Thursday, December 14, 2006

What We Can Learn From American Idol to Promote Our Books

I love American Idol. Okay, okay, what's this got to do with book promotion?

Stick around, and I'll tell you.

I don't care what I'm doing--whether I'm in the middle of a great scene, catching up on some promotion I put off at the last minute, or changing a boo-boo on my website--I drop everything to watch the few favorite shows I can squeeze in, and one of them is my absolute favorite, American Idol.

I watch it year after year. I love to boo the winners if they're not my winners, and watch Paula, Simon and Randy as they completely dash the hopefuls' dreams of becoming the next American Idol by telling them they simply...suck.

It's entertainment at its best.

Last week, I was in the middle of some really important promo work, and I happened to catch a bit of American Idol on TV, although I thought it funny because it officially doesn't start until January. But, as I watched it, I saw that what it was was a compilation of past shows into one.

Now, here's where great marketing comes in.

It's been almost a year since American Idol went off the air until the new season starts. Since the world is ever-changing, we just can't keep up with everything that's going on, so what the producers thought might entice us to come back for the new season is remind us what a great show it was before so that we do come back.

I'm sure it cost a lot of marketing dollars to put this show together, but dangit, it works.

Had I not seen the show, would I have forgotten (believe me, it happens A LOT) to watch it when it does air again in January? Or, did I make a mental note not to forget to watch it?

That mental note in ingrained in my brain.

What this applies to book promotion is this. If you are getting ready to release a new book/ebook, and have built up a following, a fan base (everyone needs to start if they haven't already), entice them with the things they loved about your books in the past to remind you that more is coming.

You could even take the first chapter of your new release, put it in pdf format, and send it out to everyone on your mailing list. Announce your new release on every free press release site you can, including information on how they can download your first chapter.

It's called creating a buzz.

Pre-release marketing is essential!

Another thing I need to note is that it's very rare I buy a book without reading an excerpt. I want to see if there are grammar mistakes (sorry, that's the editor in me), typos, or maybe I just want to see the writing style. Or, maybe I just want to see if it entertains me?

That excerpt is going to make or break you, so make sure, if you are self-publishing, that that first chapter is the best it can be, and while you're at it, make sure the whole product lives up to your fan base's expectations.

So, think like the producers of American Idol. Create pre-release buzz so your fans will know it's coming. Whet their appetites. Draw them in like bees on honey by enticing them to what's coming up.

Meanwhile, I won't be missing this upcoming year's show, and have learned a valuable lesson in pre-release buzz!


Dorothy Thompson is the editor of The Writer’s Life (, one of Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers, and the author of the self-promoting eBook “A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published eBook,” available at

Tags: how to promote your self-published ebook, ebook marketing, promote your ebook, promote your ebook, book promotion, ebook promotion, book marketing, online marketing, viral marketing, American Idol
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