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Marketing FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Marketing, Sales, Publicity, and Promotion

Welcome to the Marketing Department of the Johns Hopkins University Press. We are delighted to add you to our outstanding roster of authors. Our team is responsible for getting your book into the hands of its intended audience. Our functions include publicity, sales, copy writing, exhibits, awards, and print and online promotion. Following are answers to frequently asked questions about what we do to promote new books. We hope you find the information useful.

Contents

Part 1. Marketing Overview

Part 2. Dates, Dates, and More Dates

Part 3. Sales and Distribution

Part 4. Publicity and Exhibits

Part 5. Print Promotion

Part 6. Electronic Considerations and More

Part 1. Marketing Overview

Q. When will you begin marketing my book?

A. The marketing process begins shortly after the Acquisitions staff releases your manuscript to the Manuscript Editing Department, at which point you will receive a Marketing Questionnaire.

Q. What is the point of the Marketing Questionnaire?

A. This short form is an efficient way for you to share with us your promotional ideas and contacts. We will use the information you provide to develop review lists, submit your book for awards, and develop targeted plans for exhibits and advertising.

Q. The Marketing Questionnaire looks long! Do I have to answer all these questions?

A. Most authors find the questionnaire can be completed in less than 30 minutes, and many have their assistants do the heavy lifting. Complete it to the best of your ability. If you can’t answer a question, skip it.

Q. What happens when you receive my completed Marketing Questionnaire?

A. First we draft copy for the seasonal catalog in which your book will be announced. As we move closer to the book’s publication, we will use information in the questionnaire to plan exhibits, awards, publicity, sales, and advertising.

Q. You sent me a Marketing Questionnaire, but I can’t find it. What should I do?

A. Click here for another copy.

Q. Will you prepare a marketing plan for my book?

A. Yes. Your marketing plan will be e-mailed to you approximately 6–8 weeks after you receive a copy of the seasonal catalog. The marketing plan will tell you where the book will be catalogued, advertised, exhibited, and promoted.

Q. How long will my book be promoted?

A. Active promotion of your book begins with the announcement in the seasonal catalog (3–6 months prior to publication) and continues for approximately 3 months after publication. After that point, we continue to promote your book at exhibits, in catalogs, and online.

Q. Will you solicit prepublication endorsements?

A. For most scholarly books, we adapt excerpts from peer reviews for use as endorsements (with advance permission from the peer reviewer). Authors can also talk to their acquisitions editor to get their opinion about whether additional endorsements will be necessary or useful.

If you decide to solicit further endorsements, gather names and contact information for up to three potential endorsers. Contact them and ask them if they would be willing to read your manuscript and write an endorsement. If they say yes, contact your acquisitions editor to have a copy sent.

Endorsements should be no longer than 50 words and should include the full name and affiliation of the person endorsing the book. Due to space limitations, we advise you to limit your endorsement requests since it is difficult to fit more than two or three endorsements on the back of the book.

Part 2. Dates, Dates, and More Dates

Q. My book is due in March. Why does the catalog say April?

A. The publishing industry uses a maddening number of dates to alert various markets of a new book’s availability. Here’s an overview:

  • Bound Book Date: This is the date we expect your book to arrive in our warehouse from the printer.
  • On Sale Date: This date indicates when the publisher is expected to begin shipping books out of the warehouse. It is usually a week or two after the Bound Book Date. (This date is often used by Amazon to indicate future availability.)
  • Publication Date: This date is used to approximate the point at which your new book will be fully distributed to bookstores and libraries (usually four weeks after the Bound Book Date since new books travel many miles by truck, sometimes to and from multiple warehouses). Traditional book reviewers use the Publication Date to schedule the release of book reviews. This way, people who read the reviews will be able to find the book immediately after seeing the review.

Sample:
Bound Book Date:        January 1
On Sale Date:               January 15
Publication Date:           February 1

Q. Why is only the publication month shown in the catalog?

A. The seasonal catalog is printed while the book is still in production. Because the production schedule may shift, for a variety of reasons, we don’t finalize the Bound Book Date until well after the catalog is published.

Most of our books arrive right on schedule, however, and the publishing industry is quite tolerant of minor scheduling shifts. If your book arrives a little early or late, don’t worry. We will adjust the Publication Date and start actively publicizing the book as soon as we have it.

Q. How does Amazon determine which date to use on its site?

A. Amazon generally uses the On Sale Date to determine a book’s availability on its site. We supply them with updated information weekly during the production cycle. Because Amazon often ships directly from wholesaler warehouses, their site often shows earlier availability of new books than traditional bookstores.

Part 3. Sales and Distribution

Q. How is my book sold?

A. Your book is sold in multiple ways. Our sales team sells it to distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, who then make it available to consumers all over the world. We sell it directly to consumers through our website, subject catalogs, promotional materials, and academic exhibits.

