As I’m working with my co-author, I’m learning a new strategy that can be used for marketing purposes. You see, the book we’re working on is nonfiction. We’re taking a traditionally professional topic and providing information about it in a way that laypeople can understand. The purpose is to make the topic more accessible and useful for the people who often must rely on the expertise of professionals they do not necessarily understand or trust.
My co-author is the professional and I am the layperson in this scenario. He writes an accurate description and I edit or re-write it to be accessible to the public. Then, we send the piece to reviewers. My co-author has a full stable of reviewers, consisting of both professionals and laypeople, each of which adds their own unique set of skills to improve the overall effect. We then respond to their feedback and make our work better. These are our Stage 1 beta readers.
This review strategy, similar to peer review, is useful as a marketing strategy, though clearly that is not its primary purpose. You see, we intend for this book to be self-published and, because of its topic and status, we have to work to protect its integrity. If the book lacks sufficient authority on the topic, it won’t be accepted and it won’t sell. By receiving feedback from professionals and laypeople, we ensure the material is accurate and approachable, and therefore fulfills its purpose and will have the requisite authority. This process falls under marketing, because it enhances the real value of the book.
Networking plays a big part in this process. Here’s where I stand back in awe of my co-author. He knows a lot of people. He is able to connect with a wide variety of people. He is able to leverage those connections in support of the work he’s doing. In essence, he is a powerful example of a successful networker. And he’s using these abilities to enhance the perceived value of the book by getting additional, influential names attached to the book, which is another aspect of marketing.
In this particular niche, beta readers become marketing gold. It’s not fool’s gold, either, because our beta readers contribute to both the real and the perceived value of the book. That’s one thing that makes this so phenomenal!
Clearly, this is a process that will only work for a small percentage of books. After all, fiction books do not need this kind of peer review and most nonfiction books don’t either. Then again, if you think about it, there are many fiction novels that are the result of extensive research. Beta readers who can comment on and influence the accuracy of that research would add value to the novel. And many nonfiction books could use the same kind of scrutiny. So, if this seems like something you want to try, don’t wait until you have a peculiar book that fits the model. Make your own way and see how much value beta readers could add to your work.