Make the Bookstores Your Partners

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Make the Bookstores Your Partners

Most authors have no idea how to sell books, and I’m always interested in new techniques.

Earlier this year, the folks at Bridge Publications re-released the classic post-apocalyptic novel Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard and were faced with a challenge: How do you push a book that is a re-release?

In the world of novels, most retailers consider a re-release to be pretty much dead on arrival. The books come and go with no fanfare. This is doubly true when the author has passed away.

So I’ve been interested to see what the folks at Bridge might do.

In this case, Bridge Publications decided as a first step to give away free art with the book. They had a cover originally painted by my old friend Frank Frazetta, and they went to the trouble to reprint it, send it out to bookstores all around the country, and then give it away to people who bought the book.

This worked out well for them—so well that they hit #1 on the national bestseller list.

I used a very similar tactic a dozen years ago when I sold my book Of Mice and Magic here in Utah. Using artwork that I’d commissioned by Howard Lyon, I gave away posters in local bookstores to kids who purchased the book. I also used stuffed mice and plastic wristbands as incentives—and sold more than 50,000 copies just in Utah.

I know that this tactic can work well, even for you. Just think of a giveaway that can go well with your book. Posters, toys, hats, t-shirts—there are dozens of things that you can add as incentives.

But Bridge just tried something else that I think is very cool. Using the artwork from the paintings, they created a costume of the giant alien Terl from Battlefield Earth. Then they created a picture of Terl at a Barnes and Noble, reading his novel. The photo turned out great, and it does something I haven’t seen before: It basically creates cooperative advertisement between the publisher and the bookstore!

The result? I suspect that the chain might well help pick up part of the costs on a national advertising campaign.

You as an author can’t be everywhere at once.  You can’t go to every bookstore in the country and hand-sell to customers.  But you can come up with ways to make every bookstore a hot spot for your sales.

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