Today, I’d like to lift the veil a little bit more and talk about the single most overlooked aspect of book marketing. If you’re like most authors without a recognizable name or a major publishing house behind you, you understand that a lot of the onus on book sales falls on the author. Authors who have invested time or money into writing their book already are understandably fairly hesitant about pouring MORE money into their book to market it. What most fail to understand though is that writing the book is the hard part; the easier part is actually marketing and promoting it if you do it right – and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Sure, there are a lot of things authors can do in book marketing which take a significant investment. Advertising, whether it be online, offline, outdoors or in print, costs some money. Building a website around your book doesn’t take a lot of money necessarily but does take a lot of time to do it right. Doing other forms of guerrilla marketing takes both time and money.
So what exactly is THE most overlooked asset an author has for marketing his or her book? Free copies.
Most authors get an allotment of free book copies from their publisher. The number varies by publisher, but in most cases the number is not insignificant. Most people’s initial tendency is to send free copies of their book to their family and close friends, which is fine. But what do you do with the rest of them? Are you thinking strategically about who to send them to? If you do think long and hard about each and every copy you send out, the chances of maximizing your book marketing efforts from the free copies is great.
What I mean precisely is that you should track each and every book copy you send out or give away. Build a spreadsheet and put people’s name in one column and the “outcome” in another. Obviously for friends and family, the outcome is N/A since you’re not necessarily expecting a whole lot of sales to be generated from that group; you’re simply sending them out as gifts with no other ulterior motives in mind.
Where the “outcome” column comes into play is with everyone else outside your innermost circle. Have you sent free copies to notable book reviewers? Did you think about sending copies of the book to major bloggers? What about to website owners in your book’s genre? Bloggers and websites are always looking for interesting content to talk about and write about, and most will likely talk about your book without you even having to ask if you send them a copy or two. Did you send any to your alma mater? Your alma mater’s bookstore? Your hometown newspaper? The list goes on.
After you compile your “hit list”, track whether or not those individual free copies resulted in anything. Did you end up getting a positive book review? Did your alma mater respond positively and buy more copies of it? You get the idea.
One final tactic under your overall “free copy book marketing strategy” is that you should never walk around without at least one copy of your book in your bag or purse. In fact, I keep two with me at all times. Why? Because you never know what powerful, influential person you will randomly meet who is interested in your book. To be able to personally hand them – signed or unsigned – a finished copy of your book on the spot is a great way to make a strong impression and generate marketing for yourself. If the new person you meet is interested enough in talking about your book with you, he or she might be interested in talking to someone ELSE about your book, or at least how they came upon getting a free copy. This can generate sales, positive word-of-mouth, and better establish your own personal brand.
Mike Sprouse is a Chief Marketer, Corporate Entrepreneur, Author and Philanthropist. He is a recognized public speaker and marketing expert, having run every facet of marketing and corporate strategy for public and private companies. Mike is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “The Greatness Gap”, and is a frequent blogger on his website at http://www.mikesprouse.com. He is a former professional tennis player with an ATP world ranking in singles. Mike is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Accounting. If you would like to read more about Mike, you can visit his “About” page on his website at http://www.mikesprouse.com/about-mike-sprouse-marketing/.