November 9, 2014 by Nathaniel Tower
There are three major components to every book:
- Writing the book
- Publishing the book
- Selling the book
Of the three, selling the book is probably the most difficult. How in the world do you get people to buy this thing you’ve just written?
We live in a world where anyone can publish a book. We also live in a world where many people expect to get art for free. From streaming music to free book downloads, we can easily be entertained without paying for anything.
This is the “buying” philosophy for many of today’s readers:
“Whoa, my friend just published a new book. I’m going to check it out. What? $3.99? For a book? Wait, here’s a free book. I’ll just read that instead.”
While some of your friends will buy your book, this ultimately isn’t the group where you should direct most of your marketing attention. There are two main reasons for this:
- They’ll find it annoying after awhile.
- Your friends aren’t necessarily your fans. Hell, they might not even be readers.
Very few of your friends will say, “I can’t believe someone I know wrote a book. I need to buy tons of copies and spread the word to everyone I know.” In today’s world of online boasting and bragging, your book announcement gets less attention than a toddler’s first time on the potty or someone walking her first 5K.
So what’s a writer to do?
You need to be innovative if you want to survive as a writer. That means going beyond promoted Facebook posts and emails to your family members. You need to do something to attract real attention.
Here are 5 innovative book marketing techniques. Please note that none of these techniques will actually work, but they should at least get you thinking.
1. Meaningful Giveaways.
Give away signed copies of your book for all gift-giving occasions. This includes birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, wedding, baby showers, and so on. These gifts will do more than just spread the word about your book. They’ll make your authorship an important part of everyone’s life. What better way to welcome a new baby into the world than with a signed copy of your new book?
Note: I know someone who actually did this. She gave away signed copies of her book for every occasion. These gifts ultimately ended up in one of two places: a garbage can or a thrift shop.
2. Buy Your Book in Bulk.
Reaching the Amazon bestseller list in your category can really help boost your sales. Since actually getting people to buy your books is a lot of work, you can get the ball rolling by purchasing tons of copies yourself. Buy a couple hundred or even a couple thousand of your latest title and watch your Amazon ranking soar!
Note: Amazon rankings do not work like this. Bulk purchases by the author do not help a book rank higher.
3. Become a Walking Billboard
The best way to advertise your book is to make sure it’s in front of everyone all the time. Create a collection of homemade t-shirts with your book cover. Wear them to work. Don them at the clubs. These shirts will make great conversation pieces. Everyone you bump into will say, “Wow, that’s a cool shirt. What is it?” And you’ll say, “Oh, just the cover of my new book. Want a copy?” Of course you will then pull a copy out of the briefcase you always carry with you. If anyone fails to ask about your book cover shirt, make sure you bring it up. “Hey, do you like my shirt? If so, I have a book for you!”
4. Hand out Free Samples at the Grocery Store
Everyone loves free samples. Heck, some people only go to the grocery store so they can shove their faces full of free food. Print excerpts from your book and bring them to the grocery store. Be sure to have information on how to purchase on your handout. Give one to everyone who walks by. If someone refuses, slip it into her purse or his pocket. Don’t let anyone get away without receiving a sample of your book. Remember, every person is a potential customer.
5. Conduct Reading in Public Restrooms at Large Events
Getting people to go to your readings is hard. But there’s one place everyone has to go: the bathroom. Go to sporting events and state fairs and read from your book in the bathroom. Make sure to bring plenty of copies to sell. Don’t forget a high quality Sharpie for all those signings. Nothing makes for a good souvenir like a book purchased near a toilet.
How do you plan to market your book? If you’re just going to throw up message after message on your Facebook wall, then you might as well use these methods instead.
So what has or hasn’t worked for you? Share your marketing stories (and your marketing horror stories) in the comments.