I stole this idea from Spotify.

Writing website code, requires deep concentration. I imagine writing a novel is similar. Different language and syntax, but same parts of the brain. I find that my perception of time affects my concentration, focus, and ability to stay in the zone.

One way I stay focussed is by suspending my perception of time. I do this by listening to an album of music on repeat.

I use Spotify to stream music and Spotify track everything. When a Little Dragon album came out, I had it repeating for hours.

But this article isn’t about techniques for staying focussed. It’s about what happened next.

A few weeks later, Spotify emailed me.

“You’re one of the top 10% listeners of Little Dragon!”

Spotify email

They linked me to an exclusive, but low-key video of the band saying thanks for being a fan.

I think... It wasn’t even in English!


Have you got an iPhone and 10 minutes up your sleeve?

Give a gift to your loyal fans and make them feel part of an in-group.

Here’s the psychology behind the strategy.

Social Identity Theory

Obviously there’s the recognition of my ‘achievement’. But on a social level, it reinforces that I’m part of an exclusive ‘in-group’.

Groups give us a sense of social identity: a sense of belonging to the social world.

The theory of social identity was first developed by Henri Tajfel in 1979.

Tajfel’s experiments explored prejudice toward members of arbitrarily created ‘out-groups’. His results demonstrated that inter-group discrimination was easy to trigger, simply by the act of categorisation into groups.

Groups offer us identity and are an important source of pride and self-esteem.

Give a personalised gift

What can you give? Anything that you can easily make, that creates a personal connection.

  • Video: ‘Thanks for being a fan’ video
  • Behind the scenes: upcoming work or an exclusive short story
  • Merch: Book posters, stickers, bag
  • Hand crafted: Mixtape, handwritten letter
  • Tie it in with your books for bonus credit

What it is isn’t the point. But make it a surprise.

Marketing from the heart

When you read book marketing tips, they’re always about ROI and sales.

The advice may be for creating FB ads, or Amazon price cut techniques, but the point is always books sales.

Authors don’t have big marketing budgets. But you don’t need marketing savvy or a big budget to create something heartfelt.

And is writing only about sales?

Gifts can go both ways

Anna Branford, author of the Violet Mackerel series, recently shared her story of stumbling on an anonymous message, left on a ‘wishing tree’.

I recommend reading Anna's post.

Anna’s reaction to reading the message?

Anna Branford

“I swear my heart flew right out of my chest, landed in the branches of the Wishing Tree and sang a song all on its own.”

“It was one of my very, very happiest moments and I think I will remember it always.”

How would Anna calculate the value of this experience as return on investment?

Rachael Craw, author of The Spark Trilogy has found other ways to measure ROI.

Rachael Craw

“Engaging with readers and bloggers has been a big part of the experience of being published. Their friendship and support has been a great encouragement to me.”

“Some of the gals started a Spark Army Goodreads page where we post discussions. Mostly people just add #SparkArmy to their Twitter posts as a hashtag. It’s by no means formal.”

Be remarkable

For writers, marketing is the process through which you build — and strengthen — an audience.

Being ‘remarkable’ is how you spread your message from your inner circle of loyal readers, to a wider audience.

Kylie Fornasier, author of The Things I Didn't Say, did this on her recent tour Penguin book tour.

Back to Little Dragon, clicking the share button in my email from Spotify turns this:


...into this:

Little Dragon fan tweets

It’s authentic personal connections that have viral qualities. Something your true fans want to tell others about.

Seth Godin

“Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting with.” —Seth Godin

Build an army of evangelists, by marketing from the heart in a remarkable way.