A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
wants to be a social media sensation. On
the surface it looks deceptively simple – post some cool images or an attention-grabbing video – or tweet some witty quips – and watch your views, likes, and
connections grow by the millions. But it
usually doesn’t work that way. In fact,
most people are lucky to have over 5,000 followers on any platform. Authors believe they can sell books if they
just can just get their social media following to grow. They’re just one viral post away from being a
what makes something go viral?
it doesn’t seem like you can plan it out, there does appear to be a formula for
things that generate a lot of clicks, views, shares, likes, and downloads. So listen up authors, this is what gets
things to go viral. Can you produce such
content and share it like a well-oiled machine pumping oil?
the basics. You need to come up with a
piece of content that gets posted online.
Determine where you’ll post it (which platform) and what will it consist
of: Video? Photo? Illustration? Text?
what will be the subject matter of the content and will it be funny, sexy,
adorable, emotionally tugging, brilliant wit, or something else that is sure to
do you challenge something? Rip an
institution, person, place, ideal? Do
you inspire, enlighten, educate, entertain, or praise others? Do you make people feel, think, or act?
what moves the needle?
cats and animals doing human-like things, doing something odd, funny, dangerous
or ultra cute.
on push-button topics: politics, sex, religion, money, sports, and war.
atypical, unusual, risky, empowering, or rare.
things you don’t normally associate together like a tank on a beach or a dog at
a strip club or a child addressing Congress.
comments on news, figures, or events of the day -- both current or historical.
focus on things we’d like to stare at but feel shamed for doing, such as
looking at a car crash, witnessing a crime but not responding, staring at a beautiful person, admiring an enemy, or studying a dead body.
things we can never actually experience or permit.
images or images distorted via technology.
that fictionalize reality or give a sense of reality to non-existent things,
people, or places.
that relates to things we have a strong allegiance to – God, country, family,
city pride, favorite team, hobby, etc.
usually it’s something dumb and replicable, something any of us could do that
gets a ton of attention – and yet we didn’t think to do it. Who can’t come up
with a dress that gets voted on for its color?
Who can’t post some cute image of a drunk-looking dog or a baby dressed
in a suit and tie?
determining what to post and where – and figuring out how to make the content
as unique, timely, and interesting as possible, the two ways to get it to go
viral are: one is luck and the other is
intentionality. Let’s discuss the latter.
need to go out of your way to share your content with others. First, you need to post it on your site so
the site gets massive traffic when it goes viral.
you must send a link to this content in your posts on all of your platforms –
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked In, Pinterest and Instagram.
you need to repost it and build up your followers on all platforms prior to
you may need to pay to advertise your viral content, in the hopes to jumpstart
it. The power of the content can drive
those who view it to voluntarily share it, but by pushing it out there you
expose more people to it who can potentially share it.
you need to get your viral content in the hands of influencers. Send it to those with big followings across
all social media platforms. Some may share it organically. You can determine if you want to pay one or
more influencers to reshare your content.
think of organizations and groups that have large memberships or online
followings. Is there something about
your post that might draw them to it? Could
you ask them to share it?
email your content to all that you know and beg them to share it with others,
especially on social media.
let’s say your content goes viral, so what?
Will it translate into book sales?
Will you now be able to cash in on your 15 seconds of fame? Can you commoditize clicks into a career?
people will not see many book sales or financial gain from their efforts to go
viral, while others will generate book deals, speaking gigs, bulk book sales,
and long-term growth from having something go viral. So what separates the two?
depends on what you sent out and how it relates logically to your book or area
of expertise. It also depends on whether
your content moves people to go from saying “Oh, that’s interesting or funny” to
“Oh, I have to buy her book.”
something goes viral you now have the chore of posting great follow-up content.
Not everything has to go viral, but you
want to sustain people’s interests and keep them coming back for more. You may get others to pay you to send out
their content to your followers as you then become an influencer. You may also tally up your increased follower
numbers and seek to convince publishers to take on your next book. Who knows
what may come of your fame?
ultimate viral content would be something that leads people to your book and
encourages them to buy it. Could you
make a commercial that doesn’t feel like one, where your book is worked into it
in such a way that people see the content as irrevocably linked to your book?
about the principles of going viral. Even
if you never get something to circulate to a million people. Even if you learn how to get 20,000 or even
2,000 or 200 people to click on your content, you will slowly build up a loyal
fan base who will become your go-to market to sell your future books to.
