The Hype Train

I admit I can be slow at times in figuring things out. Sitting on meetings I am usually quiet to absorb all the information and when asked for opinion I can be reluctant to give one until I am entirely sure I’m not spewing shit just for the sake of speaking and making myself acknowledged. All this introduction is to explain why it has taken me a while to see the obvious, to connect the dots… to arrange my thoughts around the beast that is The Hype Train.

Book readers are consumers just like any other buyer on the market. Good word, and bad, spreads from human to human. For authors, making the hype train roll and pick up speed even before the book is published can be key to success. I have noticed it with some of the books on Goodreads.

I am currently a member of the hype train called The Ghost Bird Series by C.L Stone. Oh, please don’t judge me. It’s one of those reverse harem plots. But way more innocent than a word “harem” initially implies. The author has indicated there will be 20 books in this series. 20! I guess, in a way it’s easy when you have 9 individual guys, a somewhat socially awkward and abused girl, and The Academy- an organisation which trains youngsters who have not got the best deal in life to protect the vulnerable and take down the baddies. So each book focuses on one guy at a time developing the fragile relationship with that one girl, while there is also the general plot around some criminal activity and baddie-chasing. The 9th book just got published and readers are dropping the book 5 star ratings since the beginning of year simply to channel their excitement or risk getting a heart attack. The 10th book, which has a title, but no cover yet, has 43 pages of readers who have marked it “to read” and it has 36 ratings, coming to an average rating of 4.86. In fact.. All of the books, up to book 20 have ratings!

Now I don’t know about you, but to me it looks like psychosis! Sure, start the series off catchy, mix in some swoony young fellas and  girl with no backbone- Bam! You’re onto a winner. The hype train rams straight through anything in its way.

The thing with a book series often is that once you start reading, you cannot stop because there’s always a cliffhanger, always a turn in the story which makes the reader keep going. Even if they’re getting slightly tired of it. Even if they start hating the characters they so loved in Books 1-3-5…

As for standalone’s- there are many ways to get the ball rolling before the publishing date. I once came across a strategy in Ireland where the publisher and author went by the route of mystery on social media. They published a series of photos of them having received a beautifully designed envelope in post with a cryptic message. In fairness, if one couldn’t put 2 and 2 together, they were quite creepy. This went on for a couple of weeks, with more clues, more mystery until the publishing day… and all was revealed! People/readers had got so involved in the whole thing that they could not help but buy the book. Success guaranteed. They will read the book and whether they love it or hate it, they will always remember the social media mystery event and they will talk about it for, possibly, years.

The ideas are many and interesting. Fact is- hype seems to be what authors need, and it needs to start before the book is out. Nothing gets readers on board better than a mass of people running in the same direction. Nothing seems to intrigue people unless something creates a question, an itch they can’t scratch. And if there’s one thing panic, psychosis and fan-hysterics have in common, it’s the fact they’re contagious.

I am no expert in marketing books to a success rate of 110%… If I was, however, to write my own book… Where would I start?

  • Visit the local library to find out about local book clubs and offer them their next reading adventure, visit the local bookshops to see if there’s a way to involve them, get in touch with local book trusts&organisations to organise a giveaway which would act as great advertising. Basically don’t forget to build relationships locally. Start with small visual and captivating advertising in a bookshop. Organise a book signing to your local community with support from your family and friends. All in exchange for a review.
  • Parallel to local hype sign up for Goodreads, Shelfari and any other book reader communities to ask for reviews (it’s quite popular already). The Book Review Directory has a list of book bloggers open for review requests. I know in the space 2 weeks after signing up, four review requests have come through to my email.
  • Social media is a mule to carry forth your treasures… and if you hold the reins firmly and with confidence, that mule has the potential to turn into a stallion. Being active on Facebook, Twitter, websites is important. It can be a slow start, but repetition and placing yourself into people’s news feeds will bring results. Twitter is something I love and hate… the timing, the message, the hashtags need to be correct, but even then your attempt at saying something gets lost in the sea on millions of others, hence- repetition. It doesn’t always need to be new content- use what you already have and put it out there. Again. I believe that success often starts with getting noticed by a single person who has influence.All it takes is the commitment to interact.
  • Newsletters to subscribers should be as frequent as you have something to say. Keep your readers and fans up to date with progress, do cover reveals, share your experiences and tips as an author. Share your intellectual  property with the many hungry minds on the http://www.  Reach out to people- don’t let them forget you. If you have no ideas how to approach readers, check out other author newsletters to get ideas and make them your own.
  • Remember that it can take time for your hype train to start speeding ahead in full force. Until it does- make sure you use every sliver of an opportunity to shout out about your success, to harness the power from every good thing that gets said about your book, and know when to use a strategy when you see it working for others (as I said before it it works for others, make it your own and try it out)

Going back to looking at book readers as consumers there is really no golden rule as to how to get their attention. Sometimes it’s the blurb, sometimes it’s the cover, sometimes it’s the average rating, and in other cases (such as myself at times) it’s the negative review that makes one feel -“I need to check this out!” No author has a guarantee of being accepted as the next best thing since sliced bread, but they can sure as hell try.

Difficult as it may be, the haters have the power to make writers think they’ve published a mistake. The fact is- that “mistake” will also always have admirers. Cliche as it may sound- you cannot please everyone, so use the positive force backing your creation to kick up a gear on your book’s hype train. Interact. Seek contact with readers and relevant organisations happy to promote an author, create relationships. Put yourself out there. Research!- As it may save you a lot of money, it may help you without spending any.

