Marketing Your Book: Thinking Outside the box

Chalk it up to too much Shark Tank, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how to market my book from the perspective of the unashamedly profit-seeking, results-oriented business mind. I worked for a consulting company in Washington, DC that profiled strategic best practices at Fortune 500 corporations. The practices chosen all had one thing in common. They were processes that executives had implemented that stood out from the rest. They yielded results others wanted. They were made to look so simple and common sensical once laid out, prompting, “How did I never think of that?” The executives that had the most cutting edge practices were those that thought outside the box. Even if the idea was simple!

After researching the topic of self-publishing, attending conferences, and speaking with fellow writers who have gone through the process, I’ve learned that there are a few go-to strategies everyone knows that’s done any research:

start a blog (okay, check!) and actually post on it
gain a huge following on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and other social networking sites
Tweet a lot, like a whole lot
Write more than one book so that you have a “pipeline”
Be active on other author blogs, Goodreads groups, etc.
Do blog tours to create hype for your book
Get a ton of people to review your book as soon as you post it on Amazon (or wherever)
Spam (Oops, did I say spam?) people with book promotions
Promote the hell out of yourself

All of these are certainly best practices. But one thing I’ve realized is that none of them address the dollars – the profit, the meat – and how to maximize it specifically. Or how to create your own unique sales plan. We all know the deal, self-publishing gives you a way more generous cut of profits than the traditional publisher (around 70% versus about 10-20%). But what can we do beyond that? Are there deals to be made that may cut into that larger profit margin but may yield more sales? Let’s think like a salesman…

IDEA #1 – Let’s say I find a self-published author who has had a ton of success (Okay, how about A.G. Riddle, author of The Origin Mysteries series). Ideally, an author whose book is very similar to my book (say, Sirens), so that they are in the same subgenre and can complement each other. If I contacted A.G. and said, “Hey, I have a book that’s complementary to yours, but I need to build a readership. You have an awesome readership, which means a ton of traffic to your website. How about if I give you 20% (or 10%, 15%…) of every sale I make if you simply feature my book on your website. It could say something like… “If you like The Atlantis Gene, you may like Sirens.”

A.G. may completely ignore me. Or he may say, that’s competition (probably not in my case). Or he may say, hey that’s a great idea. More sales for you means more money for me, and the more people who read our subgenre, the more popular it becomes for us all!

If this works, its a win-win for both parties. Even if you give an author 70-80% (like you would to traditional publishing houses), that’s more sales and more publicity than you had before.

IDEA #2 – Let’s say my book (Sirens) is a “cli-fi” (climate-fiction) and the subject of oceanic preservation is prominent in my story. What if I contacted an organization that gives money to the cause, like and said, “Hey, if you feature my book on your website, I’ll give you 50% (or 5%, 10%…) of the profits of every book sold through you. With this strategy, you can advertise to potential readerships that a portion of their sale will go to X organization. How cool would that be?

One caveat with this strategy is that you have to be really careful what organization you choose. Some can be controversial, too political, etc. Its all about knowing your audience.

Those are just a few ideas as I try to think outside the box. I won’t be going on Shark Tank anytime soon for my book (though for the baby earmuffs I’ve just invented, keep your eye out!).

Do YOU have any ideas?



Filed under Marketing

2 responses to “Marketing Your Book: Thinking Outside the box

  1. I love these marketing ideas! Brian does something similar with his book, by offering a cut to schools who agree to let him sell his book at shows. Maybe there’s grant money out there that you could take advantage of? Perhaps you get a grant for putting on a writing workshop, and you create an audience through the attendees. Or maybe you volunteer with 826DC, which is a super cool writing/tutoring workshop for kids, and right in your neighborhood! They’re in the Museum of Unnatural History at 14th and Park. I realize these are fairly small-scale ideas, but could lead to something bigger – never know who you’ll meet!

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