|Common Sales & Marketing Topics|
|Toplight’s sales and marketing staff is engaged from the moment a manuscript is officially delivered. While Toplight is responsible for the sale and marketing of your book, your participation is crucial to the success of our efforts. At several key milestones during the publication process, Toplight will automatically contact you with updates or to solicit suggestions. Several common sales and marketing concerns—online promotion, reviews, signings, conferences, and more—are covered here. For topics not covered here, direct questions to Savannah Clemmons.
Title, Cover Design, Format, Binding & Price
Once you delivered your manuscript, Toplight began work on several critical elements. A title, if one hasn’t already been settled upon, will usually be finalized very soon after manuscript delivery. Your cover will be an essential marketing tool, and we will finalize the cover design shortly after the manuscript is delivered. If you suggested ideas when you delivered the manuscript (see Preparing Your Manuscript), we will be happy to consider them.
Within a few weeks of delivery of your manuscript, attention will be given to format, binding and price. A decision about list prices for the softcover and ebook editions will be made based on our judgment of what will produce the best sales result. All Toplight titles are originally offered in softcover. We will also determine if your manuscript is eligible for an ebook edition. The most common obstacle to ebooks is a permissions snag, so be sure to avoid “print only” restrictions with your permissions.
How You Can Help Promote Your Book
Here are tips about how authors can help with promoting books:
Pre-Publication Endorsements (Blurbs)
If you are aware of special magazines, websites or high quality blogs in your particular field that feature book review sections, it would be helpful if you could provide us with names of the periodicals, names of the book review editors or other key contact person, and physical mailing addresses. It is not uncommon for authors to suggest as many as five to ten contacts, and Toplight is typically generous with review copies. However, regardless of the exact number of suggestions you have to offer, please rank them in order of importance. Email your suggestions to marketing specialist Savannah Clemmons.
It can be difficult to predict when published reviews will begin appearing—it often depends on the nature of the reviewing medium. Also, although McFarland/Toplight books traditionally perform well, reviewers make no promises that a book will actually be reviewed. An author may not be able to accurately judge the review media’s level of interest until six or more months have passed.
Toplight will automatically provide you with scans or photocopies of published reviews. We do not track or distribute scans of simple published listings or acknowledgments of “books received.” Another way to learn of published reviews is to set up a Google Alert for your book. If you come across a review that Toplight may not be aware of, please send a copy to Savannah Clemmons.
The importance of customer reviews on internet booksellers such as Amazon cannot be overlooked. After the book is published, encourage your contacts, colleagues and others who have read and enjoyed your book to post customer reviews on Amazon (and other major websites, as well). Customer reviews will have an impact on sales.
The bookstore will want to work out local arrangements (what day, what time, what exactly will happen, etc.) with you. They will want to work with Toplight to obtain books. The signing host should contact Savannah Clemmons to obtain books at a discount. Although it is fine to do some early planning for books that aren’t published yet, booksignings should not be scheduled until finished copies are in the McFarland warehouse. If you require further information, Savannah can advise you about how to best arrange signing events.
Retail, Specialty, Library and Higher Ed Markets
Like ebooks, the strongest print retail market is internet retail. McFarland/Toplight has longstanding relationships with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and our books excel in the internet retail environment.
Large chain book retailers (e.g., B&N, Books-a-Million) will carry Toplight titles in their system for special order. Toplight presents qualifying books to B&N for store placement, but there is no open-door policy to stock books in stores. Specialty bookshops (including IndieBound bookshops, museum shops and mail-order distributors) can usually make suitable arrangements with Toplight to stock and promote books on the store shelf.
It is perfectly fine for authors to introduce themselves (and their books) to a local bookstore or other bookseller. Encouragement from authors to stock their books can sometimes make a difference in local sales. Toplight also welcomes sales tips from authors about specialty booksellers. However, between in-store versus internet, remember that many bookstores are reluctant to speculatively stock specialized books, and driving internet sales is likely a wiser investment of an author’s time. Sales tips should be emailed to Savannah Clemmons.
For more than four decades, libraries of all sorts have formed McFarland’s base market. McFarland regularly promotes its books to academic, public, and high school libraries in the U.S., and to select libraries outside the U.S., and the same is true for books published under the Toplight Books imprint. Many of these libraries make their purchases through wholesalers and book jobbers. Authors should feel free to notify their local public library or campus library of their book’s availability, but no special effort to contact libraries is asked of our authors.
For applicable books, college classroom adoptions play a role in sales. Please email marketing coordinator Kristal Hamby for assistance with or to share your ideas about advertising for classroom adoptions.
McFarland/Toplight successfully sells directly to individuals. Specialists, professionals and enthusiasts form an important market for many kinds of books. If you are aware of any unique opportunities to promote your book to a specialized group or professional organization, for example, please let us know. Email Savannah Clemmons.
Toplight extends a special discount to authors. Authors may purchase any Toplight or McFarland book at a 20% discount. On their own book(s), authors are entitled to at least a 20% discount, possibly deeper when ordering in bulk quantities. Contributors (including essayists, forewordists, interviewees, and subjects of biographies), are eligible for a discount for their particular book. Those interested in receiving a quote may contact:
Checking on Sales Figures
Typos, Errors and Requesting Corrections
If you have detected a typo or an error for your book’s website description, please email marketing coordinator Kristal Hamby. In most cases, website-related correction requests are addressed within five business days. (However, if you are recommending extensive changes or a replacement description for your forthcoming book, changes could take longer.)
If you notice missing information, typos or errors on other sites (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble) and you are unable to correct them directly, please inform Kristal Hamby. Availability messages from these retailers may fluctuate in the days after a book is published—this is normal. However, if incorrect messages about availability or publication date persist for more than a few weeks, email us.