The other day I was gave a speech on how to use a book to build a brand. In the discussion that ensued about post-publication promotion, we covered the usual, but challenging, marketing aspects including book blog tours, podcast interviews, press releases and Amazon review campaigns.
To date I've written and had traditionally published nine business books. With each one I've had to figure out the most productive path to getting them in front of an audience. Once I've exhausted the typical ways listed above to get the word out, I turn to the secondary actions that take their place in non-traditional book promotion. Here are a few I've used for myself and clients that are fun, easy, and best of all, cost effective.
1. Place a dog-eared copy of your book in the back of your airplane seat.
I've spent a considerable amount of time flying on a plane throughout the course of my career. More than once, I've found a used book stuffed in the seat pocket that I've picked up and read.
Why not use this same strategy for your book? Making it a slightly used copy --instead of a new one --says to the unsuspecting reader, "Hey, I was worth picking up and reading; give me a try." Just remember, you never know who will be sitting in the seat after you.
2. Leave a stack of new books at an airport lounge.
Airports are chock-full of busy business travelers on long delays looking for something, anything really, to pass the time. Take a small stack (no more than four) new books, place them on a visible table somewhere in the lounge, and put a Post-it note on the back that says "Take me. I'm yours."
It's unlikely that the staff will remove them since they are new and will probably assume they were left there while the owner stepped out for a cup of coffee. At least some of your more curious fellow travelers will pick up a book to give it a once-over, see the Post-it and put it in their briefcase.
3. Become a book fairy.
Yes, this is a real thing. In more than 100 countries, there is a movement afoot where enthusiastic readers give books away. You can even get stickers, ribbons and bookmarks that promote the movement.
Always carry a few of your books with you, and when you meet someone who you feel would enjoy yours, spread the magic pixy dust of reading and gift them with a copy. The various book fairy paraphernalia you can get helps give your contribution context.
4. Offer your book for free.
This really only works with self-published books, but the idea here is to offer your book on Amazon for a period of time (a few weeks to a month) at no charge. This is a way to get an influx of new readers who will hopefully spread the word and provide reviews. Once the given time period is over, you can revert to selling your book for the established price.
5. Go beyond the bookstore.
While bookstores may be the usual place to do an author reading, who says they are the only ones? Look for the places where your natural audience goes, and consider doing a book event there. Some of the more interesting places I've heard of people doing this include:
- A car dealership (book on the history of the automobile)
- A train station public restroom (humor book)
- A skating rink (book on adding play to your life)
- A farmers' market (fresh fruit cook book)
6. Create a bookmark for your public library.
Despite the trend toward buying books online, believe it or not, libraries are still a popular place. The good news is they also contain a captive audience who's already prequalified as interested in reading.
I know several authors who created high-quality bookmarks with their books on them and offered them to libraries for free. Many libraries, given their limited budgets, are happy to take these and make them available to customers. Just check with your local library before you head off and spend your hard-earned cash to create a bookmark.
Today, regardless of whether your book is self-published or traditionally published, promoting it is up to you, the author. But even if you don't have the budget to go full-out with your book promotion, doing even a few of these small, slightly strange things can provide big returns.