I recently read a blog post by an author with an upcoming general market book. She was frustrated because her publisher asked her to find people to review her book. This author found 20 bloggers who were eager and excited to read and review her book. However, the publisher felt that many of these 20 bloggers did not have a large enough audience to justify the free book. This author’s response was 20 people excited about reviewing a book will generate more word-of-mouth advertising than one very influential person who only gives the book a cursory review and moves on to “more important things.”
I am surprised at how often I meet with resistance from authors and publishers when I start to talk about giving books away as part of a marketing plan to generate interest in a book. Giving books away is cheap publicity. It only costs the author the price of printing the book. Yet, many authors and publishers see giving books away as counterintuitive, since their purpose in writing and producing a book is to sell it.
If you are a Christian following Jesus, then giving books away should not be looked at this way. Consider a principle of Jesus that so many Christians (especially in America) seem to miss:
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 niv
Interpreted for authors and publishers, this verse reads: Give away books and this will generate sales.
Are you still balking? Consider this.
James Redfield self-published his book The Celestine Prophecy in 1993. This book is a novel that discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas that are rooted in many ancient Eastern Traditions and New Age Spirituality. As of May 2005, James Redfield’s book had sold over 20 million copies worldwide and had been translated into 34 languages.
How did he do it?
Mr. Redfield initially sold the book out of the trunk of his car. As he talked with people, he gave many copies of the book away to generate interest and the word-of-mouth advertising that drove sales of the book and resulted in the book being republished by a major publishing house.
Give and it will be given to you. It’s not science. You can’t quantify it. It’s one of God’s principles.
Here’s the bottom line. If God gave you a message to write, whose message is it really? If it belongs to God, then you are not losing anything by giving it away. His word never returns void, but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent forth (Isaiah 55:11).
Have you given away any books lately?