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Interview: Kimberley Wall, Promotions Manager

by J Dark
November 1, 2016

As a promotions manager, how would you describe your job?

Essentially, my job is to familiarize myself with the work, collaborate with the Editor and Business Manager on appropriate genre classifications, brainstorm ideas for whom to contact, where to go, what to do to make the book visible on a larger scale, and then pursue opportunities from the office and encourage authors to pursue others on their end.

Tell me about the role of Marketing & Promotions, specifically in the world of the small press.

If you didn’t want people to read your book, you wouldn’t bother to publish it, right? But simply publishing isn’t enough these days because the competition is too overwhelming. You’ve got to wave a flag to get some attention. Marketing & Promotions is a function that can make or break a small press and, potentially, its authors. Regardless of the quality and quantity of the books being published, if the public doesn’t know to look for them, they will grow dusty alongside the piles of pulp fiction. Marketing & Promotions is your little flag.

Promotions for books is a lot about appearances and book signings. Are there other ways that can help promote a book, or an author?

Promotions such as appearances and book signings are done on the author side of the equation. On the press side, you have more of the marketing track, like contacting genre periodicals to inquire about inclusion in their next issue, chatting up potential partners to arrange sharing links to each other’s web sites, and long, sometimes fruitless hours of online research into other avenues of promotion.

Do you find that when you consider how to promote a book, that demographics come into play?

Demographics — in general, “Who is your target audience?” — is a big component of activities such as partnering with local indie booksellers, and readings at local libraries and coffee houses. It also, subtly, comes into play in most other things, such as which associations to join for networking.

How do you decide where an author’s book fits best? Is it just by genre, or are there other factors that determine demographic fit?

I want to be clear that when I talk about demographics in this context, I mean to refer to groups of people who buy science fiction & fantasy novels versus historical romance novels versus nonfiction works; you know what I mean? I’m not referring to demographics in terms of age, race, religion, or ethnicity in a local community. So, where does a book fit? That’s really about subject matter, tone of voice, literary device, etc. Sometimes the easiest way to determine a basic genre fit is to ask the author!

When Paper Angel Press decides to promote a book, what are the steps that you need to go through to get ready for promotion and marketing?

First, I want to point out that it’s not really a decision to promote or not. We are your publisher, and marketing your book is just one of the services we provide. That being said, there really isn’t a manual for preparing to market a book; it’s more a matter of hashing out how, where, how much, degree of author participation, etc. Each book/author is unique.

Are there different challenges between promoting new authors and established authors with a dedicated following?

Are there differences in the way I would market your new book versus James Patterson’s new book? Sure! <laugh> But my experience is only with small, independent presses and, usually, new-ish authors. In that case, you start at ground zero and work your way up a crowded ladder waving your little flag.

Have you found that there are differences in approach with the different genres like fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, etc., when you look at marketing and promoting a book?

Yes and no. Some basics are pretty universal, but each crowd tends to respond to different stimuli. Word choice and graphics styles are as important in marketing, say, historical romance, as they are in writing it, in order to best communicate to the genre’s fans.

When you look at being in promotions, have you found any instances where what you thought you knew about promotions turned out to be the opposite of what you expected?

No, actually. <laughs> Not yet, anyway. I thought, going into it, that it was going to be an uphill battle, and nothing has yet altered that expectation.

From your perspective, what can first time novelists, and experienced writers, do to help you, as Marketing & Promotions Manager?

Work with me. I’m here to help you as much as the business of the press. Be clear  — with yourself and with me  — what your expectations are: of me and the press. What milestones define “success” for you? What are your strengths and weaknesses in promoting your own work? We all work within our own limited resources, so be realistic. If you have ideas for marketing or promoting your work, speak them! I’m open to investigating new avenues or supporting your efforts. To me, it’s all about getting the book some good exposure.

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