We work hard to make sure that each book is marketed and promoted effectively. The purpose of this section is to describe our methods and to suggest ways in which authors can help.
Our marketing team is responsible for the promotion and sale of 40 new books each year as well as 1,000 backlist titles. The in-house staff is assisted by a network of national and international sales representatives. For each new title, we prepare an announcement in our seasonal catalog, solicit orders from booksellers, distribute advance proofs and review copies, dispatch an electronic news release, arrange ads and displays at academic meetings, and promote the book at our website.
When a manuscript is ready to go into production, the author receives a marketing questionnaire that solicits specific information and suggestions. We urge our authors to complete the questionnaire thoroughly and are always pleased when they are actively engaged in the marketing of their book, helping us to identify appropriate reviewers and avenues of promotion.
We market books by:
• mailing our seasonal announcement catalogs to booksellers, librarians, and reviewers;
• working with a network of national and international sales representatives, who call on booksellers, wholesalers, and Internet retailers;
• sending advance reading copies (bound page proofs) to targeted media, followed by the distribution of review copies to a wider list on publication;
• dispatching an electronic news release announcing the book’s publication;
• featuring new titles at our website, and linking to social networking media;
• exhibiting copies of frontlist and backlist titles at academic and bookseller conventions and meetings;
• advertising selectively in journals and convention programs;
• distributing examination copies to professors and instructors for potential classroom adoption;
• submitting titles to award competitions;
• assisting authors who wish to arrange readings and signings;
• coordinating our efforts with those of the author’s publicist (if the author has hired one).
Seasonal catalogs and descriptive copy
We prepare two catalogs of new books each year: one for the spring/summer season (with publication dates from April through September) and one for the fall/winter season (with publication dates from October through March). Each season the new titles in these catalogs are presented by our editors to our sales representatives, who in turn present them to booksellers, wholesalers, and Internet retailers. The catalogs are also mailed to review media and are distributed at trade and academic conferences.
In creating the book descriptions that appear in the catalog, we begin by asking our authors to prepare a preliminary draft of roughly 250-300 words. Then we revise those drafts, often adding prepublication endorsements (“blurbs”) provided by scholars and others who have read the manuscript. While blurbs can be helpful, they are by no means essential. The descriptive copy must fit within strict space constraints, and blurbs are generally limited to 60 words or less. The author is given an opportunity to review and approve the revised draft. Once a final version of the catalog copy has been agreed upon, it serves as the basis for the book’s back cover copy.
Sales representation and order fulfillment
Our sales representatives include the Columbia Consortium organized by Columbia University Press (for bookstores in the continental United States), Scholarly Book Services (Canada), the Eurospan Group (United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), and East West Export Books (Asia, the Pacific, and Hawaii).
Each season we meet with the sales representatives and provide them with information to support their efforts to secure orders for our books. They then call on the buyers for all of the major booksellers, including both college and general-interest bookstores and the large wholesalers, such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Each company requires specific information about new titles, which we provide at the beginning of each season.
Warehousing and order fulfillment functions are handled by Hopkins Fulfillment Services, a subsidiary of Johns Hopkins University Press. Phone orders can be placed at 1-800-537-5487, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. eastern time.
We also provide content information, bibliographic data, and cover images for our new books to Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other Internet book vendors. Each of these vendors decides what information it will include at its website and determines the editorial content (such as customer reviews, trade reviews, and category listings). Internet booksellers also determine whether to discount the price of a book and will sometimes adjust the listing of a book’s publication date or availability to meet their particular requirements.
We strive to provide Internet booksellers with accurate information and to correct the errors that often appear on their sites. Please note that the sales rankings posted by Amazon do not necessarily correlate with the total number of books sold, but only reflect those copies sold by Amazon.
Advance reading copies and review copies
For general-interest titles, we send advance reading copies (“ARCs”) to a select list of review media three months ahead of the publication date. These advance copies are produced from uncorrected page proofs and are perfect-bound, like a paperback book. The number of ARCs sent out depends on the size and nature of the book’s audience. Typically, copies are mailed to advance review media (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Booklist), to a few newspapers and general-interest publications and radio programs, and to those reviewers who have requested copies on the basis of the catalog description.
On publication, copies of the finished book are mailed to a wider list of reviewers. We compile this list from our extensive database of print and online journals, newspapers, and other national and regional media. We also incorporate the author’s suggestions and respond to any requests from reviewers who have perused our seasonal catalog. Competition for review attention can be stiff—the New York Times Book Review now receives more than 7,000 books per week. But the distribution of review copies remains a key element of every book’s marketing plan.
Due to the high cost of international shipping, we limit the number of review copies sent overseas. In some instances, we will send a PDF (electronic) version of the book for review if time is of the essence or it is impractical to send the physical book. Our distributor in the United Kingdom responds to review copy requests in its territory.
As reviews appear, we forward copies to the author. In addition, we ask authors to send us any reviews they come across that may have escaped our attention. Scholarly journals can be very slow to produce reviews, but that does not deter us from sending out review copies. Excerpts from favorable reviews are posted at our website and are forwarded to Internet vendors such as Amazon. They are also sometimes added to the back cover copy on subsequent printings of a book.
