Is Free Really an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Everyone loves free stuff. Go to any convention and attendees all flock to the displays where items are being given away for free. When companies like Chick-Fil-A, 7 Eleven, Rita’s or Dairy Queen give away free products, people flock to the business.

Is Free an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Giving away free products is a form of advertising. After all, the goal of all advertising is for someone to use the product or service and like it enough to become a repeat buyer and tell other people about the great product or service. The ultimate goal of advertising is seeding word-of-mouth.

The same is true for book sales. Word-of-mouth is the top of driver of sales. Publishers and authors spend money on marketing a book in hopes that people will read the book and like it well enough to start telling others about it.

Giving away free books as part of a book marketing campaign brings the following three benefits to your book.

1.  It drives sales.

Giving away free books to readers drives discovery. It introduces an author to new readers. When avid readers like a book, they tend to read other books by that same author. After all, author familiarity is one of the top drivers of book sales.

Free is a powerful sales catalyst for series or backlists, especially with ebooks. Studies indicates that ebook series that offer the first book free earn 55% more on average than series that don’t offer the first ebook free.

2.  It develops rapport.

Giving free books develops rapport. Rapport is needed to develop a relationship. There are four main reasons people do business with someone. These four reasons are:

  • They like you.
  • They trust you.
  • They find you competent.
  • They believe you have integrity.

Rapport opens the door for trust. Giving free copies of your book to readers is one way to begin to develop trust with these buyers. If these readers like your book, they will tell others.

3.  It encourages feedback.

Feedback benefits you. Reactions and observations let you know what you are doing well. It also tells you what you need to improve. When you give away a free book, you can invite feedback. After all, you want to know whether the book resonated with the reader or whether you need to change a few things so you can better connect with your target audience.

Some individuals who receive a free copy of a book will provide feedback in the form of a review, either on their own blog, website, social media sites, newsletter, or on an online bookstore. This is the best type of feedback because reviews help sell books.

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Reuse, Reduce, Recycle: A Great Marketing Strategy

Reuse, reduce, recycle is not just good for the environment; it’s good for authors too.

In marketing books, reusing, reducing, and recycling saves you time and energy, and allows you to be more efficient in content marketing. Content marketing involves using content—information—to engage and convince a target audience to buy your books.

A Great Marketing Strategy!

Content marketing builds trust with an audience. The people you are trying to reach who read or listen to your content develop trust in what you offer (information or story), and then purchase your books because they want more.

As an author, you have plenty of content. It’s what you have written in your books—and it’s where the practice of reusing, reducing, and recycling comes into play.

Reuse

You don’t have to constantly write new material. Take the material you have written and reuse it. Your books are full of information that you can take and reuse for marketing purposes.

You can excerpt sections of chapters in your book and reuse them as blog posts, articles, white papers, and content for videos or podcasts.  You can use sections in your books as they appear in the book, or you can restructure the information and even add to it to compose a fresh piece.

Reduce

Your books are lengthy. They are probably anywhere from 100 to 250 pages. That’s a lot of information. You can take the information in your book and reduce it—condense it—into a list or a step program.

This list or step composition can be used as a giveaway in exchange for an email address. Doing this helps you build your email list so you can drip your message into a select group of people who are interested in hearing what you have to say.

Recycle

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. While the information in your books is not “waste”, you can use the same concept of taking that material and turning it into a new object.

Take the information in your book and turn it into articles. Each article can also be recycled by changing it or adding to it and submitted to multiple magazines or blogs.

You can then recycle the information in your articles by turning each piece into an infographic, an informative video, or even a talk for a speaking engagement.

Reusing, reducing, and recycling keeps you from constantly having to reinvent the wheel and come up with new content. Your evergreen content can keep working for you over and over again.

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How to Turn Book Browsers into Buyers

Lookie-loos are everywhere. These viewers often look with no intention of buying. The Internet is full of these individuals.

How to turn book browsers into buyers.

According to a study by Marist College and National Public Radio (NPR):

  • 76% of U.S. consumers shop online.
  • 44% of online shoppers start at Amazon, while 33% start with a Google search.

So, whether you are attempting to convince people to buy your book on your own website or on Amazon or another online bookstore, your job is to convince the lookie-loos to buy your book. To effectively do this, the following three book elements are of primary importance. Make these count.

1. Cover

Your book cover is part of a reader’s first impression of your book. Therefore, it is your number one marketing tool. Your book cover will either draw a reader in to learn more about your book or send them on their way, looking for something else to read.

In fact, in one study, 63% of consumers said good images are more important than product descriptions. So, don’t’ skimp on your book cover. Make sure that you use a professional design.

The two best places to spend money on your book is on the cover and on editing. The cover will draw readers in. The editing will make your book compelling causing readers to become fans and promote your book.

