Sat | May 26, 2018

Traditional vs online marketing

Published:Sunday | June 23, 2013 | 12:00 AM

One of the most challenging areas for authors is book marketing, both traditional and online. Writers or authors do what they do best - they write - so asking them to take part or carry out any activity related to marketing themselves and their book seems to be a daunting exercise. With the advent of online marketing, it seems to have become an even greater challenge as authors haven't seemed to grasp the concept, neither are they prepared or willing to play a role in the marketing process. And yes, it is a process which like any other product or service requires a strategic plan, consistency of effort and perseverance.

I think it is pertinent to understand that there are some main differences between traditional marketing and online marketing, in order to help bridge a gap that exists in the minds of authors as well as to help allay any fears that may inhibit them from playing a participatory role in its process.

1Once a book is published, it normally finds itself in a book store on a book shelf. If it is not given the prominent display that an author thinks it deserves, the book gets lost among the myriad other books fighting for the same shelf space and visibility. Someone walks into the store and if they do not ask for that specific book, then the prospective buyer will be pointed to those books that are written by well-known authors or those that have been given some level of awareness and prominence from promotions and marketing through the media. Let's suppose the book is purchased. The customer then walks out of the store and you, the author, have no clue who bought the book, neither can you find out to follow up with that person to get feedback. This is a crucial difference between traditional and online marketing. We all know that Amazon is the number-one place to self-publish your book, and while it is a virtual book store just like a traditional book store (also fighting with other books for virtual shelf space and visibility) it distinguishes itself by having a feature called 'you may also like' which allows your book or other books similar to yours, to be suggested to a prospective buyer based on their tastes and previous purchases. In addition, persons who bought your book will also be inclined to leave feedback or a review, letting you know their thoughts (positive or negative) about your book, which further helps you to sell more books and gain visibility. Not everyone will leave a review, but in time and with consistent and persistent marketing efforts, the number of reviews will grow, especially when Amazon keeps recommending your book.

2Without knowing who bought your book in the traditional book store, you have just lost a potential customer for life should you desire to author more books or even build a business around your book, a suggestion which is highly recommended. In the online space, there are ways you can capture the customer's credentials such as, name and email address to allow you the author, to build and maintain a relationship as well as brand loyalty for future products and services. This includes having an opt-in on your website and even the use of your social networks to connect with your audience.

3 Many authors are desirous of having their books on Amazon and that's a good thing because it allows for global visibility among other benefits. However, it demands of you, the time and effort as well as the type of personality that welcomes interacting with others, sharing yourself, commenting and providing advice to others and just down-to-earth, real and honest engagement with people who want to get to know you. What you need to realise is that the written word has power and your book may have an impact on someone's life. Most books do. And if you are not the type to want to interact or to come out of your comfort zone, then my suggestion is to keep your book in the traditional book store. I am not bashing book stores, they serve a purpose; neither am I bashing authors. This article is meant to enlighten you to the differences between the traditional and virtual marketplace and what is required of you should you want to see success online.

4 On a final point, authors should also know that there are no guarantees with either traditional or online book marketing when it comes to sales. No one can predict the number of books that will be sold in any given period. It's a business like any other and it is only after testing the waters, tweaking and fixing, that you can offer a guesstimate and still then, the market changes, and you too will have to be flexible and adaptable to suit the market's needs. If any author is serious about their book and believe that they have a product that can significantly impact others' lives, for those are the ones that stand out from the crowd, then they should be willing to invest time, effort and even money - yes, I said it, money - to back up what they believe in. If, however, your book is just a personal objective that you can cross off your to-do list, then that's fine too. Feel proud and accomplished that you can call yourself an author and a legacy is left behind for others.

There is much more to understanding the online space when it comes to marketing; intricate aspects that cannot be detailed in an article. It would be wise to research what it involves and hire someone if you lack the knowledge to do what needs to be done. Decide on your objectives and the results you want to achieve. Set out a plan and put your all into it now that you have some idea of the main differences between traditional and online marketing.

Side note

Tomorrow, June 24, 2013 will mark one fabulous year working with The Gleaner and writing this column 'Pointers on Publishing'. I want to thank my Editor, Monique Simpson and Features Coordinator, Amitabh Sharma, as well as the team at The Gleaner for contributing to the success that I am today. They make me look good in print media! We have a wonderful relationship that I anticipate will grow even further in the future.

P.S.: We still have room in my FREE 12-week book marketing programme 'Take The Challenge'. It's been an exciting eight weeks where authors have learned how to craft their pitch, use video, entered competitions, participated in live online radio, broadened their reach regionally and globally, viewed the work of others to know the level of competition in the marketplace and opened up themselves to constructive criticism from fellow authors and persons in their network. Are you up to the challenge? What do you have to lose? Here is the link to get in

Corine La Font is an author, certified author assistant and online book marketing specialist. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at Tune in to her radio programme at She can be reached at or visit her website at