The Pennsylvania State University

Marketing FAQ

The marketing department of the Penn State University Press is staffed by a crack team of professionals. We do the copywriting, advertising, selling, promoting, exhibiting and general schmoozing. In short, we do everything associated with the marketing and distribution of your book.

We are delighted to add you to our outstanding roster of authors. We realize you may have questions about what we will be doing to tell the world about your book. In this booklet we address some frequently asked marketing questions. If we don't cover your particular question please call us.

We understand your concern about parting with your manuscript after you've worked so hard writing it. We also appreciate your concerns about getting your book into the hands of the reading public. Rest assured, we are going to take care of you and your book. So let's start with the basics.

What happens to my book once I submit my final manuscript to the Press?
What happens on the day my book is published?
What can I do to help promote, publicize, and sell my book?
What are some online marketing tools I can utilize?
How do publishers obtain quotes from celebrities and experts?
When can I expect to see reviews of my book?
I have a connection with our local National Public Radio station. Can you set up an interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Air fame?
I have accumulated a mailing list of 150 colleagues friends, and family. Can the Press use this list?
Will there be a publication reception for my book?
Now that my book is available, will the Press arrange an author tour?

Will the Press schedule book signings?
What can I do when a bookstore doesn't have a copy of my book?
Will the Press sell my book on the Internet?
Will my book be advertised in The New York Times?
I live in Minneapolis, but I grew up in Salt Lake City. Will my family and friends be able to find my book in their bookstore? In stores in other countries?
I've been invited to a workshop. The organizers want me to sell my book there. Can I take a small inventory of my book with me to sell?

There will be a book exhibit at a conference I am attending in Bookville, USA. Will the Press take a booth?
How do I obtain copies of my book?
Did we miss a question of yours?

What happens to my book once I submit my final manuscript to the Press?

Your manuscript (MS) goes immediately to editorial and thereafter, to production. But wait! Marketing efforts begin very early in a book's life. Your formal acceptance letter will include a link to the Author Information Form (AIF). The information you provide on the AIF is vital to the successful promotion of your book!

The AIF is your opportunity to tell us what you think we should do to promote, publicize, and sell your book. The AIF is our best resource for information we may wish to include on jackets, as well as in brochures, catalogs, flyers, and ads. Please take the time necessary to fill out the AIF and return it no later than the date on which you submit your final manuscript. We prefer that you submit this form online, or via e-mail to

You may access the form at or click on the Author Information Form above on the left.

As soon as we receive your completed AIF, we enter the copywriting phase of our marketing operation. First we draft catalog and jacket copy. From these vehicles we prepare copy for flyers.

And we don't stop promoting your book just because it has put in a few years on the shelf. You'll see your book displayed at exhibits and mentioned regularly in our seasonal catalogs as well as in subject specific brochures.

What happens on the day my book is published?

Your brand new book is added to our warehouse inventory (which is in University Park, Pennsylvania) and placed on our display shelves in the Press offices. Now comes the fun part.

We ship the books to retailers, wholesalers, libraries, schools, and individuals who ordered the book prior to publication; these orders are called back orders. Back orders are generated by the seasonal catalog in which your book is featured and other early promotion efforts. Our catalog advertises your book in advance, with a projected month of publication.

Our commissioned sales representatives also generate orders. Keep reading for more information on sales and distribution. Orders placed after publication are shipped as soon as they are processed by our warehouse.

How does a book stand out among the 1,000,000 titles published each year? Read on!

What can I do to help promote, publicize, and sell my book?

Our goal is to spread the word about the content and availability of your book to as broad an audience as possible with the intent of generating sales. The best way for you to help is to cooperate with us.

• Complete your AIF and provide as much information as you can.
• Be realistic about the audience for your book. While we think our authors publish the premiere research in their given field, the general reading public may not agree.
• Consider where to send review copies carefully. Remember, one free copy is one less sale.
• Be on the alert for selling opportunities. Call or e-mail us with detailed information we can use.
• Be proud of your accomplishment. You are the best promoter of your work. Talk up your book to your friends, family, and colleagues.
• Distribute any marketing material we provide.
• Be patient.

Promotion tip: Some authors have enlisted the aid of friends and family to assist in the promotion effort. We applaud this action. If your book isn't available in a bookstore, ask your friend to place an order for it at that locale. Special orders can lead to an increase in the number of copies a bookseller will carry.

What are some online marketing tools I can utilize?

