The Curious Case of Market My Book Please

A few years ago (when we were still discovering the effects of online medium in the industry) I was sitting with a writer couple who very fervently asked how they could break the 5000 copies barrier. They had written and published a book each and were now writing a travelogue together. A very interesting one at that. Budget was a constraint as was in case of their previous books and they had just started putting their thoughts together for the travelogue. We decided that the most economical way to go about it is to start a Facebook page right then and gather people as they write allowing the individuals to contribute just so the followers of the page feel part of the book. Since then the page has been growing in terms of following. The idea in itself struck with the media too. Closer to the publication a little target marketing, of the page in addition to starting of other marketing activities, will spike up the numbers tremendously.

I’ve always believed that every book is not only unique in its look and read but also in the way it is marketed and when it is marketed. The good part is that books today need not wait until they are published and put out in the market, any longer. With the advent of online medium and more so the social media one has an option of starting early bringing us to the one big question that every writer and his marketer have to deal with, which is when to start marketing a book and how?

It might need a book to answer this question in detail but since an FB friend asked for tips, here are the marketing tips:

Everyone reads: No matter how much a book is written for anyone and everyone, every book has a target audience that needs to be clearly identified. Without it you wouldn’t be able to design a proper communication to promote it.

USP: it is not a good idea to hard sell right from the beginning. It is essential to identify a unique selling proposition for the book. Something that draws the interest of the reader naturally. This could be developed using the content or around a character of the book in case of fiction.

Content is supreme: Online medium especially social media is miserable due to lack of content and fails due to bad content. So your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc need well thought out strategy on content. The writer and the marketer need to work together to draw out a plan to roll out the content and to ascertain the level of direct participation of the writer by way of chats, live events etc.

Too many boats: everyday there’s a new social platform coming up. Don’t try and be on everything unless you know how to use it well. Also every book you write doesn’t need a new page. Promote the writer the book/s will get promoted. If you have a following don’t leave them dry while you get busy with your next book. Continue to remain in touch.

No one likes to be a friend and start receiving messages on” I’ve written something that’s never been written before”. People like interesting material and they might not like what you yourself may find interesting, so keep track of trending topics and how you can link them in the context of your book. Use visuals that relate to the content of your book, they communicate better.

Trending topics and crawlers are something that are best understood by online marketers take help from them in case you are planning to manage your online marketing on your own. If you have the budgets use the services of an online marketing person. I know that some of the recent bestselling authors do so.

If you are writing on self help and well being such as on weight loss, skin care, pregnancy etc or writing a travelogue, trekking guide etc, the marketing of your book online should start the day you start writing your book. Yes that early. Targeting specific groups of people with certain level of interest in the subject, will also help create a consumer/reader base for your book. Target marketing draws better results in case you know people you are talking to share similar interests. There are quicker ways to increase the number of following on the social media but starting early gives that much more time for people to bond. For a few others it helps starting to market online at least 6 months ahead of the book hitting the stores. The other aspects of creating a word of mouth, media buzz, retail hype etc can come closer to the release of the book.

The ideal time frame for starting to market a book is anywhere between 3 – 6 months before the book hits the store. But before starting you must have your plan for the coming months in place.

Peek-a-boo tactics: Some books that deal with controversies need to be timed correctly and how you make use of the controversy to have the media lap it up is something that needs great attention. It is important to have an understanding of what makes news.  Even the most topical books sink in the media because you haven’t been able to disburse the content correctly.

I’ve come across 3 kinds of writers:

Not Me: these are the kinds who write and leave everything else to their marketer to figure out, so much so that they do not even talk about their book where it matters.

Only Me: these are the kinds who think they can do everything for their book including writing it. Which means they are overzealous about handling every little thing for their book.

Me Too: these are the kinds who are participative and readily available wherever their inputs are required. They do not shy away from trying out a suggestion.

I might sound a little harsh here but in today’s day and age you can’t just write a book and leave the rest to others to do and neither can you handle everything about the book on your own. Your biggest gift is that you can write so leave what you cannot do to those who have been gifted to take care of the rest but do remain involved especially in marketing activities. You should be aware how your investment ( if not of money but of the time used for writing) is being used. Get involved wherever your marketer feels its essential. Just as is the case between an editor and a writer, its essential to have an open communication between a writer and his book marketer.

Today it cannot be about a book alone but needs to be about the entire packaging which also includes the writer and his personality. Also a success formula for one book doesn’t apply on every book. So go on have a long and detailed conversation on “how to market your new book?” with your book marketer, over cups of coffee.

Until the next book marketing update…