Marketing to Black Audiencesadmin
I was watching Urban Indie Films on Aspire the other day, and there was a short film about a woman who was an author, and she was going to be interviewed. She wanted to send a message that would resonate with her black readership. But her handler/agent said “No, make it universal”. In other words, suitable for a white audience. Well, she went into that interview – they had given her the questions in advance – and the interviewer went off script. And asked why she was whitewashing her message, and whether she had sold out. She admitted it. And said that she was told to. And that she was sick of it, and wasn’t going to do it anymore. Hurray for her.
My publisher tried this with me. Said “your book has universal themes”. Well, I gave it my best shot. I marketed the book as women’s fiction. It didn’t sell. That was not my audience. Know your audience. Black educated women read more than any other demographic in America. Hurray for us! So, I wanted to take a moment and highlight the black businesses that are promoting black books. In no particular order.
First is CushCity.com and the National Black Book Festival. They have several different promotions for black authors including videos, and TV ads, mail-outs to black book clubs, postings on their website and Facebook/ Instagram posts. Their packages range from $49 to $600. The high end is for video production. The National Black Book Festival is held in Texas every year, and you can reserve a booth and sell your books there. There’s something I should say about Facebook posts, and it’s a hard truth. Just because someone posts on Facebook doesn’t mean it will show up in your feed. So, if an advertiser touts 80,000 followers, their post is not going to get seen by 80,000 people. Just sayin’.
Next is BlackPR.com. It costs between $200-$300. You can get one Facebook post in blacknews.com and then a press release to about 1000-2000 black news outlets including Ebony and Essence, BET, most black newspapers and radio stations. Sounds good, right? Sad to say, press releases are no guarantee of exposure. Press releases get buried, press releases get ignored. The editor at BlackPR worked with me to frame my press release headline so that it was interesting, intriguing, noticeable. I still only got 3 sales. Essence didn’t call…
The owner of blackwomenauthors.com, George Donovan, was another man who worked very hard with me to promote my book with Instagram and Twitter posts. He created the graphics and posted multiple times over the course of a month. Blackwomenauthors.com offers a monthly promotion service. It starts at $25/month, and it means regular exposure. For more money, they also design landing pages. There is a lot of value in a landing page. Facebook lets you add some code so that you can track the number of visitors to your page, and target them with special advertising. If you send customers directly to Amazon, you can’t track them as easily. You can also customize your landing page with whatever you like – I recommend you leave this to the professionals unless you are very artistic.
The African American Literature Book Club, Aalbc.com offers banner ads to promote your book on their website, as well as newsletter ads that go out to around 14,000 subscribers. The newsletter ads start at $199 and go up. For $399 you can get a dedicated e-mail blast for just your book – most e-mail blasts feature anywhere from 5-25 books and you don’t control your position. You will be supplying text and graphics. They also offer an inexpensive landing page. AAlbc was not in my budget, but looking back, it may have been good exposure.
Crownholderstransmedia.com offers book tours which are quite extensive. They range from $150-$850 and give you exposure to up to 165,000 subscribers, a radio interview, social medial promotion for 1-2 months, and features in their magazines. I signed up for this package last month and already, I am on their Amazon page and in a hardcopy magazine that is distributed in the metropolitan DC area. I’ll be doing the radio interview in May, and I am waiting to see the copy for the e-blast. I have high hopes for this.
The Instagram book tour I went with was cocoachapters.com/tours run by Rhonda Reddix. She has been a pleasure to work with. I signed up for a two week tour, and she identified 20 Bookstagrammers who would be featuring my book. The book tour requires that you send a hard-copy of your book to each bookstagrammer, and it gets expensive. For the book tour, I paid $175, but to send out 20 books, I paid another $150. However, I got several 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, and those are worth gold. After the book tour, I decided to maintain an Instagram presence and post there on Tuesdays. Within 2 months, I am up to 100 followers, but I would say that 25-50 of them were people trying to sell me things.
There is one other group that I haven’t tried yet – blackbookpromo.com. They boast a 100,000 member audience and send a dedicated e-blast. If you have your own graphics, it costs $300 and if they need to make a graphic for you, it is $400. One thing I have learned about e-blasts. They will give you a short spike in sales, but it takes constant advertising to get real results. For that reason, blackbookpromo.com offers discounts for multiple blasts.
So! Depending on how much you want to spend, you can reach significant black audiences. Whether they buy your book is a completely different question. One thing I regret is that I didn’t know about all of these things before I launched the book so that I could compare them and fit them into an overall marketing plan. Hence my attempt to put all of this down for someone else. If you’re planning to write a book, hold onto this list for future reference.