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Author Topic: Help with an assignment  (Read 3943 times)

Offline Shamrock

Help with an assignment
« on: April 04, 2011, 03:33:23 PM »
As some of you might know I'm doing my honours degree in publishing at the moment and I just got an assignment on marketing.
I need to market a book, an existing title, in unconventional ways and I was hoping some of you could help me with ideas on marketing. Here is an extract from the assignment:

Choose an English novel of your choice and write a marketing plan for the novel. It is a novel that should appeal to certain young readers – e.g. students/ twenty and thirty something people, not conservative readers. Keep in mind that this group has access to electronic devices and read media on the internet more than on paper, i.e. this a group that needs to be reached by alternative means and not the traditional way of reviews, ads in newspapers, book launches and talks at book clubs etc.

So I was thinking of promoting an older title, such as The Gunslinger or The Wizard of Earthsea to promote it to markets that may not have read them yet, and perhaps finding new markets.
Any ideas for marketing strategies that you thought were clever? How do you hear about books online?
« Last Edit: April 04, 2011, 03:37:57 PM by Shamrock »
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline Overlord

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 03:42:59 PM »
Video is a very good thing to look at for publishing these days... remember that at the time those two were released there was no kind of video advertising for books.

Even more relevant is the Internet... make sure you know how powerful the Internet is for publishing. Certainly Earthsea had no kind of online movement... perhaps games relating to the story?

I guess if you wanted to do something REALLY unique, perhaps look at a viral video... something actiony, funny and 'out-there' that will get people maybe not usually that into Fantasy clicking to youtube and checking it out.
Founder: http://fantasy-faction.com
Editor: Fantasy-Faction Anthology (Aug 2014)
Author: "Son of…" in 1853 (2013)
Host: Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering

Offline Tiffany Kysis Tackett

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 03:49:27 PM »
I agree with video.  Book trailers are something a lot of indie authors are using, but it is definitely working.  Plus, since book trailers (the good ones) are generally no more than 90 seconds, more people will watch it than some 10 minute book talk or even a 3 minute trailer, since it barely takes any of their time.

If you can do a live action book trailer, EVEN BETTER.  I have seen way too many book trailers with mix-matched art work that is obviously from mainstream series that are not the book, set to whiny music that is obviously from Titanic or some other mainstream drama that is not the book either.  Be original, or at least as original as you can be.

Does Twitter count as marketing?  I think it should, since so many people market their books on it.

Offline Shamrock

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 03:52:38 PM »
Good suggestions, I have to have a whole plan so a number of strategies must be used. I like the idea of video, a really nice book trailer could be done for both titles. Whereas Dark Tower also has the movie buzz which can help with online promotion.

Twitter is something I will definitely include in my proposal. However it will have to be from the publishers side as I don't think Le Guin nor King are likely to join twitter any time soon ;) Although I suppose I could suggest it, it is just a proposal.
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline Libertine

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2011, 11:43:49 PM »
It might be worth considering the possibility of someone tweeting in the style of the author. It is possible to pay someone to do it on your behalf so why not make it a structured plan? The other thing that some do is tweeting in the style of one of the characters although that would take careful planning.

A friend of mine just got himself a book deal after serialising his novel, creating a couple of book trailers and selecting key people to follow on twitter and friend on facebook (his book is Mrs Darcy and the Aliens so he made connections with Jane Austen fans). Proof that those things work anyway.

Giveaways are popular on twitter too and with so many reviews, guest blogs etc there's hundreds of opportunities, although you wouldn't want to give away too many free review copies!

Libertine - Chapters One & Two available now on http://www.sandranorval.co.uk/2.html
Follow Libertine on twitter on @enterthetwixt or me on @sandranorval
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Offline pornokitsch

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 09:18:04 AM »
Choose an English novel of your choice and write a marketing plan for the novel. It is a novel that should appeal to certain young readers – e.g. students/ twenty and thirty something people, not conservative readers. Keep in mind that this group has access to electronic devices and read media on the internet more than on paper, i.e. this a group that needs to be reached by alternative means and not the traditional way of reviews, ads in newspapers, book launches and talks at book clubs etc.

Video is a tricky tool and you should weight up the pros and cons, as well as what the actual video content would be.

The hard parts: whenever you bring a character/setting/whatever to life visually, you're imposing an "official" imagination on the book. If you include a shot of Roland in the video, or of the Dark Tower, for example, you're essentially saying that's the "correct" way he/it looks. That's ok with things like comic books and films - that's why people consume those media - but you're not making a trailer for a movie, you're making a trailer for the book - and to tell a book-reader that there's a right way to picture something can be a dangerous area.

Also, trailers work for movies because that's what people expect for movies, and how movies create buzz. There are also existing media channels for film trailers that get a LOT of eyes. Not just online, but also in cinema and television. And that's just it - movie trailers work for movies because they put TV spend behind it. A book viral that gets 50,000 views would massive success. A lackluster TV spot will get over ten times that - in one airing.

How will your audience find the trailer? Where will it live? What is so compelling about it? Who would hunt down a trailer for The Gunslinger? Would it be people that hadn't read The Gunslinger before? Or would you just be preaching to the choir...?