Author participation in a book's marketing campaign has always been essential to its success. Publishers have traditionally relied on authors to promote their books through public appearances and media interviews. Today, with the Internet, publishers have come to depend on authors to be online marketing engines for their books. Online marketing is now the single most effective way (short of an Oprah endorsement) of getting the word out about a published work. Below is some general information about getting started with online marketing.

A blog, also known as a weblog, is a website where you can post text, audio, and video. A blog contains short (ideally 100 - 500 words ), frequent posts. It can be as designed or as simple as you wish—a blog is visited for its content and community, not for its bells and whistles.
Blogs are considered social media and are part of Web 2.0 technology. Blogging creates a community with your readers and the blogosphere (you and other bloggers). Readers are encouraged to comment on your posts, and the expectation is that you will respond to their comments.

While we encourage you to maintain a blog or website of your own and will provide a link to it from your book's page on, we are unable to build or host it ourselves. This is primarily for legal reasons. We also do not have the resources to create, maintain, or host blogs for authors. It is better to have no blog or website at all than to have an out-of-date or poorly maintained site.

Your decision should be based on your budget, time, and goals. Penn State Press enthusiastically encourages you to create a website or blog to help in the marketing of your book. Author websites have proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase online sales of book titles.

If you'd like to have an ongoing casual conversation with your readers, then a blog is the way to go. If you'd like to have a formal and designed site with structured information and longer articles, then a website is the way to go. If both of these are appealing, then creating a website with a blog as part of the website is the best option.

Free blog platforms for beginners include: Blogger,, LiveJournal.

If you don't have the skills or time to build and maintain your own website, the best way to create a website is to hire a company or a web designer or to find someone who will give (or trade) you some time to create your website. When creating a website, consider ongoing maintenance. You need not only someone to build the site but also someone to make changes for you once the site is built.

In addition to posting information about your book, your site should include autobiographical information, blurbs and endorsements for your book, links to reviews in the media, related websites, and contact information so that readers can reach you. If you have an email or mailing list, including a signup for it is a good idea.

If you don't have the time or resources to create a website or blog, consider the following social media outlets:

Wikipedia is a nonprofit online encyclopedia project. Entries can be created and edited by anyone. You can post your author biography and link through to your book page on

Facebook is a social networking tool that allows you to reach out to a large number of contacts and "friends" in minutes. Currently, the largest growing group of Facebook users are people in the 35-57 age demographic. You'll be surprised how many people find you when you open an account.

Twitter is a mini-blogging site that takes only minutes to set up. People then follow you and you follow other people on Twitter. It takes some time to build a community on Twitter, but it is a way to reach out to a large number of people very quickly. You can post online, through cell phone, or Blackberry.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site.

(Many thanks to the University of California Press for sharing this information with us.)

How do publishers obtain quotes from celebrities and experts?

This is all part of advance marketing efforts. Not every book requires endorsements to be successful. However, sales of fiction and popular nonfiction are enhanced by selectively using advance praise.

On the AIF we ask you to provide names of people who might comment on your MS. When you jot down that information, THINK BIG. Are you acquainted with last year's National Book Award winner? Will an endorsement from the president of your university help us sell your book? Please provide their names and mailing addresses as well as email addresses if you have them.

When can I expect to see reviews of my book?

If a nationally recognized publication runs a review, you will be sure to hear from us immediately. The major newspapers generally run a review the same month a book is published, but sometimes they surprise us with a review as much as a year later. Monthly and quarterly magazines often operate on an even slower timetable. Copies of the reviews, called tear sheets, are mailed to us by our clipping service. We photocopy them, send you a copy, and keep the original. Sometimes we receive tear sheets for books that are so old they are already out of print by the time we receive them. An infrequent occurrence, but it does happen.

Two or three weeks after publication, we send copies of your book to a list of reviewers, based on our know-how and your input. The rule of thumb suggests publicity departments send out finished books in these quantities:

Scholarly monographs 20 to 40 books
Trade titles (including fiction) 80 to 120 books

Our aim is not to give away the store but to send complimentary copies to people who will influence others to buy the book.

The state of book reviewing
The advent of the Internet has created a bevy of opportunities and a few challenges for literary critics, book reviewers, and publicists. Reviewers, whether for online magazines or for traditional daily newspapers, are seeing reductions in the space formerly devoted to lengthy and numerous reviews. The New York Times Book Review's deputy editor reports that approximately 7000 books arrive on their doorstep weekly but due to space constraints only 5% of their features and reviews cover these new books. Internet publications aren't concerned with too little space but are instead restrained by their budget for freelance reviews.

I have a connection with our local National Public Radio station. Can you set up an interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Air fame?

