If you’re tuned into the self-help industry at all, you know who Wayne Dyer was. He spent decades writing transformational books to help people improve their lives and find happiness. He died last summer (2015) at his home in Maui at the age of 75.
It’s probably an understatement to say he inspired millions of people. So when I came across an article about a publisher using SMS messaging to let people know about a new book discussing his legacy I wasn’t too surprised. Not at first anyway.
The book being promoted turns out to be a highly controversial take on Dyer’s life and his teachings. This particular publisher apparently specialises in these types of books, taking advantage of high profile people and situations to turn a quick profit. So I don’t want to give specifics about any of it, but the article itself inspired me to think about how SMS could be used in the publishing industry – so in my mind this blog was indeed inspired by Dyer.
At first though, I thought SMS messaging for publishers just wouldn’t make sense. After all, who really would be on a list for a publishing company? Maybe a book store, or even an individual author’s fan club list, but big publishers don’t go directly to the people that way. Or so I thought.
The largest publisher in the UK (according to sales) is Penguin Random House. I went to their website and they do indeed have an email mailing list. If you sign up, they promise “[N]ews about books, authors, and more from Penguin Random House”.
But would you want to get all that information from them via SMS? No, I’m guessing you wouldn’t. That would be too much general information delivered in a way that would feel intrusive, though it’s perfect for an email.
But could it work for them in a different way? If they (or any publishing house) could segment their list so they knew who was just interested in new mystery novels, and who just wanted to know about the next Nora Roberts book, then they could have a viable list for SMS marketing.
The key is to make sure the people on the list are really interested in what you are offering – or else they won’t sign up or they’ll opt out later if it isn’t any good. Granted this would take a bit of work on their back end to segment their list into the appropriate categories and offers. But they also might see a huge ROI in book sales compared to email announcements if they gave it a try. That’s because SMS offers a more direct connection to the customer than email.
Of course, many authors don’t even use formal publishing houses anymore. They self-publish direct to eBooks or offer on-demand publishing with online sales. These authors often run their own websites, and sell on Amazon and perhaps other retailers.
Successful authors usually have fan clubs, or people signed up for blog or book updates. They could use SMS messaging to their own lists to announce new books, book signing events, interviews or collaborations. Depending on how many books an author writes and how busy their schedule is, the investment in SMS messaging could be just a few pence per message which could result in much larger book sales. And I say that because if someone signs up for SMS updates from an author, you can bet they really like them and want to purchase other books or materials they offer.
As a personal example, I’m fond of Jeff Wheeler. He’s a fantasy writer in the US. I found his books on Amazon several years ago and I can’t get enough. At the time I started reading them, he still worked a full time job and he only release books infrequently. Since then he’s done so well as an author he now writes full time.
Where am I going with this? Well, he tends to jump around a bit in his book releases. That is, he has several different series going on and they aren’t always released sequentially. I’d really like to know when the next book for a particular series is coming out. Sometimes he has that information on his website. Sometimes it’s in the description on Amazon. But how do I know for sure when they’re released for sale?
So far I’ve signed up for Amazon alerts. But those get sent via email. And my email is very full. I get somewhere over 100 messages a day. So use Gmail’s features to push all the “promotional” emails into a folder that I figure I’ll look at someday. But the only time I ever look at it is when I need a coupon for a specific store. So any alerts go unnoticed and I find out about the new releases when I stumble upon them by accident, or I happen to remember to look for them.
I’d sign up for an SMS alert from Wheeler in a heartbeat. And you can bet I’d probably go and buy whatever he released straight away. There are probably so many other fans of other authors (self-published or not) that feel the same way.
SMS messaging is a powerful tool in the right circumstances. Wayne Dyer never jumped on the technology bandwagon (he had his publisher and staff run his social media accounts and website). But I imagine he’d be happy with whatever means people could use to discover his books, or any books that make people happy when they read them.
Would you sign up for SMS alerts from authors or publishing houses? Let us know in the comments.