Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giving Away 3,000 Copies of a Book, Part 1

Welcome back!

This season has been busier than I expected. What happened to the lazy days of summer? You may not have all day to spend, here in the coffee shop, but I hope you stay long enough to read about my unexpected marketing plan.
  • Marketing a book can be expensive.
  • An emerging author who personally publishes a book has a high barrier to getting out the word.
That sums up everything I knew about marketing when I published Changing Me, Change the World with WestBow Press, last December. Granted, part of the publishing package I purchased contained marketing elements, but the marketing elements were the most basic ones. I received worldwide channel distribution, book representatives working to sell to Christian book buyers, and an ad in their catalog. Because I was one of WestBow Press' first five customers, Changing Me, Change the World was available on Amazon.com in January, but the book was publicized only in WestBow Press' on-line bookstore until their spring catalog was issued. (I won't see any results from that publicity for at least another month.)

When I wrote a proposal for my book in the querying stage, I identified actions that I would take to market Changing Me, Change the World if I could find a publisher:
  • Schedule book signings at the bookstores in the area
  • Read book selections in public libraries
  • Seek opportunities to speak in other churches
  • Solicit interviews with the local newspaper's religious editor and/or books editor
  • Exhibit and sell books at the state book festival
  • Solicit an interview on the local Christian radio station

I intended to use this list as a basic marketing plan when I personally published the book. Then, I sprained my knee – twice in two weeks – and that delayed all my plans. It also gave God time to get my attention.

Through a series of circumstances (as in God providing the money and the opportunity), I was able to purchase 3,000 copies of Changing Me, Change the World. (WestBow Press does not require an author to purchase books, but they give an author the opportunity to buy copies of the book at a graduated discount. The way discount pricing for an author is structured, I had just enough money to buy 3,000 copies, but not fewer.)

So here I sat - an emerging author with no platform, a sprained knee, and 3,000 books.

Before I purchased the books, I knew that I bought them to give away, even though conventional wisdom says that giving away my book would devalue it. (One of my foundational beliefs is that I can't out-give God.) If God wanted me to bless people by giving them copies of Changing Me, Change the World, then giving away 3,000 copies would not devalue the book. Instead it would be the perfect way to promote my book and send out the message He gave me.

My biggest problem is that I don't know 3,000 people! In spite of that, I've given away 2,171 copies of the book in fifteen weeks. Next time, I'll share some of the things I've done to reach that point.

While you're waiting, if you want to help me reach my goal of giving away 3,000 copies, you can ask for one or more copies. Just send me an email (lynndaell [at] live [dot] com), with "Coffee House" in the subject line and your name and mailing address in the body of the message.

And as always, keep writing.

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