The world of book marketing is moving and shaking, and as with all things, change is inevitable. Part of my job is to embrace change and ensure that we are on the front edge of book marketing trends so that we can be the most effective marketing team for our clients. And although changes don’t mean the “old ideas” no longer work, it does mean that there are some exciting new ways to do things. So with that said, I’d like to share these 7 changes you can expect to see this year.
- Collaborative marketing: While not a new trend, I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more of this in 2018. In the past, we’ve seen authors do combo book bundles – books bundled together from a variety of authors. In addition to that, I think we will see more collaborative marketing efforts such as bundled freebies, samplers and joint ads. There is power in numbers and this year, more than ever, we’re going to start seeing that this type of networking is no longer an option, but a necessity.
- Less social media: People are getting social media weary. I even know of a few authors who have completely closed several social accounts. More and more authors are going to get away from being everywhere.
- Seasonal romances: The Hallmark Channel is known for their marketing focus. If you follow them, or have ever seen a Hallmark Christmas movie (it’s ok to admit that you have), you’ll notice that nearly all of their movies are now tied to a season. And while this trend began in television, it has now extended to books; I’m seeing more and more romances with seasonal angles: New Years, summer holidays like Memorial Day and July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and of course, Christmas. Then the cycle starts all over again. And while I focused on romances here, it’s not unreasonable for this trend to reach further into genre fiction, too.
- Print books will pick up steam again (but not for fiction): Interesting to note that so much of what’s being sold in fiction is not in print, meaning that eBooks are killing it in genre fiction. Dataguy from Digital Book World talks about this in his report: http://digitalbookworldconference.com/index.php/whitepaper. He notes that 70% of adult fiction sales were from eBooks. Seventy percent. And, in fact, several major publishing houses have set up digital-only divisions for this very reason. But for non-fiction I’m seeing a totally different trend. Print is still a strong staple of the non-fiction market. If you’ve released a book in eBook only, maybe now is a good time to put it out in print, too – a new edition can give you some new promotional opportunities.
- Mobile: Do it or die (or at least your books may). You need a site that is designed for mobile, even if it’s just adding a Wordpress plug in. Mobile can’t and shouldn’t be ignored, but if you don’t get this handled this year, you’re going to lose a lot (a lot) of potential traffic and new readers. Plus, your book covers MUST look good on mobile browsers. If you have to pinch and pull the screen to be able to even see what your cover looks like or how it reads, you may be in trouble. Most new readers will simply move on.
- The Long Haul: We love viral, I mean who doesn’t? That thing that just goes crazy and gets everyone talking, like the Gilmore Girls reunion. It’s on every social media feed everywhere. The only thing is this: with so many books being put out daily, this kind of “magic” is not really something that we’re going to see a lot of anymore. This doesn’t mean that books won’t sell well, but it’s much more about the long haul (which I know sounds like a horrible amount of work) that’s going to get your reader excited. So now that I’ve gone all buzzkill on you, let me explain what I mean by “long haul.” It’s time to prepare for the “after the honeymoon” phase, post 90-day mark when you’d normally expect to see things take off. That’s just not realistic anymore.
More and more in my firm, I see authors spending their budget dollars very wisely. They know they shouldn’t just blow it all in the first week of promotion, and they pace themselves and their budget. Be sure to plan for the long-term because short, power bursts just aren’t getting the kind of traction they used to. In fact, I’m seeing this a lot in the way of eBook promotions. Remember when you used to be able to do one eBook price discount and see a flood of sales? Now I’m seeing authors do two and three of these to hit the same numbers. It’s all about saturation and if you stick with it, your book will hit its stride. Bottom line: Prepare for the long term and don’t give up.
- The Netflix effect: Some years ago, I talked about how Netflix was going to start reinvigorating old shows. We see this with a number of 90s hit shows that have made recent comebacks, but what Netflix has also done is create “binge watching,” an often-used term. This has turned serialized content on its head with sites like Wattpad really pulling in the views. As authors, we should be doing something in serialization. And due to the growth of audio books, I think the next level of this might be serialized audio content. So, consider a chapter a week or a day, dumped into a subscriber feed (sort of like a podcast) to help you build listeners and maybe entice them to buy the full audio book version, or your print book. Be aware that while doing this could be a lot of fun, you’d better have a good reading voice to pull it off.
Although it’s hard to say whether or not all of these things will come to pass this year, you may be surprised to learn that many of them are already happening. It can be hard to see too far ahead, but again, the one thing that’s certain in book marketing (and life) is change. Don’t get caught by surprise when things you know to work well are no longer as effective (although most likely they will still work to a degree). The key to success will be your willingness to change with the times.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.