How To Promote A Book – Michael Bungay Stanier

Thriving Launch by Kamala Chambers and Luis Congdon How To Promote A Book - Michael Bungay Stanier
00:00:00 00:00:00

how to promote a book

Summary-icon

SUMMARY


Thinking about how you play a yearlong game rather than a two-week game makes a big difference on how to promote a book and get it out into the world.

On this episode, we are here with Michael Bungay Stanier. He is the founder of Box of Crayons and his latest book sold over a quarter million copies.

He shares some pro-level tips on how to get your book pumped out there by getting distribution into the airport. This is hard to pull off, but if you can make it work, it will generate a lot of business.

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KEY TAKEAWAYS


arrow-iconInstead of thinking about how to play a two-week game when launching a book, think about it as a longer game.

arrow-iconSend a tailored invitation to journalists whom you want to write about your book and follow up at least three times.

arrow-iconBeing in a bookstore is not always the best place to be.

arrow-iconFigure out a way of getting distribution into the airport.

arrow-iconSelling books is not where you make money.

arrow-iconOne of the advantages of self-publishing is gaining control of how your book fits into the ecosystem.

arrow-iconKnow the reason why you’re writing a book.

arrow-iconUse BookBub as a way of promoting a discounted eBook version of your book

Summary-icon

TRANSCRIPTION: HOW TO PROMOTE A BOOK – MICHAEL BUNGAY STANIER


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Kamala Chambers

In this episode, you’re going to get some pro-level tips on how to promote a book to make lots of book sales.

We’re here with Michael Bungay Stanier. He is the founder of Box of Crayons, and his latest book has sold over a quarter million copies.

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Luis Congdon

All right, Thriving Launchers. Michael, welcome!

Are you ready to launch Michael?

Michael Bungay Stanier

Look, I’ve lit the fuse, it’s burning. I’m so here. Let’s go for it!

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Luis Congdon

Let’s talk about how to promote a book during its launching.

What are some of the essential elements of book launches?

Michael Bungay Stanier

We launched The Coaching Habit book about a year and a half ago hoping it would do well knowing that most book launches don’t do that well. I’m going, “Okay. How do we make this work?”

How To Promote A Book – Frame The Launching As A Longer Game

Michael Bungay Stanier

The first thing that helped us figure this out is to say to ourselves, “Look, we don’t care so much about the launch window itself. We’re playing a longer game.”

This is something that’s generic and goes to launching anything. With most people who are creating a book, they spend a lot of time just going, “I’m going to make it work in that first two weeks.” And then you’re exhausted and flat out.

So one of the most important things that we did on how to promote a book, Luis, is to just frame it as “This is a yearlong event for us to talk about and get that book out into the world.”

Sure, we want to make a big splash in that first couple of weeks. We’re in front load stuff with a podcast and the like, but thinking about how we play a yearlong game rather than a two-week game has made a big difference in getting the book out into the world.

Thinking about how you play a yearlong game rather than a two-week game makes a big difference in getting the book out into the world.

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Kamala Chambers

What are some of the essential elements that you found the most success with, some action steps you think that everyone needs to take on how to promote a book?

Michael Bungay Stanier

Here’s one of the book marketing strategies that we did differently from what’s traditional and paid big dividends for us.

How To Promote A Book – Avoid Sending Books To Random People

Michael Bungay Stanier

This is mainstream publishers or if you’ve self-published like we self-published. What a lot of people do with their books is they’re like, “Okay. I want people to talk about the book.” And then they just send it out to random people.

You guys probably get this as well, but I get sent books, and I’m like I have no idea who sent me this book and I have no idea why they have sent me this book. I think they want me to blog about it or podcast about it, but it’s random, and it’s not a good fit.

Here’s what we did on how to promote a book.

We looked at books like The Coaching Habit. I was like, “The Coaching Habit is a practical coaching skill from busy leaders.” We went “Daniel Pink, I love his book on Drive. It’s motivation.” So we then researched and went, “What are the most 50 most popular articles written about Dan Pink’s book?”

