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Published Article
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

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 calls.

Be prepared.
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 Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit (Matilija Press, 2000).

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