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On Promoting Books Online.

In the comments section of this post, Lydia Teh asks how one would market a book online. I really can't say, because I have no experience on such matters. Perhaps Anthony Thornton, author of the book, "The Libertines: Bound Together" can shed us some light on the matter.

The book is about the band, The Libertines, and they were pioneers among other musicians in the age of internet, releasing versions of their songs on the web and embraced communicating with their fans through email. In an article at the Times, Thornton tells us that he decided to market the book with this spirit in mind, and he started with the website of the book:
Sure, other books have had webpages but often they are perfunctory. And as a former editor of the music website, I knew I had to do something different. Bound Together would have its own site: pages from the book showing Roger Sargent’s intimate photographs of the band; quotes that served as previews; and a countdown to its publication — days, hours, minutes and seconds. It made the book’s appearance an event.
But things really took off when he registered the book on MySpace:
I imagined that interest would be minimal — after all, the book wasn’t due out for two months and no one knew it was coming. In the course of the first week a handful of people “made friends” with the book: close mates, hardcore Libertines fans and those who stumbled on it by mistake (some looking for De Sade sites). I sent a message to each one thanking them: it was a simple courtesy. Suddenly, it mushroomed: first there were five people a day, then 10, then 15 then 25 people wanting to be “friends” with the book. Some asked questions: each received a reply. All my spare hours were spent talking to people who seemed almost as excited about the publication as I was.

Two weeks before publication, the book hit Amazon’s Top Ten bestselling pre-orders.
So his secret was a cool website and generating buzz in an online community portal? Man, how does he make it sound so easy?


  1. Ted, thanks for putting this up. I read in Intech last week about MySpace being used by some other authors as a promo tool. Mmmm, might be worth exploring.

    Would't you say that naming-the-book contest was also generating some online buzz :)

  2. I think the naming-the-book contest thing was a great idea, Lydia! But it could have only worked for someone who has a good following online, like you.

  3. to be honest, i think it's the way forward ... a cool website or a blog that people love!

  4. Hi Ted,
    I think it's all about the interactivity of a blog/website which creates the buzz. Also a fantastic personality helps. As you can see, going to MySpace or any other community-minded place online helps because people tell other people and this automatically gives the said person lots of credibility (plus the fact that one can email or feedback immediately makes it real and 'live'). The linkages between people in MySpace is also another reason for high visibility. Just like how I found your blog... by reading comments on Lydia's blog.

  5. Sharon: Yup! But I think a cool website could get quite expensive to make, so a blog is a good alternative. Plus, the interactivity would make people come back (assuming the blog author takes part in discussions, of course).

    Maya: Hi Maya, thanks for dropping by!

    You're right. Word-of-mouth marketing is usually the best marketing for an author. People love getting immediate feedback, and the interactivity provided by Myspace aids a lot.

    But I think the key thing to remember here is not to just log on to Myspace and create an account then point a link to your website or blog or whatever. There has to be something unique to that website--a gimmick of sorts--that will make people want to come back again and again, and I think that will be quite hard to achieve... especially if an author isn't tech-savvy (and they usually aren't).

    Anyway, do drop by again!


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