Local radio shows and NPR affiliates are excellent publicity sources. Please provide the name of the host or producer and the address of the station(s). Competition for author interviews on NPR's Fresh-Air, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition is very stiff, and these nationally broadcast shows may not always be appropriate for your book. However, local NPR affiliates have been very receptive to our authors.

Promotion tip: Talk radio is a good substitute for author tours. The wonders of technology enable us to schedule radio interviews by phone.

I have accumulated a mailing list of 150 colleagues friends, and family. Can the Press use this list?

You bet we can! Depending upon the makeup of your list, we can use it to announce your book and let people know how to purchase copies. Please provide your list as a Word document via email.

Will there be a publication reception for my book?

No one loves a good party more than our staff, but we feel that publication parties aren't the best use of our limited resources. There are exceptions, of course, and we occasionally co-host receptions with arts councils, museums, and other organizations that express an interest in hosting book-related affairs. Please let us know if you, your family, friends, or colleagues plan on hosting such an event. We may be able to supply some marketing materials, such as a poster or order forms.

Now that my book is available, will the Press arrange an author tour?

Our marketing budget cannot support national or even statewide author tours. In addition, we have other, more economical ways of reaching out with our sales message. See the promotion tip regarding radio interviews. We will, of course, help you organize events at bookstores and other venues near you.

Will the Press schedule book signings?

To be completely honest, we've had limited success with book signings and the event may not meet your expectations. Although we do our best to encourage book enthusiasts to form lines around the store, publisher-sponsored signings have, admittedly, been met with a few disappointments.

Our experience has taught us to be very selective and judicious in scheduling author signings, readings, and autographings. But we are certainly happy to help out. If you prefer to schedule your own events, we can easily supply you with materials to send to the bookstores. We do ask our authors to cover travel expenses associated with signings.

Before you even set foot in the store, here are a few things to consider for the event:

• Choose a bookstore where you live, where you are known and can travel to affordably.
• Choose a bookstore that is appropriate for the subject matter or region discussed in your book.
• Talk up the event to friends, colleagues, and family.
• Give out flyers. Post them. Get the word out.

So, you're still up to the challenge? Here are some more tips for the big day:

• Arrive a few minutes early. If Press staff isn't available to do so, introduce yourself to the bookstore staff.
• Sell yourself! Talk to people. Be outgoing, even if it hurts. Think outside the box. You never know where small talk may lead.
• Be friendly and courteous to potential customers (and especially to store staff who have given you the opportunity to sell your books in their store).
• Remember you are a guest. Do not disrupt normal store business.
• Do NOT bring books. The bookstore will have ordered books prior to the event.

A darn good idea: Keep us informed about all book signings, readings, talks, and conferences you have scheduled, particularly if books are to be made available for sale.

Another darn good idea
: Hearing an author read aloud from his or her work is much more interesting to the public than a simple signing. Maybe you would prefer to talk about the subject of your book rather than read from it. Whatever your preference, do invite your audience to enjoy the experience of a live reading.

What can I do when a bookstore doesn't have a copy of my book?

If you are comfortable addressing the situation head on, then approach a clerk and introduce yourself as the author of Title of Your Book. Sometimes supply doesn't keep up with demand and the store may be out of stock. Your inquiry might encourage them to order it again. Also, keep in mind the previous promotion tip. If your friends and family are wondering where to buy your book, send them to their local bookstores. If your book isn't on the shelf, ask them to place an order for it. This creates demand and may lead to the bookseller stocking more copies of your book.

All of our books are available to retailers either directly from the Press or through any of the major wholesalers, including Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Blackwells, and Yankee Book Peddler

Will the Press sell my book on the Internet?

We include information about all of our inprint titles, author events, and awards. Please feel free to link to our site and let us know if you want us to include a link to your personal web page.

We provide online bookselling services (i.e. and with complete bibliographic and descriptive copy of forthcoming titles. We also provide scans of book covers. We keep tabs on how and what is presented so we can catch errors and add notable reviews. Please let us know if you spot an error so we can get it corrected.

Some online services offer authors the opportunity to talk about their books. The beauty of this interview is that you can do it from your own computer. Just connect with one of the E-tailers and click on the author interview section. Complete the questionnaire and voila! You're done. Browsers will learn more about you and your book. We encourage all of our authors to complete author interview sections.

Promotion tip: Be sure to provide us with a list of websites pertinent to the subject of your book. We can ask the webmasters if they will link to the PSP website and lead folks directly to the page featuring your book.

Will my book be advertised in The New York Times?

