So you want to promote your new book. You’ve witnessed other authors racing to the top of the best seller charts, and you wonder what they’re doing to build mega success. If you’re like most authors, you’re not sure how to go about reaping this kind of success for yourself.
Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be original to be good.
In fact, the less original you are in some cases, the better off you’ll be. As they say, success leaves tracks. Follow the tracks, and you’ll find success.
Take for example the traditional author’s boring, stalwart best friend, the Sample Campaign. Sending samples of your book to retail buyers, bloggers, reviewers and other influencers will boost awareness with the people who matter most, gaining exposure for your book and for you as an author. Using giveaways to create buzz while you are in pre-launch can be an inexpensive and effective way to generate publicity.
The Sample Campaign involves sending either physical copies of your book to reviewers or distributing e-copies to qualified centers of influence. Both tactics involve an investment of time, research, risk and reward.
Launching a Sample Campaign may sound expensive – and it is expensive if you try to get creative with this approach, but there are ways you can be both unoriginal and highly successful.
Copycat Book Marketing and Other Cheats
If you’re going to model the best, start by looking at the Amazon best seller list within your book’s category. Find the best-selling books that are most like yours and model their marketing tactics. What do you see? Would you buy these best sellers?
The odds are high that all of these books have received the royal treatment from a staff of pros, yet the approach is kept focused and simple.
What best-selling authors know is that the goal is to get attention from centers of influence. People who have a megaphone and a crowd who are always glad to lend an opinion.
If you want to get lots of good reviews from your Sample Campaign, you’ve got to make your book buzzworthy. Make sure it’s not just a scintillating read, but engaging from the first moment readers encounter it.
First Impressions: the title, book cover and description are the most influential elements when it comes to helping people determine whether or not they will buy your book – or review it for their audience.
Professional Design: your book cover is the most important feature of your book, and it should be intriguing. Make sure your cover is a match for your genre. If you’ve written a mystery, don’t use romance imagery – the kind with windswept lovers embracing on a naked rock above a storm-wracked cove. You might raise an eyebrow or two, but where’s the mystery? A poor cover will make it harder to sell your book.
Enticing Description: Your description needs to pull people in as well. Start your description with something provocative, and use your chosen keywords right up front. Make buyers and reviewers ravenous for more. Would you buy your book if you read your own description?
How Can You Distribute Sample Copies of Your Book?
Review copies are given away free, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come at a price for the reviewer. Select only reviewers who are the most likely to come through with their promised action. Because you will be investing your time, resources and energy in distributing your samples, be choosy about who gets to have them.
Here is a 3-step formula to generate heat in your Sample Campaign, used by marketing pros who are “in the know” about how to sell books.
Step 1: GOODREADS Set-up
You may already know about Goodreads.com, but many authors use an ineffective approach. Start by creating a reader account using your author name. Before you do anything else, get familiar with the venue (this is called “lurking”), then review several books. After you’ve become a trusted member of the community, you can add your book or have someone add it for you.
Once your book has been added, you can change your status to “author”. You’ll have to submit an application to Goodreads’ staff for review, and this takes a couple of days. Be sure to add your social media links to your Goodreads account and website.
Once you’re established on Goodreads.com, click the link to “Create A Giveaway”. These are physical books you’re giving away, so you’ll need to buy copies of your book and send them to the reviewers who request it. Be sure you conduct only one giveaway at a time or this can get expensive and confusing.
Step 2: BLOG TOURS
Capitalizing on blog tours is an excellent cog in the wheel of your Sample Campaign. To do this, take a title from your Kindle best seller list and Google it with the search term “blog tour.” This search will yield bloggers who customarily review books and need something to blog about.
Your next step is to contact the bloggers and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing your book. Give them plenty of advance notice, typically about 2 months. Popular reviewers are often booked well in advance, and these are the ones you want to reach.
When you contact them, include a link to your Goodreads page so they can see your alluring cover and intriguing book description. Ask for their review to be published within the first 5 days of your release, preferably on your actual release date.
Step 3: BRICK AND MORTAR
Indie bookstores love authors, and many would welcome you for an author book signing. When you run your giveaway campaign, contact the store manager first before you seed the marketplace with copies of your book. Make it your goal to send out only copies that will actually yield results. Track where each one goes and follow up until you get solid results.
If you work with a publisher, ask them for a list of buyers from their Rolodex to send samples.
Book reviewers are real people with busy lives. When you request a review, don’t make the mistake of pitching your book like a used car salesman. A brief personal introduction followed by a simple paragraph describing your book should do the trick. Ask for permission to send them a review copy, and then be sure to follow up. Stay on track until you achieve the success you’re looking for.
With this kind of focused activity, perhaps someday you will find your work on the best seller list… and start reaping the success your literary endeavor deserves!
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.
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