Generosity Sells Books – A New Marketing Mindset

Traditionally Challenged: Navigating the Publishing Labyrinth grit

With somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000,000 new titles arriving on the U.S. scene every year, how can little ‘ole you and me expect our books to be seen, never mind purchased? For most of us, I believe it will take a change in mindset. We’ve been taught that marketing is about manipulating others to put money in our pockets. But here’s the truth, it’s about putting something into theirs. In other words, generosity sells books.

The Internet has enlarged our world.

We now reach across the globe for products, services, and information about everything from software glitches to dog training. I buy sun block from China and produce from Mexico. My guess is my grandmother never spoke to anyone residing in India in her entire life. I speak to Indian customer service reps for American companies on a monthly basis.

Joanna Penn, who I consider one of my early virtual mentors, encouraged me to Indie publish my first book, The Wine and Chocolate Workout, from Australia, and continues to educate me on the state of the global publishing industry from Bath, England.

The Internet has made our world much smaller.

The Internet has expanded our reach, but it’s also given thousands of people access to our personal lives. People have strong opinions today about politicians and celebrities as well as their neighbors. Opinions they’d have had no ability to form before Facebook and Twitter began broadcasting our every foible and misstep.

Tweet: The Internet has put a telescope into our hand, but put us under a microscope.

Entrance or exit, which is it? It depends on which side of the door you’re standing. Authors, aspiring or otherwise, are taught they must have an online presence if they hope to sell books. Savvy buyers, we’re told, purchase products based on peer reviews, or from individuals they know, like and trust. Megan wrote a terrific article on Finding and Interacting with Reviewers  last month, so I thought I’d focus on how to become a person others know, like and trusta person of generosity.

The New Marketing Mindset – Generosity sells books

Know: The Costco marketing method

Costco is the best (or worst) place to shop when you’re hungry. There are food sampling stations every few isles. I’ve been known to do lunch on my feet while filling my cart. Sometimes I even go back for seconds, and no one slaps my hand.

Why are they giving away so much product? Aren’t they worried about over-head? The answer is no, because they understand the first principle of generosity—give me a bite, and I just might buy a box.

As a writer, your product is the written word. If you want to entice readers to purchase a volume, give them a sample. There are a number of ways generosity sells books. I’m throwing out a few here, and I’ve also included links to articles that go into more depth on each one.

Like: The Amanda Palmer marketing method

Amanda Palmer is a musician who decided to give her music away for free and ask for support later. It was a bold, gutsy decision that worked for her. Her record label couldn’t make a profit with 25,000 album sales, but, on her own, she brought in over a $1,000,000 from 25,000 fans. How?

The first thing she did was develop report with individuals. The individuals then became a supportive, vibrant community. You can listen to her TedTalk here: 

Here are a few ways to increase your “likeability”

Trust: The Tenacity Marketing Method

If you or I want to find author success, we’re going to have to be generous with our time and talent. More than once. In fact, we’ll have to show up and give many, many times if we ever want to build trust and experience my premise—generosity sells books.

We’ll have to get to the place where the message is more important than the money, really. The place where we see our readers as real people we have the privilege to connect with. The place where we applaud others in the writing community because a success for one of us is really a success for all of us.

It isn’t easy.

In fact it’s so difficult, Megan and I will be launching a FREE Four Week Challenge in January to help us all develop our professional author mindset. We’re calling it GRIT, which stands for

  • Goal Setting
  • Reviewing the Basics
  • Imagining the Finish Line
  • Tenacity

It’s the first of a four part series entitled Choose Your Own Adventure – A Guide for Aspiring Authors.

Make sure you’re on our mailing list if you want to join us. And, talk to us.

What are your greatest publishing and marketing challenges? Please comment below or start a discussion on Facebook.


Greta Boris, Director

Greta Boris Director

Greta Boris is the author of the Amazon Kindle bestsellerThe Wine and Chocolate Workout, a freelance writer, and aspiring novelist. She’s published articles on culture, health and entertainment for a variety of national magazines including Victorian Homes, Zombies, 50 Scariest Movies, Exodus, and Women of the Bible.

She’s currently at work on a domestic suspense series inspired by the seven deadly sins. She describes her work, and her life as a real housewife meets Dante’s Inferno.

*O.C. Writers is a member of Amazon Associates. By clicking the book links on this website, the network will earn a small commission from your purchase.

2 thoughts on “Generosity Sells Books – A New Marketing Mindset

  1. This is really a book-mark-able page! Great links! When I first started reading, I was going to reference the Amanda Palmer story. I heard only the second half last week on NPR. Thanks for the link to the whole podcast, Greta. It’s an inspiring audio with a lot to think about.

  2. This is great “book-markable” post, Greta. I appreciate all the links. I heard Amanda Palmer on the “TED Radio Hour” on the radio last week. (It was a summary of her TED Talk). I was amazed at her loyal fan base. She had such a large number of followers that by the time she started her kickstarter campaign they were there with donations that were beyond her wildest dreams. I think that also illustrates the importance of building a really great opt-in email list of fans.

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