Books & Authors, Marketing and More

In 2012, I revived my reading habits and read a lot of books. In 2013, I started doing Book Reviews on my blogs and as a part of the Reviews, it was important for me to have a list of books that I’d read well in advance (to do justice to the reviews). As I was exposed to the world of Books & Authors, I observed that “Marketing” plays such an important and integral role in the life of a Book and an Author.

Gone are the days when the role of an author was to simply write. In today’s era, a book is really a “product” which needs to be “packaged and marketed” well. And an “author” represents a “brand which interacts” with the world

In the US alone, there were more than 15,000,000 published in 2012. And I am sure in 2013 the number is going to only increase. One of the possible triggers could be Social Media – which is giving everyone a voice and opportunity to write and express, and many first time authors start their journey on social media platforms.

As I look at the journeys of several books and authors, I am compelled to write this post with a few observations I’ve seen:

* The Marketing Strategy for a book typically depend on the following:
(1) Whether you’re a first time author or serial-author or best-selling author (Simply because it makes a difference in the “existing reader base”)
(2) The Category of Book (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Self-Help, etc.)
(3) Language (English, Vernacular, etc)
(4) The Author (and whether he / she is already a celebrity in one / more circles and has an “existing fan base”)
(5) Whether the book is Self-Published or is published by a Publisher (& the “muscle-power” of the publisher in the publishing world)
(6) Who the target readers are and what are the best channels to get their attention?

* The Marketing for a book has 2 broad phases:
Phase 1 – Before the Book is released
Phase 2 – After the Book is released

* Some of the most common Marketing Strategies adopted before a book is released (Most of them are really in the online world)
(1) Create a web-page for the book. For e.g: Check the APE site for Guy Kawasaki’s book
(2) Publish a post on your own blog announcing that you have n upcoming book release. Check Seth Godin’s New Book Announcement on his blog
(3) Launch contests on your site / publisher’s site (in case a publisher was involved). This gets potential reader’s further engaged in your book, and also spread the work within their circles. For e.g.: Guess the name of the book, Guess the name of the characters in the book, Check the name of the places in which the book was set, etc. Check Preeti Shenoy’s blog asking reader’s to guess the name of her new book
(4) Tweet about your book (It helps if you’ve built a good Twitter base before you launch a book)
(5) Ask your friends to share your blogs, tweets, etc – in social media channels & other channels where people may be interested in your book
(6) Give interviews – In print, In the radio, In podcasts, In the TV (provided someone asks for your interviews 🙂
(7) Share complimentary copies with a selected audience, and ask them for Reviews even before the book is formally launched
(8) Participate in live (& relevant) events and speak about your upcoming book – Of course, you should get the opportunity too. If you get an opportunity, don’t pass it! For e.g.: Book Festivals, Business events, Conferences, etc.
(9) Participate in virtual events and talk about your book. For e.g.: Online chats, Tweet chats, etc.
(10) Create a teaser marketing trailer about your book (Catchy Video with great visuals and racy music) and publish it in every possible forum which has your target audience [Trend is many publishers do it themselves based on the kind of book, but if you’ve self-published it is still worthwhile to create a marketing trailer for your book]
(11) Post about your book on your FaceBook Fan Page if you already have one. If not, create one and link if to your blog / other social media channels

* Some of the most common Marketing Strategies adopted after a book is released
(1) Formal Book Launch (Usually easier if you go with an established publisher) – And do something “WOW” at the book launch. In addition to the book launch itself, the “WOW” factor will be a trigger for additional media / social media attention. For e.g.: When Jessie Paul released her book “No Money Marketing”, she had both Narayana Murthy (from Infosys) and Girish Paranjpe (from Wipro) at the book launch. I know that a lot of people still talk about this even after 3 years of the actual book launch!
(2) Launch contests on your site / publisher’s site (in case a publisher was involved). For e.g.: Book Give-aways based on a Writing Prompt. Check Preeti Shenoy’s blog for an example of the Writing prompt
(3) Create a Twitter Hashtag for your book, and encourage discussions and interactions around this. For e.g.: #apethebook is the Hash tag for Guy Kawasaki’s book APE
(4) Continue to Tweet about your book regularly – At least for a few days after the book release, every single day and a few times every day
(5) Ask your friends to share your blogs, tweets, etc – in social media channels & other channels to widen audience reach
(6) Ask people of repute to write book reviews and spread the word in their circles
(7) Host a live / virtual MeetUp – so people can speak and interact about the book
(8) Participate in live events and speak about your book. For e.g.: Guy Kawasaki spoke about his book APE at the New Media Expo. The video can be viewed here.
(9) Participate in virtual events. For e.g.: Online chats, Tweet chats, etc. For e.g: On MyBookClub
(10) Give interviews – In print, In the radio, In podcasts, In the TV (provided someone asks for your interviews 🙂

* Next and most important is that as an Author , one needs to continuously engage with your readers. Some things which are really important:
(1) Be clear about the brand image you want to build (& ensure that its in line with what you really are) – You can’t portray something that you’re not for too long
(2) Be clear on how much personal information you want to share. Draw the line clearly so that there is no conflict with respect to your “personal life” and “writing life”
(2) Be honest and sincere in your interaction with your readers
(3) Establish clearly how accessible you want to be to your readers (Do you want to be accessible to everyone all the time?)
(4) A book launch is a one time activity, and most books have their own active life. But reader’s may want to connect and reach out to you any time. So do keep a channel for interaction – Twitter, FaceBook FanPage, Mail – Choose whatever suits you best. Have at least one, If you can keep up with all then great, go for it!

For a book, any marketing can make an ocean of difference. All one should aim for is to get a potential reader remember the name of your book and the essence of what it’s about. Beyond that, its your writing (& editing) which counts and makes all the difference.

The other thing about reading is that most “readers” usually get book recommendations from specific sources (friends, online reviews, etc.) – So if you can figure a way to feature here, then half your marketing job is done

And lastly, a book is really a “creative piece of art”. You do you BIT and BEST, and release it.
Beyond that it is luck, fate, destiny and your reader’s reactions which determine the success or failure of the book