Almost every author—new or experienced—has many questions and ideas about the promotion and sale of their book. At the University of North Carolina Press Marketing Department, we welcome your questions, and we value your specialized knowledge about the audience for your book. In fact, we solicit your suggestions at several stages of the publication process. By briefly outlining our marketing activities below, we hope to anticipate some of your questions—and to reassure you as well.
The Marketing Department is responsible for the promotion and sale of all Press titles. This includes the many new books we publish each year and nearly 5,000 backlist titles. To publicize our books, we use the same methods of promotion as do commercial publishers: online/print advertising in journals and magazines; direct/electronic outreach to organizations, libraries, faculty, and other book buyers; exhibits at academic, library, and bookseller conventions; and publicity, which includes advance proof and finished book review copy outreach, news releases, events, and author interviews. We also solicit advance endorsements for books, distribute examination copies, and submit books for appropriate awards.
Our marketing efforts are divided into two areas: a sales program directed to bookstores (including online booksellers), specialty retailers, and wholesalers, and a promotion program directed to individuals and to libraries and other institutional accounts.
Our marketing questionnaire, which we send to you when your manuscript has been approved by our board, requests specific information for each of these areas of promotion. Your completed questionnaire is circulated within the Press, discussed at a meeting between Marketing and your acquiring editor, and then consulted frequently as we plan, schedule, and prepare the various promotional materials for your book. We find that the more thorough you are in completing the questionnaire, the better able we are to market your book effectively.
Marketing a book requires the coordinated activities of many individuals meeting a variety of deadlines. Your cooperation is critical in this process. We welcome your suggestions, and we look forward to working with you on the successful publication of your book.
Contracted authors may upload any documents requested here via our secure Author Portal. Password required.
The Marketing Author Questionnaire (AQ) will be sent to you just after your project is approved by the Board of Governors. This will assure that we can consider your suggestions in advance of our launch meeting with the editorial and production departments where we discuss the plans for your book.
The AQ will ask you to provide critical information necessary for the promotion of your book. Things like keywords for metadata and search engine discoverability, key features of your book, competitive titles, and more. What we’ll also ask you includes the following:
- A description of the readership and audience profile: is your book intended for general readers, scholars and researchers, students, or for course adoption? In many cases, the answer will be all or most of the above;
- Any publicity or reviewer contacts you might have, and a list of the relevant journals and publications where review copies should be sent;
- Any local contacts as well: local booksellers, libraries, publications, etc.;
- A list of the book awards you’d like us to pursue, as well as the academic and other conferences you attend and where your book should be displayed;
- and much more.
This information is important for us to have in advance as we prepare our marketing and publicity plan that will ensure the successful launch of your book.
We appreciate your providing us with as much detailed information as possible, and will carefully consider all of your suggestions as we put together an effective, thorough marketing plan.
If your book is being published in a paperback edition and has course adoption potential, please pay particular attention to those items on the AQ.
Marketing AQ Checklist
Book Description, Author Bio
The description you provide will form the basis for our catalog and cover copy. It is important that it be written in accessible language for non-specialists. In addition to your peers, the catalog is seen by librarians, booksellers, review media, and general readers. The description should be accessible to a wide range of readers and should not be taken verbatim from your Introduction or Preface.
For promoting your book, please provide a photograph of yourself that is a recent, high quality, color digital image, at least 7 MB in size (equivalent to approximately 5″ x 6″ with a resolution of 300 DPI). A headshot is preferred.
We’ll include your photo on your Author Page on our website. We do not automatically use an author photo on book jackets, but often use them for publicity purposes, media requests, award submissions when required, and occasionally in our catalog.
Photographer Release Form
We require that you provide us with photographer permission information for promotional use of your author photograph, via the following release form.
Email Contact List
The questionnaire asks you to include email address lists—for colleagues who might adopt your book as required for supplemental reading, or anyone who you think should get a notice about the book. We will send information to each of them closer to the date of publication, so these colleagues lists may be sent to us at a later date.
Copyright Application Query
We will submit our application for copyright for your book within a short time after publication. In order to accurately register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, we request that you fill out this form as completely as possible and return it to us.
