Authors and publishers search wide and far for ways to sell books efficiently and cost-effectively. Time, money, convenience, connections, creativity, and marketplace trends play a big factor. So what have I noticed to be great ideas for bookselling?
I have been in the book publishing industry since 1989 and I can say that what will work for you depends on many factors, including timing, luck, perseverance, risk aversion, budget, your ability to talk others into doing something, and your book (content, price, cover, title, competition, distribution, subject matter). Let’s not forget that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another, and the more people who experience success at doing something the less likely such results can be replicated by others in the future.
The marketplace changes – due to the economy, cultural tastes, technology, societal shifts, etc. But there’s always a place for authors and publishers who sell based on common sense, trends, bargains, fulfilling a desire, and serving a need. By executing savvy marketing tactics, books will sell. In no set order, here are 50 things to consider when looking to sell a book:
1. Give it away. People love free stuff. For a period of time, introduce your writing to as many people as possible and then hope they serve as raving fans who’ll deliver the kind of word-of-mouth praise that boosts book sales.
2. Give something else away to serve as an introduction to you, whether it be a sample chapter, a part of the manuscript that never made it into the book, or a previously published/unpublished book or essay of yours. These other writings can serve as an appetizer to your new book.
3. Give away a product or premium – pen, T-shirt, mug, etc. to advertise your book or Web site.
4. Give away a product of someone else’s, something people would value. You can purchase the item and give them away or get them for free from a company or retailer who’d like to do a dual promotion with you.
5. Blog often and mention your book, either at the bottom of each entry (as part of a short credit line or brief bio) or find a way thematically to mention it in your blog content.
6. Your blog profile should mention your book and have a link to a retailer, such as Amazon.com.
7. Use humor to sell your book. A funny video related to your book will make people feel good about you. It’ll potentially be shared with others and create some buzz. Most book trailers are too commercial – the key is to sell your book in a way that people don’t feel sold to.
8. Do not take out an advertisement in any publication to sell your book. It’s rare that one can recoup the investment unless the book sells for $100. The only ads that make sense for books are ones that sell a franchise author who will use the ad to remind fans to buy her new book, but someone trying to discover his readership will not get it from an ad in a magazine or newspaper.
9. Do not hire a celebrity to advertise or promote your book, but where possible get one to endorse your book, write your foreword, or agree to publicly support you.
10. Hand-sell the book in a bookstore. Stand in the aisle where your book sits on a shelf. Tell passers-by to buy the book.
11. Disseminate flyers to a targeted collection of potential book consumers. Stand outside a bookstore. Greet convention attendees. Find out where your readers congregate and hand them a flyer. Connect with your potential consumers at a seminar.
12. Sell your book at a street fair, a mall kiosk, or a place with tons of traffic –, but only if your book has mass appeal.
13. Use coupons to sell your book. Everyone loves a deal. Rather than just pricing your book really cheaply to begin with, offer a time-sensitive savings that will inspire people to take action now.
14. Go the Amway route and get others to sell your book who then recruit others to sell it as well. Imagine having your own sales team! Be prepared to pay a huge commission on top of a fat discount to inspire sales. Consider creating affiliate sales.
15. Contact associations and businesses directly to solicit bulk sales.
16. Team up with nonprofits.
17. Try different divisions of your government for book purchases for their employees.
18. Sell to a school or at a school.
19. Use your book as a fundraiser for a charity.
20. Sell your book to gift shops. Hand out cards and fliers where people gather – bus stops, in a park, on a major street, outside a supermarket.
21. Sell your book at newsstands.
22. Sell your book at airports.
23. Get Costco’s and other warehouse chains to carry your book.
24. Can QVC or The Home Shopping Network help?
25. Foreign markets account for about 8% of all US book sales, so consider shipping books to overseas stores. Or sell the translation rights and let publishers print books overseas.
26. Sell books at libraries. Yes, the place that gives books away on loan – for free – would allow you to speak and sell books.
27. Sell books to prisons. Millions of convicts have nothing better to do than read.
28. Sell books to bed and breakfast inns, to doctor offices, and to places like spas, where people are waiting or relaxing somewhere.
29. Team up with a magazine or newspaper to sell your book. They may agree to split the profits if it’s the type of book they can sell to current or new subscribers with ease.
30. Used bookstores will sell new books. Consider selling to them at a huge discount.
31. Mail-order catalogs of all kinds may carry your book.
32. Houses of worship may offer your book to members for free or a fee. They also may be doing a fundraiser and use your book as a gift.
33. Contact party planners (to suggest as gifts to clients or for their clients to give to guests).
34. Consider real estate brokers – they could give away your book as a gift to new clients.
35. Contact book clubs. Sell to specialty stores such as bike shops, pet stores.
36. Conduct book signings at bookstore chain or an independent bookstore – or do a book signing at a non-book retail outlet such as a museum, library, pet store, or street fair.
37. Send out unusual or hilarious, spoofy press releases. How you say something is just as important as what you talk about.
38. Apply for — and win — an award. Give an award out, too.
39. Have a party or hold an event, especially at corporate retreats and seminars.
40. Submit letters to the editor and comment on the blogs of others. Call into radio shows to air a view. Submit op-eds to publications.
41. Pull a stunt or capitalize on one that someone else pulled it off.
42. Get your book into the hands of influencers, opinion-makers, and trend-setters. Get celebrity testimonials.
43. Barter away – trade your book for other things..
44. Conduct a poll, send around a petition, or hold a rally that gets media attention for your book.
45. Piggyback on the PR of others – whether of rivals and competitors or friends and allies.
46. Sell to lodges, fraternities and local clubs. And anyone with a Web site!
47. Send sponsored tweets, and utilize FB ads, Google ads, and Yahoo ads to get people to click on your site.
48. Pursue premium sales, where an organization will pay you to publish a special edition of your book (for a subsidized, discounted fee) for distribution to its employees.
49. Rename your book to 50 Shades of Grey.
50. Hire a great book publicity firm: Media connect (www.media-connect.com).
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.