Marketing Q&A with BOA Editions
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When do you start planning an upcoming release’s marketing?
The pre-publication process for BOA titles begins about one year (10-12 months) ahead of each book’s publication date. In the earliest phase, it’s important to gather as much information as possible about the author and new book. I always send a comprehensive Author Questionnaire to each author at this time, and then use their answers to craft each book’s individual marketing plan, publicity schedule, and sales pitch. This is also the time to finalize cover design and author headshots so these can be used on marketing materials throughout the entire pre-pub process.
How important is social media to your marketing efforts?
BOA has a robust presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest), and we feel it’s one of the best things to happen to small press marketing in recent years. Having a cost-effective platform where we not only disseminate information, but actually engage with our readers, is now essential to our marketing success. In an industry where word-of-mouth is perhaps the best possible way to generate sales, social media gives us the opportunity to blow that gate wide open, to really learn who our readers are, and to build an organizational identity with which people want to be associated.
What is the best way to communicate a negative review to an author?
The best way BOA can communicate a negative review to an author is to remind them that any media attention – even if negative – is a fulfillment of the press’ mission to put more books into the world, to get them into readers’ hands, and to contribute to a larger conversation. It’s not always what the reviewer has to say, but that they had something to say, that counts. Reviews help readers find books, and readers can always disagree with a negative review.
How important are industry connections when marketing new titles?
Industry connections are vital when it comes to marketing titles and garnering publicity. Relationship building and maintenance is a key piece in the art of publicity, as book publicists must learn to anticipate the needs of the media, to know what reviewers are reading, and to notice what booksellers are hand-selling. A book can go far if the publisher has earned a level of trust from review media and booksellers that they’re consistently giving solid pitches and recommendations.
As a small publisher, what are the most difficult aspects of marketing your titles?
Two of the most common struggles for small publishers are related to budget and staff capacity – because both are generally, well, small. BOA’s three staff members wear many hats, and when it comes to marketing, it takes a lot of creativity to squeeze the most out of every dollar and minute spent. Because the publication process is cyclical in nature, we’ve been able to construct a strong, skeletal framework for all book marketing plans, and from there work with authors to make each one unique and customized for maximum effect. I can’t overstate the importance of authors’ willingness to help by offering necessary information and assisting with outreach — it makes a huge difference for marketing capability, media attention, and ultimately, book sales.
Do you plan your social media posts far in advance or do you post as you see fit?
Social media marketing requires time, strategy, and — being that it’s non-traditional — equal parts scheduling and anticipating the unforeseen. Social media is unlike any other form of marketing: it’s a very “present” platform that requires near-constant monitoring and engagement. As important as it is to have a plan, it’s crucial that social media strategists learn to identify trending social media “moments” — brief occasions when their posts will be most relevant and effective. At BOA, we always plan social media posts around regular PR schedules and major announcements; but at the same time, we keep a contingency plan and budget for opportunities that can present themselves at any time.
Jenna Fisher is the Director of Marketing and Production at BOA Editions.
About BOA Editions
BOA Editions, Ltd. is a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works. Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, the press is committed to fostering readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Having earned an esteemed reputation as one of the nation’s premier independent presses, BOA has put more than 300 titles into the world, including the works of such renowned poets as Lucille Clifton, Li-Young Lee, and Naomi Shihab Nye.
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