Alison Baverstock, How to Market Books

Alison Baverstock. How to Market Books. 5th ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2015. xx, 471p., ill. ISBN 9780415727587. £29.99 (paperback).

How to Market Books is, as the title suggests, a practical guide for publishers and authors. It has been in print for over twenty years and is a well-established reference. The new edition takes into account extensive changes in the publishing industry over the past five years, and Baverstock places her discussion in a broader framework: “at times of great change it’s worth slowing down, isolating the theory behind practice and looking back for guidance on how previous generations solved problems” (xv).

Baverstock explains the basics of segmenting markets, branding, integrated marketing communications, and relationship marketing. The book is comprehensive, even exhaustive, in defining terms used in the industry—e.g. different types of licences, the components of promotional messages. One chapter is devoted to drawing up and monitoring a budget and strategies for securing financial support, while other chapters set out the steps in preparing a marketing plan, writing effective copy, disseminating marketing materials, and working with the media. Breakout boxes contain useful case studies. Her experience with publishing students is evident in the preface to Chapter 8 (“Direct Marketing”): “Even if you are in a hurry to get on and learn about online marketing, please read this chapter first” (170). She rightly emphasises the importance of understanding foundational marketing principles which can be applied to specific contemporary circumstances.

Baverstock writes in in the introduction that she has expanded the book’s coverage of social media and this is particularly well done, with practical examples showing publishers how they can use metadata effectively to increase the likelihood that prospective readers will come across their titles in online searches, tips about the use of Facebook, Twitter, and author engagement, as well as a caution about the amount of time that may be required to maintain a blog: “it’s much easier to start one than to keep it going” (224). Pleasingly, case studies of publishers’ use of social and online media indicate the ways in which they themselves are learning through trial and error. Part III contains “Specific Advice for Particular Markets” and, while few readers would be likely to draw on all of its sections, each one provides knowledgeable, practical advice.

Having recently undertaken a study which involved interviewing over 25 senior publishers in Australia, I was interested to compare Baverstock’s advice with these publishers’ accounts of their marketing strategies. It was impressive to see the strong connections between Baverstock’s logically set out explanations, framed in sound marketing principles, and CEOs’ discussions about their own experiences of marketing in the contemporary environment.

Baverstock briefly acknowledges the uneasy tensions between editorial-driven publishing and marketing, and the increased role of marketing in many publishing companies, but the purpose of the book is not to engage in theoretical debates about these issues. Rather, this book is particularly useful for publishing studies courses where the material could be discussed section by section over a longer period of time and students could apply the theory to their own projects. Small publishers may also find it a useful resource and valuable for comparing their own experiences with those outlined in the case studies. Given the extensive changes underway in the industry, aspiring publishers will benefit from the book’s overview of developments and the practical implications for connecting more readers with their books.

Jan Zwar
Macquarie University