I'm not saying that online video isn't a solution to book marketing, and, in many cases, it might be the right answer. But be sure to interrogate what it would do, and why.

Ok, that's video (kinda)...

What I would suggest doing is taking a step back from choosing media and think about your audience and your product. Selling The Gunslinger to people that will already buy The Gunslinger is just the starting point. Where are the people that would like The Gunslinger and don't know it yet? How do you talk to them? Is it horror movie fans (if so, what can you do in cinemas or on film sites)? Is it literary fiction readers? Is it comic book fans? Is it teenage boys that need a coming of age epic for a modern world? Is it schools?!

What about churches? What if you began a campaign that sent The Gunslinger out to youth groups, alongside a reading guide? Package the whole thing series as a complicated, CS Lewis-like parable; get youth ministers to quote from it and suggest it as reading. Tell religious parents to get it for their kids; do a PR blitz saying that it is the popular antidote to "atheistic dystopian SF".... I'm not saying this is right - or even accurate when it comes to the book - but just using this as an example of identifying a new audience and then targeting it with the appropriate channels...

Making really cool media solutions (twitter campaigns, games, video, apps, graffiti) isn't hard. Nor is it particularly expensive any more. Where marketing adds value is finding who to talk to and finding out how to make them listen.

Actually, all that said, I think Earthsea would be a much easier task. King already sells reeeeally well, to prove that marketing made a difference, you'd have to really do something wild. Earthsea is a bit of a lost classic and could be ready for a new audience. Just off the top of my head, you are talking about a fantasy written by a woman based around a non-European culture? That's completely PR-able and gives you a lot of really intriguing audiences to start with...

Sorry - that was a looooooong answer. But it may or may not be what I actually do for a living. And writing about it beats me actually going out and doing it. :) I hope that's helpful.


Offline Overlord

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 10:03:07 AM »
Really good answers there from everybody... Next time I have an assignment I'm just gonna email it over to Pornokitsch and he can do it for me ;)
Founder: http://fantasy-faction.com
Editor: Fantasy-Faction Anthology (Aug 2014)
Author: "Son of…" in 1853 (2013)
Host: Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering

Offline Shamrock

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 10:23:41 AM »
I think The Wizard of Earthsea would be easier, and well I love it and I just reread it so it will make life a lot easier. I don't actually have to create the content, I just have to draw up a marketing proposal and present it. Those are great suggestions, so keep them coming it's only due on 25 May so I have lots of time. :)

PS. Pornokitsch you are awesome :)
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline pornokitsch

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 04:17:29 PM »
PS. Pornokitsch you are awesome :)

Aww. Thanks. Always more fun to do someone else's homework than your own.

Really think there's an intriguing idea in using Earthsea to widen the traditional "white male" fantasy fan base. There's a good story there for PR - one that would create enough discussion to spill over to the non-genre press. You could even incorporate the "whitewashing" they did for the TV show. Re-release the books with photographic covers that were a more accurate depiction of the characters and use that as the platform to attack TV. Cheeky, but it'd be fun (and, frankly, the TV people deserve a smacking.)

Also, approached in the right way, this is the sort of series that my mom (a non-fantasy reader) would read. The New York Times Book Review would call it "culturally important" and "a thoughtful exploration of language and non-Western cultures" and not mention the dragons at all. Exactly the sort of thing that lit-fic readers adore... so how would you capture that in a marketing campaign? Again, you'd need different, non-fantasy cover art (something stark & arty like a Penguin cover would do nicely) and you'd want to hit up culture reviewers and reading groups.

Offline Shamrock

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 06:37:35 AM »
I must admit I hate the cover of my edition, but even after all these year it's still the only one my book store carries. Sigh.

It reminds of me of Jean M. Auel who I'm really not a fan of. I think as you say a cover that depicts the characters properly would be better.
Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind

Offline missoularedhead

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 09:47:05 AM »
Internet contest to redesign the cover? Tweeted, FB'ed, Tumblr'd, etc.  Do give aways via the publisher's website, also on social media. OH! And make sure that you have good reviewers who have a presence online (PK comes to mind, as does SFCrow'sNest, this site, etc).
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline vgunn

Re: Help with an assignment
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 12:49:41 AM »
As some of you might know I'm doing my honours degree in publishing at the moment and I just got an assignment on marketing.
I need to market a book, an existing title, in unconventional ways and I was hoping some of you could help me with ideas on marketing. Here is an extract from the assignment:

Choose an English novel of your choice and write a marketing plan for the novel. It is a novel that should appeal to certain young readers – e.g. students/ twenty and thirty something people, not conservative readers. Keep in mind that this group has access to electronic devices and read media on the internet more than on paper, i.e. this a group that needs to be reached by alternative means and not the traditional way of reviews, ads in newspapers, book launches and talks at book clubs etc.

So I was thinking of promoting an older title, such as The Gunslinger or The Wizard of Earthsea to promote it to markets that may not have read them yet, and perhaps finding new markets.
Any ideas for marketing strategies that you thought were clever? How do you hear about books online?

Shamrock, I will let you market mine  :)