Editor's Note: Cruise Altitude
The very first article I ever wrote for Book Business magazine was way back in March 2008. Seems like ancient history, doesn't it?
It was a freelance piece titled "Marketing on Cruise Control," and I had been tasked with examining the launch strategy behind notorious celeb biographer Andrew Morton's controversial "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography."
Cruise, who's been in the news a bit just this month thanks to his split from Katie Holmes, has always been a lightning rod for controversy, and in 2008 he was at the height of his conductive powers.
The challenge wasn't necessarily to create buzz—that was sure to come. The challenge was to control it, to keep it under wraps (and out of the publisher's catalog) until just the right time to avoid having some other publisher rush a product to the shelves ahead of St. Martin's title, capitalizing on whatever awareness the Morton book would create.
With a campaign based around scoring pre-sale print, television and radio interviews and then running a full-page in the New York Times the day it hit shelves, St. Martin's kept it simple, and was rewarded.
It's funny how book marketing has changed in those four years. Something that struck me from that piece was a line I wrote:
"The marketing plan wasn't particularly complicated or newfangled—no blogs, social networking or viral video here—but it was well-considered and deftly executed."
It's hard to imagine any title, especially one of this magnitude, launching today without a Facebook page, Twitter campaign (and how quaint that we called it "social networking" back then), author blogs, online assets and video, and all other manner of digital marketing. (And if our E-marketing Strategy columnist J.S. McDougall had anything to say about it, a content-marketing campaign, rather than traditional advertising, would be employed; see p. 28).
It makes me wonder how Morton's book would be launched today.
It also makes me wonder when we'll see the first book claiming to have the inside story of Tom and Katie's split. Will it be from a major imprint? A fly-by-night publishing house? A self-published tome? Or even a "bookazine" produced by, say, People or Us Weekly? It almost goes without saying that it will be an ebook. But will it have DRM? I'm sure the industry experts interviewed in our excellent, Peter Beisser-penned cover story (p. 12), "Read Free or Die!" examining the current debate about ebooks and DRM would have plenty to say about that.
It all speaks to how very much everything we do in publishing has changed in four short years. How would you market such a title in today's marketplace? Email me at the address below (or comment online) and I'll share some of your answers in Publishing Business Today, our daily email newsletter (bookbusinessmag.com/newsletter).
Welcome Wagon: It's my pleasure to introduce Book Business' new content director, Lynn Rosen. Lynn is a publishing vet with lots of experience in just about every publishing role you can imagine: author, editor, agent, educator and, as she details in her own introductory note on page 6, bookseller. What's clear in the short time she's been with us is that she's got a passion for books, and the business of publishing them. In her role, she'll lead Book Business, our sister publication Publishing Executive, and our live and virtual Publishing Business Conferences. We're excited to have her on board. I think you will be, too!
Related story: Launchpad: Marketing on Cruise Control