Q. What happens when my book arrives in the warehouse?

A. Once the books arrive, they are inspected for quality, shelved, recorded into inventory, and activated in our database. Once that happens,

  • Your acquisitions editor will order your contractual gratis copies.
  • Your publicist will have review copies sent to appropriate reviewers/journalists.
  • The warehouse will begin releasing orders to wholesalers, bookstores, online vendors, libraries, book reviewers, and anyone else who has preordered the book. Orders placed after publication are shipped as soon as the order is received and processed by our warehouse (usually within a day or two).
  • For international distribution, books are shipped by boat to warehouses in Europe, Asia, and Australia. This takes about a month.

Q. What should I do if a particular bookstore doesn't have a copy of my book?

A. Our sales representatives try to persuade booksellers to stock all of our new books. However, in today’s economic climate, bookstores reserve valuable retail space for commercial titles that sell in large quantities.

If you don’t see your book on the shelf, don’t panic or get angry. Introduce yourself to the store manager, tell him or her that you have a new book, and explain that you are looking for a store where you can send your friends and colleagues. They will probably be glad to stock a few copies. Your local bookstore may display your title in a section devoted to local authors. Keep an eye on the inventory of your book. If all the copies are sold, remind the manager (gently, please!) that they need to reorder.

Q. Do you keep a big supply of my book in your offices?

A. No. During the active promotion phase, we keep a small supply on hand for urgent media requests and exhibits. Larger quantities must be ordered from one of our warehouses in Pennsylvania, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Q. Will the Press sell my book on the Internet?

A. Your book will have a dedicated page on the Johns Hopkins University Press website (www.press.jhu.edu), from which prospective buyers can purchase the book directly. Our books are also available for purchase from online retailers such as Amazon.com. We supply online retailers with descriptive information and covers prior to publication, and we update the information frequently. Despite our best efforts, data occasionally become corrupted, resulting in erroneous information on the site. Please let us know if you spot an error so we can get it corrected.

Q. Can people buy books directly from the Press?

A. Yes.

By phone, 8:30-5:00 EST
U.S. and Canadian customers: 800-537-5487
All other customers: 410-516-6965

By fax:
410-516-6998

By e-mail:
hfscustserv@press.jhu.edu

Online:
www.press.jhu.edu

By mail:
The Johns Hopkins University Press
c/o Hopkins Fulfillment Service
P.O. Box 50370
Baltimore, Maryland, 21211-4370

Q. How do I obtain copies of my book?

A. Immediately after your book is published, your acquisitions editor will arrange for shipment of the quantity of complimentary copies stipulated in your contract.

As an author or contributor, you get a 40% discount if you decide to purchase additional copies of your book or to buy any other book published by the Press. To make a purchase, contact the Press and mention your author discount code (which will come with your review list). Prepayment is required and there will be an additional charge for shipping. (See contact information directly above.)

Part 4. Publicity and Exhibits

Q. How do you decide where to send review copies of my book?

A: We have an extensive database of review editors at scholarly and specialty journals, review editors and feature writers at major newspapers and magazines, selected freelance reviewers, TV and radio producers, website editors, and bloggers. Your publicist will develop a review list based on our expertise, suggestions from your Marketing Questionnaire, and the target audience.

We will send you a copy of the review list soon after review copies have been distributed. Please look over this list carefully. If you have a few additional suggestions, let us know. Focus on quality, not quantity. Our aim is to get the book into the hands of those reviewers who will influence others to purchase it. Excessive distribution of review copies can undercut sales.

Q. What kind of media coverage can I expect to get?

A. Media coverage is impossible to predict, and it can be affected by a variety of factors. We will take steps to make your book visible to appropriate media outlets. Media outlets cover books that are interesting to their audiences, so we look for those intersections of interest. For example, local outlets are likely to cover local authors and scholarly journals are likely to review scholarly books. If your book addresses a particular topic that is being covered in breaking national news (for example, an oil spill or earthquake), we have a chance at getting national coverage. But remember: we can’t control what will be covered and what will not.

Q. When can I expect to see reviews of my book?

A. Scholarly journals and magazines typically have very long lead times. Reviews can appear anywhere from six months to two years after the book has been published.

If a nationally recognized publication runs a review, we will e-mail you a PDF or link. We will keep a hard copy of the original for our files. In many cases, you will be the first to learn about a review. Please e-mail us a copy or a link (fax or mail us a copy if necessary) so that we may use it to promote your book.

Q. Will you post reviews of my book on Amazon?

A. We supply Amazon (plus other e-tailers and the JHUP website) with excerpts of significant reviews. Your publicist will determine which part of the review to excerpt and will enter it into our database. The excerpt will then be picked up by Amazon. This process usually takes about a week.

Q. What is the state of book reviewing?

A. Book reviews used to be a staple of daily newspapers and other periodicals. Many major newspapers had stand-alone book review sections. The picture is quite different today. Precipitous declines in advertising have put many print publications out of business; the surviving publications have seen severe reductions in the space formerly devoted to lengthy and numerous reviews.

In light of these trends, we focus on core markets, realistic opportunities, and, increasingly, nontraditional outlets and social media. In today’s market, that means Facebook and Twitter postings, customer reviews, author book pages, feature stories, blog postings, and chats—as well as book reviews.

Q. Will the Press promote my book via Facebook or Twitter?

A. We post notices of reviews, media coverage, and other promotional highlights via the JHUP Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you are interested in learning the latest news about your book and our other publications, follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook.

Q. Will the Press host a launch party for my book?

A. Probably not. Generally speaking, parties are not the best use of our limited resources. We occasionally cohost receptions with alumni associations, academic departments, museums, or other organizations. If you would like to throw a party on your own, please let us know so we can supply you with order forms and a small poster.

Q. Will the Press send me on an author tour?

A. Probably not. With rare exceptions (e.g., celebrity authors), author tours have gone out of fashion. Please send us detailed information on any forthcoming speaking engagements (date, time, location, and the name and e-mail of the organizers) so we can supply promotional material or arrange for on-site sales. We can also help you organize events with your academic department or at your local bookstore.

Q. I've been invited to a workshop. Can I take a small inventory of my book with me to sell?

A. We advise authors to work with the organizers of the event to arrange for on-site sales. Here are a few options:

  • Many stores, including campus bookstores, will handle on-site sales. The store will purchase copies of your book and send a representative to the event to sell books. All you have to do is bring a pen.
  • The host organization might be willing to handle book sales. They can purchase the book at a bulk discount and make a little profit for their organization. If so, put them in contact with your publicist.
  • If on-site sales are not possible, bring a stack of Now Available forms and a sample copy of your book. Attendees can order from the Press online, by phone, by fax, or by mail. Best of all, they will get a 25% discount off the retail price.

Q. There will be a book exhibit at a conference I am attending. Will the Press take a booth?

A. If the conference is not one we normally attend, we might be able to arrange book sales through a third-party exhibition company. If that is not possible, we will send a display copy of your book along with copies of a Now Available form. Please let us know as soon as you have made your plans so we have time to make arrangements and flyers.

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Part 5. Print Promotion

Q. Can the Press customize an order form for my book?

A. Yes! We will prepare a Now Available form (HNAF) for your book and send it to you as soon as your book is available. We will send you a PDF of the form. You can send it as an e-mail attachment or print it (printing in black and white is usually sufficient). Each Now Available form offers buyers a 30% discount off the retail price of your book for purchases made directly from JHUP.

Q. In what types of catalogs and direct mail pieces can I expect to see my book promoted?

A.  We work in three major categories:

  • Seasonal Catalogs. Twice a year (Fall and Spring), we produce a catalog announcing forthcoming titles and highlighting recently published books and best sellers. Our domestic and international sales representatives use the catalog during sales calls; our publicists send them to the media; and we distribute them at Book Expo America, the Frankfurt Book Fair and other trade shows, and scholarly meetings.
  • Subject Catalogs. We produce annual subject catalogs in ancient studies, higher education, history, history of science/technology/medicine, life sciences, literature, physics/math, political science, psychiatry/psychology, and the Chesapeake Bay region. We distribute these catalogs at appropriate scholarly meetings and mail them to scholars in relevant disciplines.
  • Other Direct Mail. We disseminate e-mails or postcards highlighting books for course adoption or titles developed for specialized professional audiences.

Q. Where will my book be advertised?

A.  We focus print advertising in scholarly journals, annual meeting programs, and other targeted outlets as appropriate. We will send you a list of planned advertisements with your marketing plan.

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Part 6. Electronic Considerations and More

Q. Will my book be available as an e-book?

A. We work actively with Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony eReader, Google Editions, and several institutional aggregators. We license or distribute e-books when we have the necessary electronic rights and can identify appropriate target markets.

Q. Will my book be in Amazon's Search Inside the Book and Google Book Search?

A. Yes, unless there are technical file problems or specific restrictions prohibiting this kind of use.

Q. What does my Amazon sales ranking mean?

A. The magic behind Amazon’s sales rankings is proprietary to Amazon. We believe the sales ranking indicates the relative sales velocity of your book against other books sold on Amazon during a 24-hour period. A flurry of Amazon sales in a short period of time can improve your ranking significantly, but it is not a reliable indicator of total sales.

Q. Should I create a website, blog, or Facebook page?

A. Your publicist can advise you on the best course of action for your book.

Q. How can I find out how many books have sold? And when will I receive royalties?

A. Unless stated otherwise in your contract, you will receive your annual royalty statement by March 31.