7 January 2012

9 book marketing lessons you can learn from bestselling author Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins. Image courtesy - Wikimedia

You have published your book. Now what? How to promote it?

Who am I to teach you book promotional strategies? I have not published or promoted any books.

But Richard Dawkins has. And he has sold more than 1.5 million copies of The God Delusion. The God Delusion has hit many best selling lists. To name one it ranked 24th in the New York Times best selling list.

His name has become anonymous with evolutionary biology. Why? There are other brilliant biologists in the world too. Why is only he so famous? That's because he knows how to market his material.

In this article I'll discuss the book marketing strategies that he applies to his books.

1) Content

You must have read this phrase again and again - content rules. Marketing won't help much if your book doesn't contain quality content.

People like Shakespeare and Dickens still make into the best selling authors' list because of their content.

Dawkins is a retired professor from Oxford University. He's also Fellow of the Royal Society (F. R. S.). So obviously he's an authority on biology and therefore creates quality content.

Some people may argue that some not so great books too sell a lot. One example is Chris Culver's self published book The Abbey which ranked ninth in the Amazon’s list of Top 10 bestselling books of 2011.

This book contains many grammatical and spelling errors in it. But people are buying it for its great mystery story (or at least they have said so in the reviews). A great story implies great content.

So in order to sell a lot you need to produce content that readers find some value in. You can entertain them, provide useful information to them, teach them, etc.

The Theory of Evolution is quite controversial so many people want to read it to know what it says. But most people lack the necessary scientific background to understand it. Dawkins solves their problems by explaining the subject in such a way that the general readers can understand it. 

2) Be on media through interviews, articles

Richard Dawkins does a lot of interviews. BBC, The Guardian, Fox News - these are just a few names where his interviews can be found.

Big channels bring big publicity in two ways. One, it helps you build a good reputation. Second, it puts you in front of a huge audience.  

His articles also usually appear in newspapers like The Guardian.

3) Intelligent debates

Dawkins is famous for defeating his opponents in debates with witty but simple arguments. People who like his logic, go and buy his books to know more on what he has to offer.

But be careful about this promotional strategy. If your opponent turns out to be smarter than you and he defeats you then you'll be hitting your brand name instead of promoting it.

4) Give lectures and answer people's questions

Dawkins gives frequent lectures in book fares, different universities etc. and at the end his speech, the lecture is opened for readers whence they can come and ask questions.

Again this is a good technique to promote your book - especially if you can give an excellent speech and provide valuable answers.

The following 1 minute video may explain concisely what I mean. Note the huge applaud after his answer. 

5) Make documentaries if possible

Dawkins has made several documentaries on the topics closely related to his books. They were then telecasted on major television channels and are also available online.

It helps. More people will know about you.

6) Make a website

This I think is the most important aspect of book promotion, second only to point #1.

Richard Dawkins's official website is www.richarddawkins.net

The best thing about your own website is that you are in total control of it. Interviews, debates, documentaries can all be edited before being broadcasted by others. While if you upload your own material on your official site - you are in total control. You can reach your readers in the way you like.

There are dozens of other uses of creating a website which cannot all be mentioned here due to lack of space. Some important ones are:
  • Book promotion.
  • Direct connection with your readers.
  • You may write that stuff that your publisher didn't accept.
  • Sell your books.
  • Etc.

7) Social media

Dawkins is on all major social networking sites - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are one of the best ways to promote anything that you are doing.

What I like the most about these sites is the cascading effect they can cause.

Let's say everyone on Twitter has 100 followers. (Or everyone who gets your link has 100 followers.)

You share a link to your 100 followers. 10 of them share it to their 100 followers. 10 of them in turn share it with their 100 followers. Even if some dozens of people share your link it will reach thousands of people.

Or alternatively, if one single person who has thousands of followers tweets your link, you'll be famous in no time. This has happened to others and there is no reason this can't happen to you.

Having your own YouTube channel is also beneficial. Although others may upload your videos but they are usually of inferior quality. Some videos can even be fake.

Having an official YouTube channel will allow your fans to watch your original pure videos.

Flickr is a site where you can create your own online album. As they say - "A picture is worth a thousand words." Your readers may want to see your childhood photos, how you looked in that marriage party when you were wearing your traditional dress or how you looked when you went to that holiday. It creates a more personal touch with your readers.

8) Make promotional videos for your book

Many authors are doing this nowadays so you may look old fashioned if you won't do it. If your budget allows it is worth taking a try. Click the following link to see Dawkins's video on his book The Greatest Show On Earth.

9) Use a brilliant book cover

Dawkins's books have well designed book covers.

The saying is, "A book should not be judged by its cover." But many people judge it that way. Proof? Authors spend thousands of dollars in hiring designers to make book covers. (I read this on ProBlogger by the way.)

It happens with me quite often. I spend a lot of time admiring good book covers.

According to Wikipedia, 288,355 books were published in 2009 in United States alone. A good cover makes your book stand out of the crowd amongst the sea of other books.

Did I miss a point? Did you like this article? Please tell me in the comments below. 

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