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Sunday, June 25, 2017

BookLife and Indie marketing

BookLife, by Publishers Weekly, is an interesting approach.  "Put the marketing power of Publishers Weekly behind your book," blares the headline in their PW Select offer.

"For just $149 your book cover and synopsis appear in front of thousands of book-sellers, librarians, agents, publishers, film producers and production companies," they say.

Back in 2012, I began an experiment in Indie publishing, predicting that digital books were the way of the future.  As it happens, I was wrong.  As eminent newspapers like the New York Times have found out, big investment in digital was ill-advised.  Print books and newspapers still keep 75% of the market, and always will.

But as an experiment it has proved very interesting.  As part of my own participation, I started another blog, called Kindle Publishing Hints.    It has proved very popular, with thousands of hits and -- most satisfyingly -- over one thousand thank you letters.  Apparently it has helped many writers through the technics of formatting, editing, illustrating, and submitting to KDP, and has even coached many through the intricacies of designing and uploading a cover.

For me, though, the crunch came when I was to advise about marketing.  I promised to do it, but never came through, because it has proved so difficult.

Bean-counters have taken advantage of this, by offering marketing at various prices.  The cheapest, by far (because it is free) is Draft to Digital, a firm that promotes your book with a range of digital booksellers, such as Kobo, for a commission that is just a fraction of the selling price. 

Others charge hundreds, or even thousands.  So when I came across the offers made by Publishers Weekly, a highly respected marketer and reviewer of new books, I was interested, as the prices of the various options seemed reasonable.

First, there is the Book Life Prize.  This is an annual competition, where the entry fee is $99 (occasionally reduced to $79 as a special deal).  Entry is easy, involving a download of the pdf file of your book, a jpeg of your cover, and the writing of a blurb and so forth.  It is very like submitting your book to Kindle Direct Publishing.  In return, you get a critique.  It is not a review, being terse and formal, with various aspects of the book -- character development, plot development, and so on -- being graded out of ten.  It can be very quotable, and you are allowed to quote it, as long as you give Book Life Prize as the source.

Worth it?  Yes.  Good value for money.

And then there is the Book Life section of Publisher Weekly.  It is called PW Select.

According to what they say --

When you pay $149 to participate in PW Select, your book appears in:
- Publishers Weekly's print and digital edition
- the home page of
- the home page of
- BookLife's weekly email newsletter to 18,000 recipients
- BookLife's Twitter and Facebook channels
Plus you receive:
- a six month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly
- a one year digital subscription to Publishers Weekly's PW Select monthly supplement
- a listing of your book in Publishers Weekly's special announcements database powered by Edelweiss which reaches tens of thousands of booksellers, librarians and reviewers
- a free copy of the Publishers Weekly print issue in which your listing appears
My reaction, after submitting The Money Ship to this process?  Does it help promote the book?  

Well, if that is what you are expecting...
It's a con.
The appearance in the PW print and digital was so fleeting I would have missed it if I had blinked.
The listing is almost as brief.  You can see it at the head of this post.  The only plus is that it is one of the first to be listed. 

There is also the cachet of being able to say that your book has been listed in this prestigious magazine.

And the 6-month digital subscription is also a bonus, if you like being kept up to date with the American book world.  (A one-year digital subscription is currently being offered at a discounted $168.00.)
My advice?  Try the Book Life Prize, by all means.  It's a new and interesting marketing ploy.  Forget PW Select.  There are much better ways to promote your book.  

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