Don’t Be Too Smart or Clever in Your Book Descriptions

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Photo credit: Judy ** on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

One of the most compelling panels I attended at BookExpo 2018 was “Preorder Sales Secrets from the Publishing Pros.” It included book marketers from HarperCollins, Kensington, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House. An overarching point of the panel was that running preorder campaigns helps publishers gauge what marketing appeals succeed with the target readership. Preorder campaigns act like the canary in the coal mine: bad results indicate that the marketing direction or metadata could be wrong.

For one example, a marketer admitted that her department didn’t want to call an upcoming vampire book, well, a vampire book. Because the department was coy in the marketing and advertising copy, and avoided using that label, reader response was poor. The publisher received the message loud and clear: if you have a vampire book, say it’s a vampire book. Subtlety is not your friend.

In my latest column for Publishers Weekly, I explore how thinking your reader can help you write better book marketing copy. Read the column.

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