Electronic news release
Online marketing has become one of the most useful and cost-effective ways of getting the word out about a new book. On publication we dispatch an electronic news release announcing a book’s availability. It is sent to a wide range of media contacts and also to any individual e-mail addresses that the author has provided on the marketing questionnaire. The distribution of this news release often generates additional requests for review copies.
Our website serves as a key marketing vehicle and source of information about University of Massachusetts Press books. For each new title, the website provides bibliographic information, descriptive copy, promotional blurbs, and a cover image, as these elements become available. New content is routinely added to the website, including news notes, reviews, and book awards. On publication, each new title is showcased in the “Featured Books” section of the homepage. The website also offers a secure ordering platform for customers using credit cards.
Some authors are now creating their own individual websites for their books. This can be an effective way to promote and facilitate online sales. In such cases, we ask authors to include a link to the url of the book’s page at the University of Massachusetts Press website. In return, we are happy to include a link from our website to theirs.
Many authors also choose to include a link to the book page in the signature block for all their routine e-mail correspondence. If they participate in any e-mail forums or blogs, we encourage them to announce their book at these sites as well. Free blog platforms for beginners include Blogger (www.blogger.com), WordPress (http://wordpress.org), and LiveJournal (www.livejournal.com).
Facebook and other social networking media
In addition to using personal websites and blogs, a growing number of our authors are now promoting their books via various social networking media, including the following:
Facebook (www.Facebook.com). An author can set up a “fan page” specifically for the book or can post information about it on his or her personal page. Facebook enables people to reach out to a large number of contacts and “friends” in minutes. Authors are sometimes surprised by how many people find them when they open an account. We are happy to share examples to help them get started.
Twitter (www.twitter.com). Twitter is a mini-blogging site that takes only minutes to set up. People then follow you and you follow others on Twitter. It takes some time to build a community on Twitter, but it is a way to reach out to a large number of people quickly. You can post from your computer or via a cell phone.
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). LinkedIn is a professional networking site where members can post information and join subject area groups.
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). Wikipedia is a nonprofit online encyclopedia project. Entries can be created and edited by anyone. Authors can post personal biographies and link through to the book page at our website.
Each year we display our books at many academic and trade meetings. We rent a booth in the exhibit hall at several major academic conferences, including the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and the Organization of American Historians. Our editors meet with authors at these meetings and showcase the latest releases. We also display new titles at regional and national bookseller meetings.
In addition to the major academic conventions, our editors attend a number of smaller meetings, such as the American Society for Environmental History, the Society for the History of Technology, and the National Council on Public History. At meetings where one of our editors is not in attendance, we arrange for specific titles to be displayed through various cooperative exhibit services, such as Scholars Choice.
If an author is speaking at a conference and would like a book to be displayed, we ask to be notified well in advance so that we can make the necessary arrangements.
We advertise in the programs of the major academic conventions in the fields in which we are most active. We also advertise selectively in journals and trade media. It is common knowledge that advertisements lead to relatively few direct sales, but they are helpful as a promotional tool and as a way of bringing a book to the attention of its intended audience.
Examination copies and desk copies
Teachers who wish to consider our books for course use are invited to request examination copies. Exam copies are provided for a minimal shipping charge. For additional information about our exam copy guidelines, please click here.
We provide desk copies to teachers who have adopted our books for classroom use. Instructors may request a desk copy when ten or more new copies have been ordered. For additional information about our desk copy guidelines, please click here.
We are happy to submit new titles for awards that seem appropriate for the book in question, provided they don’t involve prohibitive entry fees. Typically, we submit any one book to no more than three different competitions.
Author events and appearances
Book readings and signings can be rewarding, but it is important that they be well planned. We do not actively seek reading opportunities for authors, but can make sure that books are available at an event as long as enough lead time has been allowed. It is best to work with a bookstore that is known for conducting well-promoted, successful author events. Post cards or e-mail messages should be dispatched well in advance to friends, family, and colleagues to bolster attendance. Authors are also encouraged to consider opportunities to speak at universities, libraries, museums, and other places where the audience will have a special interest in the topic of the book.
Local radio shows and NPR affiliates are excellent vehicles for publicizing new books, and the national programs can be very helpful as well. But there is tremendous competition for the limited time for author interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition. Nevertheless, we send our seasonal catalogs to the producers of these shows and respond promptly to all expressions of interest.
For each new title, we seek to capitalize on publicity opportunities as they arise. But with a relatively small staff, there are limits on how much time we can devote to any one book. Realizing this, some authors choose to make the additional investment in a freelance publicist, who can help to promote the book and can target specific pitches to radio, television, and other media. We have worked successfully with a number of freelance publicists and are happy to recommend specific individuals for particular titles. It is important that these arrangements be made well in advance of publication.
Beyond the contractual gratis copies, which are sent on publication, all authors who publish with us are entitled to purchase copies of their own book at a 40 percent discount. Prepayment is required on all individual orders, including those from authors. Phone orders can be placed at 1-800-537-5487, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. eastern time.