Back in the good ole pre-pandemic days, a trip to Costco meant lots of friendly greetings to smiling staff members stationed behind little kiosks where they produced delectable free samples in the hopes of tempting you – with the sight, smell, and taste of a product – to move from sampler to buyer. When it comes to books, the free excerpt is the equivalent, and today we’re going to talk about how to make yours so delectable that buyers first stop to take a bite and then go on to buy the rest of the package!
The tips below are a recipe for book marketing success!
1. Think about the sample size and how you offer it.
Include enough to really give the reader a feel for what you can deliver with your writing. You might come up with the cut off immediately based the arc of your story, but if not, I would recommend the first three chapters. Once chapter is kind of like one corn chip. It might be good, it might set the stage, but it might not be enough to really get to “I must have more!”
Make it as easy as possible for free samplers to take you up on your offer. Multiple formats are the equivalent of the toothpick attached to the wee cube of cheese or the little white paper cup holding a snack item. Create your excerpt in multiple formats, at minimum a PDF and a MOBI file, because MOBIs can be sent to Kindle reading devices and apps, which makes reading that much simpler – and simpler means more takers!
2. Set up your back matter to sell your book.
Sample stations are always positioned near the products being sold, and the station usually displays the packaged product so that shoppers can easily make the connection. Marketing a book is also about making connections between all your efforts. You definitely want the last page of an excerpt to speak to the reader in a really personal way, and of course you want to send them to Amazon to buy the book.
This is also the place to include all your social media handles as well as a link to sign up for your newsletter. Give the reader multiple avenues for staying connected with you.
3. Consider adding additional offers to sweeten the deal.
Sometimes a sample station also contains coupons or rebate offers – and the latter is a way to get direct contact with interested consumers. Offering a bonus like an excerpt is an excellent way to market a book while also building your contact list. You should always be brainstorming additional offerings for your readers and potential buyers. Excerpts are just one option, but novellas work amazingly well, and worksheets, a series of tips, reading guides, book club resources, and character profiles are all fantastic options.
4. Offer your sample at multiple locations.
We’ve been using Costco as our analogy up to now, and while they are well-known for their samples, they are far from the only game in town. Post your excerpts on sites that allow you to tap into new reader populations: sites like Wattpad, Smashwords, and Scribd are solid places to start, but based on your genre and topic there are definitely others out there that are similar. You should also share your excerpts on social media, including your Goodreads profile and in Goodreads groups. Marketing a book on Goodreads is almost essential in today’s market, especially if you write fiction, and especially if women make up a good (if not the entire) portion of your buyer market.
5. Excitedly tell everyone you know!
Marketing a book means being shameless about asking friends and fans to share your work. Most authors I know are actually quite timid about marketing a book to current fans, family, and friends. And I get it, but I want to encourage you to push the envelope because I’d be willing to bet money you’re erring on the side of not doing enough.
So get that excerpt ready, ideally have it set up as part of a newsletter, but if that’s not your thing, use a file sharing service like Dropbox or WeTransfer and create a link to your excerpt. Then send that link around to your current list and ask them to please share the excerpt with anyone they feel would enjoy your book. Post on social, too, asking your followers to share. And work in a reminder to post a review if they haven’t yet!
Reminding people how much their support means to you really hits home, so make the most of it while marketing your book.
You’re a smart and talented creator of a superb product. Now get out there and entice readers to take a bite that’ll leave them begging for more.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller is due out in Summer 2021.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.