Marketing the Author Before the Book


Penny Sansevieri calls herself an accidental entrepreneur. When she started her successful firm, Author Marketing Experts, Inc., which she has now owned and operated for more than 12 years, she wasn’t intending to start a company. She was a self-published author who, at that time, recognized the sector as misunderstood and underserved.

So, when fate forced her from her long-term position as a professional publicist, she took the opportunity to be among the first to offer both self-published and mainstream authors the type of marketing services they deserve. And after 12 years, Sansevieri and are her team are doing more than just marketing authors, they’re producing success stories.

Day: Why author marketing?

Sansevieri: Unless they have already have books out before they come to us, they’ll have more books to sell. We want to build the author’s platform and build his or her credibility and fan base. When an author has more attention and a bigger fan base, the book is much more successful. When the author comes first, and we focus on building that fan base, their next books sells bigger, and so on and so forth. We are obviously marketing the book, but the fans buy into the author because it’s he or she that will continue to produce more books for the fans to devour.

Day: What distinguishes you from book publicists?

Sansevieri: Creativity. Not to say the typical publicist isn’t creative, but it takes a different kind of creativity. We are wildly creative to get publicity for these authors. Even when an author has a platform, there are still 300,000 books being published every year. Even if the author is a super star, she still must get her books noticed. We go outside the bookstores. We put our authors in electronics stores, Hallmarks, coffee shops, etc. Guess how many authors are in electronics stores each month doing book signings? None. We get noticed.

Day: How does an author find you?

Sansevieri: We are typically found organically. I strongly believe you must give people what they want to get what you want. We post lots of content to gain the trust of our clients and partners. We arm them with information, tips and advice for free and hope that once they see we know what we’re talking about, they’ll let us work for them.

Day: What is your most powerful tool?

Sansevieri: In addition to creativity, we change campaigns frequently. Everything has changed drastically, not just in the last 12 years, but in just the last two or three years. Pinterest wasn’t here a year ago. So, we have to evaluate regularly. I do so once a quarter. I ask what’s working and what isn’t. We were first on Twitter and we were also the first in the book marketing industry to do any type of Internet marketing. I have found that being fluid helps our authors tremendously.

Day: Print or digital?

Sansevieri: We are now folding digital into our existing campaigns, but it really depends on market of each author. Ebooks are outpacing traditional books at a rate of 2 to 1. We’re simply seeing lots of book sales in the ebook market.

Day: Is this causing a big problem for you and your clients?

Sansevieri: It’s lowered the barriers to entry, which brings in a huge amount of competition. Self-publishing brings in many books that are probably never meant to be sold to anyone except the author’s family, but they’re still in the searches and they still have the ability to compete. It has also opened the door for knock-offs. Take Fifty Shades of Gray, for example. You have no title protection, so there are plenty of knock-offs being produced, such as 25 Shades of Grey or 30 Shades of Grey.

These can be problematic. But that’s why we focus on marketing the author. When your fan base knows you, they search for you by name. They aren’t misled or confused by the competition and knock-offs. That trust is there and it’s working in your favor.

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About Author

Amy Day

Amy Day is the Associate Publisher and a contributing writer for Strategy Magazine. She has an MBA in Marketing Communications and Strategic Leadership from Southern Methodist University and has been on staff with Strategy for nearly a decade. She is an award-winning business executive with customer service credentials from the Disney Institute. In addition to editorial oversight, her regular beat includes business, customer service, publishing, and family/child wellness.

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