Common Sales & Marketing Topics


Sales & Marketing
McFarland’s sales and marketing staff is engaged from the moment a manuscript is officially delivered. While McFarland is responsible for the sale and marketing of your book, your participation is crucial to the success of our efforts. At several key milestones during the publication process, McFarland will automatically contact you with updates or to solicit suggestions. Several common sales and marketing concerns—online promotion, reviews, signings, conferences, and more—are covered here.  For topics not covered here, McFarland authors should direct questions to your in-house publicist Beth Cox. Authors of the Exposit Books and the Toplight Books imprints should direct questions to Savannah Clemmons.

Marketing Questionnaire
Shortly after delivery of your manuscript, you will receive a marketing questionnaire. It is important that it be completed and returned promptly.

Title, Cover Design, Format, Binding & Price
Once you delivered your manuscript, McFarland began work on several critical elements.  A title, if one hasn’t already been settled upon, will usually be finalized very soon after manuscript delivery. Your cover will be an essential marketing tool, and we will finalize the cover design shortly after the manuscript is delivered. If you suggested ideas when you delivered the manuscript (see Preparing Your Manuscript), we will be happy to consider them.

Within a few weeks of delivery of your manuscript, attention will be given to format, binding and price. For the print edition, a decision will be made based on our judgment of what format (and price) will produce the best sales result. An overwhelming majority of our new books are produced in softcover; a small number are originally offered in hardcover and later in softcover. We do not offer books simultaneously in both forms. We will also determine if your manuscript is eligible for an ebook edition. The most common obstacle to ebooks is a permissions snag, so be sure to avoid “print only” restrictions with your permissions.

How You Can Help Promote Your Book
McFarland promotes its books to all appropriate markets (library, higher ed, retail, specialty, and direct-to-consumer) through our business relationships with booksellers, our sophisticated metadata routines, direct mail/online/print advertising, conferences and trade shows, and course adoptions. Much of our activities promote groups of books, subject lines and the company brand, though we do undertake some level of single-title promotion for each individual book, as well.

Here are tips about how authors can help with promoting books:

  • Be sure to reply promptly to inquiries and form letters from the sales & marketing department (e.g., marketing questionnaires, requests for review copy suggestions).
  • If you use social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we encourage you to periodically tweet or post about noteworthy activities to your network of colleagues, friends and family.  Examples of noteworthy activities are revealing the cover, sharing a link when the book first appears for pre-order, sharing a photo of your copies when you first receive them, and sharing a complimentary review.  Follow McFarland on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and refer to us in your posts and tweets.
  • A few months after you’ve delivered your manuscript, keep an eye out for your book’s page in McFarland’s online catalog. Help us make sure that the catalog description is accurate. At this still-early stage of the book, changes should be forwarded to advertising coordinator Kristal Hamby.
  • Authors are encouraged to mention their books in all of their bylines (for journal articles, etc.). Consider including in your (auto) email signature a brief mention of your book and a link to the book within McFarland’s online catalog. Likewise, if you are making posts to discussion forums and blogs, consider an auto signature that mentions the book.
  • Once the book has been published for a few weeks, inspect the book’s page on the most important online booksellers and book information providers. The key sites include Amazon, the Apple iTunes store, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Goodreads, Google Books, the Google Play store, Kobo (Rakuten), LibraryThing, and WorldCat. Ensure that they are accurate (but be aware that changes and/or inaccuracies just post-publication are fairly routine and often remedy themselves in the coming days). In some instances, you may be able to make correction requests directly with the site. Where this is not an option, contact advertising coordinator Kristal Hamby.
  • Beyond ensuring accuracy, consider enriching the listings on those online sites. In addition to having a page for the book, sites such as Amazon will also have a page for the author—consider enriching the author page, as well.
  • After the book is published, encourage your contacts, colleagues and others who have read and enjoyed your book to post customer reviews on Amazon and the other key sites. Customer reviews will have an impact on sales, and your book may very well look naked without them.
  • Consider experimenting with Goodreads and LibraryThing. These two social media sites focus exclusively on books and shared recommendations, and offer opportunities for authors to interact with readers and publicize author activities.  With social media, authors should aim to have a conversation with their readers, rather than simply trying to “sell” their book.
  • Consider experimenting with Facebook and Twitter. Facebook offers intriguing opportunities for “word of mouth” promotion, including the possibility of fan sites for a book or yourself. Again, an author should aim to interact with readers and provide them a service, not simply “sell.” Twitter encourages frequent, rapid interaction with other users and fans. Focus on building and communicating with a community of people who share an interest in your book’s topic.
  • Consider supporting an existing Wikipedia entry or creating a new entry that relates to the topic of your book. Above all, make sure your small contribution is relevant and helpful. Provide a note, or a few notes, referencing your book (make sure the note provides a link to the book’s permanent page in the McFarland online catalog).  Wikipedia users that need to go deeper than the article will want to know about your book.

