Book marketing is a stepping stone to make a book successful. Undeniably, book marketing is complex, in a manner that, it needs resources and strategic planning to make a book successful on the consumer market. Book publishing is not just about putting a book on the market to make sales, it should also promote the creativity and work of the author. Marketing of a book can go a long way to achieve this and more.
Compared to other products, book marketing is not widespread in Ghana as expected. There seems to be some loopholes in book marketing. In an article—Bookselling in Ghana today, published in Ghana Book World No. 4 1988—Mr. Sam Cofie indicated that bookselling in Ghana was pioneered by some religious bodies between 1935 and 1950. He added that Books produced at that time did not need much marketing because it was produced for a specific targeted people. Little effort was put in to conduct research to ascertain readers’ preferences and needs. There was a turn-around as a lot more publishers started producing books such as novels, how-to books, trade books, etc, apart from the ones needed for only academic purposes. Yet there seems to be some hesitation on the part of publishers or authors to invest in marketing the books they produce in the country. There is little or no book market research, publicity, advertising or promotion.
Market research should be an integral part of book publishing. Book market research can be termed as a “secret weapon” to a successful book on the market. As indicated earlier, book publishing is not just about publishing a book and putting it on the market. It should involve the identification of potential or ideal readers of the book yet-to-be published, understanding what the readers want, and giving out what the readers want. Basically, book market research is about making a better decision by considering readers in the writing of a book, choosing a title of a book, branding of the book, designing a book cover, producing a book, and marketing the book. Undertaking a market research repletes a successful book publication, and distinguishes an author or a publisher from others.
As part of market research, an author or publisher is able to identify titles his or her book is in competition with. This helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of these titles, so that efforts can be made to improve on the book, and distinguish it from the titles already on the market.
In Ghana, hardly do we see books being publicized or advertised. This creates a gap in making the book successful on the market. Book publicity, which is also an essential aspect of book publishing, contributes to the success of a book. Book publicity is different from book advertising, although both are awareness creation tool.
Publicity involves persuading or convincing a media outlet to feature a book or an author, or to secure a space for interview. Some avenues authors and publishers could use to publicise a book are book reviews, feature stories, press release, articles, interviews on radio or television, expert commentaries, etc. Book publicity is mainly about making authors and books becoming part of the news. Publicity is an inexpensive aspect of marketing communication, which gives much credibility and authenticity to a book. When done well, book publicity can be powerful in marketing a book.
As mentioned earlier, book advertising is an aspect of book marketing. However, not much news is heard of it in the country. Advertising a book can contribute to the performance and success of the book on the consumer market. This awareness creation tool is non-personal communication, where a media space is purchased to promote the sales of a product, in this case, the book.
The advert can be on a digital or traditional media (newspaper). It is important to have a strong creative content of the advert, be it on radio or television. Though costly, since it is paid for, a successful book advertisement is worth the cost. The main idea to advertise a book is to inform potential readers of a new title, increase the frequency and quantity of book purchase, attract and influence new or undecided generation of readers, present promotional programmes to the populace, among others. Book advertising can also help build a good niche for an author or a publisher.
To conclude, effective, innovative and active book marketing makes a book visible on the market. Passivity does not sell a book; therefore, active book marketing will influence and increase the purchase of a book. Although book marketing is a strategy to increase book purchase, quality and book standards should not be compromised. Authors and book publishers are encouraged to invest in strategic marketing of books to influence customer behaviour and reap the benefits associated with it.
The writer is the Production Services Manager, Ghana Book Development Council