Several of my friends are planning book launches in the next six months, so I thought it might be worthwhile to share what business guru Seth Godin did to launch his new book, Linchpin.
In early December, about two months before the book launch, Seth sent an email to his blog readers which said in part:
For a select group of motivated readers, I want to send you a copy of Linchpin (at my expense) three weeks before anyone else can buy one. My US publisher is not sending free review copies to magazines (the few that are left), newspaper editors, TV shows, any of the usual media suspects. Instead, we’re allowing people like you to raise their hands and, if they like the book, asking them to tell the world about it in January.
How to choose? I can’t afford to buy a book for everyone, so I needed to come up with a filter. Here it is: The first 3,000 people who make a donation to the Acumen Fund (at least $30) get one at my expense. The money you pay goes directly to Acumen, you get the fun of making a donation and get a tax deduction before the end of the year, and I figure out which of my readers most want a copy of my book.
I raised my hand and made a donation and Linchpin arrived at my door in early January. With the book, Seth included a letter asking for reviews, good or bad, when the book was released for public sale on January 26th. I read the book, loved it, and prepared a review for Amazon.com and wrote several blog posts discussing ideas in the book.
When the book went on sale, I received an email alert indicating that Amazon.com was accepting reviews of the book. At five o’clock that morning, I posted my review and I was fortieth or fiftieth person to do that. Less than a month later, Linchpin has 147 Amazon reviews — more than twice the reviews posted for Trust Agents, another popular business book out since August 2009. Linchpin is ranked #56 in sales by Amazon and Trust Agents is #4,773.
Can you afford to send out 3,000 books to your friends? Probably not! But perhaps you could make a similar, more limited offer. By asking for a charitable donation as a condition for receiving a book, you’ll be promoting a good cause, and you’ll be able to identify some of your most loyal fans. You’ll get early reviews of your book on Amazon and elsewhere and that fast, positive start is bound to help your book sell more copies. You have to trust your fans to help spread the word, but that trust motivates them to do just that.