top of page

To: book publishing marketing dept

CC: publicity 

Subject: new approach

I think my emails with attachments go directly to your spam. Or they're just getting lost in the sea of people from every corner of the world telling you about their pet salamander book idea:) So I thought this open letter format might be a welcome perspective.


I'm pumped to tell you about this case study above, but first, let me set the table.


A lane change in my career is taking place. I'm returning to my first love: publishing. I've made a fair share of picture books early on, but now I bring a new set of tools that might help.


I see so much potential for creative marketing in picture books, and we might be overlooking an obvious opportunity to steal a page from another playbook. I've worked at many of the big animation studios. They all make great films, but it's actually getting hard to tell which studio made which film.


The success or failure rate of these films largely relies solely on marketing. I've been told face to face by some EXPs that even though they champion their films as original, they admit they're not that extraordinary. But the studio has complete confidence it'll be a box office hit because... they 'trust the process.' 


Creative marketing.


Never the twain shall separate. These two words. Without Big C around, M transforms into a capital M and flips out at airports and coffee shops. Big C is M's emotional support animal. 


Publishing can borrow from this playbook. Especially debut books. More than ever, these authors need to rock the boat in this brutal attention economy. These new authors and illustrators, whom I see as I re-enter the space, are such great world-builders! 


Hundreds of hours go into creating these charming characters and their worlds, yet when released, most get a summary that entails a couple run-on sentences with a static image that reeks of 'buy my book' energies. This is supposed to get you noticed? A book debut is THE time to take your shot.


Getting the right people's attention can make the difference between a here-today-gone-tomorrow I.P. and a 10-year franchise. By 'right people,' I don't mean your average DTC; I'm talking about entertainment industry folk. And they are looking! Ironically, some need to be hit over the head with a proof of concept, as most don't have a visual imagination. This is the pocket of marketing I'm talking about. 


Debut books get one shot. You should take your best shot during that release month when the competition is fierce. I realize budgets are limited in this economy, so we'll need to do some creative accounting. Maybe shift some of the publicity budget over to marketing? 


Alas, the Maxine example. 


Now, I've gotta mention Maxine because it's such a good example. Full transparency, I have no affiliation with the author or artist. This book fell into my purview as part of a project I've been doing since January.


If you look at the potential of this Maxine story (not the picture book but the macro dog influencer saga on I.G.), you'll see that this cutie patootie is not getting any younger! When the (human) baby is old enough to realize what a pet actually is, this corgi will be in dog heaven.


Even when the pet parents get another corgi to continue their brand, nothing will ever replace the O.G. Maxine. Perhaps her legacy could potentially live on in an animated series, for example. (Yes, I'm a freelance animator, but for the record, I promise that's not the point of this letter.)


My point is that no one will know about this book (or other book debuts) if we don't make a big splash when the opportunity arises. It'll get lost in a sea of other dog (or salamander) books. 

It's unrealistic that every debut can get special treatment, but there are several ways to level the playing field. All meritocracy and inclusive based:

+The Black List model: author/artist team up to submit a 10-sec script.

+Hunger Games model: lottery based

+Squid Games model: solve a puzzle or die trying

+Oscar model: nomination based 

+The Voice model: mentor-based peer selection

My age falls between JLO and Mark Ruffalo (numbs the pain a bit). I have plenty of experience and a passion for getting new authors to receive much-deserved attention. There's more to 'why' I'm on this marketing bender, but it's a unique story that's probably better suited for a one-on-one call. But it's relevant nonetheless. 

We all understand the amount of work that goes into writing and illustrating books. I'm just proposing we put faith in a more creative marketing approach. There's always room for more winners. Instead of having 10 winners at the end of the year, we could have double. The world is a sponge right now. They will absorb good entertainment. 


We just need to tell them about it. 

I hope this outsider perspective is useful! 


Tom LaBaff 

bottom of page