Thursday, October 6, 2016

Marketing The Perfect Novel

What is the perfect book?  Is such a book something we can create?  Let’s explore.

Let me say off the top that I’m not necessarily talking about a book that’s perfectly written, but rather, perfectly packaged.  Besides, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder.  Every classic book has its critics and detractors.  You can’t please everyone all of the time.  But can we create the perfect book to be marketed in a way that is guaranteed to bring in millions and millions in sales?

There are many factors that go into book sales.  Most of the all-time best-sellers, in terms of number of books sold, come in the form of fiction.  Books on better parenting, sex, health, and wealth can do very well but it’s the novel that, in the long-run, outsells all.

Let’s explore perfect novels today.

With novels, you never know what’s gonna take off.  Once a book breaks through it brings on many copycats.  After the massive success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, how many titles have had “girl” in them, with all of them about women in danger?  Once a gold standard is derived, you have copycats, traditional writers, and hungry upstarts looking to challenge the status quo.  Which one are you?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s true, even in the digital book era – that a cover image is what draws so many readers to a book.  People like to pick up the shiny, new coin or flashy piece of jewelry.

The title is very, very important too.  If it’s more than five words, you’ve lost your reader.  Novels must have catchy, snappy phrases for titles.

Length alone doesn’t force people into a buy position, but there are some schools of thought here.  A longer novel provides meat and perceived value to some consumers.  But, if it’s too long, some may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of reading 760 pages.  A 540-page or 460-page or a 380-page book may feel just right.  Though people enjoy a quick read, especially for non-fiction, the 180-page novel may not give you a path to perfection.

The cover needs testimonials, an alluring tease, and just the right font and colors to invite you in.  The right book cover copy can seduce even a hardened savage.

Pricing a book just right is a little like trying to put your house up for sale.  Though the number of zeroes before the decimal point varies between the two, you don’t want to overprice it and turn people off, but you don’t want it undervalued and leave money on the table while making consumers wonder:  “Why so cheap?”

The perfect book requires the perfect launch, which requires the perfect pre-launch buzz.  This all begins with a well-crafted marketing plan.  Timing in the book marketing world is quite important.

The time to sell your book is not the day and subsequent weeks and months after a book first goes on sale.  Oh, no.  The moment to sell the book is before it’s officially available, months before, in the pre-sale run-up phase.  

You know how the political primary season ends up giving us the final candidates for election day?  Well, that primary season dictates election day and your primary season starts about six months prior to the day your book is officially launched.

Though many people self-publish books – and I support the practice 110% - the road to perfection typically runs through a traditional publisher, usually ones of the Big 5, which have been responsible for some 80% of all best-sellers in recent years. So, just odds-wise, if possible, seek perfection with a major publisher.

But regardless of the publisher, to launch the perfect book you need some hype.  What’s going to get people excited?  Many people buy on recommendations, perceptions, and appeals to their needs or desires.

People buy based on all kinds of theories and standards.

Just by telling someone a book is a best-seller makes them want it more.  Letting them know their favorite writer endorsed the book makes it more appealing.  Having a respected media outlet talk about the book in a positive way induces one to buy it.  If someone tells you not to buy it for political or social reasons – you rebel and want to buy it.

Can you get others to talk about your book way before it’s published – and then use their quotes and comments in your favor?

Can you create a controversy about your book before it comes out?  Do you have a natural enemy, based on the book’s content or who you are? If so, play that up.  Getting people to publicly love or hate you helps sell books.

Sometimes luck brings us the perfect book.  Something happens in the world or news cycle that suddenly has us craving a certain kind of story or allows us to see things totally differently than before.

The perfect book will do any number of things, including;

·         Discuss a taboo.
·         Promote or destroy a myth.
·         Tap into our emotions, from fear and hate to love and hope.
·         Lead us to see the world differently.
·         Entertain us in a unique fashion.
·         Seem to say what we think.
·         Speak to what we’ve experienced in our lives.
·         Give us direction to navigate through tough times.
·         Allow us to completely escape reality.
·         Helping us to feel a fantasy is so real.
·         Put ourselves in the shoes of others -- at no cost to us.
·         See into a viewpoint we never fully understood.
·         Appreciate life and guide us through challenges.

The perfect book doesn’t exist, but we find perfect passages, sentences, even words  We can fall in love with a book and measure all others by it , but then we realize no one book can give use everything that we need.  The perfect book is the one that people think they want or need and will extend themselves to buy it. You need to sell perfection, not necessarily create it.

Novelists need to extend their creativity off the book page and onto the book marketing arena.  Think Mad Men more so than Shakespeare. The marketing, promoting, advertising, and packaging of a book will always go ahead and write the best possible book.  Only your marketing can make it perfect.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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