How Guy Kawasaki leverages social media to promote his books

Guy Kawasaki | Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Author
I recently interviewed Guy Kawasaki on MBA Crystal Ball, a blog that focuses on topics related to business and management education. The discussion revolved around his early days at Apple (working with Steve Jobs and being one of the key reasons for the success of the Macintosh), his life as a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Don’t worry, I’m not going to regurgitate the content from that post here.

As the release date for my MBA book (titled ‘Beyond the MBA Hype’) was just around the corner, Guy’s latest project in the publishing world got me interested. Apart from the phenomenal track record he’s had in the business sphere, there’s another domain that he’s excelled at – writing and publishing. He’s been scaling the same pinnacles of glory in a very different field. And this is no flash in the pan story as he’s been hitting the bull’s eye consistently with amazing accuracy.

So I thought it might be interesting to review some of his techniques that he uses with such devastating (in a positive way, of course) results. For new authors and writers (like myself), I thought there would be some ideas to pick up.

It would be difficult to cover all the evangelism (maybe the Apple role helped fine-tune this skill) that he does for his books – from choosing the topic and infusing a lot of heart and soul into his topics (irrespective of whether they are business related or about self-improvement or motivation). What we can focus on, is his marketing strategies, though it might only be one of the factors that contributes to the magnitude of sales that his books achieve.

For starters, the biggest impact could probably be attributed to the way he leverages his platform of loyal fans and followers. His latest book Enchantment is a good case in point.

Enchantment | Book The cover of his book was result of a ‘crowd-sourcing’ experiment. He threw a challenge to his creative and the not-so-creative fans across the world tapped into their right brain capabilities to come up with a concept for the book cover. The winning concept, in an adapted format, finally found its way on the cover as an Origami butterfly.

The buzz around his latest book started months before it was formally launched. Guy is the founder of Alltop.com, a collection of the best blogs from around the world on a wide range of topics. [Just for the record, my MBA blog features in the top education blogs list :-P]. That database gives him indirect access to a BIG global audience. And considering the theme of his self-help book (some have referred to it as the modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to make friends and influence people’), it cuts across demographics with ease. Many friends, supporters and bloggers on Alltop.com list got a sneak peek at the book. A huge (informal) army of bloggers was waiting in the wings with book reviews ready to hit the ‘Publish’ button after the book was officially released.

The whole mechanism, which I’m sure was a whole lot more complicated than it appears here, worked like a well-oiled machine. The result – within a week the book stormed into 3 bestseller lists – New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly. Not bad, eh?

Of course, what we’ve talked about here is just the conceptual part. Having the resources and the capability to execute the gameplan to perfection, well, that’s a completely different story. But always good to learn from the masters of their craft.

Are you aware of any interesting, unconventional book marketing ideas that were adopted by other authors? What was the result?

P.S. This wasn’t meant to be a promotional post for the book, but I guess talking about it automatically promotes it indirectly anyway. The power of the buzz!

4 Comments

  1. Sabiha says:

    Hey! Thanks for this informative piece.
    I am an aspiring novel author who has, until date, written and edited several academic books. However, because most of these ties were through an agency, I never got direct credit. Now, in my first association with a publisher directly, I will be given credit for my work. I was paid for writing the book quite handsomely, but there were no talks of royalty. The book turned out really great. As a lesson for my further works with this publisher (and others), should I rather talk royalty or simply get paid for my writing? Could you give some advice please.

  2. Minnie Karsan says:

    Hi Sameer, I enjoy reading your blogs.
    I’ve just finished my debut novel (a fun read, something on the lines of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, if I am allowed to be presumptuous enough to compare my book with his).
    Do you know of any good book editors? I’ve been very disappointed with the two editors I approached, who both charged me a hefty fee but gave me very little feedback on my novel., Does Jacaranda provide editing services? If so, can you pass on the details? Or do you know any good editors who edit in my genre, chick lit? TIA

  3. Tonmoy Banerjee says:

    Hello Sameer Sir

    Many thanks for the guidelines provided by you. It was really helpful. I am writing a novel (i would call it a novel based on the guidelines provided by you). I am not a regular writer just trying to write for the first time. Any guidelines by you for the same specially how to get it published would be of great help.

    Regards
    Tonmoy

  4. d .chakrabarty says:

    suppose I submit the manuscript of my book to a publisher and he refuses to work with me. later he publishes it by his own name……what are the possibilities of this, and how this can be avoided.

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