Book Promotion; The importance of thinking outside the box

I know I keep harping on about promoting and getting book sales, but unless you’re one of those lucky few who release a few novels and then see sales sky-rocket, you’re like me and have to contend with the Amazon Beige Bar of Shame (BBOS) for many weeks and only a trickle of customers. I’ve tried advertising on Goodreads and doing a LibraryThing giveaway, but to no avail (though I have had a few good reviews from the latter option). I’ve tried posting, not spamming, on forums, but haven’t seen any direct sales as a result. I’ve used Twitter to my advantage and have found a handful of new customers here, and word of mouth (mostly by my sister) has got me the majority of my sales.

There was a nice thread on Kindle Boards called ‘Places to Promote Your Book‘ and I took advantage of some the listed options to sign up at Novelscribe, and place very cheap promotions at YourBookAuthors.com and BestIndieBooks.com. When I say cheap, I mean it, and I think I only paid around $15 in total for both the features – it’s not exactly going to break the bank. Nor is it going to get huge exposure, but only a few extra eyes seeing my work could be beneficial.

I’ve increasingly been thinking about how important it is to think outside the box and create a stir, a buzz. Placing a banner on a high traffic website is all well and good, but how many people actually click that link and then buy a book? Branding strategists and advertisers keep banging on about how important engaging with customers is, isn’t it about time us indie authors followed suit? Engaging with readers and potential fans isn’t just about tweeting replies and creating a fan pages though. It’s about really trying something new and innovative to capture people’s attention.

I’ve had a couple of ideas over the past few weeks for marketing ploys which could be fun for people to take part in and could increase book sales. When it comes to thinking outside the box, I think it’s best to think global, to think all conquering, to think of ways to go viral on the internet and become a sensation. I doubt that either of my ideas will do this, but they might work in creating more of a buzz than a simple website banner or Goodreads advert.

Exclusive Content

Rewarding readers and luring new customers in can be done with providing a worm on the end of that newsletter fishing hook. I’ve seen many people talking about getting subscribers onto their newsletters by offering free books and giveaways. However, I’ve also seen authors saying that as soon as their giveaway is over, people un-subscribe, defeating the object of the exercise.

To counter this, I’ve developed a little plan for creating ongoing exclusive content only for newsletter subscribers. I was playing Mass Effect the other day, collecting codex’s as I went, and I suddenly thought ‘I could offer codex’s for my Inside Evil series.‘ The codex system is basically like an encyclopedia, and in Mass Effect you collect titbits of information relating to characters, places, weaponry, lore, as you journey through the game. This helps you become more involved in gameplay and really creates a gripping universe to explore.

Being the complete nerd that I am, I already have a lot of notes on characters, hotspots, creatures etc that appear in the Inside Evil series, some of which is never even mentioned in the book. So, I’m currently developing my own series of codex’s that will be released on a monthly basis to newsletter subscribers. These will give tasty extra information for fans to enjoy, and for die hard fans, they’ll be downloadable so that the image codex’s can be kept and collected. I’ve started making some mock ups and have an artist doing some provisional sketches for each entry.

Whilst this content might only appeal to the nerdiest of nerds who read my books, it does offer an incentive to stay on a newsletter list rather than taking the one free goodie on offer before un-subscribing.

Paperback Treasure Hunt

I haven’t yet delved into the realms of paperbacks, but the time is drawing near as several people I know have asked if my work is available as an actual book. In Book Three of Inside Evil several famous spots from London and other cities will appear in the book and this got me thinking, ‘What if I hid a copy of the books at each of those locations for readers to find?‘.

My thinking is that copies of Inside Evil, The Tower of Souls and the new book would be left in paperback form at certain locations. They’d be sealed in a bag with instructions guiding people to take the book home, enjoy the read, name, date and location stamp it in the front cover, and then either return it to where they found it, or pass it on to a new reader. Or they could simply leave it somewhere for someone else to find. Over time, names and dates would fill up the covers and hopefully the books would move around the country, even the continents. Of course, some would get thrown out, some would end up on people’s dusty shelves, but I’m quite intrigued as to what could happen. It’d be like sending off a note in a bottle, or letting go off a helium filled balloon with a tag tied around its string.

Both of these ideas are still in development and I’m planning how they could be done to achieve the maximum buzz. However, I do believe that thinking outside the box is the best way to get your marketing plan noticed, and if you’re going to do something, then you may as well think big.

What are your promotional plans? Had any great ideas outside the norm to shift books?

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4 thoughts on “Book Promotion; The importance of thinking outside the box

  1. DRMarvello

    You might be interested in checking out Bookcrossing.com. They have taken the paperback treasure hunt you described and made it into an art form. You can place your books anywhere and then register them on the site. Other readers “go hunting” for books in their area, discover where you’ve placed your book, and go get it. All of this can be done for free, btw.

    You can announce treasure hunts on your blog by just linking to the book page on BookCrossing. The cool thing is that you can follow the book’s journey from one person’s hands to the next, if they follow the instructions to register their find back on the site. It’s a fun concept.

    • geoffwakeling

      THAT is a GREAT tip. One of the things I was worrying about was the fact that I wouldn’t have enough people participating to actually create the buzz. However, if Bookcrossing.com already has this sorted, it’ll be ideal place to promote. Thanks! Glad you stopped by! 🙂

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