Thursday, April 7, 2011

Packaging >> Positioning

We're getting fancy, guys. We have jargon. Packaging. Positioning.

On Monday, we talked about covers and the effect on readers. Namely, whether readers pick up the book. Covers should communicate content and tone--no easy feat, to be sure.

But picking up the book is not a won battle, friends. We want readers to buy that sucker. Sometimes, for the casual book buyer, an appealing cover induces a capitalistic coma that draws reader, book in hand, to the cash register. Zap.

More often building awareness of a book, branding and positioning it in the marketplace, is the effort that wins the battle.

Positioning means the image/collection of images that pops up in a consumer's mind when your product gets mentioned. So, when you hear a title like GHOST COUNTRY, you think thriller, serious, fast-paced (as opposed to, say, unicorns, happy, and paaarties). Positioning also means how consumers compare your product to others in its category. So how are Patrick Lee's thrillers different than, say, the Jason Bourne books. It's about how the book gets packaged (cover, typeface, copy, etc.). But it's also about how it gets talked about.

Like a cover, the buzz surrounding a book should reflect tone and content in interesting ways. As with any product, marketing (which is a large part of brand-building and positioning) has to break through the noise--and books, regardless of genre, is a noisy market. Especially for you self-pubbers!!

Publishers and authors are getting really creative with the ways they define books in readers minds. Characters are getting Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. Books have trailers like movies.

The Internet means marketing is as flexible as its ever been. You can bring characters to life to talk directly to your audience. If your tone is sassy-with-a-touch-of-ninja-dash-of-literary, you can do that. We're not restricted by a medium anymore, as they were in MadMen (on Netflix, btw!!).

It's sort of cool.


  1. Only a few months ago, a writer friend mentioned her book trailer, and I thought, “OMG, how affected is that --?” Then I started to read up on this and discovered that book trailers are just another way to market. Sometimes I feel really behind the times. ☺

    How do cover designers and book trailer makers know what resonates with the reading population when choosing a strategy? Of course, these have to reflect the book’s tone and content, but is there any research that shows that readers gravitate to specific colors, layouts, fonts, music, etc.?

    “Mad Men” is a really good show. Genius, really. And I thought that nothing could ever replace “Six Feet Under.”

  2. Great post but I wonder how much control writers have over the cover? It seems like even the titles themselves are changed by publishers.

    Really like character twitter feed idea! Imagine if Avery Cates had one. *shudders*