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Digging Deeper into the Numbers: Why Do Publishers Care about Social Media and Email?

In our last post, we talked about the number of social media followers, email addresses and blog readers you need to give yourself the best shot at getting a book deal from a big publisher (assuming that’s your goal). Now, in this follow-up post, we’re going to look at why those three tools are so important.

When you look at books from major publishers, one of the things that stands out is that when a big book comes out, its author usually appears on high-profile television and radio shows to promote it. Some authors also do a great deal of speaking at conferences and professional events. So shouldn’t publishers be looking at PR and speaking opportunities as the major factors in deciding whether or not to buy someone’s book?

They do look at marketing channels like the press and speaking. However, one of the reasons that social media, email, and blog readership take on greater importance is that, unlike the press and organizations that book people to speak, the author has complete control over his or her social media feeds, email addresses, and blog. If you have 60,000 Twitter followers, you can tweet to them as much as you want and whatever you want (as long as you don’t violate the platform’s standards). If you have an email list of 20,000, you can create a gorgeous e-newsletter and send it to that captive audience twice a month, hitting them with whatever incentives, promotions and previews you like to build interest in your book.

These 3 tools are completely in an author’s control. With the right help from the publisher or a marketing firm, you can turn them into powerful sales tools. PR is attractive, and an appearance on the Today Show or Ellen can really move the needle on sales, but you have no control over the press. Big speaking engagements that buy books in advance can mean 1,000 copies or more sold at shot, but you don’t have any control over who will want to book you as a speaker.

Social media, email and blogs put the marketing muscle in the hands of the author and the author’s allies, and publishers love that. Because who’s more motivated to sell the hell out of your book than you are? Hint: The answer had better be “Nobody.”

Now you know what to build and how big to build them. Go do it.

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