I just got an email from Tim Ferriss with his latest stunt: “Opening the Kimono to 200 People and Baring It All”. After proving that he knows how to make a bestselling book marketing campaign, with two books as long term New York Bestsellers, everybody wants to know Tim’s promotion secrets. And for the first time, he’s revealing it all at a special, private, 200-people only get together – for $7000 a head (that’s 1.4million dollars extra for Tim). I’m jealous. And intimidated. How can a regular little guy like me, who has to struggle to pay the bills and find time to write, afford that kind of publicity?
Here’s a few tips:
1) Do stupid stuff that will go viral. Preparing for his first book, Tim had to get famous, quick. He made several vids of him doing anything he knew how to do: peeling an egg without breaking the shell, losing weight quickly, a silly balancing the fork on a cup magic trick. It wasn’t about content, it was about visibility.
2) Become a star. Tim knew that he had to get FAMOUS to have a best-selling book. The author IS the package. Besides a great title and a great idea (which are critical), personality of the author is next most important – much more important than, say, how good the book actually is (not a slur on Tim’s writing, which I enjoy).
3) Write how-to tips about what people want to know. Have a blog? Don’t just use it to talk about yourself all the time. 75% of the time offer CONTENT that people are looking for (even if it’s not related directly related to what you do). Give away free content. 25% of the time promote yourself and products. Blogging is free. But keep in mind who you’re writing for and how they will benefit from it. (Fiction writers will need to get creative, usually by offering writing or publishing tips).
4) Focus on benefits: Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich… Who wouldn’t that appeal to?
5) Use bloggers. Bloggers are much easier to get in touch with than big media. Contact some that may be interested in your book with good PR and readers. Tell them that you have a book they may be interested in, and offer to send it to them. Don’t ask for a review/blog post right away. Just a friendly email saying hi, offer them the book with no strings. If they appreciate the offer and like the idea, later you can remind them to please post something online or mention it on their blog. (Guest posting is more complex than this and really depends on developing a relationship, and offering value. So don’t just spam bloggers with emails about your book. They need more great traffic: try to make their lives easier and their blogs more profitable.)
5) Give away your book for free. The reason I usually recommend the free book (online version) is that, in some cases, it can work. If you offer your book for free, people will be appreciative. More people will try it out or share it. You’ll get more reviews, more quickly. However – giving away the milk for free may not make people want to buy the cow. It’s probably a better idea to create demand and give away only a few free chapters. But – you could offer some popular bloggers to share an ‘exclusive’ link to your full ebook, so that you can create a buzz. Update: go with a section of the first couple chapters, not the whole thing. Also develop some shorter ebooks that you can give away…
6) Advertising. Don’t advertise too much or too early. Get a buzz first. Get a lot of positive amazon reviews first and some online support, with bloggers writing about you. Once all that is in place, advertise HARD for a few days to 1 week. Spend more for top placed advertising. Aim to be EVERYWHERE online for 1 week. Unfortunately, this could be too expensive. Check out blogads.com or projectwonderful.com for cheap ads.
7) Use fiverr.com for creative promotion. Some things I’ve found on fiverr.com: you can get university students all over to post fliers of your book around their campus; you can get a guy in a chicken suit to promote your book; you can get a picture of your book next to famous landmarks or cute dogs and babies; you can get video testimonials; you can get people with lots of twitter or facebook fans to promote your book for you. There are a ton of options, for only $5 each. Choose a few and do them hard – that’s a lot of cheap publicity!
Sure it would be easier to do with more money – but it is possible, with persistence, to get the word out and grow a name for yourself. Become a best-selling author with new media, and prove that you it can pay to be an indie author.
I wrote this post about a year ago and I’ve learned a lot about book marketing since then. The game is changing and there are new tools, so you may want to read more recent posts or subscribe to Creativindie. I’ll also be giving out a free book marketing guide to subscribers soon, full of powerful promotion secrets.