Should You Give Away Copies of Your Book?Posted by Susan Carter
I had a lengthy discussion last week with a colleague of mine, Edward, about giving away copies of a new book. Although he’s been a businessman for more than 10 years, he is about to become a first-time author of a business-related book slated for publication by late summer.
We were discussing the time commitment, money and frustration invested in transforming a good manuscript into a great book and preparing it for publication. I congratulated him on sticking with it and knuckling through the “I want to quit” feelings that pulse through the veins—however fleeting—of nearly every author I know. And when I asked how many copies he plans to give away, he answered, “Twenty.”
I thought he was kidding but, the more I searched his face for signs of jocularity, the more it became clear that he wasn’t about to show any.
“I put a lot into creating that book,” he said, “and I’m not going to just hand out free copies.”
We authors place a high value on the fruits of our hard and arduous labor. It takes discipline. It takes commitment. It takes months to complete the manuscript, and then it takes another month or two to get through the rewrites, editing and finalizing. By the time the book rolls off the production line, we think that every copy should be worth its weight in gold and, except for our parents, our spouse, and a handful of high profile reviewers, we expect people to pay the meager price indelibly stamped onto its back cover.
Is that tactic really in your best interest? In my opinion, rarely (if ever).
The reality is that, no matter what value we place on creating the book, it is the potential customer who will determine its real value. It’s our job to get it in the hands of the people who can help us broadcast the news of that value. Below are just a few reasons to consider giving away LOTS of copies of your book:
Niche reviews generate highly targeted promotion with high ROI.
Every author “reaches for the stars” by sending book copies to high profile reviewers in general book review venues. There’s nothing wrong with reaching for the stars but, if you also seek out smaller publications, newsletters, and magazines that are targeted to your specific niche topic, you increase your chance of generating more sales.
Influence the influencers for bulk sales.
Reviewers are “influencers” because they reach a wide audience of potential buyers. But reviewers are just one type of influencer and they typically only generate single book sales from readers. Consider other kinds of influencers that could lead to quantity sales from a single buyer. For example, perhaps your book would do well as recommended reading for a college class or business training. Do a little research and send copies to the people who help make those decisions.
Swap your business card with your book to gain new clients.
If you rely heavily on attracting new clients to hire your services, instead of handing someone your business card, hand them your book. You’ve just upped your WOW factor and beat the competition with an incomparable credential. If you can gain a few thousand dollars worth of work in exchange for a $15 book, is it worth giving away a freebie?
Entice readers-turned-buyers with chapter excerpts.
Do you have a website? Offer a few free book chapters in PDF format (no cost to you) in exchange for a visitor’s email address that is placed into an autoresponder email series. Use the email series to 1) deliver the free chapters, 2) send follow up emails to solicit feedback (and sales), and 3) build a list of potential buyers for your NEXT book!
After sharing some of these ideas with Edward, he began to see that giving away copies of his book—in the right way and to the right people—had the potential of attracting massive exposure and a handful of high-paying clients.
So… how can YOU leverage the power of giving away your published book?