How To Promote A Book – Have More People Write About Your Book

Michael Bungay Stanier

We got somebody on guru.com to research for us. They find the articles, the author, the author’s Twitter handle or their email, and then we wrote to each journalist and went, “You wrote this article in Dan Pink’s book, you’re probably going to love this book because of X, Y, and Z. Can we send you a copy?” I think roughly 60% of those people said “Yes” and then we send them a copy.

How To Promote A Book Follow Up At Least Three Times

Michael Bungay Stanier

Then, we followed up, and we followed up, and we followed up, at least three times for each person. That’s one of the book promotion ideas that we did.

That gave us a much higher percentage of people writing about our books because we tailored the invitation to the “Can we send you a copy of the book?”

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Luis Congdon

I’m curious Michael.

What are some of the ways that you’ve followed up, and what were some of the differences between each follow-up?

Michael Bungay Stanier

What we’re trying to do to with the follow up is to do it in a light, non-nagging yet slightly nagging way.

We were talking about this before we hit the record button. There’s a big article I wrote titled “How I sold 180,000 copies of my book” It’s on a website called GrowthLab. There are scripts of all of those follow-ups available for download on that article.

How To Promote A Book – Do The Follow Up In A Light Way

Michael Bungay Stanier

What you’ll see is the follow up is light. It’s like “Hey, I’m just nudging this back to the top of your inbox.” What I’ll often do is in the subject line of the email, just put in “[resend].”

It’s not “Why haven’t you responded?” or “What’s your problem?” It’s like “Hey, just let me known to this.”

Then, on the third or fourth one, it’s, “Look, this is your last chance.” Not in a threatening way but “Look, we’re assuming you’re not interested, but we wanted to give you one last chance to say ‘Yes, I’d love to see a copy of your book.'” And in that classic way “Oh, this is it, the window’s closing.” That generated a lot of “Okay, yes. Send me a copy of your book.”

How To Promote A Book – Let People Know The Window’s Closing

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Kamala Chambers

That’s smart, and that’s something that can work for any follow up sequence. It is letting people know “This is the last chance you’re going to email him about it.”

Michael Bungay Stanier

Yes.

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Kamala Chambers

What else?

What’s a pro-level tip that you have on how to promote a book and to get your book pumped out there?

Michael Bungay Stanier

One of the things you want to be thinking about is distribution.

If you’re self-published, it’s harder for you to get distribution. That’s one of the reasons that people go with traditional publishers. They’re like, “Okay, you’re going to get me into a bookstore.”

How To Promote A Book – Don’t Be In A Book Store

Michael Bungay Stanier

It turns out, being in a bookstore is not always the best place to be because honestly, there are far fewer bookstores than there’s ever been, and then you’re competing against every other bookstore.

Michael Bungay Stanier How To Promote a Book Thriving Launch Podcast

Michael Bungay Stanier

I’m going to tell you a pro-level tip. This is hard to pull off, but if you can make it work, it can make a difference.

How To Promote A Book – Find A Way To Get Distribution Into The Airport

Michael Bungay Stanier

When we wrote the book, we designed it as “This is going to be the perfect airport book.” I had a real person in mind. It was like a middle-aged woman who worked as head of VP or VP of HR or the VP of Learning and Development. She’d walk into the bookstore in the airport, see my book, pick it up, flick through it, and go, “Oh, it could fit in my purse. I think I could read this on my two-hour flight, and this looks like it might be interesting.”

One of the things we did and we worked hard on is figure out a way of getting distribution into the airport. Now, this costs us money. You don’t get this for free. You have to pay to play.

For us, figuring out who we had to talk to and pitching our book, and then paying the requisite money meant that we had gotten our book in the key airports for the next year or so, and that’s helped us generate a bunch of business.

This is the other kind of pro tip.

How To Promote A Book And Link It To Your Business

Michael Bungay Stanier

You have to work on the assumption that your book is almost certainly not going to sell very many copies, and even if it does, that’s not the place where you make money because it’s hard to make money on books. But, if you have a strong way that your book links to your business, that’s the way the money plays out.

