Old and New

The old and new worlds of publishing and marketing all happen at the same time these days: we have just launched An Irish Voice by Niall O’Dowd, a very influential Irish-American with links everywhere, who played a crucial role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, among other things. It’s a great book, but I’ll stop the sales pitch here! What I want to explore here is how the changes in the book world have impacted on how we have taken this title to market. In many ways, this title has been a textbook example of the traditional way to launch a book:

  • pre-sell to the book trade five months in advance with a good cover, advance information sheet etc
  • release the book in to the supply chain ten days before you start the publicity, to give the books time to make their way onto the shelves: there’s nothing worse than a customer leaving a shop because the book is still in goods inwards!
  • get the book into key reviewers’ hands, and ensure that all the authors friends, colleagues and ex-colleagues know about it in plenty of time to use their influence in the national print media: we got a string of fabulous reviews, particularly Tim Pat Coogan in the Irish Independent.
  • select a newspaper to have exclusive access to an extract from the book
  • get all the traditional broadcast media lined up behind it: Today With Pat Kenny, Ireland AM, The George Hook Show, Drivetime etc
  • get a high-profile person to launch it (you can’t get much more high profile than An Taoiseach, Brian Cowen!) and hope that the press will cover it. The event was great, both Niall O’Dowd and Brian Cowen gave excellent speeches and lots of influential people enjoyed mingling with each other. And even better (the day after a soccer international with Brazil) the Irish Independent had a picture from our book launch on their cover (as well as an inside story) instead of Robbie Keane!
  • get the author to sign stock
  • keep pushing for more stories, more coverage and a wider spread in the local media

And yet, current trends in the world of books are playing an ever-increasing role

  • the microsite is live: www.AnIrishVoice.com
  • this is our first ever commercial eBook: it is available (and copies have been sold) on the Amazon Kindle
  • other electronic versions are following quickly in its heels: more news to follow on this very soon
  • the media list contains an ever-increasing list of blogs, websites and other online opinion-formers (many of the enthusiastic amateurs) as well as the more traditional targets
  • the signed stock is being sold online (on our site as well as the microsite) in addition to via traditional booksellers.
  • the presence of the book on www.obrien.ie is enhanced with extracts and a video (produced in-house) of Niall talking about the book. Both as a marketing and sales tool, www.obrien.ie is becoming ever more important, and was responsible for 2% of our total sales last year — not to be sniffed at, and growing all the time.

And all this without facebook, twitter, Google AdWords, iPhone apps and enhanced Smell-O-Vision e-book! Marketing and selling a book is all about making connections with the reader effectively and efficiently: how much of this will look a little quaint and old-fashioned in another couple of years? How many more books will sell electronically and how many less physically (sadly, no more will sell via Hughes & Hughes: this family-owned Irish chain had some excellent shops and great booksellers, and will be sorely missed by book-lovers here. Our sincere sympathies to the 100 or so people who have lost their jobs — the latest victims of the Irish economic collapse. We are delighted that Eason have taken over the contract for the airports — great news for World Book Day)?

Ivan