Last year when Amish Tripathi, the 35-year-old IIM Kolkata graduate published The Immortals of Meluha, his first book, he wasn't sure how the market would receive his book. So, Tripathi, an ex marketing head of an insurance company, used his management skills to get his book noticed. First, the author printed the first chapter of The Immortals of Meluha, that was distributed for free at cash counters of bookshops. "Displaying the sample copies like advertising brochures helped me make it visible," says Tripathi. He also made power point presentations in bookstores and got an advertising agency to make a trailer of his book and uploaded it on YouTube. His plan worked. The book has sold about 1.75 lakh copies so far.
For his latest book, The Secret of the Nagas, a sequel to his first book, released in July this year, which has already sold one lakh copies, Tripathi is aiming for an audience beyond the bookshop regulars. He is now ready with a 50-second video trailer to be aired in multiplexes in Mumbai and Delhi next month. "The idea is to take my book to a whole new audience," says Tripathi.
"We are using films as a medium to promote the book. Instead of making one trailer for the whole book, we have made four separate films, each revolving on an important character or element of the book and Shiva's relation to it," says Sangram Surve, CEO, Thinkwhynot, the advertising agency that made for trailers for Tripathi's new book. It would be the first theatrical trailer ever to be done for a book in India. Tripathi is not the only one with tricks up his sleeve to help sell his books. Mumbai-based Ashwin Sanghi, an MBA graduate from Yale and author of Chanakya's Chant, apart from making a YouTube trailer, also created an MP3 music track of a Shakti Mantra, a chant, which is the central theme of the novel. "My approach is pretty business- oriented when it comes to marketing my books. As an author I benchmark myself on the basis of the numbers of copies I sell," says Sanghi.
Publishers too are collaborating with the authors to chalk out innovative marketing plans. "The market for mass-market fiction has grown exponentially, there is fierce competition among publishers to make sure that their books get noticed," says Anushree Banerjee, head, marketing and publicity, Westland, which published both Sanghi and Tripathi.
Social networking is also a source in the business, not just for publicity but even ideas for new books. Bangalore-based Preeti Shenoy organised contests on Facebook, revolving around her book, Life Is What You Make It. Shenoy's book sold about 45,000 copies since its release a couple of months ago. "Since I did not have a formal book launch, I used Facebook and Twitter to publicise it. I'm now working on my third book and the idea for it came from my interaction with my readers on Twitter," says the 38-year old author-cum-artist.
When Ravinder Singh, 29, a former software engineer with Infosys wrote I Too Had A Love Story, based on his own love story that started on Shaadi.com, he decided to have a marketing tie-up with the matrimonial website. "Publishers are not sure about first time authors like me, so it's very rare for them to get a book launch. I approached the site for a tie-up. They organised a launch in Chandigarh, my hometown," says Singh who is presently studying management at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, his book was published by Srishti and sold over two lakh copies in the last two years.
New venues for book launches are also a key tool. Roli Books organised the launch of This is All I Have To Say by adman Swapan Seth in the atrium of a South Delhi mall. "The idea is to take the book to people who don't go to book shops," says Priya Kapoor, editorial director, Roli Books. Local trains and hypermarket counters are also hot spots for advertising to lure the non-reading audience to pick up a copy or two. Rupa & Company, the publishers for author Chetan Bhagat, used advertising on the outside of local trains in Mumbai for Bhagat's 2 States and author Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe. "I don't believe in the purist definition of marketing, that books should only be launched in five-star hotels and book shops," says Kapish Mehra, managing director, Rupa.
The publishing house also holds contests in colleges to introduce first time authors; besides selling books through hypermarkets like Big Bazaar. Mehra says, "The fact is we are in commercial publishing and at the end of the day we need to sell books."