Michael Bungay Stanier How To Promote a Book Thriving Launch Podcast

Michael Bungay Stanier

For us, we’ve had great success with this book much better than we ever thought plus the 300,000 copies sold. But the big win financially for our business has been people calling us up saying, “Can we buy your training programs around coaching skills?”

How To Promote – Know What’s Beyond The Book

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Kamala Chambers

Yeah, that’s always an essential element that a lot of people fight against. You got to think it’s beyond the book. It is ‘What’s the next big thing that the book is leading into?’

Michael Bungay Stanier

Right! What’s your ecosystem of which the book is a small part?

Advantages of Self-Publishing On How To Promote A Book

Michael Bungay Stanier

Honestly, this is one of the benefits of self-publishing because I’ll bet donuts to dollars that if you go with a traditional publisher, they don’t get the ecosystem. They’re all about, “You want a book. We’re just focused on the book.”

But if you self-publish, one of the things you gain is control of how does this fit into our ecosystem.

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Luis Congdon

That’s amazing.

I hear from you one of the suggestions is if you’re going to write a book, make it strongly linked to your business.

Michael Bungay Stanier

Probably.

How To Promote A Book – Know The Reason Why You’re Writing A Book

Michael Bungay Stanier

Sometimes, people just go, “I just need to write this book because it is in me and I have to get it out in the world.” That’s awesome. Just don’t expect it to sell a whole lot or make any money because that’s fine. Know the reason why you’re writing this book.

Michael Bungay Stanier How To Promote a Book Thriving Launch Podcast

Michael Bungay Stanier

I was very clear in writing this book. I want to write a remarkable book. I want it to be super practical, and useful in of itself, and I want it to be a driver business for us. That helped maintain my focus.

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Kamala Chambers

That’s awesome.

Before we go, what is the last big tip that you would recommend we all do on how to promote a book?

Michael Bungay Stanier

One of the things we focused on is something called BookBub. BookBub is a way of promoting a discounted eBook.

How To Promote A Book – Discount Your eBook

Michael Bungay Stanier

First of all, you have to have the good luck to be able to discount your eBook, but if you self-publish, you have that control. If you traditionally publish, you need to negotiate that with your publisher, even better, do that before you sign the contract. That’s how I was able to promote my self-published book.

What they then do is they go, “We’re featuring Michael’s book, The Coaching Habit. It’s available for 99 cents instead of 4.99, and it’s available for these two days.”

What we did is we signed up. We got selected, which is great because only one in four books gets selected, but once we got picked and we knew our dates, we then went and found other ways of promoting that discounted eBook for that particular time.

How To Promote A Book – Utilizing BookBub

Michael Bungay Stanier

In doing that, what happened is we got onto The Wall Street Journal best-seller list because we put a lot of focus on that three-day window where the eBook was discounted. This is in the article as well if you want more details on it, but BookBub as a way of promoting a discounted eBook version of your book can make a difference.

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Kamala Chambers

Is there another resource for where to find a list of places to promote once you have it on that list?

Michael Bungay Stanier

I think I mentioned some of them in the article.

Do Your Research On How To Promote A Book

Michael Bungay Stanier

Honestly, what I did is I went, “Oh, great! We’ve been selected for BookBub.” And then I searched on Google “How do I make the most of a BookBub promotion?” There’s a bunch of people with articles saying, “Here are the other people who promote eBook discounts. Just sign up for them. Some of them cost you a little bit of money, some doesn’t cost you anything.

I just searched it on Google, did the research, and figured out which one was the best fit for us.

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Luis Congdon

That’s amazing, Michael.

It’s been fantastic to have you here on Thriving Launch. Thriving Launchers, write that book.

Michael Bungay Stanier

Exactly.

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Luis Congdon

Until the next episode, keep thriving you all.

Thriving Launch by Kamala Chambers and Luis Congdon How To Promote A Book - Michael Bungay Stanier
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