Book publishing

Book publishing is an entirely different industry than where I’ve been for the last four decades, but I’m learning about it as my wife Arlyn Hope Halpern has written a memoir, Dancing into the Light, self-published and available in paperback and e-book formats coming in January 2018.  Some of the l lessons I know from my B2B marketing experience is applicable.  There are principles and processes of demand generation and audience development, copywriting, branding and events which can be drawn on in support of her marketing efforts, but a literary publicist must be hired for appropriate marketing development.

As a first time author, she has to find and nurture her “1,000 true fans”, a concept developed by writer and founding editor of WIRED magazine Kevin Kelly in 2008. A relatively small group of loyal readers nurtured over time can be influential in spreading the word about the messages of the book and encourage others to pay attention to it. In fact, I’ve learned that some believe a book isn’t really “published” until copies are sold.  My niece, Sarah Halpern, a visual artist in her own right, is truly an artist as some of her framed art has been sold in Brooklyn galleries.

Many years ago, a few soapstone sculptures that I created have been exhibited in Cambridge and Providence galleries, but none have been sold.  I plan to take pen & ink and calligraphy classes again soon, a continuation of art classes I’ve taken over the last few years, and join an artist’s guild.

Back to Arlyn. As a first time author, she’s really starting from zero, instead of “1,000 true fans”, maybe she attracts 100 high quality readers who will write posts and favorable reviews, and spread the word to others. Some will be more influential than others. Feedback too in this age of social media will be generated and provided to her. This feedback, akin to marketing intelligence, can be used to refine her persona.

Social media drives audience development

Audiences are developed by hanging out where your audience hangs out. Guest postings in other blogs, used in conjunction with a strategically designed website and author events and online book events can impact real behavior (like buying and enjoying her book).  References and reviews, raves and endorsements mean a lot in today’s economy.

I don’t know the numbers of books that are published every day, every month and every year, but I imagine the numbers are staggering.  Perhaps millions?   I do know that attention spans are short, competition is intense, and the publishing industry is fragmented with disruption the norm.

More on this topic as she gets closer to launch in January 2018. Stay tuned!  Thank you.


Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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