BOOK PROMOTION 101: From the Stakeout to the Kill

by | Sep 20, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Or:  Secrets from a Self-Promoting Slut

Film poster for The Greatest Story Ever Told
Image via Wikipedia

Okay, here’s the deal. We have to promote ourselves! There’s only one person who knows the book and thinks it’s the Greatest Story Ever Told; and that person is the author. I have no shame when it comes to promoting, selling or getting in someone’s face (or dinner plate) to sell my book.

The first thing I did after my cover was designed was to design and make a bookmark.  It was easy. All I had to do was set my margins on my word document to the size of a normal bookmark (2″x7″) and then start typing… In this laugh-out-loud memoir, Dodie Cross… yada, yada, yada. You’d a thought I had just been awarded the Pulitzer by the way I bragged. But, why not? Whose going to walk up to you and say: “Hey, I read your book, and it wasn’t a ‘Laugh out loud.'”

Next I called around and got some quotes on 500 bookmarks; some prices were higher than my mortgage payment, some companies took six weeks to deliver. Then I found Office Depot. They were fast, did the work in-house, and the bookmarks turned out lovely! Then I began my attack:

A book with a bound bookmark
Image via Wikipedia

The Stakeout: Every time I left the house I made sure I had at least 50 bookmarks stuffed into my purse. The second I saw a straggler, a woman sitting alone, two or more women together, or husband and wife, I began reaching into my purse. “Hi,” I’d say, giving my best local author smile, “I’m a local author and this is a bookmark for you.” “Oh, thanks,” most would mutter as they haltingly accepted it, hoping I wasn’t a rabid cult member trying to lure them into my church.

A glass of port wine.
Image via Wikipedia

The Assault: I can’t tell you how many times my cheapo little cards sold a book for me.  In restaurants: I’d scope out the room looking for happy faces – crinkles around the eyes shows a propensity for laughing; women chattering over a glass of wine (I always approach drinkers, they’re happy people). I’ve left the restaurant with two people trailing me to my car for an on-the-spot purchase. I suspect it might have looked like some sort of a drug-buy, but hey, you’ve got to market at any cost!  On airplanes: I walk the aisles looking for women reading. They’re easy prey. “Hi,” I say brightly as I check out the name of the book they’re reading. “You look like you’d enjoy this type of book,” as I insert a bookmark into their book. There’s really no way to avoid a sales pitch on a plane. Where are they gonna go to get away from you?

At the post office: Lines of women, just waiting to get their minds off of the dreary duty of picking up “held” bills. I think they’re the easiest marks. They have no book with them; they are bored beyond endurance; and their eyes light up when I tell them that the back of my bookmark is “for women only.” Then I lurk just outside the door, knowing I’ve interested a few of them, and sure enough, I have captured at least one to three bored housewives longing for some excitement in their lives, and honey, I tell them, this book will do it. Once I ran out of bookmarks before the line of women ran out, and I actually had a lady look ticked off. “Where’s mine?” she asked. Doctor’s offices: Another sure-fire captive audience. They’re all reading; either books or magazines left over from the pterodactyl period or boring health leaflets. “Hi,” I say, giving them the “local author” bit, “I’ll bet this book might be more interesting than reading about the heartbreak of seborrhea and psoriasis.”

Coming in for the Kill – The Guarantee: “This is a woman’s book,” I tell them. “Very funny, fast reading, and if you don’t laugh out loud I’ll refund your money.” “Oh!” some would reply, suddenly interested. “Well, gee. Okay. Um, where can I get it?” they’d ask while turning the card over and reading the hilarious synopsis I devised to trap such hold-outs. “Well, if you’re interested in saving some money in shipping and handling costs, I have copies in my car for just your type of smart shopper. Plus, I can autograph it for you if you purchase it right now.” I do believe I have sold more from my trunk than from my website.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this airy persiflage is: don’t be a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism. Get out and be a self-promoting slut!

Guest post written by Dodie Cross, author of the laugh out loud A Broad Abroad in Thailand. Learn more about Dodie and her books at

Enhanced by Zemanta

1 Comment

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *