Reflections from the Berrett-Koehler 2018 Book Marketing Workshop
October 1st, 2018
There are many differences between marketing a book, and, for instance, an automobile. But perhaps the biggest is that books have an author (or authors) who must be active in marketing not just a physical or digital representation of their work, but a part of their very being as an individual.
Photo credit: Bigstock
This can lead to ambivalence among authors about the personal tasks in marketing, yet some considered it more doable after the intensive two-day Berrett-Koehler 2018 Marketing Workshop, held July 19-20 in Arlington, Va. The event was open to both BK authors and prospective authors.
Marketing books is complex and multifaceted. If there are any rules, they seem to change constantly. It is also a people-oriented process, and a huge value of the workshop was to be in an immersive situation with other people involved in all aspects of book publishing. We heard from BK authors, BK personnel, outside experts/practitioners, and people representing companies that partner with BK.
The sessions were a mixture of tactical/strategic and existential. Authors have to be partners with their publisher in active and consistent marketing, and furthering their personal brands. They must develop and articulate good reasons why they’ve written their books, and how those books fit can into the lives of potential readers. It also means that the tactical work has to fit into your larger role as an author, professional, and human being. That was evident in such sessions as “Helping Others to Help Others: The Power of Virtual Conferences and Leveraging Influence Through a Common Mission,” by Seth Adam Smith; “Podcasting to Build Your Book, Brand, and Bottom Line,” by Doug Sandler; and “Taking Your Book on the Road: Finding and Maximizing Your Speaking Opportunities,” by Rob Jolles.
The perspectives of the company partners/outside experts-practitioners opened eyes to new and different ways of operating, as we learned in “How to Create Bulk Sales for Your Book,” by Perry Pidgeon Hooks and Deb Lewis; and “Where Are We Going? Strategies for Earth-Bound and Space-Bound Authors on the Changing Media Landscape, What Has Changed the Last 20 Years, and Opportunities for the Next 20 years,” by David Hahn and Barbara Monteiro.
Beyond these and other sessions, it was important to have the opportunity to informally meet, converse with, and learn from fellow attendees and presenters. This happened in between sessions, and especially during the terrific meals BK provided (breakfast and lunch both days; and plenty of coffee and tea throughout), and at a social gathering on the evening of July 19th at the Arlington independent bookstore One More Page Books. This reception was jointly hosted by BK and Weaving Influence. The owner of the latter marketing company, Becky Robinson, presented “Marketing is a Marathon Not A Sprint: Strategies and Tactics to Keep Your Marketing Motivation Up for the Long Haul,” at the workshop earlier that day with BK author Susan Fowler.
Things are changing at BK. It was recently announced that Steve Piersanti, who founded the company in 1992, is stepping down as president and CEO in mid-2019, but will continue in his editorial position, as he explains in his September 19 letter to the BK community: “However, I am not yet ready to retire, so I will continue as a full-time BK acquiring editor for books—which is the role I have always believed I was best at performing and which has given me the greatest satisfaction.”
My next stop is the BK Authors Retreat, October 18-21, in Wallingford, Pa., at the Pendle Hill retreat center. I’ve written about previous BK retreats, and this year promises to be particularly meaningful, especially given the, as Steve describes it in his letter, “New Chapter for Berrett-Koehler.”