It may seem counterintuitive to give away copies of the book you’re working hard to sell, but if you have authored a book I strongly recommend that you give your book away to as many people as you can—particularly people of influence. Giveaways can be a powerful tool to jumpstart your marketing campaign. Think of it this way: the majority of consumers buy books based on recommendations from media, friends, family, and peers.
I’m not suggesting that you give books to everyone you meet, because not everyone has influence. But you should give them to media professionals including reporters, editors, and producers. You should also give them to bloggers who cover topics related to your book’s subject matter—these folks have more influence than ever before. Bloggers with a good-sized, loyal audience can have tremendous influence when recommending a book.
To reach the right influencers, spend time on Google searching for key contacts (or hire a good virtual assistant to do this for you). Find contact information for reporters who cover topics related to your book as well as radio and TV shows that report on similar topics. You can either ship them a copy directly or send an e-mail first and ask if they would like a copy. Do the same with bloggers and internet radio programs.
I personally like to send an e-mail first. This gives me a chance to establish a rapport, which can go a long way when it’s time to follow up. It also ensures that I’m not sending out copies that end up in the recycle bin.
Keep in mind that you don’t always have to give away physical copies of your book. Using a service like Smashwords, you can give away ebook editions. (To do this, create a coupon for 100% off.)
Not every review copy will result in publicity, but the ones that do can make up for all the rest. A feature article in a major media outlet or a recommendation on a popular blog can propel a book to all kinds of success.