Twice a year, the Marketing department hosts a series of launch meetings in which the Acquisitions, Manuscript Editorial, Design, and Marketing teams meet to discuss each manuscript making its way through editorial and production. At the same time, we discuss the production and marketing strategies for each individual book that will hit the market in its designated frontlist publishing season. In January, we discuss books that will publish the following Fall; in July, we discuss the following Spring’s books.
It’s important for the Marketing department to have your feedback (the AQ!) in hand before this meeting so we can come to the discussion prepared with informed strategies for how best to reach the audience for your book. As soon as the meeting is over, promotional execution begins!
Metadata, or the data about your book, plays a crucial role in our ability to get your book into the marketplace. It enables individuals to discover you and your book online and it also informs booksellers’ and librarians’ decisions about what books they want to make available to their constituents.
Things like title and subtitle, book description, author bio, keywords, subject categories, page count, number and type of illustrations, format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, etc.), ISBN, Library of Congress cataloging number, series name, price, pub date, review quotes, and more all become part of the metadata record for your book. We create giant batches of book metadata on a regular basis to make sure distributors, libraries, booksellers, and our own website have the most up-to-date information that could influence a buyer’s decision making.
Abstracts and Keywords
UNC Press actively sells our authors’ books in digital formats through a number of prominent library-facing aggregations, including Books@JSTOR, Project Muse, and Oxford UP’s University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO). We provide to these platforms additional, extended metadata that will improve the discoverability of your work. To that end, about six months after your book’s publication, we’ll ask you to create these abstracts and select keywords for the book as a whole, as well as for each individual chapter. Note that we’ll contact you when it’s time to create the metadata, and we do our best to give you several weeks’ time to finish the task.
The Press has a worldwide network of sales representatives. New books are presented each season to major bookstore accounts and wholesale book distributors. Specialty retail stores are contacted when appropriate for a title. Special sales efforts are made whenever possible to arrange book signings. Bulk sales to special interest groups and organizations are pursued when appropriate.
Book Goes Live
Your book will go live on the UNC Press website along with the other books contained in that season—generally around May 1 for Fall season titles, and November 1 for Spring season titles. At that point you will be notified by the marketing department, and provided with the direct url link to your bookpage and advance ordering information. You’ll also receive our Guide to Online Marketing, which spells out concrete activities you can do to spread the word about your book and generate early demand.
This is the time when you will be encouraged to share the great news via all your social media platforms, and provide the direct link for pre-orders. Note that advance information about your book might already be available on Amazon.com and other online booksellers, sometimes a month before the book appears on the UNC Press website. We encourage you to support independent booksellers by sharing links to your book from bookshop.org. Feel free to use these links when they become available to spread the word and generate anticipatory buzz.
Ads, Catalogs, and Direct Marketing
The Press regularly advertises its new books in the New York Review of Books and other select general interest media (e.g. The Nation, the New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books) and in the major scholarly journals of the disciplines in which we publish. We also run seasonal announcement advertisements to the bookstore trade and to college libraries.
Our seasonal catalog is produced twice each year, announcing new books for each publishing season. The catalog is distributed electronically worldwide to bookstores, libraries, wholesale book dealers, individual scholars, book review media, and others asking to receive it. Our sales representatives also use the catalog when making visits to bookstores.
All of our books appear in appropriate subject-area/discipline-specific brochures and email blasts that are sent to the appropriate audience. This is an effective way to promote our books and allows for the continued promotion of “backlist” books (those titles still in print and in demand). Books may also be promoted through series flyers and emails when appropriate, and through single-title flyers and emails. You may request a PDF of your single-title flyer to mail or hand out at conferences. We ask that authors provide to us lists of contacts (preferably email contacts) that we can approach via an email blast about the book. Similar flyers and emails may be used to promote a book’s potential for course adoption when appropriate.
Advance Galleys to Media
UNC Press may provide advance proof galleys (also referred to as “ARCs”) in various formats (print or a watermarked PDF) to media requiring an early look at your book in order to meet a publication deadline. If you receive a direct request for advance proof galleys from a media contact, please inform your book’s publicist so that arrangements can be made to provide them with materials accordingly. You will receive a list of all parties receiving advance proofs as part of your marketing roundup.
UNC Press works with a wide variety of media on selling serial rights for our books and, in most cases, handles all negotiations on behalf of our authors. If you are contacted by a member of the media seeking permission to run an excerpt from your book, please contact your publicist.
