Marketing Fiction Books on the Web

There was an interesting article in Publishers Weekly earlier this month that I thought I would share. It’s an interview with a variety of publishers and marketing executives dealing with how they market their fiction books, with a focus on their online efforts.

You can read the full article, but here are some of the highlights that are relevant to authors looking to build an online presence. No matter what your publishing status (not yet published, self-publishing, etc…), you might be able to steal some of these ideas.

How are you using social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) to market your fiction line? What one strategy has been most successful?

Pamela Clements, associate publisher for marketing, FaithWords and Center Street: This is a significant growth area and, I believe, the most important new trend in marketing fiction. Online provides a virtual community that provides recommendations from peers that just did not exist five years ago. We have Facebook sites for all our Christian fiction authors. We tweet regularly about them and their books and retweet positive feedback that we receive. We also have been very successful with blog tours, blogtalk radio, prerelease and first edition giveaways, and encouraging the authors to blog.

Jennifer Deshler, senior director of marketing, Thomas Nelson: 80% of the Thomas Nelson fiction authors actively engage in social media, and this offers us great ways to build tribes online. The one strategy we’ve seen be most successful is a community approach to new releases—creating a series of messages, usually with a contest or free books offering—that is sent out by multiple authors and team members in a specific time period.

Nathan Henrion, national accounts manager, Baker Publishing Group: Blog tours are one of the best uses of social media that we have seen. E-mail blasts and all the various mediums (Facebook, Twitter) are at times hard to measure as far as effectiveness. An author’s established platform seems to be the key in social media, as they use their existing network.

Mary Burns, v-p of publishing, Barbour: We are using social media to help promote our fiction line on Twitter (@FictionforGals) and a Facebook fan page (Christian Fiction for Gals). Twitter has probably been most successful for us and has the most followers. It is fueled by book giveaways, which followers retweet to their friends.

What is something unique or unusual that your company has done to market fiction—either for just one book, or for a whole line?

Barb Sherrill, v-p of marketing, Harvest House: We created a consumer Web site around our Amish fiction: AmishReader.com. All our authors writing in this genre contribute content through posts, recipes, and exclusive material fans can get nowhere else (unpublished short stories, for example). We’ve also done giveaways on this site, which have been very popular. We wanted readers to have a place to not only engage with the authors they’ve read and loved, but also to discover a new author (or two or three) in a genre they love.

Don Pape, publisher, trade books, David C. Cook: I am so delighted with the book trailers we produce for every fiction title—they really do hook the reader who is accustomed to sitting in a movie theater with popcorn and soda waiting to see the coming attractions. Through those, we have gotten a loyal following online at Facebook.

Clements, FaithWords: For our YA series, All About Us, we created a Web site with people blogging as the characters in the novels. We have also done sell-in campaigns with treats for buyers to get their attention and get them to pay attention to especially well-written works from unknown or little-known authors.

Deshler, Thomas Nelson: We’ve recently launched a new social community at www.amishliving.com for those consumers who love everything about the Amish. From recipes to travel information to forums on the different areas of Amish networks, we’ve created a place where people can come together to share stories, pictures, and discussion topics.

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Have you done anything special to market your fiction book online? Please share your ideas!

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