Webster’s Dictionary defines format as 1 : “the shape, size, and general makeup, as of something printed, or 2 : general plan of organization, arrangement, or choice of material.”
I admit. I’m a serious book nerd, and there have been many reasons producing books is a passion for me. I’m addicted to paper weight. My eye appreciates a book’s structure, integrity, and format plays a huge role in this. I love how books come together in the end.
But book production doesn’t start at the end, it starts at the beginning. A book’s form must meet its audience with months of forward planning. When a manuscript is accepted by a publisher, contracts get signed, timelines are created, and next steps get outlined.
The book’s marketing strategy should also start here.. Who does the book speak to? Identifying the book’s target market is an important step in the process, and will inform how the book both looks—and feels. Introducing this simple framework, or what we like to call, “The Four Ps of Marketing”: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
Product involves what the product looks like, is it on paper, or is it an e-pub? Is it hardcover, softecover, what’s the trim size, and how many copies are printed in the print run? Price relates to what the market expectation is, or what can the market bear? Place details where your book will be sold, and Promotion is of course, how you’ll get the word out.
Guiding questions to help you to make some of these marketing decisions are:
A. Who will buy this book?
B. What other books are your target marketing buying?
C. What is their format.
D. What aesthetics does your ideal customer prefer?
E. What are you already selling and what is your price point?
If you’re selling a premium product, maybe your market can sustain a higher priced-hardcover. If you’re in a competitive industry, maybe a softcover will be better. Creating the right combination of price, trim size, binding and design is an artform. In order for a book to succeed, format cannot be an afterthought or an add on at the last minute, it’s a decision that must be made in advance with a carefully thought-out plan.
Once your marketing plan is finished, it’s time for a sales strategy. When it comes to where your books will be sold, it matters whether you will be selling your book through an established platform, or whether you will be shipping it out. Consider shipping in trim size, so binding and shipping costs are minimized.
Finally, you get to activate your strategy! Will your book be part of a course, or an add-on to a training activity? Will you be doing book events? Will you need to change the format in the future?
Luckily, Pownal Street Press can guide you in all of these decisions! Pownal Street Press is serious about the strategy behind the books we create. We partner with authors who are leaders in their fields, and we are here to work with professionals who know their target market. If you understand the demographic you serve and we understand the factors in place to create the best book for your market, then we are your publishing solution!