Jennifer Miller’s debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. And, yet, even with great reviews from The Washington Post and Glamour, her book didn’t generate blockbuster sales.
Her publisher even produced a book trailer featuring Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell, Dan Rather, Christiane Amanpour, and Sam Donaldson reading from her novel. That book trailer received 3,200 views in 7 1/2 months and produced few book sales.
So she went to work promoting her book in the following ways:
She spend months writing related articles for magazines and blogs.
She spend three weekends running a Novelade Stand on the sidewalks of Brooklyn (where she sold more than 60 books). Passersby bought the book because they thought it was cool to buy direct from the author on the street.
She contact hundreds of potential readers via GoodReads.
She talked to Claudine Cheever, chief strategy officer for Saatchi & Saatchi New York, who suggested she target specific audiences like lovers of campus fiction, readers who enjoy strong female protagonists, prep school alumnae associations, readers who love young debut novelists, and readers who like Jewish authors.
She wrote an article for Spirit Magazine telling her book marketing story.
Here are a few of her book marketing tools she carried away from her meeting with Cheever:
1. Practice Lean-Forward Advertising. Or, as she noted, give people what they want. You’re not pushy if you target people who are already looking for your kind of book.
2. Target Interest-Based Communities. Find where your audience hangs out. Her audience hung out at GoodReads.
3. Segment Your Audience. Look for all the micro audiences that might like your book – like teachers, teen readers, Jewish readers, secret societies, etc.
4. Create Desire. Find the fun in your promotions. As she put it, turn novels into novelades.
5. Create a Platform. Her platform was her Novelade stands.
6. Use Your Platform to Tell a Story. She is taking her novelades on the road as a way of creating excitement about her novelade brand. So, besides selling on the streets of Brooklyn, she’s now extending the brand to Nashville and beyond.
As she noted in the article: If you happen to be in Nashville on November 17th, stop by to pick up a copy of her book and enjoy her homemade cookies. And then, “Tweet a picture of us to your friends. Become a part of my story.”
About the Author
Jennifer Miller is a New York–based journalist and author whose work has appeared in Fast Company and The New York Times. Her debut novel, The Year of the Gadfly, is best read with a fresh-baked cookie.
This post has been excerpted from an article in the November issue of Spirit Magazine: http://spiritmag.com/click_this/article/a_novel_idea.
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