The marketing plan for Jay-Z's upcoming book "DeCoded" is certainly outside the box. It consists of a scavenger hunt, with pages of the book hidden in plain site, like billboards, while others require a bit of searching, like inside of a jacket in a store display window.
Perhaps the best part of Jay-Z's plan is that both he and his publisher are not paying for it, at least not the majority of it. That's being covered by the search engine Bing and the broadcasting company Clear Channel. The scavenger hunt is a means for Bing and Clear Channel to advertise and get people to use their services. The estimated cost of the scavenger hunt marketing plan for Jay-Z's book is well into seven figures. Of course, it helps that Jay-Z has a ready-made audience of rap fans.
So, you aren't a rap star. What can you take away from Jay-Z's marketing plan for his book?
1. You don't have to market your book alone. You can partner with another person or business to get your book out to the public. Terry Johnson, author of "Cardinal Fever" arranged for the minor-league Springfield Cardinals baseball team to buy 1,000 copies of his book and give them away at one of their games. Partnering like this allows the author to advertise their book and have someone else pick up the cost.
2. Unusual marketing plans get people talking about the book. I'm writing about about Jay-Z's book right now in this blog, and the story has been picked up by numerous media outlets, including MTV News. That's great exposure for a book.
3. You can try new and different things. Book marketing doesn't just have to be book signing events and media interviews. With the Internet, authors can do unusual things that just might get them noticed. One author auctioned off the names of characters in one of their books. People could bid to have a character named after them in the book. The author donated the proceeds to charity. It also grabbed attention for the book. Marketing a book doesn't necessarily have to cost you money, and depending upon the idea, can even make you money.
What unusual things have you done to create a buzz about your book prior to its release date?