost-shattered rock in Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean; and a birch forest in south-central Norway. [Read more…]

‘Publication party’ great way to promote your authoring

Karen Morris

Karen Morris, posing with a copy of her 2009 TAA McGuffey Longevity Award-winning textbook, Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law.

Writing a textbook not only has the potential to generate royalties, but is also a great way to advance your career. Karen Morris, author of Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law, 4/e, has used her textbook to do just that by hosting a “Publication Party” each time a new edition of her book is published.

A “Publication Party” is an event designed to celebrate the accomplishment of completing the book and to remind people that you are an author.

“If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to promote yourself, in my mind, it is such as wasted opportunity,” said Morris, also distinguished professor at Monroe Community College. “It’s a way to gain publicity and notice, which is part of my goal in writing textbooks.”

She has held a Publication Party for each of her four editions. Her goals each time include advancing her career as a professor and as an elected official – she is town judge of Brighton, adjacent to Rochester, New York. “Every time a new edition of my book comes out, my goal is to make sure that the local people who are influential in my life are aware that I have published a book, as well as to celebrate that accomplishment with my friends,” said Morris.

For each Publication Party, Morris sends invitations to not just her friends but also her colleagues and administrators, including the chair, dean, provost and president at Monroe Community College where she teaches. She also sends event announcements to the media, town officials, and her publisher. “I want these various constituencies to see me as an author, as well as someone who is recognized as an authority in a particular field of law,” she said.

Morris’s first Publication Party was held at her local Borders bookstore. At that event, she made a formal presentation. The bookstore also stocked a large number of her books hoping to sell them, but, said Morris, the purpose of a Publication Party is not to promote sales of your book: “I don’t sell my book at the party, and don’t expect the people coming are interested in buying it.” She held an “after party” following the Borders event at a restaurant and treated her invitees to dinner.

Her second Publication Party was held at the Rochester, New York Writers & Books (http://www.wab.org), where Morris is a member. The third party was held at a restaurant, and the fourth party was held at Monroe Community College. She serves food at each event, sometimes decorates with balloon bouquets, and displays numerous copies of her book. Depending on the forum, she says, she might talk a bit about the book and then answer questions. She then mingles with guests, and she adds, hopefully with media who have sent a reporter. “A big part of the goal is publicity,” said Morris. “I write a press release and send it to the local media – newspaper, television and radio – and also lesser known outlets including a local lawyer business newspaper, and my synagogue’s bulletin. They all usually include an article.”

The benefits of holding Publication Parties have been cumulative, said Morris: “I’ve been re-elected to serve as Brighton Town Justice five times. My community college nominated me to be the first Distinguished Professor at the community college level in the State University of New York System in 2006. No teaching professor from my college was given that designation before or after I received it.. I’m not saying that these were a direct result of holding Publication Parties, but they played a role in reminding everyone that I’m someone working hard and doing good things. It keeps me on their radar screens.”

The Publication Parties are also just plain fun, she said: “It’s a chance to revel in the accomplishment. I work so hard when producing the book, the parties give me a chance to really say, ‘I have accomplished this.’ It is also a way to celebrate with my friends and to enjoy my friends’ congratulations and their excitement for me.”