What’s the best way to convince a publisher that you have a platform to promote your books so they take your query letter and your book proposal seriously?
‘I used my blog to sell X hundred/thousand copies of my first book.’
What’s the next best way, if you are an unpublished author with a popular blog?
‘I haven’t been published yet, but I’ve used my blog to sell X hundred/thousand copies of other books in the same genre.’
Even if it isn’t mentioned in your publishing contract, your publisher would still want you to do your best to promote your book. In a previous post, I had shared some ideas on why an author needs to have a blog irrespective of whether you are going for traditional publishing, self-publishing, printed books, ebooks. Having a blog is less important than having an ‘effective’ blog.
A blog can be judged in many different ways. The most common and tangible factors that are easy to measure and manage are listed below:
– The quantity of posts you’ve made
– The number of visitors it gets
– The demographic mix for these visitors
– The amount of time they spend on your website
If you have Google Analytics installed on your blog, all these details are easy to get.
However, you can’t impress a publisher purely with this data. These parameters are not very useful in answering the big question – ‘Will this blogger be able to sell a book if we publish it?’
The marketing team at HarperCollins recently told me that they were pleasantly surprised to see that online sales are a substantial chunk of the overall sales figures – the rest coming from bigger book chains like Landmark, Crossroad as well as many smaller book retailers.
Through trial and error, I’ve had a fair bit of success in generating online sales for my MBA book. But my blog was not ‘designed’ to promote the book. It’s just that the topics and the content in my non-fiction book have a lot of overlap with my admissions and career advisory work. Folks who come to the blog see genuine value in what the book has to offer. It can save them time, effort, money and a whole lot of stress.
If I were to provide a summary, Beyond The MBA Hype raises some very fundamental questions about career planning for early and mid-career professionals who are feeling stagnated in their current jobs. It proposes several options that are easier, cheaper and less risky to fix the professional problems than going in for expensive degrees. So it’s fixing a real problem that many readers of the blog are facing.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert at any of the online book marketing stuff. I still struggle a lot in trying to understand how online promotion works and I’m in awe of relatively unknown authors who’ve used the internet to sell millions of copies of their novel. Numbers that a book like mine that targets a niche might never be able to achieve. But I thought, why not try out an experiment with a few adventurous and willing bloggers.
Conventional paid advertising doesn’t make commercial sense for books with small print-runs, mainly because the royalty rates and the volumes won’t justify the RoI. It becomes more of an ego trip, rather than a well-planned business decision. and unlike many celebrity authors, I don’t have industry connections or the financial power to get the book splashed all over the media.
I thought of trying an experiment that would:
– help me generate some more visibility for the book
– allow fellow-bloggers to test out the monetization potential of their blog.
If the experiment is successful, I could publish a separate post on it. If it fails, well, nothing to lose. Those who have participated will still benefit as we’d all know one more idea that doesn’t work.
If you have a blog and any of this sounds interesting, drop me a note along with your blog URL. I’ll let you know a few options that we can try out.
[Update: The experiment is over. And if you are curious to know, it didn’t work out as expected. But the book did end up doing exceedingly well. It has sold out several print runs. So, if you are a newly published writer, do keep experimenting. You’ll figure out what works for your book.]