John Parkin, Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of the West of England, and the author of Designing for Cycle Traffic, shares his insights about what authors can do to promote their publications.
ICE Publishing has recently published my book, Designing for cycle traffic. It compares and evaluates international principles for designing for cycle traffic. In the months since the book's publication, I have been participating in a number of activities to maximise the publicity of my book, and, while some of these tips are exclusively applicable only to authors publicising with my publisher, most could be applied by any author regardless of publisher or topic.
Let me say, first of all, that I think I am fortunate in that I have a number of different constituencies for the book: practitioners, academics and their students, and also the advocacy community. Secondly, I specifically designed the subject matter so that it lent itself naturally to an international context, and hence there are markets in a number of countries. Finally, the book is timely: there are seismic shifts going on in the practice of designing for cycle traffic. I, therefore, have a potentially large market for the book.
Reaching the market really does depend on you as the author. However, if you have written a book, then in whatever way, you must be a key person within the topic area. This means that you will have a lot of connections to other people with interests in the book. The publishers do not have these connections. Publishers do have reach to mass forms of marketing, and also to buyers such as libraries. But libraries will usually only buy the book on the recommendation of potential readers. And readers will only wish to but the book if they know about it.
I profess to not knowing much about marketing, I am an engineer. What I have heard though, and this has become a mantra for me, is that people need to have heard about something at least three times before it seeps into their consciousness. I have, therefore, kept on repeating messages at the mass media level about the book.
I offer below a listing of the activities that I have engaged with in order to market my book. Clearly, your networks and contacts will be different, but I hope these specific activities will help to spur your imagination.
Engineered a launch event for the book at a conference I was organising. This was a joint conference between the Cycling and Society Research Group and the European Cyclists Federation Scientists for Cycling, with over 100 delegates. I ensured the launch event was videoed, and put on vimeo.
Interview with Carlton Reid, an award winning journalist, for The Spokesman.
Get articles written and reviews of your book in various publications read by the communities who you think would like to buy the book. Here is one in Bikebiz, and a trailer for one coming up in a German magazine. There is also one forthcoming in the magazine of Cycling UK, the UK membership charity which supports cyclists and promotes bicycle use.
Get reviews done of the book for various academics and professional journals. You should ensure that you have a review written for at least one of the ICE Journals (there should be a review appearing of my book in Engineering and Sustainability). Some journals have specific editorial panel members, charged with producing book reviews, so find out who that person is, and make contact with them. You are helping them do their job by letting them know about your book.
Presentations about the book at various conferences, workshops and seminars for academics. Ideally, you should try to get these videoed as well.
Always respond positively to offers to talk about your book. I have undertaken six talks to date. Offer to give talks, especially to branch meetings of the ICE and other relevant professional bodies. Be prepared to travel anywhere in the country.
Put a short blurb and links in your email sign off. ICE Publishing marketing team will be able to provide an email banner and a link.
Tweet about the book, and make sure you keep putting messages about your book on LinkedIn. And respond to everyone else’s tweets and comments about your book.
Use your networks: do not be afraid to email people in your widest networks, especially internationally (you can tell when you are getting traction, from the tweets that you suddenly see from different countries around the world).
The last three bullet points are perhaps the most important. You need to be quite brazen about your book. Even when others have picked up the message and become advocates for you, you need to keep on going with deliberate activities in a planned manner.
I suppose the key message is: do not hide you light under a bushel.
John Parkin BSc (Hons) ACGI MSc PhD PGCE CEng FICE FCIHT FCILT FHEA
Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.
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