How Do I Sell My Book?

How to survive and thrive with Crohn's disease

This self-published book needs publicity

A friend of mine, John Bradley, has recently written and self-published a book. It’s called The Foul Bowel. Its purpose is to help sufferers of Crohn’s Disease to survive both the disease and the medical profession.

The book is available on Amazon, or it can be bought direct from John, who lives in Toronto.

In a comment on one of my recent posts, he asked how he could get sales for this slightly specialist book.

Well, it depends upon how you look at it. The book probably has two potential audiences. The obvious one is that of all Crohn’s Disease sufferers. There are thought to be 60,000 sufferers in the UK, and up to 1,000,000 in the USA; so the bullseye market isn’t necessarily that small.

The second audience is anyone who has an intractable condition, is beginning to wonder if their medical practitioners are doing more harm than good, and are in need of a good laugh. There are millions of these people.

So, what’s needed? What John needs is publicity, more publicity, and then a big dollop of publicity with an extra helping of publicity on the side.

But John is not backed by a publishing house, so the marketing effort is going to have to funded by him. And that probably means using digital marketing, word of mouth and getting old chums involved.

Here are 10 potential initiatives:

  1. Optimise your marketing for Google, so that the search engine spots your site and ranks it. This means submitting your site to Google, which is free. The googlebot will then go looking for you.
  2. Make sure your site has lots of relevant content which is regularly updated. Google is looking for live sites with keywords and phrases which its users are typing into its search engine. On John’s site, there is very little content, and only one key phrase: Crohn’s Disease.
  3. Use the blog to generate content. Write about your experiences and the experiences of others. Keep this amusing and short. Blog frequently. John’s blog currently has just one posting.
  4. Post the book on all Crohn’s Facebook sites. There are at least 17 of these. It doesn’t matter if some are in French, Spanish or German. Google will spot the post. It is rumoured to have marginally under 1m servers around the world, so Google has the capability to spot you.
  5. Set up a WordPress blog, and run exactly the same blog as you’re running on your website. Link this blog to both your own Facebook page (if you haven’t got one, spend some time quickly setting one up) and to LinkedIn. These two sites will alert your friends and potential customers to a new post on WordPress. (WordPress For Dummies contains the instructions for doing this. Alternatively, just look for Applications on the two sites, and follow the online instructions.) Ask your friends to post book reviews on LinkedIn, wildly praising The Foul Bowel. Tag your posts generously with any words and phrases you think potential site visitors might be using. Look at other Crohn’s Disease sites to see what key words and phrases appear on their Welcome page. Use these yourself.
  6. Use Amazon mercilessly in this way, too. I’ve just posted a review of The Foul Bowel. Have a look here. Again, get all Rabbit’s Friends and Relations to do the same. Don’t be shy about it. If they really are friends, they’ll do it. The more posts, the more likely Amazon will be to include the book in a promotional email. We’ve just achieved this with Not Much of An Engineer, written by my father in law. Have a look at the fistful of five-star reviews this book has garnered, which explains why it was featured. You can add tags on Amazon, too. Google finds tags very helpful.
  7. Ask anybody you know with a website, a blog or anything digital to give your website a link to The Foul Bowel website. Google pays no attention to outbound links, but it takes very seriously inbound links because these are interpreted as meaning that the site has relevant information which other people want to read. This therefore pushes you up the rankings.
  8. Remember to check how you’re doing on the rankings. Look yourself up once a week and see if your ranking is improving. If it is, figure out what you’re doing right, and then do some more of it.
  9. Send copies of the book to newspapers and journals, and ask for it to be reviewed. Organise book signings at as many local bookshops as possible. Volunteer yourself for interview at your local radio station. Newspaper reviews usually get posted on the paper’s website. This, too, will be spotted by Google. When my father died, I wrote an obituary for The Independent. Sixteen years later, it’s still his most read page despite a recent article in The Aeroplane Monthly, December 2010 about him.
  10. Look at the task as a job. Work methodically through the options, and don’t be afraid to ask for favours. Some of it is going to be hard work, but establishing a big digital footprint for both you and your book is not difficult.

Finally, if you need help, just post a comment on this blog. That will count as an inbound link for me, and will improve this blog’s ranking.