Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
I like reading marketing books. They’re great. And in the last ten or fifteen years, there have been a lot of marketing books that explore really innovative, nontraditional marketing strategies for an Internet world.
In many of these books, the marketing professionals who wrote them use books as one of their case studies. And those books are frequently marketing books that they themselves have written. Specifically, I’ve recently been having on-and-off relationships with Seth Godin’s blogs (and TED Talks) and David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR.
And in both of these cases, I’ve tuned in especially to their stories of book marketing. Surely I will learn great things here. Surely it will be life changing.
Unfortunately, I’ve felt let down every time. These case studies are fantastic—the story is great, the results are fame and fortune and reprints and success. But the problem I have is that these stories aren’t really applicable to publishing on a wider scale. Why?
Because these case studies aren’t about selling books. They are about selling an idea. The concept in these books is that providing valuable content (often for free) to consumers will help sell your service or product—whether it’s a marketing consultancy, a well-engineered road bike, or a pool cleaning service. These case studies use books as a marketing tool—a means, not an end.
The problem with this is that in publishing, books are the end. For many fiction and nonfiction creative pieces, giving away the idea is kind of like telling the twist in The Sixth Sense. Once you know the trick, you’re probably less likely to watch. So as much as I want these books to illuminate all the secrets of life, the universe, and everything, they aren’t going to bring me waterfalls of gold. While these books have great ideas for self-promotion online, their ideas can only go so far in many kinds of publishing.
So I haven’t found my marketing magic bullet yet—but I will certainly keep trying.