Free Publicity

In my book, Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace, I state that following marketing principle:

The more channels through which consumers can purchase your books, the more books you will sell.

The first reason is that we, as Americans, want and have become accustomed to instant gratification. If we are looking for a particular product, we expect to be able to easily obtain it. Often, if we can’t, some other product grabs our attention and we purchase that product instead.

The second reason is that the more places your book is available for purchase the more exposure it receives. People only buy products that they are exposed to.

A few months ago, I let CSPA member publishers know about an online Christian retail store, DeeperShopping Christian Books, Bibles & Church Supplies, which was willing to sell their books. Not only was this store willing to sell books by small publishers, it was also offering some free publicity to go along with carrying the books.

I was surprised to recently hear from Bill Goodyear (my contact at the store) that he only had a handful of publishers contact him to get their books listed in the store.

What that equates to is publishers passing up a marketing opportunity—and a free one at that.

My motto is “never pass up a free publicity opportunity.”

If your books aren’t selling as well as you would like, I suggest you take a fresh look at your marketing efforts. Are you passing up free marketing opportunities?

Every month, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) prints at least three free publicity opportunities for publishers in our monthly newsletter the CSPA Circular. If you are a member of CSPA, make sure you are taking full advantage of these opportunities.

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One Million Free Books: A Great Publicity Stunt

In 2005, Joyce Schneider published a paperback book, Chili and Chocolate Cake, with Tate Publishing. The book is available for $15.95 on Amazon.com and has garnered 30 reviews on the site.

Now Joyce is giving away free copies of her book (in ebook format) from her website. This author wants to give away one million copies of her book.

Why one million? Because offering one million free books leads to publicity. Simply offering an ebook for free only grabs a little media attention while offering one million ebooks for free gets a lot of media attention.

Beyond publicity, what does giving away one million copies of the ebook version of her book do for Joyce?

I think it accomplishes three great things:

1. It introduces a large number of Christians to her speaking services.

Joyce is not just an author, she is an author with a speaking platform. Giving away her ebook allows Joyce to introduce her message and speaking services to a wide audience. Chances are she will be able to increase her speaking engagements as a result of this. Some of the people who download her ebook and read it will be influencers in their churches. When her message resonates with them, they will want to have Joyce come speak to women in their church.

2. It allows Joyce to aggregate a large mailing list of readers interested in Christian books.

In order to download the free ebook on Joyce’s website, readers must supply an email address. Through collecting all these email addresses, Joyce will have a large email list to use in promoting her next book and her speaking services.

3. It provides a healing ministry to many people.

Joyce is clear on her website that she had an abortion in 1985 and that the trauma of this event followed her for many years, keeping her from fully enjoying her life. It was only through God’s grace and forgiveness that she was able to move beyond the shadow of this event to fully embrace healing and the blessings God has bestowed upon her. Thousands of women (and men) need to hear her testimony and experience God’s forgiveness and grace in this area of their lives. In offering her ebook for free, Joyce is ministering to many hurting souls and offering her talent to God for his use.

This author is maximizing the use of her free ebook to promote herself, her book, and her speaking services. Christian authors should take note of her ploy and consider how you can launch your own book promotion to maximize your marketing and ministry efforts.


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Are You a Smart Marketer?

I love smart marketers!

Let me tell you about one.  Lisa Umina of Halo Publishing is a smart marketer.

And look! Because she is a smart marketer, she is getting more coverage for her book on my blog.

Smart marketing with a good internet presence builds upon itself. The technical term for this is “going viral.” Lisa understands this.

Lisa’s book, Milo and the Green Wagon: A Life Lesson to Give, won the Children’s category of the 2009 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award (www.christianpublishers.net).

As soon as Lisa received the notice that she had won, she immediately sent out an email to her mailing list announcing the award. The email featured a cover of the book with a logo of the award.

Next, Lisa got on the phone with the local newspaper reporters in her area and told them that her book had just won a book award, garnering some media coverage.

After that, Lisa paid to have a press release sent to the Christian media using Christian Newswire (www.christiannewswire.com). Her announcement got picked up and received coverage in various blogs and on news sites around the Internet.

What about you? Are you a SMART marketer? Ask yourself the following questions:question_mark_3d

  • Do you seize every opportunity?
  • Does your marketing message show how your book meets a need?
  • Do your marketing efforts include a call to action to capture readers?
  • Is your marketing work regular and continual?
  • Are your marketing efforts targeted at the specific population your book is geared to?

If you answered no to one or more of the questions above, don’t despair. There is always room for improvement. You can start today.

One of the reasons I recently launched a book-marketing coaching service for Christian authors is that I want everyone to be a smart marketer. You can learn more about this service at my newly redesigned website at www.marketingchristianbooks.com.

More SMART marketing ideas are always welcome. Share yours with me.

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The New Author

Technology is rapidly changing the landscape for marketing books. A few years ago, authors were encouraged to have a website and develop a mailing list (email and snail mail) for their fan base to maintain contact and market their current and upcoming titles to. However, the new interactive Web 2.0 has changed how authors are expected to market their books.

The number of Web 2.0 user-created content websites that authors can use to promote their books is increasing on a daily basis. Keeping up and learning how to use each of these time-consuming activities to promote books can be confusing and overwhelming.

Dennis Cass, an author with HarperCollins, recently created a very funny video with his take on what is expected of authors from their publishers in marketing their books. I think Dennis has done a great job of encapsulating many authors’ feelings in his video that is posted on YouTube.

Do you feel like Dennis?

It Only Takes 12 Seconds

One of the things I love about marketing is that there really is no limit on what can be done to promote a product. A creative person can turn almost anything into a marketing gimmick. With all the new social networking tools popping up on the Internet, the field is ever-expanding for the availability of marketing ideas.

Take Pastor Andre Butler. He recently authored the book Not in My House. This book deals with Biblical principles of money management and applying these so that the current recession does not disable you and your household. His website incorporates a great little marketing gimmick using social networking techniques. He invites his readers to post their own unique video message saying, “Not in My House.” You can view the webpage at http://www.notinmyhousebook.com/how-do-you-say-it/.

What smart marketing! Pastor Butler has invited his readers to engage with his book and help him promote his message.

Some new applications online have made it easier to include this type of feedback on your own website. Ease of use and ease of application are both extremely valuable when asking your readers to engage with you and help promote your books in this fashion. The easier the application, the more people will actually do it.

One such application is http://12seconds.tv. This cool website is to YouTube what Twitter is to Blogs. The idea behind 12seconds is that you can share what you are doing with people in your life through quick, simple video taken from your cell phone. Only 12 seconds because they believe anything beyond that is boring. The video is taken from your phone and can be emailed to the site or posted directly from the cell phone unto the website.

With this cool application, people can do a 12 second video on their cell phone from any place they currently are and post it. Better yet, with 12seconds, you don’t have to wait for your customers to do the work; you can make it easy for them by using your own cell phone to video tape testimonials. As an author or publisher, you can use your own phone to interview people and get testimonials for your books wherever you are. These quick 12 second videos can then be posted to your website for use in your marketing campaign.

Take a few minutes to check out http://12seconds.tv and let me know if you make a 12 second video and where you post it.