27 Ways to Sell More Books
By Cathy Stucker, IdeaLady.com
"If you print it, they will come."
Sorry. It doesn't work that
way. You may have written or published the greatest book ever, but if people
don't know about it, they can't buy it. Whether you are the author or publisher
(or maybe you're both), it is your job to create excitement about and interest
in your book.
Use the ideas in this
article to create a buzz about your book without breaking your budget. While
some of them won't be right for you, many ideas will be a good fit. The more
ideas you use, the better. People often take their time before making a decision
to buy, and the more often they hear about your book, the more likely they are
to buy it. Keep coming at them in different ways with the message about your
book and what it can do for them.
Don't be too quick to
discard an idea, thinking that you can't do it or it won't work for you. Just
because you've never done something before, don't assume that you can't do it,
whether it's making a speech, doing a TV or radio interview, or staging an
These ideas are also good
brain food: think about them, and see what else you can grow. Can you put a
twist on one of them or combine two of them in an interesting way?
Pick a few ideas that
appeal to you and put them to work right away. Time to see results will vary.
Choose a good mix of ideas to start generating book sales and to keep selling
for a long time to come!
Declare a holiday
A holiday does not have to
be declared by Congress to get attention for your book. If you wrote a book
about finding your prince and living happily ever after, why not create
"Kiss a Frog"? Get your holiday listed in Chase's
Annual Events (you'll find it at your library), and the media will
call you. Even if it's not listed in Chase's, you can still send out
press releases announcing the holiday and any related events you schedule. How
do I know this works? Take a look
in the Chase's index for Solo-preneuring Week, and note that the contact
is . . . yours truly.
Create a booklet
Excerpt a portion of your
book into a booklet. (This article originated as a booklet/handout for a speech
I gave.) Give it away as a
promotion or sell it. Paulette Ensign has sold more than 500,000 copies of her
small booklets about organizing. Not only do the booklets promote her organizing
business, they have become a profit center themselves.
Teach a class
Colleges, community centers
and continuing education programs are always looking for interesting classes. If
you were to become an instructor, information about you and your book would be
printed in every catalog. Plus, you could offer your book as a required or
optional text. I've sold hundreds of copies of The Mystery Shopper's Manual
and other titles this way.
Make friends with the "competition"
Are there other publishers
with the same audience? If your books are not in direct competition, you might
make a deal to promote each other's books. For example, they might include your
flyer or catalog in their mail outs, and you do the same for them.
Throw a party
Hold a book signing party.
It may be at a bookstore, but why not try someplace different? If your book is
about animals, hold it at a pet store or the gift shop at the zoo.
For a beauty book, why not try a salon? Invite everyone you know, get the
shop owner to help promote it, send press releases, etc., to get lots of people
Exercise your right of free speech
And give free speeches all
over. Lots of organizations are meeting in your town every day, and most of them
need speakers. Check the newspaper for meeting notices, and ask your friends
about their groups. Then call and offer your services. You won't get paid, but
they usually feed you and you'll get to sell books after your talk.
Write articles about your topic
Offer the articles to
newspapers, magazines and newsletters read by the people who would be interested
in your book. You may get paid for the articles, but even if you don't, make
sure information about your book (and how readers can get their own copies) is
included. Even easier, excerpt portions of your book and offer them as articles.
Film at 11
Are you and your book
newsworthy enough to make the nightly news? Sure. I've done it lots of times,
and so can you. Local news shows run a lot of features about local people and
events. Let them know about your book signing, seminar, outrageous stunt,
whatever. While there is no guarantee of media coverage, when you get it, it can
sell lots of books.
Put your book in unusual outlets
Don't just think
bookstores. Where will you find the people who should read your book? Don't
overlook doctors' or veterinarians' offices, truck stops, souvenir stands,
restaurants and coffee shops, etc.
Help yourself by helping others
Offer your book as a
fundraiser to schools, charities or other organizations. Sell them to the
organization in quantity at a discount. Members sell the books at the retail
price, and the organization pockets the difference.
Offer your book as a premium
Does your book have a
natural relationship to a product? The
manufacturer of that product may buy thousands of your books to give away or
sell to their customers. Contact the brand manager to see if they are interested
(and be prepared for any decision to take a while). Also approach local
merchants to see if they would like to buy premiums. Would the local car dealer
give everyone who buys a car a copy of your book on car care? Come up with a
good connection, then sell some books!
