Break through the noise: Building pre-pub discoverability & buzz

Kristina Radke is the International Account Director at NetGalley, a service that helps books succeed thanks to a powerful and growing community of book advocates. Over 300 publishers and hundreds of indie authors worldwide are using NetGalley to generate early buzz about their books. She previously worked on the marketing team at HarperTeen, and earned her M.S. in Publishing from NYU in 2010.

Kristina will be joining us at Tech Forum on the panel The Success of a Book: Building pre-pub discoverability & buzzWe hope to see you there, too!

Before a book ever goes on sale, publishers and authors must consider what will help each particular book break through the noise in the market. There is no easy answer for how to make a book stand out — many details go into helping it do so:

The devil really is in the (metadata) details

Metadata refers to all of the rich information about your book that helps readers discover it, including information like the title, author name, book description, ISBN number, category, and keywords, among other details. Metadata is extremely important. In a digital marketplace, where readers aren’t looking at any physical objects, discoverability relies on these details. For instance, if you don’t have any categories in your metadata, the book will simply not show up in any category that readers may be browsing. It’s like putting your book in a bin full of other random books, instead of placing it carefully on a shelf among similar books for readers to find.

Goal-focused strategies

I’m a firm believer in setting and monitoring goals for your marketing and publicity efforts during the entire life of the title (pre-publication, at publication, and even when it’s backlist for appropriate promotions). For all of these strategies, ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve with this promotion? What constitutes success? If the promotion is not achieving my goal, what will I try next?

Gain early impressions

“Effective frequency” is the concept that consumers are more likely to complete a purchase after having seen the product a certain number of times. There is no magic answer about what that number might be, but the point is that visual and name recognition are powerful. The more your title, book cover, and author name are out in the world, the better. So how do you go about getting all those eyes on your book, especially before it’s on sale?

You already know that galleys are a great way to start buzz about a new book. Whether you’re sending printed galleys or utilizing NetGalley to deliver secure digital galleys (full disclosure: I work for NetGalley), you’ll want to think about who you’ll share that early content with, and why.

Reaching influencers

When you’re thinking about the right audience to create pre-publication buzz, don’t overlook influencers like librarians, booksellers, and educators. These are some of the most important voices for building word-of-mouth. Identify trade publications that these influencers are reading and focus some effort there, for example, Library Journal and Booklist. Pitch the title for review or do some advertising in that space. Plus, be sure to leverage any reviews you receive — they are widely trusted and respected!

Don’t forget that many libraries and independent bookstores have blogs. Reach out to your local branch of the public library and talk to your neighbourhood bookseller about reviewing your book, or nominating it for recognition on the Indie Next List, LibraryReads, or Loan Stars, all of which are monthly lists based on recommendation by those influencers.

Early reviews

When you solicit reviews in a targeted way, it’s likely that you’ll see a greater return on the number of copies you’ve given out. Figuring out who the most likely reviewers are takes time, but it’s a worthwhile endeavour. Before you start, determine where you would like your book reviewed, and why. Where is your target audience going for book recommendations? A bevy of reviews in that space is a convincing argument to a reader that yours is a book being talked about, and that they should join that conversation.

Keep your goals in mind during all your efforts, and continue to reevaluate how your strategies could change based on results. And don’t forget: every time someone sees your book, it’s a valuable impression.

If you haven’t secured your tickets to Tech Forum yet, you best get on it  registration ends March 15!