2. Title

Your title, like your book cover, has the ability to draw a reader to want to learn more or send them packing. To grab attention the attention of a lookie-loo and encourage them to take the next step, be sure that your book’s title does one of the following:

  • Makes a promise to the reader about what they will get from your book.
  • Creates intrigue to draw the reader into wanting to know more.
  • States a need that the reader has in her life and your book addresses.
  • Clearly communicates that contents of the book.

3. Description

People want to know what they will get out of buying your book. This means that you must answer the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) question. Start your book description with a hook. A compelling statement or question that hooks the person reading it into wanting to know more.

Don’t make your book description too wordy. Remember, people scan text. To make your book description scannable:

  • Pull out points and make them a bullet list.
  • Keep your paragraphs short.
  • Highlight keywords.
  • Put your most important point first.

End your book description with a strong call to action. Tell the lookie-loo what you want him or her to do next. Use this call to action to tell them to purchase your book so that they don’t miss out on what your book will give them.

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One Technique for Requesting Book Reviews

“Dozens of good book reviews are a must if you want to sell print books or ebooks and create mountains of publicity.”  ~Joan Stuart, Publicity Expert

Book reviews help sell books. This is why I frequently talk about the importance of book reviews in marketing a book.

How to Ask Readers to Review Your Book

One technique to acquire more book reviews is to ask your readers to review your book. You can do this by including a plea in your email newsletter that you send out to your subscribers (those people who have signed up on your website to receive your content).

I recently received the following request from an author in my email box. It is a plea for his readers to write a review of his book on Amazon.

I am sharing it with you as a sample of what asking for reviews in your email newsletter might look like.


Dear Email Subscriber Name:

If you have a few minutes, I am asking for a favor. 

Book reviews on Amazon are important for many reasons including:

  1. They help potential buyers make their decision to buy a book based on the words of a reader. It is not just the number of stars that are given but the description of some of the content of the book.
  2. They help the authors to know how their book was understood and received which will improve the writing of their next book.
  3. Amazon uses the reviews and the number of reviews in their algorithm which they use to market books. The more good reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote the book and show it more often to potential buyers.

Now the favor! There are currently 10 reviews on my book “name of book” I know many more have read it.

I need at least double that number of reviews.

If you have read my book and have not yet written a review, I am asking you to write a review now. Just a simple sentence or two in your own words is fine.

It will take less time than it has taken you to read this email. 

Just click this link to leave a review (Amazon.com link to book’s page).

If you want to leave a review and have any problem, email me and I will try to solve the problem.

Thanks in advance!

~Author name


If you need more reviews for your books, ask your email subscribers as this author did. People like to help others out. If you let your readers know that writing a review helps you out, they will be more willing to do so.

Did you know that book readers cannot post a review on Amazon.com unless they have an Amazon account and have spent at least $50 on Amazon? You can read more about Amazon’s rules for posting reviews on the retail website.

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Are You Asking?

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Are You Asking?

Why don’t we ask? Is it pride? Fear of rejection? Not wanting to inconvenience others? Feeling unworthy?

James, the brother of Jesus, said, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” It’s not just God that we don’t ask. We don’t ask people either.

Are you lacking? Maybe you need to ask.

Asking

Recently I was talking with a member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) about the importance of endorsements. This gentleman publishes a number of authors. He told me that one of the authors that his press recently published was a personal friend of best-selling author Max Lucado.

This publisher had told the author to have Max Lucado write an endorsement for the book. After all, an endorsement by such a well-known Christian personality would ensure book sales.

The author declined stating that “he did not want to take advantage of a friendship.”
Is asking for an endorsement taking advantage of a friendship? Aren’t friends supposed to help each other? True friendships are two-lane streets. Sometimes one person gives and the other takes, and then the roles get reversed.

This small publisher went on to tell me that the book had sold very few copies. If only the author had asked, he might have received an endorsement and the book would have more sales.

Don’t be hesitant to ask. Everyone starts out at the same place—as a non-author and an unknown person. Every person who is now a best-selling author or person of influence started where you are at. They had people who helped them get off the ground. These authors and personalities are now willing to do the same for others, because they remember being there themselves and the help they received along the way.

Don’t be afraid to ask. After all, the worst that can happen is the person you ask will say “no”. Then, you are in the same place you where before you asked and not any worse off for asking. If, however, the answer is “yes”, then you are in a better place and the effort of asking paid off.

Does your book have endorsements? If not, start asking. If you are unsure about how to go about asking for endorsements, watch my on-demand online seminar Endorsements Help You Sell More Books. You can access the seminar by clicking here. Members of CSPA have free access to this seminar on CSPA’s website.

Jesus also encouraged us to ask. He said, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” So, ask God, but also ask others.

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