“Keep in mind Jim, this is the best business card you’ll ever have.” That was my first lesson as a new publisher and it has served me well over the years. When my first book “Handbook to a Happier Life” came back from the printer, I called my friend Terri Lonier, author of the “Working Solo” series. Terri was the only successful small publisher I knew at the time. I was in a panic. Here I sat at my desk, looking at the pile of books UPS had just deposited along my office wall. I took Terri’s suggestion to heart, and began to freely give books away.
Sometime back I was at a mid-Atlantic Publisher’s Association Meeting and mentioned this to a small group I was sitting with at lunch. Most looked at me at if I had lost my mind or perhaps did not “get it” that I was suppose to sell the darn things. They began giving me a lot of reasons why I should be selling every copy I can, after all, I’m a publisher right? There is this tendency among small publishers to hold-on tightly to their books. Sometimes, I believe, to tightly. My suggestion is to loosen up and give your books away with joy and expectation. Holding on to tightly to your books will cost you potential sales in the long run.
When “Handbook to a Happier Life” was brand new, on a lark, I sent 20 copies to the presidents of several big network-marketing companies. The result was a glowing testimonial from the president from one of the companies, along with an order for 250 books. Was it worth the cost of giving away the 20? You bet it was!
At the Mid-Atlantic Publisher’s Luncheon, I asked the group at my table what they would do in the following situation: A newly signed distributor calls you and wants you to send them 400 copies of a book so that they can give them away free. What would you do? Everyone at the table, by now convinced I was a nut, said “No way!” “Make them buy them.” “You’re getting ripped-off!”
When I told them my experience, their position changed, you see, I said “Yes” to the 400 freebies. After all, they were at that time, taking up space in my garage, collecting dust. The net result was, that distributor, that year, sold 75,000 copies of “Handbook to a Happier Life.” I like to think giving away books is planting seeds, you never know which ones will spout or when.
Many professional speakers gladly give away their $12 paperback book (for the cost of a $1.50) and receive bookings worth thousands of dollars from it. Others obtain high price consulting contracts using the book as a door opener.
If you learn to loosen your grip on your books you may be pleasantly surprised at the result. It is a cosmic law that you cannot give without receiving. Plant your books wide and far and then watch them spout.
Jim Donovan is a successful author, speaker and book coach, who guides authors through the entire process of writing, publishing and selling their books and helps them achieve the success they desire.