Does that mean that having a person dressed as a nun telling people what your book is about will turn your book into a bestseller? Probably not. But guerrilla marketing—the idea of using a small amount of money to do something unconventional—should be a part of every writer’s book marketing strategy.
Here are five tips to consider as you develop your campaign:
Weird for the Sake of Weird Is Weird
At first glance, it might sound funny when you log onto a website and see that for only five bucks, you can get someone to sing about your book, while hula hooping, in a bikini—but avoid the temptation of hiring that person to market your book. Weird is fine, and weird can work, but there has to be a reason for it.
Be Careful of the “Expert”
The rise of freelancing websites has made it possible for anyone to say they are an expert. The trouble is many are not. If you are considering hiring a marketer or publicist, you can find plenty on the cheap—but more often than not, they’re cheap for a reason. As you go through the process of selecting someone to help you, make sure you see their track record—who have they worked for, and, if possible, talk to a few authors who have worked with them. Consider also using freelance marketplaces like Reedsy, which is more focused on the publishing industry. Or better still, ask your friends in the publishing industry for recommendations and pay attention to experts recommended by publishing associations or established industry publications.
When It Comes to Likes Think Quality Over Quantity
For just a few dollars, you can get 10,000 people to follow you on Twitter. Never mind the fact that the people aren’t real. There’s plenty of self-described influencers—people who say, “I’ll promote your book to my 250,000 followers.” Don’t take the bait! You are better off spending a few dollars getting your messages out to a few dozen people who might actually buy your book than thousands who won’t. A targeted audience is the best audience. In the case of buying followers, you might even get banned. While it might sound impressive to say you have 15,000 followers, it will come back to haunt you. The only way to build your platform is organically.
Promotional Items That People Want
Hosting a giveaway with a $50 Kindle Fire? It will get people to enter, for sure, but the Kindle Fire is an easy-to-find product that many people already have. In short, nobody gets excited for that giveaway. But doing a giveaway for a $60 NES Classic, which is much harder to find—that’s going to do better. If your book is a history of Nintendo, then, by all means, do it! But remember you want people to enter that might ultimately buy your book, so make sure you’re doing a giveaway that’s going after the right audience. Ask yourself who your audience is, and what can you offer them that will make them enthusiastic. Offering them something that is in no way related to your book is a good way to get people who are only in it for the prize and don't actually care what your book is about. Once again, a targeted audience is the best audience.
Think Outside the Bookstore
Bookstores are the obvious setting for author readings—but obvious isn’t always the best. Think about settings that might tie into your book. Years ago, when Neal Pollack released his first book, "The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature," he did a reading in the bathroom of a train station; 15 people showed up to the reading, but the story of an author doing a reading in a bathroom went viral and helped sell more books. It worked for Pollack in part because the book was a humor book. A train station bathroom probably won’t help your book sell more copies, but remember: bookstores aren’t the only place for a reading.
Let me know if you try any of the tactics listed here and how they work for you.
To Your Success,