Monthly Archives: December 2005

Sunday interview: John Spencer

John Spencer is co-author (with Anne Spencer) of a number of books concerning the paranormal including The Encyclopedia of Mystical and Sacred Sites, published by Headline in 2002.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?I think it’s more publicity; I did interviews on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines. I also did some signings etc. The marketing was done by publishers Hodder Headline.

2. What marketing did Hodder Headline do?For earlier books they were very good; for example they got me into bookclubs where we were bookclub book of the month three times and sold 300,000 copies in hardback before going into paperback and foreign, but as the subject waned a little they lost interest and for this last book frankly I think they did very little marketing.

3. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start? I did get involved in the early days with actually attending marketing department meetings and giving talks to the sales force to ‘beef them up’. Headline stopped that in the later years. I think it helped sales though when they were selling to chains and clubs to be able to say they had spoken to the author personally.

4. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your books?That you need to seriously suck up to the marketing department head at your publisher!

5. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?The bookclubs were our best publicity. In addition to the one I already mention, another sold around 70,000 copies in hardback and went to several successful overseas translations as the result of bookclub intros.

6. What advice would give for authors starting out with marketing their books?As far as possible try and make yourself available for interviews and brush up on your TV and radio image techniques.


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Sunday interview: jay Dixon

jay Dixon is the author of The Romantic Fiction of Mills & Boon 1909-1995 (1999, UCL Press). She has published numerous articles on genre fiction, romance, and the novels of Georgette Heyer.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?

(a) Mainly by giving talks about the book at various conferences, both academic and writers’. I had been doing this for some time before it was published, so people knew about it years before it appeared.

(b) I was invited on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 – this was a disaster, but presumably garnered some publicity.

(c) I knew the owners of the bookshop Silver Moon in London and they did a window display for me, though I was unable to go in and do a talk/signing.

(d) I phoned various newspapers asking if I could do an article on the book, but they weren’t interested, partly I suspect because of the subject matter and partly because another book about Mills & Boon had been given a lot of publicity.

2. What marketing has your publisher done?
Apart from putting the book in their catalogue and sending out review copiesto journals I had suggested, none.

3. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market non-fiction?
You need a lot of energy and time; and if your publisher isn’t helpful you are often banging your head against a brick wall. Also, choose your subject matter wisely!

4. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?
Giving talks at academic conferences, which told the people who taught the subject the book was forthcoming/published.

5. What advice would give for authors starting out with marketing their books?
Put time aside to do the marketing before the book comes out. Put most of your energies into targeted marketing, i.e. if the book is set in a particular place, target that area. Use the Internet – just one mention on a relevant list can reach hundreds of people round the world.

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