With it being Super Bowl Sunday, it’s a great time to discuss the type of games that are relevant to writers.
“Gamification” simply means to make a product or marketing campaign interactive and engaging by adding game design elements to it. The goal is to create customer engagement in a particular activity, like watching for clues in your book trailer, while winning their loyalty. *The use of games can, but does not have to, include contests and the awarding of prizes; but where you chose to do so, make sure you are not violating any state or federal laws. Generally, you cannot require a purchase to enter such a contest. *
YA or Young Adult is typically (and very loosely) defined as a book whose target market is 11-19 year olds. MG or Middle Grade is generally written for children between 9 and 13. In reality, and as seen by sales for blockbusters like The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series, all age groups read books written for these markets. For more on what makes a book YA or MG, read author Joanna Penn’s excellent blog article on the subject here: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/01/18/writing-marketing-ya/.
So why should writers for these markets focus their publicity strategies on gamification?
Games are the interaction method of choice for members of these markets. It’s safe to say that virtually all teens and children in the intended YA and MG markets have been exposed to, own, and/or play video games, computer games, games on their phones or other hand held devices. Playing interactive games is a huge part of their lives. If you want a sure fire way to attract their attention, you need to gamify your book marketing.
For a great example of the engagement possibilities using gamification to attract middle grade readership, check out Author Sarah Prineas’ best-selling, The Magic Thief series. On her publisher’s book page, you’ll find links that let you explore the book setting through an interactive map, read one of the main’s character’s lost journal entries; obtain a recipe for biscuits eaten in the book, play a game where you learn what animal you’d become by casting a spell from the book, learn about sword fighting, down-load images from the books as your computer wallpaper, and decode ruins for a chance to win an exclusive incentive. Take a look here: http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/kids/gamesandcontests/features/magicthief/.
Whew! While that seems like a lot, Sarah went even farther in her gamification odyssey, and The Magic Thief has been made into an inter-active online game by Adventure Quest. Find it here: http://sarah-prineas.com/2012/03/magic-thief-event-is-live-at-aq/. For more on Sarah and her other books read here: http://sarah-prineas.com/books/the-magic-thief/.
Erin Morgenstern’s best seller, The Night Circus, book launch was accompanied by a free on-line game developed by Failbetter Games. While there has been extensive on-line debate on whether the work should be classified as literary or YA, for our purposes we’re treating it as YA because it has teen protagonists and is marketed to teenagers and adults. The game involves the books characters and story world. Here’s the link for the game: http://www.nightcircus.co.uk/Home/Auth, and for Erin’s home page, click here: http://erinmorgenstern.com/about/ .
The game (along with great writing, strong publisher support and host of other factors) was instrumental in pushing The Night Circus to the top. It was a central component of an overall marketing strategy that won Erin’s publisher the “Best Marketing Campaign of the Year Award” from the Book Marketing Society.
If you want to keep abreast of book marketing trends, and gamification ideas, for your own marketing efforts, it pays to review the Book Marketing Society’s monthly awards as well. Start here: http://www.bookmarketingsociety.co.uk/2012/10/winners-announced-for-the/.
You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m not a big publisher. What can I do to bring to gamification into my book marketing?”
Well, formulating your own strategy to engage readers through games doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or time consuming. You can add the interactivity of a game to your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ listings without spending a great deal of money or time. Here are some examples of how:
– Run a Tweeting Contest: Popular Mechanics Magazine recently featured a DVD giveaway where prizes were awarded to the first ten twitter users who posted a particular tweet on a specific date and time. You too can do this!
– Add Word Game Challenges to Your Social Media Sites. Run a one week crossword puzzle challenge. Change your profile pic to a shot of a cross word puzzle with a couple of letters already filled in. Make sure the word or phrase is an important one from your book, but not necessarily one that anyone could just guess. Start an Event Page or comment line where you state your rules for your game, clearly and distinctly, including the number of winners, date and time contest begins and ends. Give clues throughout the week from this page/comment line. Have people email you’re their guesses to your designated email account and award the first so many a prize (bookmarks, magnets, signed copy, etc.). Be sure to post notices of your contest to your blogs, twitter accounts (using appropriate hash tags), and other social media sites frequented by your readership at least one week before you begin your contest. Also, for the week of your contest, make sure you change your access perimeters to allow the public access to your Facebook or Google+ page so everyone who is interested can enter.
– Add Free Games to Your Blog and Web Pages. If you have a bit of blog/website administration know-how, you can also add word puzzle games right to your homepage. Eclipsecrossword allows you to download their crossword puzzle app for inclusion in your website for free. Find it at http://www.eclipsecrossword.com/. For WordPress users, simply search “puzzles” in the Search Plugins menu and you will find more than a baker’s dozen word games that you can upload to your blog. Find one you like, and with a little imagination you can figure out a way to use it to interact with your visitors.
Now… Three. Two. One!
Get your game on!
For more ideas using Gamification to fire up your book marketing, you can also buy our book!
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