Book marketing 101

My sister’s book is being launched in the US in May (buy it). We were discussing innovative methods of marketing her book (mostly online). It is a fairly nascent industry, but there are a few people writing some interesting stuff. One of the things about her book is that it’s set in Durban South Africa, and all of the reference points (places, products, names) have a very Durban flavour. This was one of the challenges we discussed in terms of how to make this very real to an American audience.

Here are some key pointers from our work in progress discussions about how to best harness the power of the internet to sell a book;

Understand your audience
Its marketing 101, but don’t try and communicate with people who cant read by using the internet. Similarly if you’re selling a magical realism book with a focus on love, its probably not the best route to go to people through a car website, because your audience is women 25+ and men read car sites.

Use bloggers.
This takes a number of different forms, you can;
1. Do a virtual book tour I would advise finding people that fit within your audience and find the blogs that communicate with them. Send through a review copy to them with a handwritten note and something to differentiate yourself (some small kind of gift). From there you can have them review you; write a guest post, have a profile or offer a podcast or excerpt from your book.
2. give away tastes.I’m very keen on the Seth Godin free approach. He has proved that if by giving his book away as a free pdf it promotes the sale of his other titles (I haven’t as yet been able to convince my sister to read her entire book and give it away, but giving away excerpts is under discussion)
3. Use your Facebook community to generate buzz, inform people about book signings and launches and run a competition to stimulate virality with other people. One of the cooler things that she did with her South African launch was to have people take photos of a kiss for a competition. This builds on the viral aspect of it and makes people more involved with the product because they’ve taken the time to get involved.
4. Create context. The book is set in Durban which most Americans have no idea exists. Use online tools to showcase specific spots from the book. Have a Flickr stream which shows places which are talked about. Have a Youtube channel and tour of Durban (or even interview yourself and detail why you’re motivated to write this book, how you feel about touring; it adds some personality to the author and thus interest)
5. Use bloggers to mobilize efforts around a specific offline event; she’s thinking of a picnic in Central Park this time. Ask bloggers to get the word out about events or book launches. These are great for PR if you can get a few people present.
6. Create a book trailer. She’s thinking of a stop-motion video about a cupcake to showcase to drive people back to the site. This could also be used with the “showcase the local” in number 4 above. Very important don’t forget to include a call to action message in the movie, e.g. join our FB, enter our competition, download the excerpt etc.

Update: and of course don’t forget to be part of the conversation. Make sure you’ve got a “vanity” search active on Google for your name and the name of your book. If you have some more budget use one of the tools that I detailed here. Once you know people are talking about you, reach out and get involved in the conversation. You can communicate with the blogger, ask them to profile you, contribute to the forum or anything else to get your message out there

I’ll report back with links and performance as things proceed.Related articles by Zemanta

3 replies on “Book marketing 101”

I wonder how effective an e-marketing campaign would be for this type of product and audience.I can see how bands can benefit from MySpace when their audience is using the website constantly but do you not think most ‘readers’ get their information on new books and authors from the traditional media? or maybe the american audience is different to the south africa?in any case, it will be interesting to see what response Bridget gets. is there anyway of tracking such a campaign?

That’s why I think the targeting part of it is very important. You try and speak to people within your target audience (my assumption here being that it’s females 25+), so you target blogs that appeal to this audience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all about reading, but just trying to connect with the right kind of people, promoting trial and getting them to experience the book.Using your myspace analogy its not only like getting someone to sample the music, its also about finding more about the artist; what arre their ideas, why are they doing what they do and in some way pique their interest. Unfortunately tracking is difficult, you can have a link from the web to your amazon store for example which will give you actionable data; but its hard to quantify the fact that I read the excerpt, wrote about it in a forum, spoke to my friend and from there somebody bought the book….

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