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

Nischala’s Blog-o-Rendezvous with PREETI SHENOY

Preeti Shenoy,  named among one of the top five authors in India by CNN-IBN, weaves magic with her words and pictures.  An extremely talented and versatile individual, her Twitter bio reads: “Best-selling Author, Artist specializing in pencil portraits, Poet, Yoga-Buff, Ex-basketball player, Blogger, Dobe-owner, Nature lover, Ted speaker and a Mother.
Her interests are as multifarious and diverse as her several academic degrees which include an internationally recognised qualification from UK in portraiture. DNA has described her as a ‘Keenly observant mind’ and Times of India describes her writing as ‘Excellent story telling skills’.  There is simplicity in her writing that appeals to the inherent good in all and her positivity and ‘Live life to the fullest’ philosophy finds a large number of takers, who follow her very popular blog.
Her second book ‘Life is what you make it’ was among the top selling books of 2011 in India and her third book ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ which was released in February 2012, continues to be on all the best-seller lists, having sold more than 25,000 copies within two months of its release.
Her pencil-portraits are life like which strike you with a realism that take you aback. She is also an avid card-maker and a poet.  She has written for publications like Times of India, Readers Digest and many more. She has worked with under-privileged children teaching them English and Math. She has worked with several schools conducting workshops on thinking skills and creative crafts.
She says  “Life is short. Follow your heart and chase your dreams. And yes, they will come true.”

And if you’ve read her earlier books, here’s some good news. Her fourth book titled “The Secret Wishlist” is due to for release shortly. You can pre-order this book by clicking here. Not only do you have a chance to get a personally signed copy of the book from Preeti, but also a 30% discount. You can also follow the FaceBook updates for the book here.

A couple of weeks back, during a random online browsing activity, I accidentally came across Preeti Shenoy’s book titled “Life is what you make it” – Something about the title compelled me to buy the book. I finished reading it in one night. Then I read her other 2 books “34 Bubblegums and Candies” and “Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake” all of which are National Bestsellers in India. After I finished reading all the three, I learnt that she also blogs, so naturally I visited her blogs. I liked her writings (both books and blogs) simply because they were simple, easy to read and written straight from the heart!

So I sent her a request for the Rendezvous and she immediately replied with a “YES”!

In this rendezvous, we discussed about Preeti’s journey into the world of writing and some nuggets about life which she strongly believes in.

Nischala: Hi Preeti. Firstly, Thanks for your time. It’s great to connect with you!
Preeti: Hi Nischala. Thanks for this

Nischala: So Preeti – Firstly, Congrats on the success as a writer. From what I read, all your books are national bestsellers and are doing very well!
Preeti: Yes! Thank You. They are all indeed doing well. Touch wood!

Nischala: So let me start this rendezvous with how your writing journey started?
Preeti: I have always been a writer. From childhood, I have written several short stories and poems – Many of which have won laurels and have been published in journals / magazines, etc.

But looking back, I think the big push for writing came only after I lost my father. In order to deal with this loss I started writing – Writing primarily for myself and more as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions. Writing kept me busy and almost was therapeutic to help me deal with a difficult and vulnerable phase in my life. So I started posting my writings on a blog anonymously and I was happy to see that my posts were very well received. The big boost came when a radio show in the US picked up a post of mine for the “Perfect Post” Award. The traffic and reader base increased significantly after that.

I then started writing more seriously and in more respected publications like Reader’s Digest, Chicken Soup Series, Times of India, etc. One of the main reasons that I took up writing seriously was because it kept me busy and helped me deal with the loss of my father. So I wrote about things which I believed in or which I was passionate about – like life, relationships, animals, bikes, dance, art, etc. I think there are more than 60 articles of mine published in various publications.

And at the same time I received a lot of comments and suggestions urging me to explore writing a book. And that’s how my first book “34 Bubblegums and Candies” was born.  It’s really a compilation of little stories from my life and some of these were already published on my blog.

Nischala: That’s an interesting journey. So looking back, what was your happiest and proudest moment as a writer?
Preeti : As a writer, my happiest moment was when my first book came out. Also when my second book was named among the ‘top books of 2011’. And honestly I write because I enjoy it; and so it has been a happy journey all along.

Nischala: Wow! Congrats. I guess there is something special about the “firsts” of anything in life – Especially your first book . I also see that you write regularly on your blog and also have been able to publish 3 books in the past few years. From my understanding, they are two different worlds. So, what is the key difference between a blog and book?
Preeti: That’s correct. I started blogging in 2006 and since then I try to blog regularly.
Blogs and Books are two different worlds simply because in a book you need to have a storyline, characters, a setting, dialogue, etc. And more importantly there has to be a central theme to your book. While in a blog, you can write about anything you want and publish it! And every blog post can be a separate theme.

Nischala: That’s interesting! So moving on, you have also given a TEDx Talk very recently. How did that happen? And what was the key message? How was the experience?
Preeti: I have given two Ted X talks –one at Symbiosis Institute for Technology and management Pune, where I spoke on creativity in daily life and another at Ted X Sona, where I spoke on ‘5 lessons for growth’.  Both talks were very well received. The experience was great.

Nischala: Preeti  -This is the first time I am talking to you. But in this brief interaction, you sound so positive about everything. So how do you manage to stay so positive?
Preeti: Hmm… Well that’s something which a lot of people say to me. See I think I am generally a happy and contented person in life and it manifests in my interactions with others. I believe that for everything in life you do the best you can in whatever situation you are in. And if things don’t work out the way you wanted, deal with it and move on.

Nischala: That’s a great attitude for life. So what do you think anyone can do on a daily basis to feel positive, happy and alive!
Preeti: Well, there are no universal answers. But here’s what I do and it helps me a great deal.

Do something you love everyday – It can be reading or art or listening to music or meeting friends or watching a TV program – Whatever it is, set some time every day to do what you love. You will be surprised at how much difference it can make in your life.

Laugh – Do something fun that makes you laugh – It can be that you read a joke or watch a cartoon or just fake a laugh. But laughing regularly definitely has a positive effect on your overall well-being

Nischala:  Thanks for sharing these practical tips. I am sure that if anyone did the above regularly, it will have a positive impact on their lives. So, as we conclude any message that you’d like to conclude with?
Preeti: Live life today, Follow your heart and Live everyday
There is joy in little things that you can do every day. Most of us rush from morning to night in doing a zillion things, and we don’t stop to appreciate the beauty and the magic of the world around us like smell the flowers, enjoy our meals, spend time with people we love and care for, etc.  At the end of the day, life should be about what makes you happy and contented. And if you figure this out and know how to get there, then you will end up happy and contented every day of your life.

I truly believe that life is short and so very unpredictable. I am saying this because I have experienced up close of personal what it means to deal with the demise of those who mean the world to you.

And what I learnt from all these experiences is that it is important to focus on living well and being happy today. Finally when you go, you don’t take anything with you – especially not money. And what you leave is memories for others and how you impacted their lives.

I was not like this 5 – 7 years back. But as of today, this is something I believe in and execute every single day this way. So I live life to the fullest today, enjoy every single day and am happy and content at the end of the day. That’s what really matters.

Nischala: Thank you so much for this rendezvous.
Preeti: Pleasure is all mine. Have a great day!

How did you like this rendezvous? Leave a comment to let us know..