Centers of influence
Are there people who could
influence others to buy your book? Might doctors recommend your book on stress
relief? Would teachers suggest
parents read your book on helping children excel at school? Get copies into the
hands of those who can reach your audience.
Get listed in catalogs
Most of us receive hundreds
of catalogs with all kinds of things in them. When you find one that seems to
fit your book, contact the catalog company and ask about submitting your book.
"Is the caller there?"
Do radio interviews,
locally and across the country. By sending out short press releases, I've gotten
interviews for my clients and myself on stations all over. A radio show may need
three or more guests per day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. They want to
hear from you. News/talk stations run lots of interviews, but don't overlook the
drive time and public affairs shows on music stations. And the best thing about
radio is that you can do many of your interviews over the phone from the comfort
of your own home.
Talk it up
In marketing classes, I
teach a technique called The10-Second
Brag. The Brag is a quick way of introducing yourself in a way that
is interesting to your audience. If you tell someone that you are a consultant,
there reaction may be "So
what?" (Although they may not ask that to your face!) Instead, tell them
about the problems you solve, and they will be interested. The same applies to
your book. No one (other than your
mother) cares that you wrote a book. But if your book contains secrets that will
help me make my dreams come true, then I care! The secret of the Brag is
remembering that people care about the world as it relates to them and their
needs. Remember that, and they will care about you and your book.
Hold a contest
If you wrote a book about
organizing closets, give a prize for the messiest closet in town. Have entrants
send in photos of their messy closets, and/or write a short essay about how
disorganized they are.
And the survey says . . .
Do a survey related to your
book topic, then announce the results. If you wrote a book about managed health
care, survey people for their opinions on managed care and what they
like/dislike about it.
Weave a Web
Put a site on the World
Wide Web where people can get more information about you and your book. If they
can't order it online at your site, tell them where they can get it.
At your website, offer
links to other sites of interest to your audience. Contact the webmasters of
those sites and ask if they would consider offering visitors to their sites a
link to yours.
Be active online
Show your expertise by
getting involved in discussion groups on your topic. While sending purely
commercial messages about your book is generally not acceptable, you can answer
questions and offer information and include a sig file with more information
about your book and how to get it.
It's for a good cause
Announce that you will give
a portion of the proceeds from book sales to a particular charity or advocacy
group. Then, let interested groups know about it so they can help publicize your
Make a value-added package
Package your book with
other items to make it more attractive as a gift or easier to use. If your book
is about a craft, could you package it with craft materials? Bundle a cookbook
with utensils, spices, etc.
Get others to sell books for you
Many speakers make money
selling books in the "back of the room" (BOR). Speakers who don't have
books of their own, or who wish to expand their product lines, may be interested
in selling your books. Structure a discount schedule which allows both of you to
Get a business card for your book
Business cards are cheap.
Get one made up especially for your book, then put it around wherever you can
leave business cards. I had some made up for The Mystery Shopper's Manual.
When I return a library book, I stick one in the book as a bookmark. Know
what? I've gotten calls as a result!
Take a flyer
Make up a simple flyer
about your book, and get it copied onto colored paper. The flyer may be one side
of one page, or just a portion of a page. Put it out when you speak, leave it on
literature tables at meetings and conferences, etc.
Alert the media
Whatever you do, send press
releases to make television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc. aware of you.
Make it newsworthy. They don't care that you wrote a book, but they will care
that you can give their audiences information they want or need.
Don't be afraid to try
something new or unusual, even odd. Ask
yourself, "Will this attract/appeal to the people I want to reach?"
and "What will it cost me in time and money to try it?" If the first
answer is "yes," and the
second is "not more than I can afford," then go for it!
Think about what you can do
beyond these ideas. Do you want to be on “Oprah?” Would a celebrity be
willing to endorse your book? Would your book be perfect for a home shopping
network? Or an infomercial? Could you develop a whole line of products related
to your book? Sometimes it is easier to sell several related books/tapes/etc.
than just one title.
What is your wildest dream
of success? Imagine it, and then take steps to make it come true. Don't be
afraid to think big and aim for the stars! That's what they're there for.
Copyright 2003, Cathy
the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker can help you attract customers and make yourself
famous. Get a free tip every Tuesday when you subscribe to Bright Ideas at http://www.IdeaLady.com/
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