Recently the way we find out about new titles has changed. We spend less time standing on train platforms next to a poster of your next read, many newspapers are reducing in size and the Guardian Review is going as far as closing altogether. Publishers have long partnered with major publications to highlight their upcoming releases, but the pressure on print has increased as an outcome of lockdown, meaning that the opportunity to promote your list editorially is limited.
On top of this, so many titles have been moved to the latter half of 2020 that getting through to your target audience is going to be trickier than ever. There is set to be a spike of publications around the 1st October. It’s more important than ever that people are talking about your book ahead of publication. When publication hits, make sure it’s your book that’s getting added to their basket. Build the excitement now, as in October the publishing calendar is so congested, competition will be fierce.
Launching your marketing campaign ahead of publication is a great way to get in front of the book buying audience much earlier. Even if they don’t convert to sales during the pre-order, when they revisit bookshops or begin shopping for the gifting season, they’ll have your title in their mind. This way, you’re much more likely to secure a chart position.
Editorial integration is becoming less of a feasible option for promoting books, so where can people go to find about upcoming titles? I’ve outlined some points to consider when forming your campaign, along with some executional tactics.
Be in the right place
As with any campaign, it’s key to make sure you know where the audience are spending their time. "The Bestsellers" podcast with Phil Williams and Natalie Jamieson is undoubtedly one place where book lovers go to find their next read. Its hosts interview the most talked about, popular authors and their books. Why not sponsor a few episodes of this podcast by asking the hosts to talk about an upcoming title you’re working on? That way, book buyers will know it’s one to watch out for when publication rolls around. The digital audio space is a great way to reach an engaged audience in an intrinsically solitary space. Podcast listeners tend to listen alone, with headphones, and are selectively absorbing the content. In other words, you know they’re listening!
Be prepared to be innovative
This year has been all about change, so why not try out a new platform?
It seems as though everyone is talking about TikTok at the moment, because they are. "BookTok" is growing by the day, popularising challenges like "Book covers as outfits", "15-second reviews" and re-enactments of their favourite scenes.
Particularly for YA titles, getting involved in a TikTok or BookTok challenge is a brilliant way to get a community of readers excited about an upcoming release. You can do this by working with influencers, or even organically on your own page if you have one. TikTok’s advice on marketing on their platform is "make TikToks, not ads" and it makes complete sense. Market with the audience rather than to them and ioin in with the conversations that are already happening around books.
Be a friend
Influencer marketing offers an opportunity to be part of a close-knit, growing community.
Many influencers have their own book clubs, a personal favourite of mine is Gals Who Graduate, run by Bronte King. Her book features as an element of her page and also as a private group on Facebook. Though it may seem like an unusual choice to sponsor a post in a private group, these can often have thousands of members. It’s also a guaranteed way to position your book in front of passionate readers who are actively seeking new titles. Most people discover their next read through recommendations from friends, and influencer marketing is a close as you can get to being a part of a trustworthy community.
Be a partner
Times Radio is national on DAB and doesn’t have ads or ad breaks. It does, however, have commercial partners, sponsors and sponsored programming features. There is scope for features and author interviews which is an effective and refreshing way to reach a book buying audience—it also has a book review section. With a similar audience demographic to the Guardian, it’s a great alternative to an editorial promotion with the Review.
Utilising the audio landscape to keep listeners up to date with new releases is a strong option for engaging readers with non-fiction titles, as well as books that have a particular gifting focus.
Due to the spike in book launches next quarter and the lack of opportunity to discuss these releases editorially, I would highly recommend considering new programming when planning your campaigns. Get in front of your audience at the earliest possible opportunity, and be ahead of the competition by reaching book buyers while they’re actively engaging with similar content, seeking their next great read.