Pre-Publication Endorsements (Blurbs)
Blurbs are brief pre-publication endorsements from well-known authors or experts in your field (different from book reviews published by media after a book is released). You are under no obligation to collect blurbs; in fact we do not especially encourage them. Although they can lend a degree of prestige, working as part of an overall effort to influence perception of your book, in our market they don’t appreciably affect sales. If you are interested in blurbs, it is best to undertake this process early.  Before you secure any, consult our blurb instructions.  Contact Kristal Hamby if you have questions.

Book Reviews
McFarland automatically distributes review copies to the appropriate major review media for U.S. libraries (Choice, for example). McFarland also sends review copies to select academic journals, popular magazines and online review outlets according to topic (literature, women’s studies, and performing arts are some examples). Newspapers are not ordinarily a part of McFarland’s review efforts, although there are some exceptions.

If you are aware of review media (journals, specialty magazines, websites or high quality blogs) in your particular field that feature book review sections, it would be helpful if you could provide us with names of the periodicals, names of the book review editors or other key contact personas well as their email addresses, and physical mailing addresses. It is not uncommon for authors to suggest as many as five to ten contacts, and McFarland is typically generous with review copies. However, regardless of the exact number of suggestions you have to offer, please rank them in order of importance. Email your suggestions to Beth Cox.  Exposit Books and Toplight Books authors should direct their suggestions to Savannah Clemmons.

It can be difficult to predict when published reviews will begin appearing—it often depends on the nature of the reviewing medium. Also, although McFarland books traditionally perform well, reviewers make no promises that a book will actually be reviewed. An author may not be able to accurately judge the review media’s level of interest until six or more months have passed.

McFarland will automatically provide you with scans or photocopies of published reviews. Scans of simple published listings or acknowledgments of “books received” will not be distributed. Another way to learn of published reviews is to set up a Google Alert for your book. If you come across a review that McFarland may not be aware of, please send a copy to Beth Cox.  Exposit Books and Toplight Books authors should direct those to Savannah Clemmons.

The importance of customer reviews on internet booksellers such as Amazon cannot be overlooked. After the book is published, encourage your contacts, colleagues and others who have read and enjoyed your book to post customer reviews on Amazon (and other major websites, as well). Customer reviews will have an impact on sales.

Conferences and Trade Shows
McFarland regularly attends and exhibits at many of the major library conferences. Major academic conferences are frequently part of McFarland’s exhibiting plans, as well. If you will be delivering a paper or sitting on a panel for a conference where McFarland is exhibiting (see our events calendar), please let us know (preferably at least a few months in advance).  We take requests for books to be displayed, but be aware that exhibit space is often limited, and we can’t guarantee that there will be room for special requests.  If you are attending a conference where McFarland is not exhibiting, it is sometimes possible to arrange for the display of your book through another party. Conference-related inquiries should be emailed to our events coordinator, Stephanie Nichols.

For those authors who plan to do booksignings (they’re totally optional and can be fun, but McFarland doesn’t necessarily encourage them), please contact your local bookstore or other relevant signing host directly. In general, bookstores of all sorts can host signing events for local authors. However, not all bookstores are happy to do so. Your bookstore host will know best which books make the best fit for their business.

The bookstore will want to work out local arrangements (what day, what time, what exactly will happen, etc.) with you. They will want to work with McFarland to obtain books. The signing host should contact Beth Cox to obtain books at a discount. Although it is fine to do some early planning for books that aren’t published yet, booksignings should not be scheduled until finished copies are in the McFarland warehouse. If you require further information, Beth can advise you about how to best arrange signing events.

