Does Bonus Content Help Sell Books?

In Discussion by Hannah Johnson

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By Hannah Johnson

Many of the speakers and panelists at yesterday’s Mediabistro eBook Summit talked about ways to promote books to online audiences, as discussed in our feature story today. One of the most popular of these techniques was the creation and distribution of “behind the scenes” and bonus content, like book trailers, author interviews, extra stories, and blog posts.

But as Douglas Rushkoff pointed out in his presentation, publishers and authors distract themselves from the core product, the book itself, when they focus too much on creating free, ancillary content. He argued that publishers should focus more on finding and publishing great writing.

But in fact, some publishers won’t consider taking on an author who doesn’t already have some kind of online following, and the way an author creates that following is by putting free content online. While there have been plenty of blog-to-book success stories, is it possible that the online following for an author would really prefer just to read the free stuff?

Is it worth spending thousands of dollars a year on book trailers, especially when measuring the ROI on such content is an inexact science? Or does this content help publishers find and build online audiences who will eventually convert into paying customers?

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.