Digital reading platform The Pigeonhole have launched a competition with Pan Macmillan, giving 500 winners early access to a serialized exclusive of Ken Follett’s latest blockbusting novel, A Column of Fire (see below for more info). Ahead of this, The Pigeonhole’s Laurence Kilpatrick shares his top tips for pre-launch publicity.
Generating publicity in fresh and inventive ways is intrinsic to the success of any book’s launch. As some of the bigger hits in recent years, such as The Girl on the Train, have shown, it isn’t as simple as throwing up a few billboard adverts and hoping for the best. It’s about creating a steadily growing wave of anticipation through a range of different seeded campaigns until you reach a critical mass; only then can you let virality take over.
The following 5 ‘must dos’ are vital for reaching that hallowed fever pitch of industry anticipation:
1) Be innovative
Try not to err on the side of caution. If you want to make a splash you need to create new ways of engaging with your audience. Serialisations are a great example of how you can reimagine traditional methods of reading and publication to form a unique experience for readers. They become part of a community and interact with the book in new and exciting ways.
2) Create scarcity through digital
Though it might seem strange to limit distribution in a format where infinite distribution is possible, doing so can bag your book those desirable headlines. While there’s nothing particularly special about reading a book that everyone else can access, being chosen to read the book before everybody else – as part of a group of lucky winners – is enviable.
3) Get the author involved
Readers love nothing more than feeling like they are getting a bespoke experience. By giving a personal touch to your promotions, be it through videos, hand-written notes, or just a bundle of tweets, the author can make all the difference. Use it as an opportunity to create a bond between an author and their readers, generating a core of dedicated super fans.
4) Increase those completion rates
It sounds simple, but making sure that people have actually read the book before it is released is maybe one of the most vital aspects of pre-launch publicity. This Pigeonhole promotion is a good example of why digital is so useful, as it allows the publisher to circulate the book at minimal cost while obtaining data on how far each reader has progressed.
With 500 fans closing the final pages of the book before it has even been released, you could end up with Amazon and Goodreads reviews in the hundreds by the time the book hits the shelves!
5) Use your Filofax
Try to use your press contacts as much as you can. Don’t just get them to write a review: invite them to be part of your promotion and let them experience what it is you are doing. It’s all about offering something different and making your title stand out from the thousands of other books.
The lucky winners of The Pigeonhole’s competition will get to read the book alongside Ken Follett himself, who will be engaging with the readers in the digital margins of the book.
The serialisation will take place over the course of a month, with 15 instalments of 45 minutes reading arriving in the users’ digital bookshelves every other day. This interactive edition of the book will be full of multimedia extras to enhance the reading experience. The competition closes on Friday 18th August at 12pm, with the serialisation going live on 24th August. To enter, go to http://bit.ly/EnterCOFuk.