Advertising is expensive.
Book signings are a waste of time.
Brochures get thrown away.
Cold calling sucks.
Pop-ups are annoying.
What’s an author to do?!
Two words: free books. The greatest marketing tool in the world.
Now, I’m not talking about standing on a street corner with a box of books and a sandwich board handing out free copies to every person who walks by! That’s a waste of your time and money. The truth is, giving away free books is more strategic than you think. It requires a plan. This article will explore 5 effective ways to get the most bang for your book.
The Guy Sitting Next to You on the Airplane
Imagine having a friendly conversation with the person next to you on an airplane. After the two of you tell each other about your respective jobs, he asks for one of your business cards. You reach into your briefcase and say, ‘Actually, here – enjoy this copy of my book! I’d be happy to sign it for you too.’
Wow. You become an instant celebrity. An author! Aw shucks, I never met an author before, the guy thinks. And while you might not think it’s that big of a deal, to the unassuming stranger sitting next to you, it is.
And think about this: when was the last time you met someone on an airplane, got back home and then told everyone about that person? Probably never.
Well, guess what? If you give someone a free copy of your book, that’s exactly what they will do.
My, What Large Envelopes You Have
FACT: it’s a lot harder to throw a piece of mail in the trash if there’s a signed copy of your book inside.
Why? Because it’s valuable (unlike every other annoying piece of direct mail that person receives on a daily basis).
According to Dan Poynter’s bestselling book, The Self-Publishing Manual, ‘When your book first comes out, prepare yourself to send out at least 200 free copies.’ That might seem like a lot for the first time author, but think of it this way: what if each person you sent that free copy to bought another 20 copies for their office? Or friends? Or book club? That’s 4000 more books sold. All because you sent out that measly 200 copies first. Nice.
The People You Serve
If you’re an entrepreneur, businessperson, service provider or consultant, don’t forget to send a free copy of your book to every client you’ve ever had. Even if you’re not working with that client anymore, throw a book in the mail for $1.59 with a quick note and your business card. You never know; they might call you back and hire you again!
For customers and clients you still work with, sending them a free book will reassure their confidence that they’ve hired the right person. Because you’re the go-to person. The expert. Furthermore, you will enhance your level of value and therefore increase your customer’s level of loyalty.
Reward Courageous People
If you’ve been hired (or invited with no pay) to give a speech about your area of expertise, don’t forget books! And not just to make available for sale after the program, but also as gifts. Try to give at least one book to an audience member as a thanks for his or her question or feedback during your program. Everyone else in the audience will be jealous that they didn’t win a free book, which will ultimately boost sales in the back of the room!
Write a list called ‘Top 50 People Who NEED to Read a Copy of My Book.’ Send a free copy along with a letter explaining who you are and why that book is of importance for them. For example, if you’ve written a children’s book, consider sending copies to various teachers or principals. You never know, they might buy 1000 copies for the entire school!
Or, if you’ve written a spiritual book, send copies to local or well known pastors and faith leaders. They tend to have vast networks, and if they like your book, who knows? Maybe they’ll tell everyone about it.
You Never Know
Although I’ve only been writing books for a few years, I’ll be the first to tell any fellow author: free books are your best marketing tool. I can trace tens of thousands of dollars of business to a single free book I once gave to a stranger at a conference! You just never know!
And because of that, because ‘everybody is somebody’s somebody,’ you owe it to yourself. You worked your butt off writing that book. Now it’s time to share it with the world. And sometimes all it takes is that ONE free copy to start a marketing snowball that lasts for years to come!
Ultimately, Dan Poynter was right: ‘Your book is the last business card you’ll ever need.’
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your best book marketing technique?