I need advice on how to advertise a book
March 5, 2017 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a small advertising budget to promote a book. How should I spend it?

My friend was a major player in a significant historical event. He wrote a wonderful book about his experiences. This was published in the 70s, and has not been published again since.

A group of us got together to republish the book as an e-book, which we are pricing at the minimum. We did a fundraiser to pay for the conversion, and we have $75 left over. We want to spend this on advertising.

My friend was famous at the time, but few remember him now. The book is largely forgotten, but it has a significant cult following. We were able to get blurb quotes from some big names, so we could use those in advertising.

We have a social media presence for the book already, and in the long-term we hope to also distribute a completely free version of the book on sites like Project Gutenberg. And when the book is launched, we'll send out a press release to some media contacts we know will be interested.

What would be a good use of the $75? I realize it's not a large amount, but it's what we have and I want to spend it responsibly.
posted by Surprised By Bees to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Does he have a dedicated author site? If it were my book, I would focus on free ways of driving interest towards a decent-looking page that coordinates the social media presence and offers additional content. $75 would cover some setup costs.
posted by notquitemaryann at 6:11 PM on March 5

My friend is older, and doesn't really use the Internet. So we've made a social media presence for him. We do have a nice, professional website about him, but I hadn't been thinking of it as integral to the book marketing effort. How should we integrate the website with the Facebook and Twitter to promote the book?
posted by Surprised By Bees at 6:20 PM on March 5

Just $75? I would throw it entirely at "boosting" whatever Facebook post you put up when the ebook launches.
posted by kylej at 6:36 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]

Are people still blogging about the event or talking about it on social media? Contact those people and offer them free copies for review. Then buy some sponsored ads keyed on the author's name - if people read the reviews and search for his name as a result, they'll find it. Or boost Facebook postings as kylej suggests.

If your rights to the book allow it, you might set up an option to get it in print format from a print-on-demand company like Lulu. If it's going to be mostly of interest to older readers, quite a few of them will be less interested in an electronic version.
posted by Candleman at 6:40 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]

Is the friend somewhere where they could actually make money doing speaking gigs for people who are interested in this specific thing? Are they interested in that? Do they want to do anything personally w/r/t this project? What do they want out of this? A few suggestions

- change the website to indicate if they do speaking stuff, add an excerpt, maybe an FAQ about the event generally. Make sure the main page has a prominent BUY button
- go through the book to get some quotable bits out of it. When you put them on social media make sure you @ other related people
- promoted FB posts and ads actually have decent impact because you can niche target them
- send press releases to relevant websites that might reach his cult following and offer the option to do some personal Q&A stuff (if possible)
- make sure you send press releases to libraries and/or see if you can get distribution through some of the larger ebook distributors to libraries
- make sure you do social media posts on every relevant anniversary of this historical event (you can queue them up in advance)
- see if there are special photos or other stuff (stuff not in the book, primary source stuff) that you could use and sort of mete out in dribs and drabs over time
posted by jessamyn at 7:00 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

I recently did some promoting of a book I wrote. Here are some things I did that were effective:

1. Researched and identified blogs on related interests, messaged them and asked if they'd review for a free copy. Then, sent them a free copy.
2. Researched and identified podcasts on related interests, and offered them an interview/feature, etc.
3. Started an FB page that works as a community - so, doesn't just promote the book, but links to related projects and causes and cross-posts items of interest to readers of the book
4. Same for Twitter - create either an account or a hashtag or both that are specific to the book, and start to build a following by using the hashtag/following accounts which it might be relevant to
5. Shamelessly asked friends to post/write about it
6. Submitted conference proposals about the topic
7. Developed a couple canned talks to give about it and offered those on my website
posted by Miko at 7:53 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]

You've successfully made me really interested in knowing the topic of the book, so congratulations on your first marketing coup!

Not related to your budget—necessarily—but turning this story into a press release that tells bloggers exactly the kind of article they can write about this could be very helpful. It's hard to be more specific without knowing how your friend was famous, how relevant the event is now, etc., but if your press release can fit the story into a common, popular blogging frame, and you pitch it to the right venues, you'll be in business.
posted by Polycarp at 11:28 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]

Thank you very much, everyone. This is all very helpful. Some of this we're doing already, but there's some suggestions here I can act on.

Jessamyn, thank you for the suggestion about libraries. I know how to send a press release, but I'm not sure who I should be emailing if I want to reach libraries. Are there specific organizations that I should be sending a press release to?

My friend's health doesn't allow him to do public speaking anymore, but he can do interviews. I think he just wants the book to be read, and to raise awareness about the political issues involved. We will send out a press release stating his availability for interviews.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 12:40 PM on March 6

he can do interviews

IS there a community radio station or a college radio station near you?

Your local/state NPR news group might also be interested, depending on the topic.
posted by Miko at 1:37 PM on March 6

I know how to send a press release, but I'm not sure who I should be emailing if I want to reach libraries. Are there specific organizations that I should be sending a press release to?

Your state library association and any library associations in states affected by $ISSUE. They all have mailing lists. Ours, in Vermont, is an open list that anyone can subscribe to, for example. If the goal is not to make money you could offer free downloads. There also may be specific library groups around the specific issue (feel free to PM me) if it's one that is broad like feminist, Black rights, Native or tribal issues, that sort of thing. I'd be happy to point you in the right direction.
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on March 6

Thanks everyone – I put the money in boosting the Facebook post, and that seemed successful.

The book has had a very successful launch, and I'll keep following the suggestions here to keep things going.

Special thanks to Jessamyn for going above and beyond.
posted by Surprised By Bees at 6:07 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

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