For writers whose novels contain even an inkling of romance, Valentine’s day may bring love to mind but also stirs up notions of something a lot less sexy: marketing. Because with love in the air, any novel where romantic love is a central theme — especially a straight-up romance — has the potential to generate lots of buzz.
At least that’s the thinking behind the sudden upsurge in online ads and social media posts about books with an amorous angle. Yet just as each year in early January I receive a spate of queries about potential Valentines Day PR initiatives, each year on February 15 I receive a big batch of emails from authors who are dismayed that their efforts fell flat.
First, a fact: I don’t do special Valentine’s Day PR pushes — nor do I get involved with special initiatives around the two other big holidays books try to peg to: Christmas and Halloween. That’s because true to the nature of market timing in general, I have yet to see results that convince me of its value for books.
Sure, at certain times of the year there’s an abundance of visibility opportunities to leverage. The social mediasphere, for one, is abuzz with conversation snippets about chocolate and roses right around now, Santa and snowmen in December, ghosts and ghouls in the fall. News outlets cover stories in the spirit of each season, and advertising everywhere takes on a tinge of red and green, or black and orange — or this week, pink.
Still, this doesn’t mean that suddenly demand for related books will spike. Think about it: romance readers will choose romance over other genres year-round. As will crime, suspense and horror book fans. At the same time, with thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of authors all hoping to ride the wave of special days simultaneously (not to mention purveyors of all sorts of other products with similar hopes), the market quickly becomes saturated, the noise deafening. It can be overwhelming for readers to sift through the influx of ads and information and make a choice. [Read more…]