By Joan Gale Frank
Then there are book marketers that urge you to start a blog – but those who do, often say it’s hard to get followers, let alone make money from book sales.
Then there are marketers that say the best way to sell your books is by giving them away.
With all of this daunting and sometimes paradoxical information, it’s hard to know what’s true. My suggestion is to listen with one ear—and realize that nothing is written in stone. Ultimately it depends on the situation.
Here are a few marketing efforts that the experts may or may not agree with, that I’ve used successfully to promote my book, Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them, as well as the books of one of my NABP clients, Carol Grier, who wrote How To Recognize A Good Man When You Meet Him and Choices: A Memoir.
Cold Calling A Journalist
Yes, I heard it wasn’t recommended. But I was bad and did it anyway. I felt Carol’s book would appeal to a particular Pamplin Media journalist who covered human-interest stories, so I looked him up online and called him.
After quickly introducing myself and pitching Carol and her books, the journalist told me I had called at the perfect time—he was just looking for his next story. “When can I interview her?” He asked. “Can I have her number?” Immediately I contacted Carol and told her to expect a call.
As a result of this pitch, an article about Carol and her books ran in many of Portland’s papers, including the Lake Oswego Review, which featured a photo of her, her books, and all the words on the back cover of one of her books. You just can’t buy that kind of advertising.
Issuing an Online Press Release
Even though I knew it might be a waste of money, I wanted to get the word out to newspapers and real estate sites about my newly published Home Seller’s Blues book. So I tied my story to the latest depressing real estate news and plunked down $398 for a 400-word press release to go out on PR Newswire.
The next day a nationally syndicated reporter called to set up an interview. The resulting article about my book appeared on the front page of the Sunday, Chicago Tribune Real Estate section as well as in a double-column article in the Los Angeles Times. That same press release captured the attention of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, resulting in a major plug for my book on their website, which is read by thousands of Realtors.
Creating a Blog
I knew it takes time for a blog to gain traction, but I wanted to try it, so I started a blog, housesellingblues.com. After a few months of writing long, meticulous posts to an audience of me, I noticed that people were starting to leave comments.
Then guest bloggers began emailing me, asking if they could contribute posts. And within a few months advertisers wrote, offering to pay me for a link from specific words in my posts back to their sites. Most of these advertisers provided good information and resources for home sellers, so I took them up on it. I was even offered a job from a company exec who said he was a fan of my blog and wanted me to write blog posts and content for his company’s website.
I’ll admit though, getting book sales from my blog hasn’t been easy. I’ve made more money in advertising dollars—which I never would have suspected. I’ve also made friends with home sellers and Realtors all around the world who share their stories with me and reconnect regularly.
Giving Books Away
This seems like a paradoxical way to make money, but it works. It all depends on the book and the audience though. After analyzing the giveaway program at GoodReads.com, it looked like a good fit for Carol’s How To Recognize A Good Man When You Meet Him book. With this program, an audience of seven million book lovers, the majority being women, are given the opportunity to sign up to win books in various categories, including Carol’s topic—love.
In the process of registering for the giveaway, the entrants find out about Carol’s book. Those that don’t want to wait to see if they’re a lucky winner, can buy it themselves—which they do, since Carol’s ebook version is only $2.99. As a result, right after the giveaway contest started, we saw a dramatic boost in her Kindle Amazon ranking. Every day the contest goes on, it drives more people to seek out her book. So it’s true, giving away books can be a winning strategy.
The most important marketing strategy of all though, is just to keep the ball rolling. With so much competition from new books coming out everyday, you’ve got to keep your titles in the public eye—taking a few marketing risks along the way. And you’ll never know what works until you try.
Just don’t try calling a sports journalist in the middle of the night, pitching a science fiction story.