Ethical Bribes: Let me overwhelm you so you'll buy my $15 book

Apr 26, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Publishing being what it is authors need to become the CEO of their own PR & marketing to sell their books. Even if you have a publishers' contract and a hefty advance, you still need know how to market and sell (and sell and sell).

One of the most current popular methods of launching books is via a bestseller campaign. By optimizing your e-mail list and sending out announcements and teasers you create a buzz and drive traffic to your own site or an online bookseller such as Amazon to make the sale. These campaigns generally offer dozens if not hundreds of free bonus gifts when you buy one copy of the book. Sometimes special exotic vacations are also thrown into the mix as a special giant bonus.

This infomercial-type selling strategy, while effective for some authors, still gives me a sinking feeling...

My discomfort and internal struggle about manipulating people into buying books with email blast campaigns is a result of my heart wanting to be a bestselling author on true merit. I want word-of-mouth endorsements and the quality of my writing to be the reason I earn the strong sales. I don't want to have to engage in overkillmarketing to make it happen. Naïve? No. Stubborn? Perhaps. Principle-driven? Most definitely.

Not all hype is created equal.

Yes, I have done it and I have encouraged others to do it. I prefer to send quick messages with a couple of newsworthy gems and a call to action to learn more about a topic by participating in a call or buying a product.

Chances are quite a few of you have written these yourself, and most of you have definitely received a few (dozen). Some of the sales pages can be so long that you have to scroll down through what seems like an endless number of bonus products, free downloads, and exclusive access to calls, classes and interviews. So why do we keep getting them? For the same reason the Snuggie keeps producing those ridiculous commercials - they work!

The sheer length is not what spurs the conversion. It takes a lot of content to make the sales pitch effective. They appeal to the impulsive and reckless buyer (lots of free add-ons) and they also interest the more analytical decision maker (tell me everything about what I will get, and why I should get it). Just like any sales copy, it is not the quantity that matters, it's whether or not you solve your consumer's problem and address every possible objection the buyer might have before he/she has the time to process it.

It also doesn't hurt to give the first X number of responders the chance to win a free trip to your next event - some very reliable sources tell me these get-away offers with exclusivity really drives quick traffic. But wait, there's still more....

In the end, maximizing your contacts is still the most effective way to drive book sales - like it or not. Establish your own etiquette guidelines when it comes to frequency and tone. Integrate other social networking mediums to get viral exposure in between less frequent email blasts. Put yourself on your own list and see how often you like it.

Even though I still resist sending an onslaught of special offer e-mail blasts, I will continue to develop offers that provide the most value to my contacts, acknowledging that their loyalty and interest is what keeps me creating new and engaging content to share with them. Isn't that why we became authors in the first place?

About Arielle Ford:
Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: