How this self-help author sold 6,000 print-on-demand books
Focusing on word of mouth helped keep marketing costs to a minimum
From Book Marketing Update newsletter, click here to subscribe
Selling 6,000 books is decent for any self-published author. But when you sell 6,000 print-on-demand books, that’s even more impressive. Carol Tuttle did just that -- and the best part is she spent almost no money on marketing, relying instead on word-of-mouth to help overcome the inherent disadvantage of not having her books on the shelf of most bookstores. Here’s how she did it.
Get your book into reader’s -- not reviewer’s -- hands. Tuttle knew that once people read her book, they’d be so impressed that they’d recommend it to others. This was the focus of her strategy -- creating word of mouth and letting other people sell the book for her. “It’s great to have reviews and get the industry interested in your book,” says Tuttle, “but ultimately you have to get the book in the hands of readers.”
Seed your market. Tuttle began her strategy by buying 400 books from her publisher at a 45% discount. She then resold them to some clients of her private alternative therapy office. The rest, she gave to people she knew would spread the word. “I gave the books to key people I knew would love it.” She knew that these key people would, in turn, become a mini-marketing force. She also placed copies of her book in other places where people likely to be interested in its topic would frequent, such as waiting rooms at alternative-healing centers.
Your book can’t look like a self-published book. Tuttle is adamant that if you want your book to be taken seriously, it can’t look like a self-published book. She studied other books in her genre and noticed that for most of them, the most prominent feature on the cover was a headshot of the author. Because of this, she spent a considerable amount of money ($400) simply making sure she got a high-quality headshot to use for her own cover. She spent more money on this than on any other part of her marketing except for the design of her Web site.
Your book can’t read like a self-published book. If you can tell a self-published book by its cover, you can also tell a self-published book by what’s inside. All too often, the lack of editing that tends to go along with self-publishing kills your credibility. Tuttle subjected her book to the scrutiny of eight different editors (all friends and associates) who helped her catch any glaring mistakes and tighten up the text.
Develop local relationships. As mentioned above, Tuttle began her marketing campaign by distributing and selling her books to key people in her geographic area. Eventually, one of those people gave her book to the regional manager of a major bookstore chain who booked Tuttle for nine appearances at various bookstores in the region. She was also able to convince the owner of a health-food store in her area, who also happens to host a local radio show, to have her on the show and host events at his store. She sold several hundred books this way. That may not seem like a lot, but when you’re talking about building momentum with a non-traditional book like a POD, starting locally, developing a reputation, and then branching out can often be the best way to go.
Market your book without ever leaving home. Especially for a POD book, online marketing makes a tremendous amount of sense. Readers comfortable using the Internet won’t have a problem going directly to the Web to order your book, and it’s one way to get exposure nationally (and even internationally) without ever leaving home. One strategy that was successful for Tuttle involved setting up online chat sessions on sites like About.com. She searched for moderators who might be interested in her topic, such as depression and alternative healing, and asked if they’d be interested in reviewing her book or hosting an event. This led to an ongoing relationship where Tuttle was able to market her books directly to people online and send them to her Web site where they could purchase the book or her higher-priced CD package.
For more information about Carol Tuttle and her book, “Remembering Wholeness: A Personal Handbook for Thriving in the 21st Century, visit her Web site at www.caroltuttle.com.
This article originally appear in John Kremer’s Book Marketing Update, a twice-monthly monthly newsletter that covers major media publicity opportunities for authors as well
as case histories of successful book promotion campaigns. For subscription info, plus a transcript of John’s recent telephone seminar on “What Bestselling Authors Do Differently,”