Apart from trying to get your kick-a$$ manuscript for your soon-to-be best-seller novel on the tables of influential editors, I hope you have also been working on the less glamorous but equally important task of strengthening your ‘author platform’.
It’s not just important for publishers to discover you and your work. It is also important for your readers to discover you.
These are aspects which you as an author have direct control over. However there are also some limitations to what these book marketing strategies can do for you. The biggest one being the inability to take your book beyond your regular circle of acquaintances – family, friends and blog readers.
Apart from getting your basic book marketing platform in place within your personal, professional and social circles, you also need to start planning to expand beyond this sphere. This is where external media resources come in.
The most common strategy is to get the novel in the hands of others who have bigger platforms than you do, and are willing to publish book reviews. More on this in a different blog post.
In the US publishing industry, getting Oprah Winfrey to host the author on her show is a HUGE accomplishment for the author and the publisher. The scale and impact of such an exposure can bring an obscure book into the limelight, turn the author into an overnight celebrity and result in a spike in the sales. Of course, Oprah mausi is highly selective about the books she takes up and unless you are already someone who has the resources at your disposal, getting her team to consider your book seriously will be several times more difficult than getting a publisher.
In India, we don’t have an Oprah equivalent. But the mainstream media can help give a fillip to your book marketing efforts. If you have got a bigger publisher behind you, the credibility for the book and the in-house resources that you can leverage can be significant. For instance, getting some air-time on a mainstream platform can introduce your book to a larger audience.
Recently I was invited for a CNN IBN Live Chat session. Though I’ve written columns for online Indian publications (like Firstpost, Rediff) plus the occasional email-based interview (The New Indian Express), I’ve never done something spontaneous like this…and on a platform like this before.
And the fact that I had less than a day for the event meant there was very little I could do in terms of research or planning or promoting the event within my own circles. HarperCollins promoted it on their Facebook page (using the pic shown above) and I did my bit on the Beyond The Hype facebook page and my personal Facebook page and the MBA Crystal Ball Twitter profile.
There were also questions about whether there would be a good response to the event for a relatively unknown author. Or if I’d be twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to post the first question? What if some smart-a$$ trolls decide to join the party and post crappy questions just for the heck of it? What if I don’t have the ‘right’ answers to the questions. What if I have no internet connection during the event?
For a while, the ‘no internet access’ possibility came up when there was no electricity since morning, but Murphy (yeah, the same guy who allegedly makes those frustrating unnatural laws) decided he had tested my patience enough and the power came back about an hour before the event. Phew!
In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad. After the first couple of questions, it was actually enjoyable. There were enough questions to ensure that I was kept busy throughout the session.
In fact, though it was a 1-hour event, I ended up typing my answers for about 30 minutes after the event was officially closed for questions. After typing away at breakneck speed for the entire duration, I got a breather and the opportunity to read my own responses.
Apart from the questions posted and the 100+ Facebook likes that the transcript has got, I have no clue how many folks might have joined in for the event as passive readers, how many are still reading it days after the event happened and if any of this resulted in any book sales.
But it was good to explore yet another book marketing avenue. And it gave me enough dope to write this post and share some more ideas with you 😛