Thursday, March 02, 2006

John Kremer Rocks ABPA

John Kremer, book marketer extraordinaire, poured out a veritable Vesuvius of information to help attendees at our January meeting reach new heights in their book sales. Smiling, personable and soft-spoken he may be, but when John Kremer speaks, information comes at you like a fire hose. You may be gulping as fast as you can–even setting a modern indoor record–but you absolutely, positively won’t be able to take it all in.

This deluge of information creates a problem for your humble writer: There’s no way any single article, including this one, could capture the breadth and depth of all the information Kremer gave us. Fortunately, thanks to your ABPA board, this problem comes with a solution. April will see the release of the newest edition of the Kremer opus, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, and the board has arranged to offer the book to ABPA members–at a discount no less! Kremer in person plus the book is the ultimate, but if you missed the meeting, at least you haven’t missed everything.

See this article, then, as a mere introduction to the many facets of book marketing, a la John Kremer.

Starting with a burst of reality, Kremer assured us that 90% of our marketing efforts will fail. What to do? Get used to it and keep on keeping on.

He further challenged us by stating the fact that nobody but the author can market a book. Sure, the publishing company should help. Publicists may help. Marketing gurus might be of assistance. Get all the advocacy the budget allows, but realize that only the author brings the passion that results in successful marketing.

Furthermore, successful marketing is based on relationships. People help people they like. People buy from people they like. But the necessary relationships must relate to our target market and their needs and desires, so we heard about how to establish the needed connections in a way that makes everybody a winner.

By use of examples, Kremer then described the how and why of creating a book brand. Since 80% of books are sold by word of mouth, a memorable title that people can easily remember and repeat is essential. Using recognizable variations of the title from book to book will solidify the brand and further assist its word-of-mouth potential.

A good way to create a marketing buzz about a book is to give it away, whether by the piece, as an e-book or in its final form. For instance, Seth Godin gave away 180,000 e-copies of his first book before release–which created such a huge buzz that publication date sales tore the doors off the barn. But, like everything else, giving away books in a way that leads to success has ground rules, and Kremer discussed how to make the giveaway enhance sales and not devalue the book.

Kremer admonished us to get over our idea that a book is only a book. Creating a book also creates a nexus of valuable rights, and he told several stories as examples of rights such as translations, audio, serialization, posters, premium sales, etc. Successful publishers, he said, put 50% of their marketing efforts into exploiting a book’s inherent rights, and that’s where large publishing companies make all their profit.

Finally (and here I skip several major points for reasons of space), Kremer emphasized the need to treat people well. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the successful thing to do. Recognize that what goes around comes around and give more than you receive. Write thank-you notes. Send quick, encouraging e-mails when you happen across information the recipient could use. And especially treat the media well by helping them get the information they need to do their job. For instance, don’t hesitate to recommend others, even your “competition,” if that helps to make an article more complete. Be the available, accessible person they can rely on–and thus will rely on–to your benefit and to theirs.

This isn’t head-in-the-clouds Kumbaya thinking, but long-term reality vision. Once again, people help people they like. People buy from people they like. What goes around comes around–whether it’s good or bad, so throw in good stuff. To do otherwise is volunteering to deal with negative consequences; what kind of a cockamamie plan is that? In business as in life, teleological thinking wins the day.

To sum up then, we ate, we networked, we laughed, we learned, and we came away with ideas to grow our business. Great evening, that.

This article was written by Bette Dowdell for the ABPA newsletter.

Bette Dowdell, former IBM Systems Engineer, small business consultant, software company owner, and the author of How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying, invites you to visit her at

Address: Arizona Book Publishing Association, 6340 S Rural Road #118-152, Tempe AZ 85283; 602-274-6264. Email: Web:
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