If you want to sell lots of books, you’ve got to give away lots of books

It’s been more than a month since I published The Tourist Trail and I’m very happy with the response so far. The reviews have been amazing.

And the sales have been much better than I expected, though I’m probably breaking even when you factor in the books I’ve given away.

That’s right folks, book promotion isn’t cheap.

To get reviews you need to offer free review copies. I’ve gone through about 60 copies so far, and am more than happy to send more if you know of any reviewer out there willing to have a look.

I’ve also donated a few giveaway copies to the amazing people at Our Hen House — an animal rights nonprofit.

I’m also offering a book for free via Goodreads (still time left to enter).

I try to avoid sending out books blindly. I usually begin with an email query.

Of course, I couldn’t help but send an unsolicited copy to the New York Times Book Review. And Ellen. She’s an animal rights person, so I figured why not give it a shot. It’s just another few minutes at the post office. Another five dollars in postage.

These are the daily decisions a self-published writer must make.

I once read an article by a book marketer who said you needed to budget for giving away 500 copies of your book.

I’m certainly prepared to give away that many if I can find the reviewers. But book reviewers are hard to come by. And even though I’ve gathered together a list of more than a hundred book reviewers, these people are getting pitches from people like me several times a day. It’s not easy making it through the clutter.

Some reviewers won’t even consider self-published writers. It’s a shame, because there are some self-published gems out there that these reviewers will never get the chance to discover.

Anyway, the rejections don’t matter.

All that matters are those few reviewers who say: Yes, send along a copy. I’ll have a look.

Jasmin at Our Hen House took a chance on the book and here is the podcast that resulted from it. She and Mariann have been enormously supportive.

And Jael at As I Turn the Pages also took a chance.

Eventually I will run out of reviewers and experts and activists to email. But I’m not there yet. I’m really just getting started.

If you’re planning to self-publish, also plan to give away a good number of books for reviewers and for giveaways. It’s worth the investment.

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  1. I am one of the people that bought and read your book after it was featured on Kindle Nation. Really excellent book. Write more.

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