Once your book is published, the best thing you can possibly do is to keep it a secret. That’s particularly true if your book stinks. But it’s also the reason this article is titled Secret Marketing Tips for Your Book. If you think I’m trying to hit you over the head with sarcastic, ironic subtlety regarding the use of keywords in online book promotion, don’t think again! And sometime, you’ll simply have to ask me about my recipe for key(word) lime pie. Book book book. Secret secret secret. It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that keyword, and it don’t matter neither what horse goop you gotta wedge into a sentence to achieve the ideal keyword (book, secret, marketing, tips) density.
One of the very best ways to keep your book a secret is to write something nobody’s interested in to begin with. Do that, and all the rest of your secret marketing work will be sooo much easier. Of course, you’ll want to consider just who that nobody is you want not to be interested in your book. Take, for example, the teenage male market. The group reads so much these days that you’re light-years ahead just by aiming your stuff, whatever it is, so long as it’s written down, straight at them. If selling to this demographic really, really mattered to you, you’d design either a violent video game or something their parents absolutely wouldn’t let them watch. However, what you must do if you are not to attract their interest altogether is to author a volume such as Repelling Foxy Chicks in Three Easy Steps; Burp, Pass Gas, Pass Out.
Assuming on the other hand that you’ve written something about which somebody out there gives a hoot and a holler; you mustn’t under any condition start a blog. You mustn’t even start a blog about some minor thing in your book. Let’s say that out of 350 pages, you’ve stuck a steamy hot sex scene on one of them. You could start a blog about steamy hot sex with a link to your book. But why would you do that? What sort of secret marketing would that be?
Now, what would be the best kind of internet chat room for keeping your book a total secret? You can use search engines to ohhhhh so many good ends in secretly marketing your book. Just this moment, I Googled the phrase “Swahili Chat Room.” Bingo! The top-of-the-search-results web page for that search phrase says “The chat rooms have been closed as they did not serve any useful purpose.” Combine a Swahili forum with a book no Swahili-speaker cares a plug nickel about . . . . Genealogies of Norwegian Royalty springs to mind . . . and you’re looking at nothing but success.
Postcards, bookmarks, flyers . . . some people will tell you to pull out all the stops with such tacky two-bit paraphernalia in the promotion of your book. Sadly enough . . . boo hoo hoo . . . such ploys can actually work. To help keep them from working, you could either employ the power of negative thinking, or you could simply not have them printed up to begin with. Secret marketing, at its best, involves thinking outside the box, as in, outside the boxes containing all those postcards, bookmarks and flyers that could get people talking about the book you want, ideally, to keep under wraps forever.
If they should talk about your book, that’s called buzz. Your motto therefore should be “Buzz off!” If some piker asks to review your book, just say no. They’re called critics because they’re always looking for something to criticize. You didn’t slave over a hot word processor finding le mot juste for every word in your book only to have some jerky critic come along and say that your favorite passage of it displays “unearned emotion,” or whatever it is that critics criticize these days. Another good, strong way to get people to buzz off is to never carry your book with you any place, and especially not on public transportation.
What about these literary good Samaritans telling you to make a free copy of your book the first prize in a contest? Is Lhis what’s referred to as a dork prize? Like, yeah; everybody and their cat wants to go through the motions of some contest to win a book rather than a vacation on the French Riviera or a Lamborghini. I mention that mainly because, if you do run a contest and then offer the winner his or her choice between your book and a Lamborghini, that is one of the best methods on earth for getting nobody to talk about what you’ve written. So what if the Lamborghini doesn’t have a back seat? It’s not as if you can make love in the back seat of a book, after all.
Then there are these naive nincompoops who say you should put excerpts from your book online for free. Do you have any idea how many people surf cyberspace reading the first few chapters of books, feeling perfectly content to do so without ever clicking anything remotely like “Add to shopping cart”? It’s the worst of all possible worlds; people talk about your book but you never see a red cent from it. The reverse, very obviously, is much better. Take it from this expert; the smart money knows how to stop people from talking about their books. Period. End of story.
Not that you should ever let your guard down. Keeping your book secret, once it’s published, is a full-time job. Stifle what advanced knowledge of the World Wide Web you might have and plug your ears whenever anybody tries to give you any more. Nerds aren’t born; they’re made. Understanding how Technorati or anything remotely like it works could well be your first step towards being the death of the party the next time you’re invited to one. At that party, the glaze is supposed to be on the strawberry-rhubarb pie, not in your interlocutor’s eyes. You should realize that nobody goes to a party hoping to talk about cookies, and if you understood cookies in the computer sense of the word, you might already be too far gone.
Then let’s say you make the hideous mistake of going to a writer’s conference and while there, some know-it-all tells you to make friends with every last employee of all the independent book sellers within one hundred miles of your home. There are so many of those independent booksellers left! And the chains never undersell them! You really could get to Paris faster on the SST, twenty years ago, and the same applies in the present day to independents.
Everywhere I go, including Montenapoleone in Milan, Trafalgar Square in London and Bora Bora in French Polynesia, people are amazed over how I’ve gotten the whole world not talking about my work. There’s no reason whatsoever you can’t emulate and perhaps even surpass me by following all the secret marketing tips for your book contained in this article. Just don’t tell your mother that your book has been published.
Scott Rose cares deeply about human writes and is the author of Death in Hawaii. Don’t read it or else.