“What?” You say. “What do you mean, market your book by marketing it wrong?” I mean something very simple. You know all about it by now, thanks to me blogging about it ad nauseam. Noisy, paid advertising doesn’t work anymore. Bombarding people with irrelevant messaging is even worse. Stay away from PPC, promotional tweets, and bought likes.

“Then how?” You cry. “How am I supposed to let the world know about my new fabulous book? Do I have to stay absolutely quiet about it? Can’t I tell someone about it?” Of course you can. The trick here, how you go about it. You need to do some kind of promotion to get your book in the hands of your readers, on the bookshelves of bookstores, in libraries, and more. You need to somehow generate interest about your book to get people to read it and review it and create a buzz about it, so more people read it and review it and let Amazon work its magic and push you up in its Best Sellers Rank.


1. Make people laugh.

You probably remember Woot, a small internet retailer that debuted in 2004. The idea behind it was mindbogglingly simple: offer one discounted product a day and cut off all sales at midnight. Nobody knew about them back then. But the buying process became so much of a game, that word spread. However, they have helped this by buying various hysterical Google ads. For example, one ad read: “Before you jump out of that window, why not spend your last remaining dollars at Woot?” People laughed. People clicked on the ads. Traffic grew. Business grew. Here is another one, for your personal amusement. “Filthy rich? We’ll help. Throw away your newfound cash at Woot. You’re welcome.” As long as you’re not totally obnoxious, intruding, or disturbing, and can make people smile, you can use ads in a creative way and employ a similar method for marketing your book or product.

2. Use reverse psychology.

Another fun way of talking about your book is using reverse psychology. Tell people not to buy it. Tell people if they will buy it, they will probably wish they didn’t because they won’t be able to stop reading and will forget about dinner and their child’s school concert. Hint at the good qualities of your book by playing them down. People generally like doing something they’re told not to. Remember yourself as a kid. It was much more tempting to steal that candy after you’ve been told not to, right? Same principle applies here. Be careful to use it within your brand’s guidelines, making sure you won’t damage it by going overboard. At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun. Keep your process open, let your customers weigh in. If you cross a line, they will tell you about it, and you can quickly correct it.

3. Create entertaining ads.

You can get away with paid advertising if it’s well placed, funny, appropriate, and if it improves someone’s experience. Make it a silly cat video, with your book being involved in it somehow. Do it with your team in your office, without paying big money to a big advertising agency. Instead, pay to a photographer or to an animator to make it into a funny cartoon. Pay a composer to add a great soundtrack to it. Place it on Youtube and pay for it to be advertised. Tell your customers about your ad, seek your feedback. Better yet, make them participate. Make them stars of your ad. Have them submit pictures or videos or audio testimonials. Here, watch this DollarShaveClub.com ad. Don’t you want to send all your money to them right this second? I know I do. If you don’t have the same charisma and are afraid of the camera, look what you can do by getting your team members on camera. Or by filming destroying things. Or by recording babies babble on iPad and adding simple animation.

The key takeaway for you is this. No matter what you do, you should’t invest in any paid marketing or advertising before you have actually written a good book. The biggest issue with many marketing professionals today is that they start making noise and do advertising without even having something relevant to sell. And in the end it works against them.

So, as you can see, promoting something isn’t always bad. Even paying for it is okay, as long as it’s relevant for your target audience.

Your to-do list:

  • Come up with a strategy for your paid advertising. How can you be relevant and timely and entertaining at the same time? Where should you do it? At what time? How often? Ask your customers for input.
  • Hire artists to help you with your ads. Writers, photographers, animators, filmmakers.
  • Brainstorm with your team and get them on-board to participate in the project.
  • Make the ad.
  • Spread the goodness and test, test, test. See how it performs, learn from it, and move on. The next ad you will make will be better.
  • Read Ksenia’s blog on writing, marketing by caring and her life as a social media celebrity.