Marketing on Air

Since fall of 2013, Ooligan Press has been trying to find the best ways to get Untangling the Knot into the hands of readers. It’s the same conversation our teams have about every book we take from manuscript to marketing: How can we identify readers who will be interested in this book? How can we reach them? Where do they get their information?

We often separate marketing plans by different forms of media: print, digital, and broadcast. Of course, a marketing team wants to hit every available outlet, but depending on the type of book, it makes sense to use resources wisely and put certain focus on certain types of media.

In December and January, we hit print and digital media hard—we sent galleys to dozens of print and digital media outlets, both LGBTQ-focused and not. As our launch date (March 5) neared, we needed more than reviews. We needed conversation. This, in fact, is what the marketing logic of Untangling the Knot has always been. The book itself is a conversation about marriage equality, comprised of twenty-six different experiences and opinions. Outbound marketing is still king: reviews sell books. Period. But with a book like Untangling the Knot, we’re not just marketing the story, we’re marketing the effect the content could have—the conversation of the book. This is where broadcast media comes in.

Broadcast media is able to, especially in the age of the internet and the podcast, combine outbound and inbound marketing. A conversation, rather than a single-authored review, about a book seems to open the space around the book for input from all four players involved in book marketing: the reader, the author, the media, and the publisher. We looked high and low in our search for appropriate broadcast outlets. We sent galleys to Good Morning America, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and All Things Considered. But the best connections to come out of our search were local. Both Late Night Library and Wild Planet Radio have been incredible in helping us publicize the book in that specific, conversation-building way.

We reached out to Wild Planet Radio (WPR), the only 100-percent queer radio station in the US, which launched exactly a week before Untangling the Knot. The day before their own launch event, Bobby Harsell, the creative director at WPR, invited us to come by the station (housed in the Q Center on Mississippi Avenue) to chat about Untangling the Knot. I was especially excited about the meeting because it sparked a new connection for Ooligan Press. We’ve published three books with LGBTQ themes in the last year, most recently The Ghosts Who Travel with Me this past June. A connection with an LGBTQ radio station with a potentially national reach will be an important one to maintain.

We met with Bobby, Thomas Elisondo, and Rhiannon Flowers from WPR. They let me gush about how much I love Untangling the Knot, and we talked about ways in which they might help us publicize it. A writer herself, Rhiannon is working on launching a podcast, Poison Pen, on which she’ll host authors and talk about their work. I asked her what makes air media such an important force in information distribution. She said, “That is the gift of radio and podcasts—they are mostly free, and their main drive is simply to connect, inspire, and inform each other on things we find important, interesting, and entertaining . . . this art form helps spread the word in a beautifully personal way.” This, too, is my favorite part about marketing—it’s more than selling books. It’s finding and fostering connections. It’s discovering and creating new ways to get books into the hands of readers, not just because it means more books sold, but because the readers might be changed, ignited, or soothed by the content. Air media is an outlet that fosters this kind of marketing by building conversations around books and their messages.

Check out this episode of Late Night Conversation about Untangling the Knot with authors Mel Wells, Ben Anderson-Nathe, and editor Carter Sickels.

Check out the conversation Rhiannon Flowers and I had on WPR about the book and Ooligan Press, and stay tuned for more from Rhiannon and Wild Planet Radio—they have some really exciting projects in the works.

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