12 Random-but-Pretty-Good Ideas for Selling Your Book

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A lot of what I usually do here falls into the general area of intangibles. Craft. Meditations. Inspirational soap-boxes to pitch my nefarious positivity and that sort of thing. So I figured it’d be nice to apply some practicals to the discussion of spiritual publishing, particularly in the area of author marketing and publicity. And since there’s really no other kind now that social media has taken over the world, that’s another vast area of intangibles that could use some filtering for nuggets of use. So here’s a round up of random-pretty-good ideas for selling your book (intending at least a reasonably fair impersonation of Seth Godin).

1. The best sell is still the hand sell because YOU are what drives effective promotion. So the law of diminishing returns applies for every equivocation thereof. For example, short of direct, face-to-face interaction between you and your reader, indirect, but live “face-on-screen” (like the vid-casts WaterBrook does on LiveStream) is a good alt (maybe even preferable since more people, in theory, can see you on that way). The best ideas are iterations of this “face time” and hand-sell advantage.

2. Find an excellent, experienced webmaster. "A lot of companies make the mistake of trying to use social media and those involved in it for a quick transaction, when really it's about building a lifelong relationship with the consumer, incorporating all aspects of her life, including products," says Stephanie Bryant, DaySpring's business development manager.

To EFFECTIVELY and CONVINCINGLY prove that your book fits squarely in the center of the new market as more than a stand-alone repository of information, but as the anchor of a multi-faceted lifestyle choice of content and experience, you need the most professional web guy your money will buy. You could include any number of devisings (many of which are discussed below), but without an effective, convincing online presence, your extensive blog tour, multi-city launch parties, giveaways, and all the rest will mean, in a word, “Pppfffttt.” It has to go viral to sell well and the web is where the spiritually interested audience talks now. A strong online presence is established through many things—trailers, interviews, reviews, and unique creative promotions. But if crawlers and surfers don’t know it’s there or it doesn’t look good or it doesn’t work right, guess what it means? (see above).

3. The endorsements of some A-level and high B-level authors are essential. It may surprise some of you to hear that from me, but endos and forewords that can identify your trustworthiness, newsworthiness, and uniqueness, as well as help position you amongst the other known names on the shelves are irreplaceable. We all want to know our money isn’t going to be wasted. What provides that assurance better than someone we trust telling us exactly that? I know it’s hard, but to the victor go the sales.

4. In all your speaking about the book, aim for the broadest appeal with a vital, felt-needs emphasis that can grab attention. What will the book do for the readers? How are you solving their deep needs? Why can’t they live without this? Do that and you’ll never have to worry about your publicist calling to say she can’t find you any interviews.

5. Send advance-release manuscripts to influencers to generate buzz. Though you have little control over getting an early run printed with a traditional house, you can request galleys be sent and include personal notes with them that include requests of #3 and the info of #4. I’ve even seen some authors offer “prizes” and monetary payment for the evangelists who will talk about the book on a blog, amongst friends, on Facebook, and on Twitter. (Not sure if the new FTC guidelines prevent this, but most industry sources agree you probably wouldn’t be convicted).

6. Coordinate with your publisher to offer a free e-book for 30-60 days at initial release. Again, this generates buzz. They might not do it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

7. Book tours may be passe, sort of, but you can still do a stunt of some kind to get attention. (Traditional tours still can be effective, though maybe not the most cost-effective). Launch parties in influencer’s homes are good if you’re well-connected and have well-connected friends. Book-club interviews and signings are usually small change, but a good reading can get people fired up about your book and create a spike in local sales (as anything live that’s done well can). But again, not all author events are equally valuable for face time with readers. So things like booktour.com are a nice alternative.

8. Cross-promote music and other free bonus content with downloadable product coupons or the like. Recipes, privileged information, even the promise of increased web traffic and heightened social-networking status can get influencers moving.

9. Interviews are good, but debates are better. Cause a stir. Say what others aren’t already saying. This is also how you’ll avoid that dreaded call from your publicist.

10. Unique/unusual trailers and author videos. This is more crucial than you think, and more so every day. Let me risk repeating myself here: do not duplicate others! You want to be real and authentic and original and all those things? Do your own thing! Then put the video(s) several places—your webpage, Youtube, BookVideos.tv and Facebook to name some. Check out Henry Cloud's Secret Things of God video. Simple. Short explanation by the author with some cut-aways of speaking, signing, and book cover (produced by TurnHere Internet Video) (read this for tips). Some other favorites here and here. (A lot of videos produced for books by amateurs try to mimic film trailers. My advice: if you don’t have the budget, don’t even attempt something slick. You can’t come close (unless you’re Rob Stennett) . Make yours entirely different (did that sink in yet?) and go low budget. If your publisher doesn’t put some real money behind it (and don’t count on it) this is your only option.)

11. Be gimmicky. Invent creative games utilizing technology, like exploratory websites, or a “find the logo” campaign offering a prize drawing or money for those who find the most participating websites or complete a publicity challenge. I don’t know. Think of something fun that doesn’t require a lot of effort on your #2’s part.

12. Last thing: Involve your reader base. Plenty of people are available to rent if they like what you're selling. And you need them to multiply your time. Your book’s success should be a group participation experiment dedicated to furthering its critical message and inviting more people to get on board. Solicit ideas for promotion and listen to people. Then respond! Your book will reap the benefits.Don’t forget to design this as a campaign from the beginning with a page or two in the back of the book describing some of the things a reader can do to help out.

This isn’t a complete list by any means. So if you have ideas, names, websites, or anything else I forgot to include here, let me hear about it. I’ll offer a recap of the best stuff in a future post.

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4 thoughts on “12 Random-but-Pretty-Good Ideas for Selling Your Book”

  1. #8
    Mick, I’d like you to produce a song for A Slow Burn, followed by one entitled THIN PLACES. They need to be really good, catchy tunes. You can play piano if you want.

  2. You offering free copies then? You heard the one I did for Wishing on Dandelions, right? Here’s the lyrics:
    Dandelions are soft, soooooo fluffy,
    When they float aloft, they’re kinda puffy.
    May your wishes always be,
    Like Maranatha’s under the pecan tree.
    I like the name ‘Natha much better than Buffy.

  3. perfect. also authors should think of their books as souvenirs to their fans. fans by you. if you write a great book that speaks to them, they will buy it for them and their friends. we have to make our books gifts again