Market Your Book Like an Energizer Bunny or Taxi Driver!

BookMarketingBuzzBlog is a great read. If you’re an author, agent or editor, you need to subscribe to it to gain tips on how to market your book.

Brian Feinblum, who works for Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter, throws a lot of insight – with a touch of tongue in cheek — into his daily blog. It’s highly entertaining and sometimes offers nuggets of wisdom that can’t be ignored.

For example, in a recent post, he compared how a taxi driver goes about his business and how authors need to attack their publicity and marketing like taxi drivers do.

Two comments are telling:

  •  Be Assertive:   Taxi drivers are not relaxed, passive, or conservative by any stretch.  They hustle to get fares and they literally cut corners to expedite their trips so they can get a new customer.  Learn from them.  Be scrappy and aggressive. 
  • You Never Know Who You’ll Meet:   Cab drivers never know who’ll get in their cab.  It could be a celebrity, a grouch or a crazy person.  They are prepared to talk to them to find out.  You too should talk to anyone and everyone everywhere, from supermarket lines to PTA meetings.

Here’s an example of what Brian is talking about.

Helene Gaillet de Neergaard, who divides her time between Florida and New York City, is a mix between Brian’s taxi driver and the Energizer Bunny. She spent more than a year building her contact list while she wrote her memoir, I Was a War Child, the story of a little French Catholic girl who, with her family, had to flee the Nazis in World War II.

As she finished her memoir, she volunteered to handle publicity and photography for a variety of influential organizations. Pictures of important people attending functions were offered to the local news media and area/city magazines. Many of the pictures were published.  Helene had the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of everyone who was photographed. She sent copies of the photos to her subjects and then sent an email telling them when the photos were printed in the local papers.

This follow-up is important, she says, because people love to have their pictures taken (especially at dress-up events) and they love even more getting copies from the photographer. They usually sent Helene thank-you notes.

We know it takes multiple “touches,” or contacts to market a product. Count the number of personal contacts that Helene was making: Taking the picture (the first contact) became a second contact (receiving a copy of the picture), and a third contact (receiving the notice of publication), and may have turned into a fourth (the person’s thank-you note to Helene). When they later received emails promoting her book (the fifth contact), they remembered she was the person who got their picture in the paper.

Organizations asked her to attend because they wanted the free publicity services she offered. Bingo! Her list continued to grow.

Reminiscent of the familiar pink non-stop bunny endlessly beating a drum through our TV sets, she was in and out of meetings, soirees, charity events and social functions. All she asked was that she be given a credit line when a photograph was published. Result: Her name was in the paper – frequently.

The movers and shakers in town were at the top of her list. She joined the organizations with the most influence. She knew the people who made things happen, the ones who had their own long contact lists.

By the time the sales of her book were beginning to take off, she had a contact list of hundreds, maybe thousands, of names and email addresses, and then made the most of it. Invitations to charity events and parties began to flow. Remember all those free services she had provided?  It was payback time.

She sent announcements about her book to local news media, described what it was about, and provided information on her background and qualifications. They knew she was the real deal. They had been publishing her photographs for many months.

She bought wine, cheese, snack crackers and fruit and threw a swell party at her home in a beautiful location. A caterer and hostess handled the guests while she – you guessed it! – sold autographed copies of her book at the door. She reminded buyers that extra copies would make good gifts. She greeted everyone warmly, looked them in the eye and asked them to buy her book. She took cash, checks or credit cards through one of those gizmos attached to her iPhone. No paper, no fuss.

She offered herself as a guest speaker at galas and dinners where large numbers of people would attend. At one event where Helene was the featured speaker, a friend set up the familiar sales table at the door. She used her contact list to drum up attendance and used her time at the microphone to talk about her book.

She talks to book clubs.  Their members belong to other organizations that call her for personal appearances.  She always says yes.  When she speaks, she gives a five-minute synopsis of the book to remind them of the story line but then leads them into sideline stories that didn’t get in print (her uncle’s escape from a Nazi prison camp, another uncle “testing” the Demarcation Line by crossing it twice, a splash of history about pre-war and post-war France).  People who have bought her book buy more copies for friends and family.

Two of her neighbors invited girlfriends over and asked her to drop in to say hello.  Of course, she took along books to sell.  She read a five-minute synopsis of the book.  They asked her a hundred questions.  One group of four bought six books.  Another group of five friends bought eight.

She printed flyers, posters and cards promoting her book and telling people how and where to buy it. At luncheons, she passes out cards with a graphic of her book cover and contact information on it.  She emails, she blogs, she Tweets, she does it all.

She has charmed an eclectic mix of people from New York to Florida and has succeeded in getting them to talk about her book, too. She knows lawyers, doctors, architects, media people, film makers, teachers, you name it. Everyone she meets connects her to someone else. Now, she’s beginning to talk about movie rights…

We don’t know yet how many books she will sell, but we do know that during the first six months after publication, Helene personally — without the aid of a publisher or marketing professional — is selling copies like mad.  The lesson is important. It takes hustle to introduce and sell a new book.

When your manuscript is being reviewed by a publisher, the editor will ask what kind of marketing platform you have. Helene is a good example of what they are seeking. You’ll also find many such ideas and examples in Brian Feinblum’s blog.  Sign up, and he’ll inspire you each day. It’s free!

— Carol H. Green

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