Like many writers, I have issues with shameless self-promotion: I really hate blowing my own horn because isn’t that exactly what Christian humility tells us NOT to do? Like every writer, though, I have to get myself into the marketplace to not only make sales and gain a readership, but also to spread the word that God has given me to share.
What’s a humble Christian to do?
One answer I’ve found is what I call ‘Stealth Marketing’ – marketing that doesn’t feel or look like traditional book selling yet still puts my name and book in front of new audiences I might not otherwise reach. Basically, I do non-profit events.
In particular, I donate books to silent auctions or hold a book signing to benefit a local charity. I’ve found that what I forfeit in cash revenue, I get back many times over in free publicity, good will, new readers, and a personal sense of contribution.
In the past year, I’ve donated books to local, regional, and national silent auction fundraisers. I started with the annual dinner auction at my children’s school, which is usually attended by some 300 people. I wrote up a brief sketch of the book and submitted it along with a photo to be used on the display card at the auction, as well as in the auction booklet. After the event, I had a call from another school parent who told me that she thought the books were such a great item idea, that she was going to buy a set of my books to donate to another group’s auction. I estimated that would double the exposure I’d just gotten from the first auction. Out of curiosity, I checked my website tracking to find that the number of hits clearly rose after the dinner. Good intentions and a book donation can go a long way, I realized.
Deciding I’d found a productive way to publicize my books and generate sales without the self-promotion I dreaded, I began to look for non-profit groups that corresponded with my target market – birdwatchers and mystery readers – to reach new audiences. In the past year, my books were listed in programs for a variety of fundraisers, including the Raptor Research Foundation’s annual (international) meeting, the national conference of MIA/POW families, a Savannah (GA) Rotary Club, and the International Festival of Owls. After each event, I’ve seen increased traffic to my website.
Closer to home, I really enjoyed the book signing hosted by my favorite local eatery. It was a success for all of us involved: I asked customers to bring items for the local food shelf, and I discounted each book they bought. We collected bags of food to restock the shelves just before the winter holidays, the diner had increased business that morning, and I got free publicity in the bulletins of area churches that support the food shelf, not to mention that warm feeling of doing something good for my community!
Do you practice stealth marketing?