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How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

When faced with the difficult task of promoting his novel Catch 42: A novel about our future, writer Felix Holzapfel had a wild idea: Why not use non-fungible tokens?

Like every author who is not one of the usual suspects on the New York Times bestseller list, I faced a similar challenge: how to promote my book. All authors rely on traditional PR approaches, online marketing, and social media. However, I couldn’t quell the feeling that my unique and tech-heavy story about a character who time travels to a mind-controlled and bio-engineered future world, deserved a unique and tech-heavy promotion.

(She's Got to Have It: 10 Ways to Promote a Book)

Immediately, the use of non-fungible tokens (NFT) came to mind—not only to market my book but also to simultaneously highlight NFTs and blockchain technology opportunities in the creative and publishing industries ... and beyond.

Using NFTs to market this book had another exciting benefit. Successful book marketing currently depends on reviews, but people need to read books before they review them. This necessity creates a high barrier to visibility. The NFT campaign allowed me to generate buzz for my novel before the public could read the book and write reviews.

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

After teaming up with Australian digital and crypto artist Nate Hill to create a new cover image, I embarked on Step 1 of the NFT campaign, which contained several key elements:

Step 1: Offer Exclusive NFT on SuperRare.co

We offered an exclusive NFT containing Nate Hill’s artwork titled, Catch-42 // Back to our world and a unique pre-publication copy of my upcoming book, Catch-42: A novel about our future at auction on SuperRare.co, a peer-to-peer marketplace for crypto art. The auction took place about a month before the official release date. We sold this unique art bundle for 3.0 Ether (ETH), which was equal to $7,421.76 on the day of sale.

What did I learn from this first step? The community of NFT artists and collectors on the leading platforms and in social media, with all its creativity and positive vibes, is awe-inspiring. Seeing people support and inspire each other energized me. Within a short time, I felt warmly welcomed and met plenty of fascinating people. The experience was already worth all the effort.

The auction itself was more challenging than I expected. We did a so-called reverse auction—the most popular approach on SuperRare. The seller of an artwork chooses a public reserve price that, when met, triggers a 24-hour countdown to the end of the auction. Although we promoted the auction via social media, nothing happened. No one placed a bid.

When I became impatient, Nate Hill told me to relax. From his experience, it sometimes takes a couple of days for the right pair of eyes to find the art. In our case, it took a week for that right pair of eyes to show up. The prospective buyer placed the minimum bid, triggered the reverse auction, and purchased our NFT.

Catch 42: A novel about our future by Felix Holzapfel

Catch 42: A novel about our future by Felix Holzapfel

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Step 2: Offer Limited-Edition NFTs on OpenSea.io

We created 42 limited-edition art bundle NFTs containing the limited NFT edition of the book, plus the limited NFT edition poster of the book’s cover based on Nate Hill’s artwork. This time, we were selling the NFTs on OpenSea.io, another popular marketplace for NFTs. Instead of an auction, we offered these NFTs for a fixed price of 0.42 ETH ($1,467 at the time of this writing).

We are donating 100 percent of the profit to Paradigm Initiative, an NGO advocating digital inclusion in Africa. Thus, collectors purchase a unique art bundle and support a good cause at the same time—everybody wins. Finally, we reserved 12 of the 42 NFTs from this limited-edition art bundle for further marketing activities.

By using different platforms, showcasing an auction, and holding a fixed-price sale in combination with different approaches for distributing the profit and integrating various marketing elements, we hoped to illustrate the variety NFTs offer not only for the creative and publishing industries but beyond.

Today, NFTs are mainly used within niche markets like art or gaming, but I see no reason why NFTs shouldn’t hit more prominent markets like real estate, automotive, or the financial industry. Keep in mind that the technology is still in its infancy. Much more of this type of activity is likely to come once NFTs and the blockchain hit the mass market. 

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