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.