Library, Higher Ed, Retail, and Specialty Markets
For more than 40 years, academic and public libraries have formed McFarland’s base market.  Many of these libraries make their purchases through ebook aggregators, wholesalers, book jobbers and Amazon. Authors should feel free to notify their local public library or campus library of their book’s availability, but no special effort to contact libraries is asked of our authors.  Authors of scholarly books can expect for library sales to be the major market for their book in the early going (with internet sales — and hopefully course adoptions — subsequently rising to the top).

For applicable books, college classroom adoptions play a role in sales. If you plan to use your book in a course you teach, please inform us. For classroom-appropriate books that are multicontributor works, it would also behoove the author/editor to inquire with their contributors about adoption possibilities. Please email advertising coordinator Kristal Hamby for assistance with or to share your ideas about advertising for classroom adoptions.

Our ebooks are offered to consumers through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo (among others).  The strongest print retail market is internet retail. McFarland has longstanding relationships with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and our books excel in the internet retail environment.  We frequently run pay-per-click advertising campaigns for thematic groups of books as well as solo ads for single titles.

Chain book retailers (e.g., B&N, Books-a-Million) will carry McFarland books in their system for special order.  Independent bookshops and specialty retailers (including IndieBound bookshops, museum shops and mail-order distributors) can usually make suitable arrangements with McFarland to stock and promote books on the store shelf.

It is perfectly fine for authors to introduce themselves (and their books) to a local bookstore or other bookseller. Encouragement from authors to stock their books can sometimes make a difference in local sales. McFarland also welcomes sales tips from authors about specialty booksellers. However, between in-store versus internet, remember that driving internet sales is likely a wiser investment of an author’s time. Sales tips should be emailed to Beth Cox.  Exposit Books and Toplight Books authors should direct their suggestions to Savannah Clemmons.

McFarland successfully sells directly to individuals. Specialists, professionals and enthusiasts form an important market for many kinds of books. If you are aware of any unique opportunities to advertise your book to a specialized group or professional organization, for example, please let us know. Email Beth Cox.  Exposit Books and Toplight Books authors should direct their suggestions to Savannah Clemmons.

Author Discounts
McFarland extends a special discount to authors. Authors and editors may purchase any McFarland book at a 20% discount. On their own book(s), authors are entitled to at least a 20% discount, possibly deeper when ordering in bulk quantities. Contributors (including essayists, forewordists, interviewees, and subjects of biographies), are eligible for a discount for their particular book. Those interested in receiving a quote may contact:

Stephanie Nichols
Senior Marketing Assistant

There are several questions that are frequently asked about royalties, including questions about discounts for booksellers and when booksellers pay McFarland for their purchases. Here are the essentials.  The contract specifies royalties are paid annually (in the early part of the calendar year), but for many years, McFarland has also offered a second, midyear statement and payment (usually mid to late summer). Royalties are based on paid sales. For every dollar that McFarland takes in, an author gets their cut as specified in the contract. Note that some copies are sold at a discount, and the author’s royalty is based on what McFarland is paid.  Also, note that most booksellers do not make payment at the time they order stock. Instead, most are invoiced and make their payment later. Questions about royalties can be directed to:

Kathi Price
Finance Officer

Checking on Sales Figures
McFarland’s business department will automatically provide you with complete figures for paid sales (both copies and dollars), usually twice per year. You do not have to request this information—it will be supplied automatically. While business department staff is not able to provide information routinely about which sales have been paid, authors may write to them for figures of current shipments and billings. Email your requests to Beth Cox. Please help us serve all of our authors better by keeping these requests infrequent.

Typos, Errors and Requesting Corrections
If you have detected a typo or an error for your book’s website description, please email advertising coordinator Kristal Hamby. In most cases, website-related correction requests are addressed within five business days. (However, if you are recommending extensive changes or a replacement description for your forthcoming book, changes could take longer.)

If you notice missing information, typos or errors on other sites (such as Amazon or Google) and you are unable to correct them directly, please inform Kristal Hamby.  Availability messages from these retailers may fluctuate in the days after a book is published—this is normal. However, if incorrect messages about availability or publication date persist for more than a few weeks, email us.