Tag Archives: book marketing

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

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.

Middle Ground Marketing

Ghandi2  How do we get past the separatism in today’s book market? How do we invite readers to consider the created beauty of life? Defeating current market restrictions requires books that go to the middle ground, that show and/or talk about God and the world, about Jesus and fallen man. And the middle ground for these books that don’t fit the Jesus-sanitized ABA or the fallen-man-sanitized CBA is emerging. So how do we find it and become a part of it?


So the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at how to find it and become a part of it here, here, and here. These books are different. They go to people seeking to unify their lives in a full body-mind-spirit experience, who reject leaglism, hypocrisy, and prejudice, and aspire to live beyond categories that blind people, to make responsible choices to further those goals.


Middle ground authors are different too. They don’t promote agendas. They promote simple values like those described above. They don’t do phony. Authentic writing pours from their authentic living. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Duplicity and negativism crush joy. And joy is their point.


This is the cresting wave of middle ground publishing to the spiritually curious, those interested and interesting people. “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” So when these authors promote their writing, a spiritually-interested “marketing plan” certainly looks different. There’s a pared-down quality, a simplicity that attempts to conjure that other other all-important city, authenticity. If authors don’t live there in spiritually-interested publishing, they end up in Falacity (Feel free to leave your favorite Bushisms below.).


Manipulative marketing is contrived and ignorant. “The moment there is suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted.” And if there’s anything antithetical to middle ground books it’s manipulation. No God-respecting author can “spin” their work. It’s obvious when marketing becomes a con. Viral marketing can have no strategy, no manufacturing. Yes, YouTube killed the commercial and ads (or launch parties) for consumer products don’t work anymore unless the customer is specifically looking for that product. Many people are looking to be sold books, so author launch parties are a good idea. But without word-of-mouth, the book will still die. You can’t get a million readers without being talked about. And you'll soon fade if you aren't visibly real. 


A better way to see book marketing is as it is: a service. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” It’s not easy. But “unwearied ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.” Your purpose in marketing must be the same as it is in writing: to offer an experience readers will want to live daily. Because the life-giving experience of your book comes from God and is God. “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Both are about filling people with the word of life and celebrating God’s work in passing on your observations, insights, and the beauty you’ve witnessed. To help others see what you see.


“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

To believe in “selling” that message, your aim must be to connect, not sell. “We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study.” Do you love people? God does. If you struggle, try seeing with his eyes. A middle ground book or marketing campaign isn’t about converting readers, it’s about inspiring, encouraging, and reminding.


Is it possible to change people with a book? Of course. But there’s a common, cynical theory that says to sell well, spiritual books must give people what they want, pat them on the back, and not offer any deeper challenge. Tickle ears. Sure, some readers may be a lost cause, but “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” So here’s a challenge: if heresy is anything short of full gospel, then heretics are those who speak of God yet fail to inspire people to join His redemption orchestra. And in your quest for the middle ground, remember “pandering” to reveal words that cause people to change is very different than pandering to tickle ears. It’s taken me several years to realize that distinction, let alone put it into practice.


“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.”


Remember the true goal when you write and when you promote, and you’ll be fine.


(Quotes are from Mohandas Gandhi who Google reminds us earns 140 candles on his cake today.) (Also, in case you missed this other birthday, Guiness turned 250 recently.)