I am fairly positive this topic could be discussed for hours, ideas could come to life and put to good use. If there are people out there who have experience with creating positive, or even negative hype around their books, get in touch to share your story.

10 comments

  1. I’m going to reblog this in the hope it will reach the right people. If that’s okay with you of course? I see so many struggling writers who have no idea where to begin. Maybe this will give them a little confidence boost. If it doesn’t get lost in the sea of Twitter spam that is ;).

    As for The Ghost Bird Series, I have book 1 on my Kindle for a few weeks now. OH noes! :3

    Liked by 1 person

    • You may of course reblog… It’s not as formal as one mght possibly wish it was, but … If all goes well, I have gotten in touch with one young author to write about his experiences in marketing and promoting the book locally.. including book signing, giving a newspaper interview and being a guest in a radio! So, this might be an interesting piece to keep an eye out 🙂
      I agree, we don’t always know where to start and sometimes we’re afraid to ask in fear of seeming daft… so reblog and I am glad you think this might help someone 🙂

      Hmm… Ghost Bird Series… you’re either going to love it, or hate it… I haven’t written a review for a single book in this series because I just don’t know… It’s possible I read this series for one guy only! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds amazing! To be honest, I’m hoping this will not just help the authors but also, us, the readers, by encouraging some self-published authors to get off their high horses and accept constructive criticism in a positive way. It will help their book to become better and save readers the experience of having to plough through something which is obviously not good enough (yet). I understand that they have put their blood, sweat, and tears in it, but isn’t that exactly why you would want things to become as good as possible and get the hype train going? I’m still a noobie here but noticed very soon this whole thing is such a complicated issue!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good point about blood, sweat and tears! As you can see from RG’s comments below about self publishing and how it can affect the market.
          I agree that if you have actually managed to write a book, then don’t push it out riddled with annoying typos, grammatic erros and plot holes.
          A contents of a book is what divides the men from boys, or women from girls… Think before publishing a book with errors- some readers may never trust an author’s work again if it’s not up to scratch!

          Moral of the story- if you want to do it, do it right, or risk your reputation.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post, Liis. Like anything else, you only get out what you put in. For authors prepared to put the effort into those things (or pay for a VA or create a street team) it’s possible to build mailing lists with thousands of people and whip them into a frenzy with giveaways before a single paragraph has been published.

    Whom does that serve?

    Most authors work full time jobs and have busy lives. Many depend on grabbing fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there to write. That time comes from sacrificing other things — like watching TV, listening to music, socialising, joining the rest of the family. It’s not surprising the average author is reluctant to spin the social media, newsletter and promotional plates; often, there are far more important plates they can’t afford to let fall.

    Ultimately, readers want to read books and writers want to write them. That’s a symbiotic relationship.

    Everything would work smoothly if Amazon and other retailers were to spread a simple message: if you like a writer’s work and you want to read more, post a review and recommend the author to you own friends. The better the book, the more readers it would garner.

    Who wants to be duped into buying a book that sucks? Nobody.

    Derail the hype trains.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the good comment, RG!… You opened up a whole new angle to the topic…

      I totally get your point about time- I’m not writing a book and yet I already find difficulty in making time for the things I truly wish to do. There’s always these other important plates… So, I can only imagine the stamina and willpower authors must have who have a full time job yet still wish to pursue their writing careers!

      For the sake of debate- is there really no value to the hype- it is not what drives sales? Sales- ultimately a “make or break deal” for some authors? If an author does not have a full time job, they need sales. For bigger sales, they need hype. Author who does have a full time job- hype would be good so someone would read their book and appreciate the work put into writing said book without having to worry about monetary profits.

      Actually- which is better- a temporary hype? Or a “steady as she goes” acceptance when a book has been on market for a while and has gained true, loyal fans? Keeping in mind all the aspects of authors’ struggles…

      Like

      • Hype is a fact of life, and yes it absolutely can drive sales. Every author wants their book to do well, so if they have the time and the money, they’ll promote it even if (really) it doesn’t deserve to succeed. And that’s the issue.

        When publishers ruled the earth, they enforced a basic standard. They’d weed out a lot of the crap so readers could be (reasonably) confident that anything being promoted was worthwhile. Now that authors can do everything themselves, there’s nothing to protect readers.

        The latest hot idea is Facebook advertising, which is effective now but will gradually stop working as more and more readers realise that last book was actually pretty shit. And so was the one before that. Authors are the last people in the world you should trust about their book.

        I ask for honest reviews in all my books and give two novels away free. Take a look at how few people actually bothered. In good conscience, how can I hype books like that? Stuff the newsletters and social media. My focus should be writing a book that generates reviews. Then I’ll hype the crap out of it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Valid points, and I agree with you.

          Authors, in fact any sellers, are the last people to trust about their product! And exactly for the reason of self-publishing… You’d think an author, writing their baby would have enough work ethics to NOT publish a book riddled with typos, and I have even come across a book where there was two different versions of how the MC’s met in the space of 3 pages! Plus it’s shocking how many authors on Goodreads give a 5 star rating and a review to their own book. It doesn’t look good!

          I know Frank Friendship series didn’t let me down not once because they were professionally written and edited. And it shows! Of course I also liked the whole concept of the series… And i wish more people would step out of the routine of “same plot, different characters” but we’re people and sometimes it takes a bit of arm-twisting to push us in different directions… … You, RG, are doing a great job with your books. In my, and your other fan’s eyes, you have earned the Quality Mark- we know we are going to get, we know that we will get something shocking and surprising because you have proved to us that Frank is a gift that keeps on giving!

          Like

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