A list of appropriate media (online, print, broadcast, blog, podcasts) is compiled for each book, and review copies are distributed in advance of publication. We also accommodate review copy requests from the media after a book’s publication date. If you directly receive a review copy requests from the media, please forward them to your publicist, who will then follow up. You will receive a list of all review copy recipients as part of your marketing roundup.
Op-eds are a great way for authors to comment on the topics of the day and to draw attention to a forthcoming or recently published book. Op-eds typically present a problem, consider both sides of an argument, and then propose a solution. They usually present their argument right away—often in the first or second paragraph.
Here are two helpful links from the New York Times on writing op-eds:
If you are interested in writing op-eds, we recommend that you follow the op-ed sections of national newspapers—especially the New York Times (both the daily and the weekly Sunday Review section)—to learn the structure of the form.
It is customary for the title of the op-ed author’s most recent book to appear in the author’s bio line that usually comes at the end of the piece. Most newspapers provide information on their website about how to submit op-eds for their consideration. Please consult with your publicist if you need further information about writing or placing op-eds.
Authors frequently ask about publication dates and review copies. The “official” publication date for your book will be about four to eight weeks after the finished books arrive in our warehouse. This lead time allows us to distribute review copies prior to publication and to ship the advance orders for timely arrival at wholesalers and bookstores across the country. We ask that authors not schedule any kind of appearances, campus lectures, or other events, until after the “official” publication date—even though physical books may be available earlier. This helps us avoid any situations where events either have to be postponed or take place without having books on hand because of unforeseen production delays.
UNC Press is active in selling its book content in all the available ebook formats. We have partnerships with all the major ebook vendors, including Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Google’s Ebookstore, as well as a number of vendors who make digital textbooks available to college students. We also license our books for inclusion in library and institutional electronic databases such as those offered by Books@JStor, Project Muse, Oxford Scholarship Online, NetLibrary, Questia, and eBrary. We send ebook files to BookShare, a nonprofit that creates accessible books in a variety of electronic formats.
To learn more about the role of ebooks in academic publishing, see part one of Karin Wolf’s helpful discussion at the Scholarly Kitchen. To learn more about the ebook program at UNC Press, see part two of Wolf’s piece, which includes conversation with UNC Press director John Sherer.
Author Events and Festivals
If deemed appropriate for the promotion of your book, outreach and support for author appearances is available.
Authors are free to set up university/institutional appearances on their own (on or after publication date); the Press should be made aware of any university appearances as soon as they are scheduled.
When bookstore events or festival submissions are part of the publicity plan, these pitches are handled by the Press. Please see the Author Appearance Q&A for more details and contact your book’s publicist with any questions.
Conferences and Exhibits
Each year the University of North Carolina Press attends scholarly meetings throughout North America. You can view the list of conferences that we plan to attend on our Exhibits Listing page. New books on display at scholarly meetings are also generally advertised in the conference program. If we are not attending a meeting, new books may be sent through an co-operative exhibits service or the sponsoring organizations collective display. Please be sure to indicate which meetings you attend or plan to attend on your Marketing AQ and let the exhibits coordinator know of any relevant panels.
Social Media, Email
In addition to our monthly email newsletters, subject-area and single-title email blasts, we strongly encourage our authors to be active on social networking platforms. Authors are asked to suggest and provide content for the UNC Press Blog, and to be active on Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Please consult with your publicist for additional context if needed.
One important element to the online campaign for your book is the UNC Press blog. We request that you prepare two guest posts we can publish at uncpressblog.com. Guest blog posts have an infinite shelf life, and that is great for your book. Every month, some of our top 10 most-visited blog posts are guest posts from months, even years before.
Details and suggestions for guest blogging are included in the online promotion guide. We’d like to have your blog pieces in hand by a month after the pub date (or sooner), so we can incorporate them into our blog calendar for the season. (Unless your posts are time-sensitive, we’ll schedule them to run around the time of your book’s pub date.) You can see what others have done on our blog here: http://uncpressblog.com/category/guest-bloggers/
Submit your guest blog posts here (password required):
If you have any further questions, feel free to email Brock Schnoke, Digital Marketing Specialist, at email@example.com.
The University of North Carolina Press has a long history of publishing award winning books. As appropriate, we’ll submit your book for relevant awards. Our Awards FAQ should answer most of the questions you might have.