You are always marketing your brand – your persona, expertise, experiences, insights,
and content – and as you build up a following you will start to get eyeballs
turned on to your books.
not easy but it’s not complex either.
You can go viral with dedication, creativity, luck, and a mindset of thinking
big. There are stupid cat videos to prove that anything can go viral. Why not your stuff?
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you want to hear some wild stories, attend a writer’s conference. Attendees not only are capable of spinning
good yarns that their books emanate from, but they may have unusual takes on
life, odd experiences, and imaginative ways of viewing the world. I was reminded of this when I participated in
the Philadelphia Writers Conference this past weekend.
took the day off from work to hop on an Amtrak train, New Rochelle, NY to
Philadelphia. Some two and a half hours
later I arrived and walked from 30th Street Station down to 4th
Street and one avenue over, to Arch.
have been to the city of Brotherly Love many times. When you live in New York you tend to hit
cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and DC numerous times in your life. It seems like so much of our nation’s
founding history and politics come from those three places – and New York. You
get reminded of the Colonial Days and the era of Ben Franklin as soon as you
step foot onto this city.
conference has been going on for 71 years, but this was the first time I
attended. The company I work for, MEDIA
CONNECT, advertised its services as the leader in book publicity by sponsoring
the event. Our fliers were made
available to attendees and I manned a table for three hours, ready to answer
the questions of eager participants.
was stationed to absorb an incoming barrage of wild stories from people who had such unique experiences that often served as inspiration for their
writings. One woman lived all over the
world and had heartbreak when dating a bipolar alcoholic. Another guy was a poet who shared some of his
life with me. Another person relayed how
she is transgender, going from male to female.
Each one told me things with such passion and conviction. To be a writer you must be a good researcher,
have rich experiences worth writing about, and have a wonderful imagination,
but the key is to be able to tell a good story and captivate people.
would some of these people be without their writing? Dead, perhaps. Addicted, surely. In therapy?
Probably there already. Writers
sacrifice their lives for writing— not just their time or money but their souls
and their hearts. It is how they make
sense of things and justify whatever bad experiences that may have injured
them. Their writing is an outlet, a path to redemption, a lottery ticket for fame, and a way to validate their sense of
love writers. They are my people. They observe, feel, think, imagine, analyze,
and visualize a better world. They help us
live our current lives while giving us a peek into the lives we may never get
to live or know from. Writers live for
us. They take the blows that life deals
us and puts them into a neatly packaged book that leads us on an inescapable
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Book Publishers Grow Their Brand & Sales With Their Authors’ Help
If you cannot discover at least a dozen markets from
flipping through the phone book, you are either thinking too narrowly or your
book really isn’t marketable.
Another source for ideas is the classifieds. Whether you
look in a newspaper or on a site like craigslist.com or an auction site like
ebay, you will get ideas on markets to sell to and you will see samples of ad
copy as to how others are marketing their books, products, or services.
If you want to get your brain juices flowing about how to
present yourself to others, consult career advice books such as the ones that
talk about the job interview process and how to write a resume. Though you are
not applying for a job, you are selling yourself all the time.
Here are some
questions I recently saw in a book about job hunting. I modified them so you
can apply it to yourself. Try to answer these questions:
you tell me about yourself?
do you want to work with us?
much do you know about us?
jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
do you see yourself in five years?
do you see our industry heading?
kinds of contributions could you make to our company?
me about some of your major successes,/a major failure,/and what you might have
do you consider your major strengths? Weaknesses?
10.How would your most recent boss
describe your strengths?
11.What rubs you the wrong way?
12.Which character traits of your
friends do you admire most?
13.Who is your idol or model?
14.Tell me about your last performance
15.What do you do in your spare time?
16.Why should we hire you?
17.What questions do you have for us?
How authors get
their book marketing mojo – and avoid failure