By Ted Witt
Your book is competing with more than seven million others in today’s market. That number is so large we cannot even imagine the space that many books would take up. The odds of someone finding your book by chance are about half the odds of winning the biggest jackpot from the California State Lottery. How close have you come to winning the California State Lottery?
Books must be discoverable. While good metadata and traditional marketing will score you some sales, it remains difficult to peddle your book based on a good title, an appealing cover and promotional materials that brag, “This is a great story.” There are millions of great stories.
One solution employed by a growing number of indie publishers is a focus on building long-term customer relationships and offering value-added content. This is what is starting to distinguish successful indie publishers from those with scattered sales. Your book by itself is not value enough.
Look around. People pay attention when you satisfy a need, arouse their curiosity and deliver something free.
What are the pre-sale, value add-ons that can drive people to your platform? Usually they involve some sort of author-generated tool, expert advice or entertainment – all of which are cheaper than a brass ring in a box of Cracker Jacks, but still costly in an author’s time and in maintenance of the author’s media platform.
Do not get left behind. Brainstorm what value add-ons you can deliver to your potential readers. Once you have created your value add-on, always provide a link back to your book and the opportunity to buy.
To get you started, here are 25 ideas:
- 1. How-To Advice in a Pamphlet: Your book is about newly wedded bliss; you create a pamphlet for couples that gives advice on splitting your time between respective families on Christmas Day.
- 2. An Excel Spreadsheet: Your book is about getting a good mortgage; you offer a spreadsheet that calculates monthly payments and an amortization schedule.
- 3. A Free E-book: Your book is a historical novel; you create a 32-page e-book or PDF with pictures from the era.
- 4. An Interactive Bookmark: Your book is about astrology; you create bookmarks with a Lottery-like scratch off that reveals insights into reading the stars.
- 5. A You Tube Video: You have developed a collection of recipes; you create a video demonstrating you cooking one of the dishes and solving real-life kitchen problems.
- 6. An ITunes Play List: Your book is about exercise and conditioning; you create a play list of songs for the advanced, intermediate and beginner exerciser in a variety of musical genres.
- 7. A Lesson Plan: You published a picture book for children; you create a lesson plan for teachers that aligns with curriculum standards for various grade levels.
- 8. A Podcast: You have written a mystery novel; you upload a Podcast containing your interview with a real police detective about police procedures.
- 9. On-Line Reviews: You have written a travelogue; you post on-line reviews of the hotels you stayed at and reference the restaurants that are fully described in your book.
- 10. Infographic: You have published a set of political essays; you create an iPhone-friendly infographic with charts and graphs about homelessness, the deficit, Pentagon spending, PELL grants, health care – well, you get the idea…any topic works.
- 11. Craft Instructions: You have written a how-to book on knitting; you create detailed instructions on your blog for a Christmas knitting project that is not in your book.
- 12. Op-Ed Articles: You have written a book about medical dosage calculations; you write an op-ed piece for a newspaper revealing your research on how many deaths are attributable to improper dosages of medicine.
- 13. TV Interview: You have written a science fiction thriller; you set yourself up as the expert for TV stations, explaining how attendees can get the most out of Westercon when it comes to Sacramento, Loscon when it comes to Los Angeles, or Rustycon when it comes to Seattle.
- 14. Business Card Backs: You have written a romance novel; the back of your business cards contains a link to the Top Ten Love Scenes in Romance Literature (of course, a scene from your book is in the top ten).
- 15. Post Cards: You have written a high-action military thriller; you send postcards to your niche audience picturing a high -tech gun. The post contains a link to your website showing photographs of all the high tech weapons that have a role in your novel.
- 16. Surveys: You have written a book on etiquette; you pose provocative questions on Survey Monkey and offer readers the option to help set the standard for modern manners or ethical dilemmas.
- 17. Facebook: You have written a book for women on accessorizing their wardrobes; you offer the opportunity for your friends to be the fashion police by posting side-by-side photos on Facebook, and then you ask fans to comment on which accessory works and why or why not.
- 18. Twitter: You have created a puzzle book; you pose a riddle in a 140-character Tweet and link back to the answer on your book page.
- 19. Linked In: You have written a business book about setting up a small business; you create a group within the Linked In community and answer questions weekly from small business owners.
- 20. Creative Commons License: You have written a book of poetry; you offer a web page that grants a creative common license to use a handful of your poems on a potential customer’s own homemade greeting cards.
- 21. Direct Mail Thank You: You have illustrated a children’s book; you send a thank-you packet to your existing customers that contains a limited edition postcard depicting a holiday theme you have drawn. You encourage customers to send a serendipitous note to a friend by mailing the free postcard.
- 22. Point-of-Sale Cards: You have written a book about a horse; you create an 8.5” x 3.6” glossy card that offers tips on how to go about a horse adoption. You place these at local feed stores and tack shops.
- 23. Stickers: You have written a book about UFOs; you create stickers that say, “This money won’t help you if you are abducted by aliens.” You place the sticker on every dollar bill you circulate.
- 24. Stock Art: You have published a gift book about cats; you use your website to offer free photographs and quotations that people can use to convey a greeting on Facebook.
- 25. Coupons: You are published in a literature anthology; you offer your fans a coupon for a free signed poster (suitable for framing) and a book discount.
Your work as an author does not end when you publish your book. Your writing and your creativity are essential to making your book discoverable.
Ted Witt is a publisher, working at Pretty Road Press, an indie imprint located in Folsom, California.