Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Marketing Books Case Study: Mary Higgins Clark

When it comes to selling and promoting books, Mary Higgins Clark obviously knows what she is doing.  She has written 42 bestselling novels, and she sells 3.7 million copies of her books each year.  She has become such a consistent seller that her publisher figures the sales of her books into their annual budget.

But, you may say, this is Mary Higgins Clark we are talking about.  Just having her name on the cover of the book ensures that her book will be a bestseller.  There is truth to that statement, now.  However, Mary doesn't just write her books and then hand them to her publisher and expect them to sell with no further work on her part.  Far from it.

At the age of 83, Mary Higgins Clark is a marketing powerhouse.  She knows what works when it comes to moving her books.  They are also things that any author can do when it comes to marketing and promoting their own books.

1.  Clark knows her audience.  The marketing of a Mary Higgins Clark novel actually begins when she is writing her books.  She doesn't include an graphic sex or violence in her novels.   She doesn't switch genres and she continues to write the type of novels her readers have come to expect.  Her books usually launch on Mother's Day, so she caters to mothers and their daughters who like to read the same books.

2.  She doesn't completely rely on bookstores.  One of Clark's favorite book signing locations isn't a bookstore at all.  It's the Wegman's supermarket stores.  That's right, this multi-millionaire, bestselling author can be found signing her new releases at grocery stores.  Why?  That is where her readers (woman) are.  Clark knows book signings are not a vanity event for the author.  They are sales and promotional events for the reader.  Always put the reader first.

3.  She still works to sell books.  Could Mary Higgins Clark sell books without doing book signing events?  Probably, but she still wants to remain relevant for her readers, and attract new readers.  At the age of 83, she will still do book signings, even at a supermarket.  She even tried to sell a book to the reporter interviewing her for this recent article

4.  She is involved in the marketing of her book.  Even with 42 bestsellers to her credit, Clark takes an active role in marketing her books.  She does signings, meets with fans at every opportunity, and even approves ad copy for her books.

5.  She writes for her readers, not the critics.  Clark doesn't rely on book reviewers to spread the word about the release of her new book.  In fact, she says critics typically ignore her books or give them bad reviews.  Out of the 42 novels she has written, Clark recalls getting a positive review for just one of them.

What can you learn from Mary Higgins Clark?  Know the niche audience for your book, do book signing events at the locations where you would find them, write the kind of books your audience has come to expect from you and be involved in the marketing and promotion of your books.  It has worked well for Clark, and should benefit you as well.

2 comments: said...

Terry, this came just in time. A friend of mine got a scathing review from a contest reader and felt she should just give up.

Hope this helps her to see, she has a niche and not all readers are in that niche.

Terry Cordingley said...

That brings up an important point. I saw a movie this past weekend that I thought was awful, but plenty of other people thought it was good and found it entertaining. Like movies, books are meant for a particular audience. Not everyone is going to like your book. In the words of Bill Cosby, "The surest way to fail is to try to please everybody."

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