by Patricia Fry
3 Tips for
Promoting Your Book
Appeared in SPAN Connection, November 2000
Whether your book is self-published or you have a traditional publisher,
promotion is up to you. Sure, your publisher may send out review copies, list
your title in their catalog and fill bookstore orders. But if the world doesn't
come rushing to their door in great numbers to purchase your book, they will
soon lose interest in marketing it.
That's why it is vital to the health of your title that you-the author-become
involved in promoting your own book.
You might ask, "What contacts do I have?" "How do I get my book
in the mega bookstores and on the big talk shows?" Maybe you don't. Maybe
you sell thousands of copies of your book through a niche market that you
aren't even aware of, yet.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways to promote a book and, until you
get out there and test the waters, you won't discover the best method of
marketing your particular title.
People often ask me what is my favorite way of promoting my books. Having ten
books on virtually eight different topics, I've found that each one must be
marketed in a different way. The method that worked best for my book, "The
Mainland Luau," was not as effective for my long-distance grandparenting
book. I market my local history books using an entirely different technique
than I do my metaphysical adventure book. That's why I recommend to authors:
study your marketing options, choose those that seem practicable for your
particular book and give them a good try.
To help you get started, here are three tips from my book, "Over 75 Good
Ideas for Promoting Your Book" (Matilija Press, 2000).
Sell books through ebay.
If you're not familiar with ebay, you've got to visit. It's an Internet auction
site featuring an incredible array of items for sale. You can sell your books
there for a price. They take a percentage of what you sell plus a fee for
placing your books on ebay. Is it worthwhile? I've found it so. I generally
sell one or two copies of each book I list during a five-day period.
When you have proven yourself a worthy client, ebay allows you to run Dutch
auctions wherein you can auction off more than one copy of your book at a time.
You'll find ebay at www.ebay.com
Provide waiting room copies.
When you receive your shipment of books from the printer, open the boxes and
hand check each book for flaws. Set aside those copies that are less than
perfect and negotiate a partial refund from your printer. Place these slightly
flawed books in waiting rooms throughout your city and county.
I've left copies of my local history book in several doctors, dentists,
veterinarians, attorneys and accounts waiting rooms locally as well as in the
lobby of the hospital. Place copies of your novel in the lounge at large
companies. Send copies to friends in other communities and ask them to take it
to work with them.
Mark these books, "waiting room copy." And just inside the front
cover, tape ordering and purchasing information.
Is there a value in placing books where so many people have access to them?
Will people still want to buy your book when they can read portions of it for
free? I say "Yes." After all, how far can they get into a 375-page
book in just ten or even twenty minutes of waiting? If the book is of any
interest to the reader at all, he'll surely want to have his own copy.
There's also the issue of exposure breeding familiarity. Someone who becomes
familiar with your book after seeing it in bookstores, waiting rooms,
neighbors' home and so forth will be more likely to think of it when they need
to buy a gift or are looking for something good to read. Develop a professional
telephone persona. Most bookstore owners and distributors send purchase orders
by mail or fax. Others will call with an order. Likewise, once your publicity
gets out, you may receive calls from newspaper reporters, magazine editors and
radio show producers, for example. When you work out of a home office, you're
not always in professional mode. To help separate your professional voice from
your family voice, consider having a separate line installed for business
I published the metaphysical book and the luau book within months of one
another. When people called to inquire about one of the books, I sometimes had
trouble remembering the details. So I typed up a cheat sheet with the retail
price of each book the wholesale price for bookstores, the amount for various
quantities of these books (both retail and wholesale), tax and shipping
charges. I kept a copy of this next to each phone, along with a notepad and pen
in case the caller wanted to give me a purchase order by phone.
Promotion is a huge job and not always a favorite pastime for someone who would
rather be writing. It is vital to the success of your book, however.
Patricia Fry is the author of A Writers Guide to
Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit (Matilija Press,