Marketing Idea: Developing a Song Playlist for Your Novel

Warning!

By the end of this post you’re gonna be YouTubing it up and dancing around your office (or wherever you’re reading this). Such is the power of music!

kathylynnharrisToday’s blog post is by our always-welcome-around-here guest Kathy Lynn Harris. Being the Texas country bumpkin that she is (love ya Kathy!) she includes a lot of musical references in her latest novel A Good Kind of Knowing. The protagonist is in fact the owner of a music shop, and her life centers around good tunes and the people she meets through their shared love of music. So, Kathy’s idea of creating a song playlist to accompany her novel is a great one.

Whether your book is about music or not, I love this marketing idea and think a “music to read by” playlist could apply to a lot of novels. Below, Kathy explains how she did it and how you can implement this idea too. Enjoy the post (and don’t forget to check out the playlist!)



AGKOKcoverWhen I began to work on the marketing aspects of my second novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, I realized that I had a great opportunity to not only pique reader interest but also provide something of real value to readers who purchased the book — by developing a “music-to-read-by” song list.


As an avid reader myself, I always loved to listen to good music while reading a good novel. And since the love of music, and its universal calling, is a central theme in A Good Kind of Knowing, I thought a playlist would be a natural connection for readers.


Creating a Playlist


Pulling together the list was an interesting experiment for me. 
I carefully hand-picked multiple songs for each chapter based on the mood of the characters and the pacing of the plot. Shorter chapters had fewer songs; longer chapters had more. Emotion played a crucial role and was easy to connect to lyrics and music tempos, from happy and free to sad and pensive to angry and hurt. In many cases, the songs listed were ones the characters themselves are listening to in the storyline; others are actually ones I remember listening to when I wrote specific chapters and scenes.


The Music

 

The artists and songs included range from outlaw country to early jazz, from Ella Fitzgerald to George Strait, from music made in the 1920s to lyrics penned in the 1980s. Even though the novel is set in the 1980s, I also took some liberties to include a few current-day tunes, as well, because I felt those selected songs particularly represented the story at that point in the plot so well. I also made sure that the songs I chose could be found on YouTube for free, so readers didn’t have to purchase a ton of new music to enjoy the experience.


Creating Some Buzz with the Music


While I was developing the playlist, I teased some of the songs on my blog, which helped generate some advance interest. Then I posted the full playlist to my blog and alerted my followers via social media and email, with an option to have the song list sent to them as a PDF, too.


The Results


I’m pleased with the results so far. When you Google “music to read by playlist,” my song list is the second result of 219 million. Not bad!
Plus, potential readers on Twitter and Facebook said they were checking out the novel based solely on the music from the playlist. More than 30 people have emailed or messaged me directly to ask for a PDF. And in the days and weeks following the release of the playlist, the blog post consistently got about 40 – 50 visits per day. That tapers off and then resurges whenever I promote it again via social media.

 

But perhaps most importantly was the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received from readers who said they enjoyed the song list, considered it a gift from me to them, and loved having it while reading A Good Kind of Knowing. Best of all? Many said they were sharing the list with friends and recommending the book.


While a song list was especially well-suited for A Good Kind of Knowing, I’m considering developing one for my first novel, Blue Straggler, as well, released last year from 30 Day Books. Why? Because good music and good books will always go together. Throw in some good wine and you’ve got a trifecta of sensory richness!


You can find the music-to-read-by playlist here!

 

Check out A Good Kind of Knowing on Amazon

AGKOKcover
Rating: 31 reviews, 4.5 star rating on Amazon

Synopsis

A Good Kind of Knowing is a novel about the power of music and friendship, the relationship two-steps that go on in old Texas dancehalls, and the secret to finding just a little bit of common ground in a world full of distrust.

Sera Taylor’s store is the one place in Lakeville, Texas, where individuals from all walks of life share a universal love for music and a respect for the gypsy-like woman behind the antique glass counter. Readers get a taste of the unorthodox connection between Sera and Mack, a young local cowboy and musician, and Sera’s previously untested devotion to her husband Bill.

They learn of her relationship with Ruby D., the vibrant but misguided mother of five; with Louie, the shy high school band director; with Beverly, the religious, upper-class socialite; with Antonio, a local bar owner striving to make a life for himself; with Tommy Lee, a rich and directionless gigolo; and with Wes, the only out-of-the closet gay man for miles.

As Sera battles a serious illness, the characters must overcome long-held stereotypes to save Sera’s store, and in the end, large parts of themselves.

About Kathy

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Kathy Lynn Harris grew up in rural South Texas—and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in a 1920s log cabin with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. Kathy has written two novels, three children’s books, a lot of bad poetry, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and personal essays.

Kathy’s blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas, but… can be found at kathylynnharris.com. Connect with Kathy at kathy[@]kathylynnharris.com or take your pick of social media channels:

Twitter – @KathyLynnHarris
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/BlueStragglerFiction
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5137823.Kathy_Lynn_Harris Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/kathylynnharris



Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.

 

  • Larry Crane

    I think it’s a great idea, particularly for A Good Kind of Knowing and Kathy Lynn Harris. it’s innovative and if you know music it’s a wonderful invitation. Having said that, I do think it requires an encyclopedic familiarity with music, a skill and sensibility that I don’t have.

  • http://twitter.com/KathyLynnHarris Kathy Lynn Harris

    Thanks so much for having me here, Laura!

  • laurapepwu

    Thank YOU Ms. Kathy Lynn :)

  • laurapepwu

    Kathy certainly loves her music, which does of course help :)

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  • http://twitter.com/KelseyJMills Kelsey J. Mills

    I’ve been thinking of doing this for a long time, actually! Thanks for letting me know it works Kathy! :)

  • http://twitter.com/Julieanafarrell Julie Farrell

    Hi Kathy and Laura, thanks for this really interesting marketing idea. I was wondering whether you had any knowledge about copyright issues with this sort of thing? I am also a music nut, and love to reference which songs my characters are listening to at certain points in the story. I have read though, however, that some indie authors are getting sued by record companies, for not getting permission, even to use a song TITLE in their work! There is a discussion on the KDP community forum, for example, with regards to this. (Just type in ‘song lyrics in a book’ in to the search facility.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? I would love to use song titles in my book, but obviously don’t want to get sued by a major record company!

    Many thanks – I love this blog, by the way!

    Julie

  • http://twitter.com/KathyLynnHarris Kathy Lynn Harris

    Hi Julie, thanks for reading. My literary agent who shopped my novel to the big houses about 10 years ago (with no final bites) advised me that mentioning song titles in your fiction is fine and covered under Fair Use, unless there is potential for libel, i.e., the title is used in a degrading way. Quoting a line or two of lyrics is typically fine, as well, as long as you give credit. If you quote more than a one or two lines, you need formal permission. I also checked with a lawyer-friend on this before publishing my novel. But things may be changing out there quickly, so it’s always good to check with a lawyer first.

  • http://twitter.com/Julieanafarrell Julie Farrell

    Thanks for getting back to me Kathy – I will check with legal people just in case then.

    Many thanks, Julie