3 Genius Book Marketing Lessons from Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift has an incredible gift for marketing. She’s said multiple times that if she weren’t playing sold-out shows for stadiums packed with Swifties, she’d want to work in advertising or marketing writing ad copy. I think she’d be pretty successful doing that, too.

Here are three genius ways T-Swift killed it in marketing, and how you can channel her instincts to market your book like the pros.

1. She Invites Other Artists on Her Tour

One of the most genius marketing and PR moves T-Swift has ever made is inviting a new performer on stage during every stop of her tour. If you’re plugged into the music scene and pay attention to celebrity gossip columns like I do, you’ll notice that once an artist goes on tour, they almost completely drop off the news circuit. Mostly because they’re busy playing stadiums across the globe and don’t have time to be photographed outside of hot restaurants in LA or NYC.

But not Taylor Swift. She always stays in the news cycle because she invites a new performer to the majority of her stops. Mick Jagger. Justin Timberlake. Her model friends. Lorde. You get the point.

I have no way to deal with this. Justin Timberlake is the BEST.

A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Aug 27, 2015 at 1:55am PDT

Not only does she get to showcase her impressive industry connections and give her friends a moment in her spotlight, but Swift also makes sure she stays in the headlines the entire time she’s on tour by making each guest performance a newsworthy event. She also keeps her fans excited and engaged on her social media accounts by giving them amazing content to drool over.

Even though you probably don’t have the kind of connections Ms. Swift does, you can still mimic her tactics by inviting other authors or performers to your book signings, readings, or other live events. Ask your writer friends if they’d like to open your event by doing a short reading of their own work, or see if your pal who’s in a band can play a couple songs at your book signing while everyone is waiting in line. Not only do you get to showcase your talented friends, but you also both get more exposure by joining forces. In other words, everybody wins.

I ADORE THESE GIRLS. @angelcandices @lilyaldridge @marhunt @uzoaduba @karliekloss @behatiprinsloo @gigihadid

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Jul 12, 2015 at 8:23am PDT

2. 1989 Polaroids Swag

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 26, 2014 at 12:54pm PDT

Unless you’re living under the biggest f*cking rock in the universe, you know about Taylor’s latest smash-hit album 1989. With each physical copy of 1989, she included a pack of Polaroid photos featuring her in various moody poses all over New York City along with handwritten lyrics from 1989.

The Polaroids were a smart branding move for two reasons. One, her album is called 1989 and,
since Polaroids were popular in the 80s (with instant film currently enjoying a renaissance thanks to T-Swift and also Urban Outfitters), they were the perfect intimate, collectible addition to her physical CD packages to incentivize fans to buy a real CD. Two, there were five different packs of Polaroids floating around in the physical copies, which encouraged super fans to buy multiple copies so they could collect all 65 T-Swift photos. Genius.

Of course, if you’re just starting out writing, you don’t have the same thirsty fans as Ms. Swift who will buy literally anything with your face on it. But exclusive freebies are a great incentive to get people excited about buying your book.

For example, if you’re writing a book about romance, you could include a letter written from one of your characters with the first 50 books sold. Or if you’re writing a nonfiction book on calligraphy, you could include a feather pen. You get the idea. Just remember to be creative and stay within the theme of your book or story to really knock it out of the park.

3. Hidden Messages

Taylor Swift is known to hide messages in her liner notes, and 1989 was no exception. Woven throughout the lyrics, she left a code in lowercase letters for her diehard fans to uncover. She writes:

1989 liner notes

“We begin our story in New York. There once was a girl known by everyone and no one. Her heart belonged to someone who couldn’t stay. They loved each other recklessly. They paid the price. She danced to forget him. He drove past her street each night. She made friends and enemies. He only saw her in his dreams. Then one day he came back. Timing is a funny thing. And everyone was watching. She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything.”

Readers and fans love to search for secret messages, because it rewards them for being extra observant—which is ultimately what you want from your fans. Try weaving a hidden message throughout your book or coming up with a secret code for them to unlock. Not only is it fun for your readers once they have your book in their hands, but you can also use it as a promotional tool when you’re out slingin’ books.

Have any book marketing questions? Let us know in the comments!



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Katie Bolin

Katie is a social media & advertising strategist.

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