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Book marketing in India – taking it to the next level

Ronnie Screwvala’s new book, ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open’, saw intense promotion via a TVC recently. Industry experts share their views on whether it will start a new trend and how best to market books in a market like India

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | April 28, 2015

Dream-With-Your-Eyes-Open Ronnie Screwvala

In this era of Kindle and e-editions, marketing activities for the print version of a book is not so commonplace. Therefore, when a TVC was launched for the launch of Ronnie Screwvala’s new book, ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open’, there was considerable interest in the market. The TVC, titled ‘Don’t Sleep’, has been conceptualised by Famous Innovations.

Will other authors and publishing houses follow suit to market new titles? Will releasing TVCs for book promotion catch on as a trend? BestMediaInfo spoke to a cross-section of industry experts to know their views.

When asked whether it was viable to spend so much money for marketing a book, Ronnie Screwvala, first generation entrepreneur, Founder, Unilazer, Founder and Trustee, Swades Foundation, replied, “It is not about viability. TVC is not viable for a book, but given that so far there has been zero marketing of books in India, I thought of trying something disruptive. Also, the TVC was partly for the book and partly for sending out a message on entrepreneurship. If one notices, 25 seconds of the 30-second advertisement was a message for entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey

According to Ambi Parameswaran, ?ED, FCB Ulka Advertising, who has quite a few books to his credit, “One can have a great book, but if you do not market it correctly, it might lose its sheen and will not sell well. But there are different ways of marketing a book – be it social media or word of mouth or anything else. It depends on the author how he/she wants to create buzz around the book. But it is very important to promote a book.”

Chetan-Bhagat Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat, author and youth icon, too felt that it was really important to market a book in a correct way. “It is not about spending enormously, but spending on the right mediums. Marketing plays a vital role in every industry and for every product. For example, I use different platforms like e-commerce or social media or writing scripts for Bollywood movies or letting the books get adapted for a movie or may be hosting a few television shows. It helps you build a wider reach for yourself as an author and then enticing people to read your book.”

Partha Sinha Partha Sinha

Partha Sinha, ?Director, Publicis South Asia, remarked that selling a book in today’s world had become really difficult, hence publishers/ authors were taking the help of other mediums that have higher penetration to promote their books.

Raj Kamble Raj Kamble

Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations, commented, “It is rare that you get to do a campaign for something so meaningful. I truly believe in the book and in Ronnie’s vision for entrepreneurship in India. I’m proud that we are able to contribute to it in our own way. The campaign comes from a very core insight about entrepreneurs – their restlessness, energy and drive, and I am sure it will inspire viewers.”

He further said, “I think this campaign is bigger than marketing a book. It’s about celebrating the rising trend of entrepreneurship in India and encouraging it further. When someone has a large vision, you know that the investment is going in a good place.”

Screwvala pointed out that non-fiction books in India still did not sell fast because no one had tried marketing them. “It is a slow process, and therefore, will not see overnight success, but the key is that everyone does some element of marketing to take the overall level of interest to the next level,” he added.

According to Screwvala, “We need to also simultaneously ensure that the book is available in soft copy form plus audio form plus video form and also in some key Indian languages from day one or within the first 30-60 days of the launch. For ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open’, we have the Hindi version coming out in 30 days from the main launch, which is available in Kindle and in soft copy version for its launch in the US and Canada on May 1, followed by its availability worldwide. There will also be an audio version coming out in 90 days and a video version in six months. Lastly, we need the books to be priced right so they can be accessed by many, which is why if we start taking out the print cost and distribution cost, over time books in their soft copy avatar will be accessible and rightly priced.”

Kamble opined, “I think the Indian audience is evolving rapidly and there is much more acceptance today than there was before. Further, in Ronnie, the book has a very credible author and the right reach, so I feel positive.”

Is this the beginning of a trend?

Screwvala remarked that it was not fair when authors invested so much time in writing their book, between the distributors and publishers there was little done to market and create massive awareness apart from retail push at a few outlets and some selective events. “This is not about a TV advertisement, that is not what is recommended for all books, but for me it was to set a benchmark – knowing full well that the return on investment (ROI) on this very first attempt would not be good or worth the spend, but it was to make a beginning.”

He also felt, “It is a wakeup call overall for looking at a new and more innovative and disruptive way to ensure that books in various forms are read/ heard/ viewed by all is incumbent on publishers if they want to survive in the 21st century. In the coming times, the rights will be kept by authors for everything and only selectively given out, based on various streams of exploitation.”

According to Publicis’ Sinha, there would be more such initiatives coming up in the near future. “Yes, it is important to use as many platforms possible to market your book, as the books are not selling the way they should. Also, it is important to market the book as per the need and demand of the book.”

Parameswaran remarked that it all depended on the author or publisher how they wanted to create the necessary buzz. Agreeing with him, Chetan Bhagat said that it all depended on using the correct form of media at the right time.

Kamble felt that it would set an example for the category. He concluded, “However, I think a book is just a medium of expression. If anyone has a strong idea, they should ensure that it reaches the desired audience. Marketing should do justice to the idea, whether it is a book or any other product. And yes, it will work in India because it is perfectly timed and resonates with the sentiment of the country.”

Dream-With-Your-Eyes-Open-1

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