Generally, we do not advertise in the more cost prohibitive journals, newspapers, or magazines. We can reach your audience more economically and efficiently by using the following promotion vehicles:

•Seasonal Catalogs. This catalog announces our forthcoming books to the trade, highlights our recently published books and bestsellers, and serves as our primary marketing tool. We mail the catalogs to bookstores, wholesalers, and libraries every six months. The sales reps hand deliver catalogs to their accounts and refer to them during their sales calls. In addition, we take the catalogs to the exhibits we attend and mail them to review media.

• Direct Mail. When we have determined that direct mail is the best marketing vehicle for a book or group of new titles, we will rent lists of associations and/or university faculty.

• Postcards and Flyers. Flyers are our multipurpose promotion pieces. We distribute them at exhibits and at other appropriate events, and provide authors with an unlimited supply in either printed or electronic form.

• Space Advertisements. Our ad budget is small and used primarily to promote author appearances or readings. We also use space ads in conference programs to bring attention to our displays.

• Internet Advertising. We regularly advertise using Google's AdWords program. To that end we would be very interested in learning what keywords apply to your book. Try to think in terms of "statistically improbable phrases," ( or put yourself in the shoes of the nineteen-year-old student for whom plagiarizing your work would surely guarantee an A. We would also be interested in learning what blogs or forums you and your colleagues frequent (especially those that feature advertising).

• Exhibits. To some people there is nothing like picking up a book and flipping through it to see if it's right for them. Keep reading to find out more about our exhibit strategy.

I live in Minneapolis, but I grew up in Salt Lake City. Will my family and friends be able to find my book in their bookstore? In stores in other countries?

Absolutely! We have commissioned sales representatives who cover the United States. They call on independent booksellers, chain stores, major wholesale accounts, and miscellaneous outlets. Sales reps call on bookbuyers (who make the buying decisions for the store) and take orders. Orders are sent

We meet with the reps twice a year to brief them on the forthcoming list, point out compatible backlist titles, tout bestsellers, and motivate them to sell our new publications (and push our backlist).

Our books are also available in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. In Canada our distributor is the University of Toronto Press. In the UK and Europe we are represented by Eurospan. In Asia we are distributed by EWEB.

I've been invited to a workshop. The organizers want me to sell my book there. Can I take a small inventory of my book with me to sell?

We appreciate your entrepreneurial spirit, but unless you are a licensed retailer, selling isn't allowed. The same holds true for the organizers. This is a perfect situation for you to hand out those flyers in large numbers. We'll print more if you need them. We will be happy to outfit you with plenty of catalogs and flyers for such events. Often, we have extra jackets and covers printed for our books. Let us know if you want a handful of these to show off.

Shameless self-promotion tip: Always carry a copy (or two) of your book with you to workshops, conferences, and meetings. Don't forget your flyers!

If the event takes place on a college campus or if you have several speaking engagements lined up in one city, we can invite the campus bookstore or the local bookstore to carry your book.

There will be a book exhibit at a conference I am attending in Bookville, USA. Will the Press take a booth?

We regularly attend conferences and meetings sponsored by: College Art Association, Modern Language Association, American Academy of Religion, American Sociological Association, Society of Architectural Historians, Congress on Medieval Studies, American Political Science Association, Latin American Studies Association, Pennsylvania Historical Association, American Historical Association, and a host of other regional shows and meetings. We also send new books to exhibits staffed by Scholar's Choice at academic meetings in some of our smaller, but growing, areas of publishing. For other meetings that you may be attending, we will be happy to provide you with a book and flyers.

How do I obtain copies of my book?

Your contract states the number of complimentary copies you will receive. After the book is published, we will do our best to get these right out to you.

If at any time you wish to purchase more copies as gifts or for your personal use, just call our distribution center toll free: (1-800-326-9180). The toll free number is used only for placing orders. Your contract indicates the discount we extend to authors purchasing their own books as well as a discount for purchases on books we publish by other authors.

Did we miss a question of yours?

This Web page is an attempt to answer questions you may have about the marketing, promotion, and distribution of your book. However, please keep in mind that each book is unique and therefore we may make exceptions to some of the policies we've outlined here.

We are aware that there is always room for improvement. We are always open to your suggestions, comments, and queries. We appreciate your input and your enthusiasm. Book promotion is a team effort, and we need your help. We plan to work together for a long time, so please give us feedback if there is something we do that you particularly like (or dislike).

Call, write or e-mail us:
(814) 865-1327
Penn State University Press
820 N. University Dr.
USB 1, Suite C
University Park, PA 16802-1003
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