How do I promote this book online?
June 19, 2006 4:14 AM   Subscribe

Creative ways to promote a self-published book online without spamming? (UK)

So I've agreed to help a friend promote his self-published (comedy fiction) book online. He has a website I can point people to, and they can order via Paypal (he would prefer orders from the UK, and non-UK people are unlikely to get most of the jokes anyway).

What I don't have is an ISBN and/or Amazon. I also don't have permission to use the whole text, so can't send it anywhere for a review.

So far I've posted on some book forums that specifically invite new authors to introduce their works, and I've added him to places like Spoiled Ink, Debbie's Idea and StumbleUpon. Oh and I've created a MySpace profile for him (shush). I've also "joined the discussion" in some forums where I think people could be interested, with his site in my sig (but this is already veering towards spamming really).

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what else I could do. Ideally I'd like people to actually order the book, but strictly speaking as long as he gets the hits on his site my work is done.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
posted by ClarissaWAM to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I also don't have permission to use the whole text, so can't send it anywhere for a review.

Can this policy be changed?
posted by edd at 4:43 AM on June 19, 2006

Make part of it available for free download, if you haven't done that already. There's no way people will buy a self-published book from an unknown author without getting hooked on it somehow first. You can then also let relevant sites know and they'll feel they're giving their readers a freebee by linking to it.
posted by malevolent at 5:06 AM on June 19, 2006

I am the co-author of two published books. Although they were published by a reasonably big publishing house, we have had to do a good chunk of the PR ourselves, which I gather is pretty typical.

Here are some things we've done:

1. We tried to make a website that would be fun in and of itself, even if you don't read the book. Our first book was called "The Government Manual for New Superheroes," so we created a fake website for the Government Bureau of Superheroics, complete with a fake history of the Bureau, a biography of the Undersecretary of Superheroics, etc. The idea was to flesh out the world behind the book.
(The site is here, if you are interested. Self-link, obviously... Actually, all the links that follow are going to be self-links. I'm not trying to be self-promotional but it seems like having concrete examples would be genuinely helpful for this question.)

2. We tried to come up with clever ways of getting people to e-mail their friends about the site and to link to it on their own websites. We created a simple text-based superhero challenge, where you can e-mail a challenge to a friend. To respond to the challenge, the friend clicks on a link in the e-mail which takes them back to the website. We also came up with two kinds of "badges" that folks could display on their own websites, with links back to our site: a Homeland Security-type "supervillain threat monitor" and an "officially registered superhero" badge.

3. We paid attention to where our hits are coming from, and we have a regular google search going. When we find a thread on a message board discussing our site, we sometimes join the board and contribute positively to the discussion.

Basically, what it comes down to is that you have to put yourself in the mind of a random websurfer. Why would they want to come to your friend's site? "Because they want to learn about his book" isn't a good answer, since the whole point of the site is to introduce the book to people who know nothing about it.

Finally, one non-web-related thing. Our publisher took out an ad in Radio & TV Interview Report (RTIR), which is a resource a lot of TV and radio stations use to find talk show guests. We ended up getting a bunch of interviews with drive-time radio shows all around America. Again, you have to put yourself in the mind of your target audience here. A talk show host has no interest in promoting your book; he wants to entertain or inform his guests. So, if your friend goes the RTIR route, make sure he crafts his ad to make him sound like an informative and/or entertaining guest.
posted by yankeefog at 8:18 AM on June 19, 2006

Thanks for your suggestions everyone! I have asked about the review thing but he seems reluctant.

The site does contain a (very lengthy) extract of the book and I've used that elsewhere too.

Thanks so much for your lengthy reply yankeefog. Your site is very cool and yes I've read similar suggestions elsewhere, unfortunately he'll probably find that too much hassle. Maybe I can convince him to do it myself and then I could put it in my web design portfolio too...

Thanks again everyone!
posted by ClarissaWAM at 8:55 AM on June 19, 2006

Publish magazine's How-To: Self-Publishing with Publishing On Demand has a good overview of self-publishing services. The New York Times' How to Be Your Own Publisher.

According to the Times article, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris are the top three self-publishers. Lulu is featured in the Publish article. Most self-publishing companies will assign ISBNs for a fee.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:59 AM on June 19, 2006

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