Saturday, August 18, 2018

Authors Can Be SUPREME In Their Marketing

My 20-year-old nephew introduced me to SUPREME a year or so ago.  I still don’t know what Supreme is but it’s become famous for being famous.  Apparently there are lots of people who are eager to have anything with the Supreme logo branded on something, from T-shirts to bags.  People just like the name.

Whenever some product is made available through limited channels, people line up for hours like they would to buy concert tickets, buying out all of the stock, leaving dust behind.  Then, people like my nephew resell this stuff and instantly turn a profit.  He doubled his $2,000 outlay in about 36 hours.  I kid you not.

There’s a phenomenon going on in America that seems to exemplify the way some entrepreneurs think.  It used to be that one would have a good idea, open a business, and provide a useful service or sell a needed product.  That’s Capitalism 101. We still have such forward-thinking, industrious, hardworking people, but we also have “flippers” – people who obtain something and then quickly sell it.  We see it in real estate, stock day trading, and we see it online.  People buy stuff on ebay or Craig’s list or some online crowdsourced supplier and then re-list them for a profit.  In fact, the good ones will seek to sell a product before they paid for it, testing the waters while not getting saddled with unsellable inventory.  Nothing’s wrong with any of that.  My question is this:  Can it work for books?

Can something be done to make a book more valuable than its cover price?

Sure, one can sell autographed copies – if their name was worth something.  You can create enhanced editions – nicely packaged books with special ink on glossy paper, tucked into a decorated sleeve or gift box – but that only works for a handful of titles.  Maybe what you need to do is print fewer copies – sell your book like it’s art work – a limited edition.

Or maybe you need to stamp S-U-P-R-E-M-E on the front cover!

Supreme is the brand and the brand is simply its name.  Maybe your book needs better branding?  You can make more money off of the brand than from book sales.  Sell T-shirts, posters, bags, etc. with your book’s cover image or showcase a quote from your book.  Make your book seem bigger than it really is and people will flock to it.

Sports teams shouldn’t be the only ones selling $300 jerseys.  How about author jerseys?  I’m serious. Print up your line of colorful jerseys, stick a number on it, put your book cover on the front, with your name on the back.  Throw in a cap and accessories like a scarf, socks, and gloves.

Merchandising is a huge industry.  The cost of making these things is inexpensive.  The key is the marketing behind the merchandise.  People need to perceive there is value in having something and often they will assign an inflated value to the most useless or frivolous thing.

Children’s book authors probably have an advantage here.  They may have cute, cuddly, colorful characters and scenic imagery that can be reproduced onto clothing and other keepsakes.  But there’s no reason a diet author, an erotic novelist or a self-help writer couldn’t find a catchy cover or phrase to highlight and market.

Maybe we can turn a book into a gateway drug, with all of the paraphernalia and merchandising that can go with it.  Some children’s books are turned into movies sell stuff all of the time, from plush toys to figurines to board game apps.  

Of course you’re in a Catch-22 here – to sell stuff your book has to be a success and in order for your book to be a success you need to sell stuff. 

You have to act as if your book will be a movie or that it has charming characters.  Maybe you can sell villain-wear if your thriller or murder mystery involves evil forces and bad guys.  Go sell a knife with its case engraved with your book title.  Sell fuzzy handcuffs with your kinky character’s name.  Create a fake instructional video on how to be a successful villain.  Sell T-shirts that say “It’s Good to Be Bad” and your book cover on the back.

Premium sales are going through the roof.  Everyone likes swag, even when there’s no obvious reason to desire something like a Supreme shirt.  But hey, don’t question or criticize it, just exploit it.  

If you’re really good at it, write a book about it – and sell product tie-ins.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. 

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