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Pointers on publishing: Why should I give my book away?

Published:Sunday | November 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Corine La Font, Contributor

You must think I am crazy when I say that, right? After all the time, effort - and let's not forget the money - you spent to get the book published, why am I telling you to give your book away? Well, there is a method to the madness, and, behind everything you do in marketing, there should be a strategy.

Let's start off with what I mean, or even easier, what I don't mean by "giving the book away". It does not mean, that you will be taking the entire book and saying to everyone, "Hey! I am giving away my book for free! come and get it!", although that strategy can work for a limited time in special instances, and I will show you how.

Give the whole book away!

If you have an online book or book and you are listed on Amazon, you have the option to check in a box that you want your book to be involved in the KIP Select programme. This programme allows your book to be a part of the lending library, which simply means that over a 90-day period, Amazon allows you five days out of those 90 days to offer your book for free to your audience, and this rotates every 90 days.

What's the benefit of doing this? For those who couldn't afford to buy the book, or did not get the time to purchase the book, here is their opportunity to get to know you and your book at no loss to them. Some authors may even use one book as a giveaway to sell another! If they like the book, they will create a buzz about it and recommend your book to their other friends in the network. Before you know it, when the price tag is on the book again, your audience will be more than willing to buy the book, based on a friends' recommendation. Oh the power of referral marketing!

Another approach to giving your book away is as an opt-in. An opt-in allows visitors to your website to give their name and email address in return for something of perceived value and for free. In this case, you can decide to give away a chapter of your book, a worksheet, some resources like web links, how-to articles, special report, or an audio clip. The options are endless. I like this approach because there is a strategy behind it. You are giving away something for something else in return - their email and names. That way, you can build a relationship with your audience over time, also called building your list, which is critical to your marketing endeavours. It is also wise to periodically change your offers for the opt-in so that it does not get stale and your list can always get fresh and current information from you.

Quell the sceptics

When we want to buy something, don't we want to have a sample first? You know this to be true. Supermarkets do it. They have tasting stations in their aisles to promote their products and when the street vendor wants to sell his guinea, he has a separate bunch to offer a taste, so why not with books? What sampling does is allow, the audience to get a first glance, feel, or taste or, in this case, read, of what you offer in your book; enough content to have them say, "I can see the value this will bring to me and my life". The goal is to get people to talk about your book. That's all you need as an author and the rest will follow. And, of course, as with any approach like this, once you like what you have read, you will tell others. It's human nature to spread the word by mouth. Hence word-of-mouth marketing being as famous as it is as a powerful yet cheap marketing medium.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Some of you may be thinking this, and you may be right. Why should I buy the book when I can just wait till the book is offered for free?

While that might be so, it may take some time before the book is offered for free, and as mentioned above, the entire book does not have to be given away in all instances. You must decide what is of value to you and what something can do for you once you have it in your possession. It can be used to go back to as many times as you wish when you want to refresh your mind or remind yourself of the goals you set for yourself. Having the book in hand, even though it is priced, is well worth it. It is yours, it can be signed by the author, if it is a printed book, which adds even greater value and becomes one of your treasures. So don't compromise because you are cheap! Go out there, buy the book and leave a testimonial or review so that others can benefit from the value being offered.

Leverage the power of free!

Many authors have done it and some have even gone on to become best-sellers because of it. Do it with a strategy in mind just like Amazon and Smashwords offer a 20-30 per cent sample to readers who are interested in purchasing the book. You must look at other ways like those mentioned above to build your audience and following, build your reviews, build word-of-mouth and referral marketing. Give people a reason to talk about you and your book, and I guarantee you, it will bring you success.

Corine La Font is a certified author assistant and online book-marketing specialist. Tune in to her radio programme at She can be reached at or or visit her website at