I tell authors all the time that book sales is but one measure of the success of your book. Ultimately, you should seek to leverage your book to achieve a broader goal, such as positioning yourself as an expert, promoting a cause, building your “A” list of prospects, or selling a higher priced product or service package. But you must be strategic in your giving. The whole idea behind giving your book away is to get to the next level.
Here are four things to consider when giving away your book:
Sample: Everyone loves a sample, a taste, or a preview. Think about when you go to the big-box store for that one item that’s located way in the back of the building. You inevitably have to pass several sampling stations. It’s hard to resist: cheese, salsa, meatballs ... yummy! By the time you reach the item you came for, your basket is full of the other items you sampled. Sampling is a great way to earn followers, readers, clients, or buyers. As with any form of sampling, you are giving your audience a tidbit, a taste, an idea of what your book is all about. Sample your book by sharing excerpts on your website, reading from it at speaking engagements, turning sections into blog posts for your blog or for other popular industry blogs.
Share: Give your book to industry icons and experts. When you read about a public figure who expresses an interest in the topic your book covers, send that person an autographed copy of your book. Perhaps you know of potential business partners who could add value to your business offering, or whose products or services are a good fit with yours. Send them a book as an introduction. Do you know of an event that needs “goodies” for their guests? Share your book with them, but make sure the audience is reflective of your ideal readers. Remember, you are being strategic with your giving.
Donate: There are hundreds of thousands of charitable and non-profit organizations that seek creative fundraising strategies. Why not make your book one of them? Select a time -- maybe around a specific national observance or a time of year -- and donate a portion (or all) of the proceeds from your book sales to a charity. Promote this on your website, blog, social media sites, and during your presentations. People generally feel good when they know they are contributing to a worthy cause, and this often spurs them to buy the book. One caveat: be sure to discuss this with and get permission from the organization before you begin this fundraising venture.Distribute: Use creative distribution methods to get your book out. One great way is how you package your book. The Happy Meal is one of the best known package deals around. People like having things packaged together rather than sold separately, especially when there’s a nice little “goody” included. Make your book the goodie. Package your book with other products (yours or those of a partner who is an industry expert). Perhaps when potential customers or clients purchase a mid- or high-priced item, they get your book for free. Maybe when people respond to a query or survey, your book is their reward. Or perhaps, those who purchase your book are entered for a chance to win a valuable package. In this way, you can sell your book and upsell clients on your higher priced products and services.
Beyond the bookstore appearances, book fairs and festivals, or listing with an online bookseller, there are so many other ways to gain visibility for your book. Be open to giving your book away. You might find that giving is one of the most strategic and effective forms of gaining exposure.