Marketing, Information, and Dialogue in 2016

direct_book_shelfAt Energion Publications we like to do things as openly and honestly as possible. Of course, that’s the sort of thing a marketer is likely to say! In pursuit of that goal, I’m going to lay out our marketing strategy for the coming year.

There are several reasons I do this publicly:

  1. It lets you know something about how we do business here. We’re one of the small players in the market, and we like to do anything possible to arouse your interest!
  2. It provides prospective authors with an opportunity to learn what we’re likely to do for them.
  3. It gives our current authors a place to review their options.
  4. It lets you know how you can benefit from the way we share information and try to build dialogue.

How We Got Here

Over the past 11 years we’ve learned a number of things about marketing. I certainly started with very little knowledge. I was most interested in producing books and much less interested in how people would find out about them.

Predictably, people don’t find books by hunting through obscure web sites. Not very often, at least.

So I tried some of the traditional methods, such as print ads. I found that even full-color print ads don’t necessarily (read, “rarely”) produce sales for books from authors who are not well known. People need to get to know authors and to believe they have something valuable to say before they’re willing to shell out money to buy the books they write.

That has led us to use social media and blogging as a medium, with review copies and advertising that sends people to our web page where they can learn more about individuals. While that is more productive than print advertising, it still leaves something to be desired, so over the past year we’ve been putting more effort into hold informative discussions online using Google Hangouts on Air (see our YouTube channel) and via the Energion Discussion Network.

In terms of cost and the amount of effort put in, these have proven most valuable. So in the coming year we’re going to focus our marketing efforts very carefully into these channels that have proven most valuable, and then add to them our marketing dollars.

Elements of the Plan

  1. Reviving and expanding our review program. If you are a blogger or have a strong presence on social media, you can request copies of any of our titles, one at a time, for review. The only requirement is that you do, in fact, write a review of the book on whatever platform you claim. Until we have posted a response form, you can make your request by e-mailing and telling us where you would review a book and why you’d like to review a particular title. We reserve the right to limit the number we send out and to require that the reviewer have an existing presence on social media or an active blog.
  2. We’ll be encouraging teachers, pastors, and small group leaders to request evaluation copies. Because many of our authors are less well-known, we want you to have an opportunity to evaluate their work. We think they will compare favorably with more famous authors and in fact expand and improve your class or group.
  3. We’ll be continuing the Energion Discussion Network. There will be a variety of approaches to discussion. The discussion network is a valuable place to engage in dialogue. Blog posts will be provided by our authors, and occasionally by guests. (See below for information on how you can participate.)
  4. Our Tuesday Night Hangouts will continue, but will feature multiple shorter segments rather than just hour long discussions. Expect two or three topics each Tuesday night, with discussion lasting from 15 to 30 minutes for each. We will continue to invite some guests who are not our authors to join us. (Again, see below for opportunities to participate.)
  5. Global Christian Perspectives is our Friday discussion of religion and society. We expect these to continue and again begin to include more participants.
  6. Nurturing Creativity, our new blog will promote fiction and poetry and also work to encourage creative thinking and acting. The first post on the new blog will appear on January 13, 2016.

The topics for each of these programs have been independently determined. We’ll begin this year to coordinate them, and to have every one of the events advertised via social media.

How does this program impact you?

Energion Authors: You have more control over how much of our advertising effort goes into your book. If you’re a participant in all these programs, there will be extra effort going into publicizing your books. Remember that the more authors participate, and the more authors help build the audience for these videos and online discussions, the more people will learn about our books.

Readers: We’ll be offering free books to viewers/readers, normally by randomly selecting constructive comments. In addition, if you’re a commenter who makes a substantial contribution, you might be interested in contributing a post as well. Remember, however, that participation will be up to the decision of the editor(s).

Independent authors: If you’re self-published, or if you’re published by another small or independent press, you may ask to become a participant yourself. You’ll share your audience with our authors and we’ll share ours with yours. We’ll need to see your book (you can provide either a print or an e-book copy), or your other writing to determine your participation. We obviously want to sell books, but we also think it’s important that we help one another. If your book published elsewhere or self-published contributes to dialogue amongst Christians or between Christians and other groups, you might want to join our discussion.

For more information, watch the Energion News blog, or even better subscribe to it via RSS or e-mail. Or if you’re ready to get involved right now, e-mail and let us know.

Of course, you don’t need to ask to start participating by commenting. Just read one of the EDN blogs or watch one of our videos and join the discussion in the comments section.

Going the Second Mile

As an author or supporter of Energion Publications there are a few things you can do to help. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Like, Share, Retweet, 1+, etc. our posts. Obviously not everything will be to your taste, but if you like what we’re trying to do, following our Facebook or Twitter feed and sharing the material that catches your attention can be a major help.
  2. Comment and reply to comments, especially if you’re an author. Even if you didn’t write the post, join in the discussion. Don’t worry if you disagree with your fellow author. Just courteously but vigorously respond.
  3. Respond to our posts and link to them from your own blog. Let the debate spread across the internet.
  4. Consider reading and reviewing one of our books. Instead of joining the chorus of approval that comes automatically to so many well-known authors, take a look at somebody new. Some of our authors have a number of titles themselves, but we also have very new authors.

I founded Energion Publications to help build the conversation amongst Christians as well as between Christians and other groups. I hope that by pushing these means I can not only do better for my authors, but can also advance Christian education and dialogue in our communities everywhere.


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